Bad-Ass V-Twin Snowmobile that Never Made it to Production
Back fifteen years ago (in 2002), BLADE Snowmobiles (of FAST M-10 fame) was preparing to release their OutLaw™ snowmobile, powered by a torquey, four-stroke, American made V-Twin from S&S CYCLE, Inc. The OutLaw had a rather unique appearance with somewhat of a “retro” appearance of sleds from years previous, with an exposed engine and exhaust system. When this model was first shown it was called the “Venom”, but possible trademark conflicts caused BLADE to change the name of this cruiser to OutLaw.
As the year progressed, the 2003 BLADE Outlaw never actually made it to production, making this an extremely rare sled indeed.
V-Twin Four-Stroke Engine
A custom tuned, American made V-twin engine made by S&S CYCLE, INC was to power the OutLaw. The sound of this engine was well known in the cruiser/biker world, but was new to the snowmobile industry. At 1640 cc (that’s 100 cubic inches) the OutLaw offered the largest displacement engine ever offered in a snowmobile.
The S&S Super Sidewinder engine (yes, Sidewinder, imagine that) was a “square bore”, with its 4” bore and a 4” stroke and 8.8:1 compression ratio. It was said to have 120 horsepower and 107 foot pounds of torque at 6000 RPM (peak). For a smooth and tractable drive-away the bottom end response was tamed down to 43 foot pounds of torque at 2000 RPM (engagement) – still an enormous amount for this RPM. The Super Sidewinder engine was normally aspirated and fed the big V-twin cylinders through a high volume air plenum/airbox and a single 52.0 mm S&S “Super G” carburetor. With performance add-ons from S&S this V-twin could achieve 170 HP.
This limited-build, environmentally friendly snowmobile was also boasting improved fuel mileage over 2-cycle counterparts of the day. Coupling the OutLaw’s bottom end with its broad, gutsy power band and an expected dry weight of less than 500 pounds, it had all the goods to make it a performance cruiser.
With so much torque, BLADE engineers had to develop a new motor mount system that would allow the engine some movement and isolate any vibrations, while maintaining center-to-center on the drive system. They accomplished this through a multi-rate series of elastonomer engine mounts and a dog-bone shaped elastonomer torque link. While observing the engine running you could easily see the engine had some freedom, but the drive clutch amazingly did not seem to move.
High Torque Direct Drive System (HTD)
The Super Sidewinder engine package provided ample opportunity to specifically shape a power curve to support FAST’s New H.T.D. (High Torque Direct Drive) System. The ability to match the distinct power curve to a direct-drive system also eliminated the weight required for the gear reduction (chain-case or gearbox) of standard CVT systems. BLADE claimed their direct drive and engine package provided efficiency and performance; something that had eluded other manufacturers with direct drive systems.
The primary clutch was to be a durable four ramp Quad Cam™ clutch from Hulings Racing Products (HRP). A new roller driven pulley had been redesigned with regards to size, ratios and loads from TEAM Industries. TEAM was also to be developing a drive clutch specifically for the high torque loads of 4-stroke applications. The Gates Rubber Company was to be developing and manufacturing the drive belts with materials specifically formulated for the higher torque loadings.
The bottom line is that the system’s lack of gears or chains had increased its efficiency and reduced the weight below any drive system available in snowmobiling. This engine/drive-train package eliminated the gearbox, chain case, jack-shaft, bearings, cooling extrusion, coolant fluid, hoses, etc. which facilitated weight reduction, a lower Cg and mass centralization.
While similar is appearance to the previous BLADE chassis, the OutLaw chassis was created specifically to house the powerful S&S engine & the HTD Drive System. The engine mounting system positioned the engine virtually in the center of the sled for improved weight, balance and visibility. The engine crankshaft location was also positioned much lower than other 4-stroke snowmobiles. Due to the increased torque of this package, a new engine torque link system had to be devised. It allowed for free vertical movement and minimized fore & aft displacement while maintaining parallelism of the two clutch shafts. The floating engine mount system was also developed to isolate the rider from the power pulses of the huge 100 cu. in. engine. Since a four-stroke only has a “power stroke” half as often as a two-stroke (one of four instead of one of two), each power stroke was that much more intense.
The steering system utilized a new transfer tube positioned in the bottom of the front suspension compartment. This new location allowed for a cleaner look around the beautiful V-Twin engine and a reduction in ball-joint angularity.
Look closely and you’ll notice a taller tunnel; this “deep draw” tunnel was a result of accommodating the larger diameter of the TEAM driven pulley directly onto the drive shaft. The saddle height is also taller, resulting in a new rider position.
The pedigree of this chassis was pure BLADE and was designed to carve a corner in the same manner all BLADE owners would have expect. The front suspension featured BLADE’s RAD™ front suspension with a true 9.8″ of Rocker Arm Displaced suspension travel and the (BLADE exclusive) CompLink™ stabilizer system for absolute cornering and the ability to independently soak up nasty bumps while transitioning through the corners. The rear suspension was the renowned (and now legendary) FAST M-10 fitted with FOX Zero Comp™ shocks. The rear was finished with a new and unique looking multi-profile tunnel that gave the rider three options for footrest positioning for cruising, ditch-banging or acceleration.
The clutch center-to-center distances had been stretched from 10.5 to 14″. The wheelbase remained unchanged at 76.0″ with an overall length of 111.0”. As a result of the motor being free air, no cooling heat exchangers were needed, resulting in an extremely light chassis. This system’s reduction contributed to the OutLaw being the industry’s lightest weight 4-stroke snowmobile, possibly lighter than some 2-strokes.
The OutLaw’s ergos included dual level seating, a real (non-flimsy) adjustable wind screen, round motorcycle type headlamps, round analogue type gauges, multiple foot positioning, open-air engine aesthetics and most notably; the sound of the V-twin.
BLADE was convinced that they could introduce a whole new class of riders to the snowmobiling community. Their studies shown there were men and women out there who were tired of hanging up their riding chaps as soon as the snow would fly. These riders (still) like and know their V-twins, but don’t care for the bumps. Why not give them an engine they’re familiar with in a chassis that provides one of the finest ride and handling packages available? There was even speculation the OutLaw would be sold at Harley Davidson dealers looking for some floor traffic during the winter months, but as we all know, that never happened.
The BLADE OutLaw was expected to retail around $22,000. Maybe that was the nail in the coffin, as even today that is too damn much money for a snowmobile.