The MoHawk is the latest ski design from Starting Line Products. Their goal in designing the MoHawk was to develop a ski that would...

The MoHawk is the latest ski design from Starting Line Products. Their goal in designing the MoHawk was to develop a ski that would be more versatile in a wider range of conditions, and a better fit for the crossover riders that want their sled to work as well on the trail as it does off. These riders encounter everything out there from picture-perfect groomed trails, to trails that are whooped out, rutted up and blown out in the corners, to trails that have a fresh foot of snow on them. And in the spring it gets even worse as the trails can be frozen solid in the morning with ruts and then turn to mush by noon. Those are just the trail conditions; these riders also demand their sleds to work equally as well off trail in the deep snow. They want a predictable ski with aggressive bite and great flotation.

The Mohawk ski has many design features that make it SLP’s most versatile ski to date. First, it utilizes the famous SLP “Rocker Keel” bottom design (patented banana curvature) that originated on the SLP Ultra-Lite ski to reduce steering effort. It combines this “Rocker Keel” with the hourglass center keel shape and gull wing edges found on the ever popular SLP Straight Line Tracking ski which significantly reduces darting when exposed to ruts in the trail and provides effortless steering. That has been combined with a smaller version of the SLP Powder Pro ski’s Powder Control Wings (flared outer edges) which increase flotation and steering control by keeping the snow under the ski rather than allowing it to wash over the top.

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The new ski now incorporates a traction “Mohawk” (this is where the name comes from) on the top side edges of the ski for rider stability when stuck and having to climb around on the skis. Finally, it utilizes a controlled flex pattern provided by its cross section, its design and new loop material which allows the ski to flex and absorb impacts as it negotiates through the terrain.

This new flex pattern is a major factor in the ski’s handling characteristics. In developing this ski, SLP found that if they allowed it to flex as it negotiated through a corner or across rough terrain, it would provide a much more predictable feel. The snow and ice that the ski bottom, side and runner are exposed to in a corner varies dramatically. Typically you will have soft snow on top with inconsistent compaction below. This is made worse when lots of sleds have been traveling across it. When you go through a corner (on other skis), what happens is a continual cycle where the ski grabs traction and then loses it, only to grab it again. When the ski loses traction, the sled begins to push and then when it grabs traction again, the outside ski hooks (grabs too much traction) and the inside ski lifts. This causes the operator to typically back off on the throttle or change body positioning on the sled to try to keep that inside ski down and the sled going around the corner. On this ski, the engineered flex pattern combined with the bottom design, in most instances, keeps the ski from losing traction in the first place.

The ski loop on the MoHawk ski is made of a new cross-linked polymer designed to provide near indestructible strength with optimal flexibility. It offers a high amount of grip when cold and wet. The loop to ski fastening system has been re-designed to be stronger and more attractive with easier installation. This new loop absorbs energy without compressing and is an integral part of the ski’s flex pattern.

The overall width of the MoHawk ski is 7 3/8” (187 mm). It utilizes a main bottom design that is 6” (152.4mm) wide and virtually identical to the SLP Straight Line Tracking ski to provide superb trail manners. For corners that are torn up or when the snow gets deeper, the 7 3/8” wide overall width combined with the vertical sidewall and “Powder Control Wings” delivers the bite and flotation desired. The sleds of today are a rider-forward design and many of them house 4-stroke engines, making their weight biased forward compared to sleds of the past. Most of these newer model sleds have little or no belly pan surface area and are in significant need of a ski with ample flotation when used in deeper snow conditions.

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So, how well do they work? We’ll start first with the mountain sleds, as those were the first sleds we had the opportunity to experience and compare it on. In off-trail powder snow conditions we felt the MoHawk ski was nearly as aggressive as the Powder Pro ski and offered slightly more flotation. It was extremely predictable but felt really similar to the Powder Pro. On the trail, again it was nearly as aggressive as the Powder Pro but more predictable. It tended to corner flatter and we felt we could carve through the corners with more confidence.

On the short and mid-length track sleds, we were surprised by the improvement and our expectations were exceeded. The MoHawk skis made a sled even more predictable in the corners. Flat handling, aggressive bite without any push while requiring only light rider effort with substantially reduced negative feedback; these skis allowed us to negotiate a corner much easier and the confidence level went up considerably. We felt completely in control without having to muscle the sled around, so at the end of a long day we had more energy.

Like with all other skis from Starting Line Products, you order the ski bottoms, then a set of mounts for your particular sled, a set of loops and a set of carbide runners. The MoHawk skis are just now being made available at all SLP dealers, or can be ordered directly from Starting Line Products at www.startinglineproducts.com or 208-529-0244.

From the January / February 2014 issue of SnowTech Magazine. To see all the great articles from SnowTech you have to be a subscriber to the magazine. Subscribe here – and have SnowTech delivered to your door.

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