Pull The Trigger-left-hand throttles

October 2007 Feature

Those who ride snowmobiles realize that if a little throttle is good, a lot of throttle is better. That must make two throttles the best.

Yet there are still some snowmobilers who admit that one throttle can get them into plenty enough trouble as it is. So the question is: Is two throttles something you want on a snowmobile?

Everyone is comfortable with the standard right-hand throttle. It's traditional. It's natural. It's . well, right. So why is there a need for a left-hand throttle?

This winter we did a little more experimenting with a SnoBunje left-hand throttle to see how it adapts to our style of riding . and we got some mixed reactions. Basically, people either liked it or didn't care for it. And as we dug deeper into these preference discrepancies, we discovered that the majority of those who preferred left-hand throttles used them and those who didn't prefer left-hand throttles didn't use them. Sort of like the old Life cereal argument: "Those who don't like Life have never tried Life."

There are pros and cons to having left-hand throttles. Perhaps the strongest argument for one is trying to pull a slow sharp left turn on an off-camber slope. (Some times you're just in that precarious situation where you just can't afford to "commit" to a hard-leaning full throttle turn.) Because the throttle on the right side forces you to reach across the sled, it's hard to get the leverage you need to push the left ski into the slope. But when you have a throttle on the left side, you can use your right hand to grab the mountain bar and give you more leverage to dig your ski into the turn.

Another benefit of a left-hand throttle is that you have an option of which throttle to use if you're hands are susceptible to fatigue or cold. The more you experiment with a left-hand throttle and the more you become familiar with it, the more you learn to appreciate it.

But having said that, if you aren't familiar with a left-hand throttle, the greater the possibility of getting in trouble with it.

One of our first rides with a left-hand throttle found us in a situation where we wanted to make a slow left turn up an off-camber sidehill to avoid dropping into a creek. (One of those that if you commit to a hard "grab throttle and pull" approach and don't pull if off, you're going to find yourself in a real ugly spot for the next couple of hours.)

Well, we eased through our turn . but somewhere along the way we bounced the throttle, causing the sled to lurch ever so slightly, causing the rider to lose balance and back foot slipping on the running board, resulting in a panic-reaction grasp to the handlebars (while still holding the throttle), causing the sled to jump forward and ultimately resulting in the separation of sled and operator. But this wasn't before doing an impromptu version of the Chinese splits. (Can you say pain?)

On several other occasions, we also found if others were riding the sled and had little or no experience with a left-hand throttle, it was easy for them to grab it by mistake.

We realized the safety release that disconnects a left-hand throttle (or similarly, one that locks it out) is very important. We also learned if you choose to install a left-hand throttle, you need to experiment with it in order to develop a level of proficiency.

For more information on the SnoBunje left-hand throttle, call (877) 250-2015.

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