I grew up in northern British Columbia in a small town called Fort St. John. My first snowmobile was a Ski-Doo Citation 4500 that I shared with my sister.
My next sled was a 1998 Polaris 700 RMK. After many modifications it now exists as a PSI 1085 with a Fast M-10 suspension and 151-inch track-all thanks to my best friend who owns an auto body shop. This modified sled has about $25,000 in it-not a cheap toy. It was built by trial and error and is a great sled, but it still isn't quite a custom job.
I now live in Atlanta, GA, and fly back to BC once or twice a year for my dose of snow. Obviously no one in the South has even seen a real snowmobile so my only tie to this sport is through sled magazines and the internet.
It was through the internet that I found Tison Performance Products, Buckley, WA. I had never heard of them before, so I was eager to learn as much about their product as possible. Brady Cambern answered my first phone call and spent 20 minutes talking to me and then recommended that I speak with Rich Tison, the owner. He was very straightforward and honest with me on the phone. What really impressed me was that he openly talked about his competitors and gave them credit where credit was due. There was no BS or any sales pitch. He simply said, "I build the best product I can by using or manufacturing the best materials available."
Hefty Down Payment
The next day I sent a check to Tison for $15,000 to get started. That was January 2003. Since then, I've received an e-mail every 2-3 weeks with clear digital photos of the progress of the building of my dream sled. I call and talk to Brady or Rich weekly, asking questions and giving input on options they give me. The experience has been awesome. I can't brag enough about the professionalism shown by the Tison team. Rich is the motor guru. He has completely taken a new PSI 1500 motor apart and polished it and balanced it like a jeweler-sending parts back because they weren't up to his standard and not accepting them until they were. His sincerity and perfectionism makes me completely confident that I am getting the best money can buy. It is an honor having someone I don't even know give me this level of quality. Brady and Rob have done a superb job on the other components. I could fill a whole page with the trick stuff these guys have put on my sled. It includes everything from a hand polished tunnel to cera-chromed pipes to a billet M-10 suspension to a custom avenger mount on the handlebars. And the list goes on.
It's a hard decision to spend this kind of cash with eight to 10 custom snowmobile manufacturers out there. However, what made me choose Tison was the fact that their sled is a true custom, one-of-a-kind machine. It's definitely not a cookie cutter model stamped out just like the last one because that week's batch had been successful. There isn't another PSI 1500 motor powdercoated and polished like mine. There isn't a Terminator hood like mine. This sled is one-of-a-kind, hand-built for me by Tison.
I'm almost scared to ride it-the first time I roll it I'll want to cry.
The Tison experience has been great. They have done what they said they would do-build me a one-of-a- kind show sled that will climb the mountains as well as it looks.
By the way, I've never met the guys at Tison, and I have never seen or ridden a Tison sled before. Our relationship so far has been over the phone and internet.
So why did I pay $37,000 for a sled? Because I wanted the best and Tison gave it to me.