What You Should Know Before Spending 11 Grand

Is the 2008 crop of sleds worth the price?

September 2007 Feature, Snow Tests Staff Report Viewed 767 time(s)

Eleven grand. Not much for a car (can you even buy a new car for $11,000? Most likely, but it would probably be a Yugo?), but a heck a lot for a new snowmobile.

When you pay that kind of money for a sled, you want the machine to work and work well. Not leave you stranded in the backcountry. Not beat you up like Aunt Martha's old tub washing machine. Not cost an arm and a leg to operate and keep running-because, afterall, you've already dropped a wad of cash on the machine. You want it to look good and not like the café napkin the concept was drawn on was used as the actual template for design. You'd like a fair amount of working electronics that show the sled belongs in the 21st century.  A machine that has enough get up and go to actually get up a mountain and go through the powder.

And need we point out that 11 grand is a lot of money to spend on a toy you can use, oh, maybe 4-6 months a year?

We'll be the first to point out that not all mountain sleds cost $11,000. Fan models average around six grand. But the heart of the market-the 800s-has an average price tag of around 11 grand. Some models in that class cost a little less, some a little more.

If you've made it this far and you're still reading this (presumably because you're very interested in buying a new snowmobile this year), then let us just say we think the 2008 model year lineup is as exciting as any we've seen in years. Nearly all the major snowmobile manufacturers are coming to the plate in '08 with new hardware and that's always good for those of us who like to ride the steep and deep.

In fact, during the past half dozen years, western riders have been given some of the best sleds on snow. It used to be that the newest sleds always appeared first as trail machines and then later as mountain machines. Lately, though, it's been the other way around. That could have something to do with the woeful snow conditions in the Midwest and consequently, not-so-hot sled sales in the flatlands. And it could have something to do with the fact that mountain machines seem to fetch close to MSRP prices and not deeply discounted prices. Name the last time anyone paid full retail for a trail sled.

This winter will provide some of the most dramatic and daring changes seen on the snow. How can you not get excited about a stock 439-pound Summit from Ski-Doo? Or the all new Yamaha FX Nytro MTX four-stroke. Then there's the new Dragon 800 RMK that Polaris is downright giddy about. And don't forget the M8 from Cat.

Those are just four of more than a dozen mountain models waiting for the snow to fly next winter. Young or old, first timer or experienced backcountry thrasher, hill climber or mountain climber, there is a sled for you in the 2008 stable. And despite the eleven grand threshold we've pegged for this issue, you can find sleds below and above that price.

The SnoWest SnowTest crew has ridden them all-some several times-this past winter. We traveled to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming to test the `08 models, in addition in our own backyard in Idaho (duty calls, you know). No one was more disappointed than us when the snow left prematurely this spring and we couldn't extend our riding into April and May. We wanted more seat time. We're always looking for that one last ride to where a sled can prove its worth.

We know you're spending your hard-earned money to buy something that is definitely more of a want than a need (although there are lots of us who would argue the want-need scenario).

Is there any stock snowmobile worth $11,000? You bet. In the pages that follow and in upcoming issues we'll give you the low down on going up-a mountain that is. That includes which sleds do it better than others and why we think it's still so dang much fun to snowmobile.

In this issue, we'll provide an overview of what's available in each mountain class, from fans to liquids, from little to big. We'll include how many models are to be had in each class, the average cost of the models in those classes, the weight range and which manufacturer offers a sled in each class. We'll share any new (or old) news in each class and then tell you which issue of SnoWest will provide all the details of every sled in each class.

We think this will just whet your appetite for the upcoming winter season.

Let it snow.

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