Racing RMSHA - A Racer220 Guide To Getting Started

Racer220

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Please bear with me as I try and break down this process. I hope this provides valuable information to those wanting to know the specifics about what it takes to hillclimb race. There are other great RMSHA threads old and new with awesome info as well, so do some searching if that helps. Rule #1 = If you're serious about racing, get a ISR Rule Book and start studying.

The purpose of this thread is to help explain a majority of the details about what it takes to get a sled set up to race RMSHA, riding techniques, and the technical/financial aspects of what you can expect to join the circuit. This is a very loose topic mainly because the information is based off my personal experience. I won’t say that you have to assume what you read is necessarily correct for you, your costs, or your setup. It will ultimately come down to how you evolve and what works best in your situation. Everyone that races RMSHA has little quirks in their sled setups that differentiate them from other racers. We are all in different situations as far as what can be afforded sled-wise and support structure wise as well. Becoming a member of RMSHA doesn’t mean that you have to pull up with the nicest race sleds, the biggest trailer, or anything else that is commonly associated with racing and it’s ‘high dollar, rich person only’ persona. Granted, you should expect this, and 9 out of 10 times it will be the case - YOU WILL PAY MORE THAN JUST ABOUT ANYTHING ELSE YOU CURRENTLY DO THAT IS SNOWMOBILE RELATED. And you will probably be riding a lot less to top things off. Hillclimb racing is about having a passion to compete, meet awesome people, and continue to help the sport grow for future generations. It takes a tremendous amount of sacrifice and desire to make it happen. If you truly want to race hillclimbs, make sure you are willing to give up a lot of other things you might be used to.
 

Racer220

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Chapter 1

So, you want to race RMSHA? Where do you even begin? In all reality the cost vs. setup requirements will work in tandem. It is a huge effort regardless of your economic status to get everything ready for a race season, much less start from the ground up. In an effort to help those with fewer resources I might as well try and define what I call a ‘bare minimum’ approach to racing RMSHA. I am going to start with cost first because when it comes time to line up for the first run of qualifying, it won’t do any good to have your sled set up and ready to go if haven’t covered what racing is going to cost you. I’ll take my example from the other RMSHA thread and dumb it down into summary form. Again, some numbers marked by (*) will be totally up to what you can do with them. Others are costs you will have less control over.

$6500* - 2-3 yr old stock 800 mountain sled (many available that are 'Hillclimb' based models)
RMSHA MEMBERSHIP - $175 (add $10 for a bib if you can't embroider/screen print your clothes)
ENTRY FEES - $60/class Semi-Pro (up to 3 classes) OR $100/class Pro (up to 5 classes)
FUEL COST (figure out your costs by (your MPG/round trip mileage) x price per gallon) to each race
LODGING – Expect to pay $100*/night avg. unless you bring your own lodging
FOOD – What will it cost you to eat per day at a race? Bring a cooler, eat out, both? I pack a cooler and BBQ
POSTAGE – $3/ea. Membership and Entry Fees MUST BE shipped CERTIFIED MAIL, and certified check/money order ONLY.
TRACTION SCREWS - $90* - I don’t care what you do, but if it were me I wouldn’t show up without them
TETHER - $15 – ISR Mandatory for safety. If the sled is equipped already, even better.
ISR LEGAL SNOW FLAP - Refer to ISR book. Can be done as cheap as Free.99
ISR LEGAL CHEST PROTECTOR - ~$200* Tekvest, Beewear, etc… Refer to ISR book. Must have req’d coverage.

Time off from work usually a minimum of at least 1 day per race IF you have weekends off. Figure that total based off your current wage. Do you take paid leave? Do you take time off without pay??(not advisable in this instance)
Maintenance for transport vehicle - based off mileage accumulated going to races.

Now…………..Costs listed above don’t necessarily count in all situations. Amateur classes at certain races cost significantly less due to the fact that you don’t need to be a RMSHA member, cheaper entry fees, and fewer sled setup costs i.e. usually $50 entry fee, no snow flap requirement, run what you brung format instead of changing things to race like you would every weekend. Some ISR safety requirements must still be followed i.e. full face helmet, goggles, leather boots with 6” coverage above ankles, chest protector. These things you can’t avoid in any race essentially. You can also run Semi-Pro or Pro classes as a ‘Temporary Member’. Although you have to follow the ISR Rule guidelines, if you only plan on competing in 1 or 2 races you will save a little money. IIRC to race as a Temp member it costs $45 for a Temp. Member fee PER RACE EVENT, and all other costs would match what is listed in the breakdown above. I say “save a little money” because if you are doing more than 3 races that $45 fee will add up to more than the normal RMSHA membership fee. Another thing about Temp. Members is YOU DO NOT QUALIFY FOR RMSHA POINTS in any class. No points means no qualifying for Jackson. FYI… So if you still follow me, without even including sleds/other setup costs you can easily expect to spend over $1000 just to cover most of the costs associated with showing up to the first race as a RMSHA member.

Stay tuned as I compile more info to start on the sled setup sections. Feel free to comment or ask questions so we can help people better understand what to look for. I’m sure I will miss some things because it is just a massive amount of knowledge to try and explain like this. It takes years, just like anything else to figure all the details out, but I’ll Doo my best to help describe the basics.

Racer
 
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Racer220

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Chapter 2: Front Suspension

How you should have your sled set up. There are a ton of aspects about sled setup, and it comes down to trying different things out. The best way to know what works it to ride the sled in the same manner as if you were racing. I guarantee you will never know what your sled is truly capable of until you set up some gates, push out some berms and holes, and put yourself and the sled in the same scenario as if you were racing up a course. Again, try different setups. Just because it feels good doesn't mean it can't get better. But before I go any further……

PLEASE!!!!.........Please be courteous to the areas that you are riding in especially when you are practicing. Even when on private land the enviro-nazis can use their tactics against us. I am unfortunately a hypocrite to my own advice as I had made the mistake of running too many times in one course and ended up showing a lot of dirt and damaged brush. If you make a practice course, navigate to new spots whenever you think you will be hitting the ground or vegetation. It’s definitely not worth the chance of losing a riding area over. I learned my lesson, and I’ll pass the advice on to you.

So, as far as sled setup goes I will just try to explain my front to back details. I run a stock sled in every class, so if you end up creating substantial more power than stock you will probably have to adjust how you have things set up.

FRONT SUSPENSION: A majority of racers prefer the wide front ends that come on the race specific sleds. One thing you will find at almost every RMSHA race is a section of the course with very flat corners. Wide front ends are beneficial in multiple ways. They help keep the sled from ‘rolling’ in flat corners, provide extra stability when crossing off-camber slopes, and IMO are a lot more stable when going through really trenched out areas of a course. I typically leave my skis set on the widest setting for every race. During a typical year, most of the races go from light sugary snow to eventually bermed out corners and super slick straight-aways. My carbide of choice is usually something with a 5/8” bar with a 6” carbide. It sucks to be making a good run and fly through a corner because your skis are just skidding across the ground not biting into anything. Rear suspension plays a huge part in how much ski pressure you have, but that does no good if you don’t have anything up front to take control of where you want to go. Be cautious though, as there will be times when it can create too much bite.

Shocks are also a crucial setup. You have to remember that racing is about going as fast as you can without wrecking. Shock valving can make or break a run depending on how bumpy, rutted, rocky, stump filled a course is. It takes a good amount of riding those conditions and a good person to work on your shocks to get the right amount on compression/rebound that works for you. Again, everyone has their own way of setting up stuff. In my case I’m roughly 215-220 pounds with my race gear on. I have my shocks set up based off a 225 lb. rider setting. I like a little stiffer compression on the front shocks so I don’t have to worry about pile driving a big bump or rut, but also like to have a responsive rebound to allow the shock to return its extended position for the next hit without bounding so hard that you start to lost control of the sled. A good shock setup is really noticeable on steeper, more technical and bumpier courses like Afton, Pebble Creek, Jackson Hole. These are places where the snow is usually a lot more firm and uneven and the number of obstacles outnumbers wide open courses like Bear Lake and Beaver Mtn. The front end is usually the first thing to come in contact with the course. The better you can figure out what works best for you, the faster you will end up making it to the top. There’s your crash course on front suspension setup.

Racer
 
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Racer220

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Chapter 3: Steering, Clutching and Gearing

Bar setup will probably change depending on each rider. Factors usually include sled geometry, rider height, bar riser height, etc… I started practicing with my bars a little further back last year (basically in-line with the steering post) because I felt like I could get lower on the sled and have more control. Some sleds this works may work on, but in my case I found I was gaining a lot more speed and control coming out of corners by tilting my bars about 15-20 degrees forward of the steering post. By doing this I did give up a little bit of the lower center of gravity, but I gained a lot of control by moving the rider position more forward. This really helped with being able to utilize the weight transfer from the rear suspension, and helps keep the skis on the ground and controlling the sled in critical situations like tight corners. I am about 6’-1” so height is an advantage to having the bars forward and still being able to get further back on the sled to help create more traction. Some riders have more success with the bars further back because it compliments their height better. Riser height is also a big factor in how you will be able to control the sled. IMO a riser that is too low may not allow you to adjust the bars well enough to use your height/weight to control the sled. Too tall of a riser can also affect the way you stay in control of the sled by making you have to ‘reach’ out too far when you’re in an off-camber situation. Here’s the way I like to describe how I feel most comfortable about my bar height. If I was standing straight up on my sled my arms would be almost fully extended while holding the bar. In my racing stance i.e. my position during most parts of a race, my knees are slightly bent and it keeps my arms basically at a 90 at the elbow. Try doing this while just standing flat on the ground and see how your arms move left and right on a horizontal plane as if you were holding the handle bars. You can feel your body work in tandem and you start to see how you can keep the lower half of your body in control of the sled while moving your upper body around to transfer weight for coming into corners, hitting big bumps, etc… As you move your arms left, try to keep your right arm at a 90 degree. Same thing as you move your arms right. After you do that if you move your arms up or down from that 90 position you can tell that it starts to move you a little out of balance. A big part of going fast is keeping good balance on the sled and having the ability to maintain control. This has helped me a lot by being able to keep more weight over the front of the sled and adjust to all of the movement that comes from really technical courses. I will say again that practicing on a home built course is extremely beneficial to trying out different setups and seeing what is most effective for you.

Clutching and Gearing………. I must say that I have had an issue with the Doo clutching holding rpm even on short pulls. Getting the basics like alignment and belt tension correct will help if you have to start making other changes to weights, helixes, ramps, etc… For my setup I have changed my ramps and dumped the stock Doo helix for a straight angle helix. This helped keep my rpm at a consistent 8100 even in long straightaway races like Bear Lake and Beaver Mtn. Keeping your clutches clean is also a big factor on how they perform. In a 6-7 race season I will generally pull my clutches at least 3 or 4 times to check bushings, blow/clean out belt dust, and clean the sheaves. This will help maintain cooler temps and better contact between the clutches and the belt. If you can’t maintain consistent power through the clutches you will lose critical speed and power transfer to the track. That costs you time, and time is of the essence when in qualifying or finals. Most runs are usually between :55 and 1:10 and you are in and out of the throttle countless times. Jackson is probably the most abusive course when you are talking clutching. In Semi-Pro finals we run a similar course as qualifying and then still have the upper part of the mountain. You are talking runs of 1:45-1:55. You know you have the right clutching setup if you are still pulling peak rpm as you break those timing lights.

As far as gearing goes, there are basically 2 setups that you can choose from depending on all the other characteristics of your sled/power/clutching. I gear down to a 19/45 ratio for most races. Even Bear Lake, which has longer straight-aways I like the bottom end pull for the tighter corners even if I have to sacrifice a little top end. Courses like Afton, Pebble, Jackson, and Schweitzer are really technical and you will benefit from having more pull coming out of the corners than having overall speed. The distance between the gates just doesn’t allow for taller gearing to be affective IMO. Races like Beaver and Powder Mtn. are races I would go back to the stock 21/45 ratio. Still good bottom end, but a little more top end to compensate for really long pulls where you will most likely reach uphill ‘terminal velocity’.

I don’t think there is a genuine good setup that you can leave for every race, but from my experience having 2 setups is sufficient for the current race hills. As you build power depending on what classes you choose to run and motor setups, clutching and gearing will have to be tailored to what makes your whole setup work efficiently. And remember, making any of these changes will be something you need to figure in more costs for parts/labor/etc... If you are setup to work on things yourself that is great. If you know you will be swapping out parts, try and get a support deal with your local dealer to help out with those costs.

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Where and when do they offer the Amatuer class? I remember looking for it last year but often could not find it. Not interested in the series because I live in Oregon and that would be way too much driving, maybe a race or two.
 

Racer220

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Amateur classes are usually offered at Bear Lake, Pebble Creek, Beaver Mtn., and Schweitzer. The schedule changes from year to year based on venue changes, so the best way to know is to follow the race details on the website once it's updated. RMSHA
 

Racer220

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Seem to be hearing crickets since me and Syko left off on the other RMSHA thread. Should I move on to rear suspension setup and other info, or........?

Give me a simple thumbs up on this post, or lay down your comments or questions so we can try and get everyone a better understanding about what hillclimb racing is all about. The season is coming quicker than you think and now is a better time than ever to figure all this stuff out if you're thinking about racing.

Racer
 

sykosledhead

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Awesome job!!! Truly.

For anyone that looks to race. This is the good stuff.


I think you need to get the word out a bit. Maybe a post on the general or mountain riding tab to let folks know it’s here.

I have wondered on many of these topics and now I can plan a bit to help bring a sled that is ready.

Brain willing, I'll be at Jackson.

Also, correct me but aren't the amateurs class offered locally. Jackson for example is offered thru the Snow devils website and is not published elsewhere? I know when I tried a few years back, I signed up thru the website, showed and it had no connection with the other classes, just a class for anyone who showed and wanted a shot at the hill.

syko
 

sykosledhead

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My tips

Here are two tips I have picked up since my time in Jackson.

1. When you put screws in a track, take it out and give it a good run with different situations to make sure it won't rachet. You need to see if your drivers are hookin up, your screws won't rip into your cooling system and tunnel. Mine racheted so bad (on the starting line), I backed off the race to try again another day. Lessoned learned. I also had loose bolts just from the drive from Laramie, WY to Jackson. Look everything over real good prior to starting.

2. This is one from the Norris Brown era. When he pulls up to the line and is warming his sled up on a stand but has had some time to work thru the throttle and bracks. He likes to pour Dawn on the rails as its turning the track to lube the track clips. Metal clips + plastic Hifax= slippiness/less heat. This will give you some extra slip and maybe a bit of advantage.

As not being an official racer (yet), I say ride as much as you can prior to the season starter and throughout the season.


syko
 

Racer220

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Also, correct me but aren't the amateurs class offered locally. Jackson for example is offered thru the Snow devils website and is not published elsewhere? I know when I tried a few years back, I signed up thru the website, showed and it had no connection with the other classes, just a class for anyone who showed and wanted a shot at the hill.

syko
Yes, Amateur class for Jackson is specifically offered through the Snow Devils. Amateur (also known as 'Locals Class') classes at RMSHA races are offered by the race promoter based on whether or not they want to integrate it into the weekend. The promoter provides RMSHA with the information to post to the site, and then chooses to advertise locally if needed.

Other than the safety requirements listed in the previous post i.e. tether, helmet, chest protector...., I think the main difference between the Snow Devil Amateur class, and individual RMSHA race Amateur classes is what can be done to the sled. Snow Devil Amateur rules call for Stock sleds only apparently. RMSHA Amateur/Locals classes can run whatever sled you like. Beaver Mtn. is a great example of this. They usually run an Amateur class, Vintage class, and Dash For Cash. Stock sleds, turbos, improvers, you name it are racing against each other in Locals. Vintage has to be before a certain year like 1980-prior or something. Dash for cash has Stock/Mod classes I think. There are definitely options depending on your preference.

Syko made an excellent point about traction devices. As I compile more info about rear suspension and track setup I'll cover more of that. Then it will be a true effort to try and visualize in words how to start riding like a racer instead of a freerider. Wish me luck on that haha....:face-icon-small-sho

As far as the Norris Brown era hyfax lubing. ISR actually has some pretty specific rules regarding rear skid lubrication. Can't quote anything off the top of my brain, but I don't think it is allowed in the Hillclimb section rules. Now if your class is a specialty class, not ISR sanctioned for the circuit/race it may not be an issue. It's definitely a good reminder to Know The ISR Rule Book as stated above. Less friction usually equals more speed. Just make sure it's legal first ;)
 
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Racer220

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Chapter 4: Rear Suspension and Track

Time to finish off the starter points of sled setup by talking about the rear suspension and track setup. There are a few critical items should be addressed as soon as you start setting up a rear suspension and track for hillclimb racing. I would strongly suggest using some kind of tunnel protector so you can avoid the possibility of destroying your coolers and tunnel as much as possible. I know some guys that haven’t used it and the results varied from a little damage to welding coolers between weekends to keep riding. Also, rail braces/stiffeners are highly recommended if your sled isn't equipped already. I'll talk about those later.

As far as tracks go, there are few rules to follow. Stock is obviously stock, meaning you must run the OEM track that came with or was a factory option for your model sled. Improved Stock and Mod classes allow for alternate tracks to be run which is nice if you want something with more bite like an Assault track, or something like the Maverik that has some of the finger track integrated into it. One of my favorite tracks I ran was the finger track. Nice, thick lugs with plenty of rubber for the traction screws to seat into, and it held up great for years. As far as most stock tracks go, you will have to contend with the tapered paddle design that doesn’t allow for very good contact when you put screws in. It is not ideal for obvious reasons, but I would strongly suggest cutting about the top ¼” of lug off to get down to a thicker, flatter portion of the lug to seat the screws into. Make sure you have a good set of gloves, a sharp utility knife with an extra blade, a choice beverage (or 6 or more) and a bottle of ibuprofen waiting for when you get done. A steady hand and some ambition makes it easy to cut the tips off each lug so you have a nice flat spot to put the screw in. It basically means destroying a key characteristic of a $800 track, but if you want your screws to stay in, and lugs to not rip off or tear twice as fast I would do it. ISR also mandates that the traction screw must maintain good contact with lug when installed. I have seen racers leave paddle tracks uncut and put screws between the ‘V’ of the lug, but you will sacrifice a lot of traction if you skimp out. The track is one of the most expensive parts of setting up a sled that you will have to let go of any sentimental value. Seriously! You need to be prepared for the fact that you will be going full throttle over dirt, sage brush, rocks, stumps, ice, and whatever else is hiding under the snow. Racing is extremely hard on a track, and it doesn’t take long for it to start looking like crap especially on a low snow year. Traction screws definitely help to keep you going in nasty spots, but they wreak havoc on lugs when you are pinned and finally connect with something that is solid. Just a fact of racing where we race.

There’s not a science to it, but I will point out some key benefits I’ve noticed from using different traction screws. I use Kold Kutter Kanadian screws because they have a bigger head than the originals (.250” vs .187”) which provide more bite, and they seem to last a little longer than the original ice screws. They are available in lengths anywhere from 3/8” to 1 ½”. I would not suggest going any shorter than a 1” shaft just due to the fact that if you have a softer lug track it tends to tear the screw out a lot easier. If I can get the right price I like to go with the 1 1/4” Kanadian ice screw. There are other screw suppliers out there too, but I’ve always used Kold Kutter. The screws have a hex head with basically 2 sharp sides. It depends on how bad conditions are, but generally I install the screws with 1 sharp side facing the back of the sled and then rotate those 180 after a couple races because they round off and start to have very little bite left. As a budget conscious racer this is also a great way to keep a good amount of traction without replacing screws every race.

I will often times replace almost all the screws half way through the season on a bad snow year. If you race Afton similar to what we had last year, you’ll definitely know what I mean. When the snow is really good i.e. 2011 it’s not so important to go with the bigger screw or replace them as often because you aren’t hitting the debris and ice like you do on low snow years. They eventually will wear out though, especially if you use the same sled to ride recreationally throughout the year. I put about 4-5 screws in each lug for the whole year. You can choose how many screws you want to buy and put in, but I generally go through about 4-600 screws in a typical season. Between losing them and replacing almost all at least once during the season it starts to add up. Be prepared to spend a good amount of time trimming lugs and installing the screws. When it comes time to take them out for the year or replace them, pulling them out is definitely way easier and faster.

to be continued………………………..
 
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Racer220

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Few clips from different races. Give you an idea how each hill can be set up and what kinds of obstacles are faced. Steep, not steep, fast, technical, jumps (which I suck at), etc... Each race is unique in it's own way.


Bear Lake


Afton


Beaver Mt.
 

snopro176

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those videos are AWESOME man! Ive wanted to see that kinda view of those hills for years. Have one from jackson? How nasty is Afton? That hill always looked like another intimidator.
 

Racer220

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No POV from Jackson. I've seen one this year, but they were very specific about not letting any helmet cams on the course. Afton is a great pre-cursor to Jackson. It is steep, rutty, stumpy, rocky, and slicker than piss most of the time but it's a blast. It still is no comparison to what Snow King is once you pass the first cat walk.
 

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Chapter 4: Continued.....

..................

My rear suspension setup. I’ll hit the 2 critical items addressed above that I think everyone should install if you’re going to race. Tunnel protectors and rail braces. Tunnel protectors are easy and cheap, as most the time you can just take a pair of hyfax and rivet them to the tunnel. Some sleds have grooves in the tunnel for them to slide into, but I would still recommend fastening them on somehow. Rail braces either come with the sled or can be ordered through the factory race programs. If you don’t have a direct contact, do like I Doo and just have someone on the factory team order the parts. Ski-Doo Freeride sleds came with them. I think Assaults also come with them. There are times when you are going to bend a rail just from the amount of beating the sleds take, but rail braces are key to saving you a lot of time and money for the most part.

As far as how to set up your rear skid to get the best action and handling, I suggest doing this to any skid you use. First thing I address is the shocks. As I said in the front suspension section I want to set my rear shock valving to have a bit more compression capability, and a good rebound setting so the shocks get back to an extended position fast, but don’t catapult the skid out so fast that you lose control. Most rear track shocks have a remote reservoir or have the ability to adjust the compression and rebound to what suits the rider best. I suggest going out and spending a bit of time going through rough terrain and bumpy, wash board trails so you can adjust your shocks to where they work best. Most courses get to the point that you are hitting snow berms, ruts, jumps, and really holed-out sections that will test the rear suspension just as much as the front suspension. The next thing I do is suck up the limiter strap. This creates more ski pressure, which allows the front end to stay down and be a lot more responsive to where you are trying to get the sled to go. I’m not talking 1 or 2 holes from stock, I’m talking the last or second to last hole the strap has when you go as tight as it will go. It sounds overkill, but when you load a track up with screws and get on the conditions found at most races you will want to eliminate as much ski lift as possible. Another reason to create more ski pressure is coming out of holes and tight corners where you need to keep a lot of momentum and control of the sled going into the next gate. The last thing you want to happen is to let off the throttle a bunch because every time you get going the skis pick up and you start heading out of the groove. Watch a lot of the hillclimb vids out there and notice how much of the time the skis are very close to or on the ground. It’s fun to go out and freeride and be able to wheelie around and pack the skis over hills, but 9 times out of 10 you will be losing time on a RMSHA course if you have to keep letting off the throttle to get the front end settled down. As part of sucking up the limiter strap it is also a good idea to release some of the tension on the front track shock spring. I’m no engineer on why it works better, but you are eliminating a lot of the range of motion for the shock anyway and you don’t need as much reaction out of that component as you do the rear track shock setup. If your sled has torsion springs along with the rear track shock, I usually have mine set on the stiffest setting. The stock springs are great for normal riding and can be a bit stiff when you are just out boondocking, but when you are beating the sled full-bore crazy it works out for the best if your shocks are setup correctly.

As mentioned in other posts you will want to monitor track tension when you start riding with a bunch of traction screws installed. Tracks naturally stretch out throughout their life and this process can be sped up by all of the extra ‘pull’ caused by hooking up on things better. This is something that you should just monitor on an individual basis since everyone will have different miles, conditions, tracks, etc… than someone else. Other than that, get out when the snow hits and start trying different things out to see what works best. Go find a hill, or even a nice open area with a small incline to practice gated turns and straight-aways. This will help progress your development in transitioning and maneuvering the sled. As always, feel free to post up any other questions about setup and preparation tips.

Racer
 
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Racer220, I have a 2010 Polaris Dragon 800 163" and would like to get into the hill climb circuit (stock class). I recently tore down the entire rear end to go through everything and make sure its in good condition for the season and noticed several different positions shock positions to use. Would changing shock positions play a significant roll in how the track works? Would it be necessary to try different positions at different tracks? Who that you know that would be a great person to talk to about getting a "baseline" set up to adjust and work off of for my sled?
 

phatty

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Great info in here. Had a blast the few years i was on the circuit. however for me, i prefer to ride and not sit around all day so i got more into backcountry free riding. But racing is awesome and I plan on getting my son into it!
 

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Racer220, I have a 2010 Polaris Dragon 800 163" and would like to get into the hill climb circuit (stock class). I recently tore down the entire rear end to go through everything and make sure its in good condition for the season and noticed several different positions shock positions to use. Would changing shock positions play a significant roll in how the track works? Would it be necessary to try different positions at different tracks? Who that you know that would be a great person to talk to about getting a "baseline" set up to adjust and work off of for my sled?
That's a good question. First, it all comes down to the rider to start things off. The competition is extremely tight, but it is still a really individual sport in some aspects. A truly great rider can make a not so great setup move just as fast as other guys that have it all. As far as the sled goes, are you talking different positions as in mounting positions or setting positions? I would leave the shocks in the stock mount holes. I don't see any reason to move them even if other spots are open. A 163" really isn't that much more track on the ground, but I could see it having some effect on cornering and maneuverability vs. a mid-150s length track. I know of some particular setups that are using 163s, but they deal with different chassis and power levels than your stock Polaris. The track is going to react to the way the suspension is set up, so as far as 'positions' affecting how the track works I would say yes it could significantly play a roll in that. The reaction is primarily going to work through the whole geometry of the sled. The track will spin no matter what. What the suspension setup will determine is how much weight transfer occurs, and where that energy is passed from the track to the ground. The more track on the ground, the more traction you will get. It is a really good idea to stick to the basics I talked about earlier when setting up the rear skid. I don't think you can find any better baseline out there than just starting at a certain setup, trying it out, changing it, and seeing what works better or worse. There are many setups that may work for some guys that will completely annoy the crap out of others even when on the same exact model sleds. Shock valving, compression/rebound settings, torsion spring settings, limiter strap setting. All these things work in tandem with each other. Start your own baseline from my guideline and adjust it until it works best for you. As far as starting RMSHA, you are definitely welcome and will find plenty of help along the way. Run your stocker in all the Semi-Pro classes if you can. More runs equals more experience, and you will learn what works a lot faster that way.

Great info in here. Had a blast the few years i was on the circuit. however for me, i prefer to ride and not sit around all day so i got more into backcountry free riding. But racing is awesome and I plan on getting my son into it!
I hear you there. Unless you're racing 5 classes in Pro there is a ton of 'hurry up and wait' every weekend. There are definitely weekends where I get to freeride in great conditions and I almost second-guess why I ever started racing in the first place. If I didn't have some of the progression the last couple years I think I would be perfectly content spending all my time in the back country. Going over the top of Snow King a few times trumps any other accomplishments I've had as a rider though. That is the #1 reason that drives me to race.
 
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