I’ve been out of the sport for the past 15-16 years, as I was living down south for this long. But, as fate has it, I’m back up in Minnesota now for at least the next year or so, and much to my surprise I discovered your column is still an excellent resource for no-nonsense objective snowmobile information.
So I ask you, I’m 62 years old and don’t want to have to fiddle with a sled much at all. I just want to go out, turn the key, and ride. Sure, I’ll keep an eye on the track tension and alignment, hyfax wear and the carbide runners, but other than the basics I want true turn-key reliability and performance.
Forget brand preference, I want some sound advice on what sleds I should be considering. Basic trail riding and the typical usage, nothing fancy or specific. What are your suggestions? I appreciate your insight and opinions.
Old Timer Back in MN
Maybe we should call you Rip Van Winkle. I’m not sure how familiar you are with the recent changes in technology, but since you’re writing we have to assume you’re not completely in the dark.
While all of the sled makers now offer true turn key reliability, there are some models that stand out as excellent choices for your demographic. Any of the new 4-stroke models would have to be major considerations, as all you do is gas and go, for the most part.
You make no mention of power levels or requirements, so we would have to consider the likes of the Polaris FS, the Arctic Cat 660 4-stroke models, and the Ski-Doo Legend series. All of these are going to have modest power levels, enough to get around but not high-performance by any means.
If you’re an experienced rider, then we can jump up to 120 HP and consider the likes of the Yamaha Vector or the Arctic Cat turbocharged 660s, and on the high end the all-new Jaguar Z1.
Of these models, my gut instinct is the Yamaha Vector would be the closest to your request, but could be more than what you need in terms of power and performance. The Polaris FS is fairly new, and the Legends and Jaguar Z1 are all-new, so there is little in terms of reliability data to go on here. The 660 engines from Arctic Cat are rock-solid, naturally-aspirated and turbocharged. The turbo tends to be on/off at times, so it is more of a performance package than a sit back and relax package.
I’d feel comfortable suggesting any of these to you. Knowing more about you, I could properly qualify you further to best match the machine to your wants and desires.