The Form, Function of Seats

Function Overtakes Fashion in Mountain Sleds

Published in the September 2008 Issue White Out & Wide Open—The Blog Ryan Harris
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"1998 Ski-Doo Summit.
"1998 Yamaha Mountain Max 600 with seat showing the "bun" at the end.
"2004 Polaris 800 RMK.

Get off your butt and ride. That's been the trend behind mountain seat design lately. It's about time, too. We went 30 years with the same basic seat design. Low, soft seats with raised humps in the rear. Great for trail riding, but not so great for mountain riding.

Seats play a larger role in mountain riding than just a resting spot. Riders use seats as leverage when standing by pulling against the seat with the inside of a leg. The seat also becomes part of the suspension package, absorbing impact once the sled's suspension and rider's knees have bottomed out.

Unfortunately, the basic design for mountain sled seats didn't really catch up with mountain sled technology until just a few years ago.

The 2003 Polaris Vertical Escape had a rounded seat with a low-profile hump and a higher ride height.

The Ski-Doo Summit Rev had a higher seat in its debut year, but it was wide, had a hump that would catch your boot and had no storage.

Arctic Cat had a low rider on its 1M Mountain Cats, but asked whether mountain riders even needed a hump on the seat when it introduced the 2005 M7. That sled's seat had a removable seat hump and we don't think there's an `05 M7 or M6 out there that still has the hump attached to the seat.

Polaris pushed the envelope with the seat on the `05 RMK IQ chassis and Yamaha scored a hit with the `06 Apex Mountain's seat (although it too lacked storage).


Sweeping Changes

But we didn't see real aggressive advances in seat design until 2007. Fueled by aftermarket seat popularity, engineers from all four brands knew there was work to be done in the sled chair department.

The 2007 Polaris IQ Raw chassis featured the first of what many mountain consumers were demanding. A tall, narrow, lightweight seat designed for function rather than fashion (turns out it looks better than anything Polaris offered previously). The motocross-style seat allowed the rider to perform mountain maneuvers more easily and with less obstruction.

The mountain sled seat had finally been designed for standing rather than sitting.

Yamaha's 2007 Nytro Mountain followed up with a stellar seat design, although-like the RMK IQ Raw seat-seat storage seemed to be gone for good.

Ski-Doo corrected any caveats with the Rev's seat design when it released the Summit XP. Everything about that seat flows with the mountain rider mentality. High, flat-top styling with a clean tail end that won't grab your boot on a change over. The seat material has good grip and the sides don't protrude over the tunnel edges.

Seat removal has been another big ticket item in seat design, as well as seat storage. The Arctic Cat seats lead both categories, with simple removal designs and huge trunk openings on models over the past several years. Ski-Doo's XP seat also comes off with a simple motion.

The last few years have been a revolution in the evolution of mountain sled seats.

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