There are aftermarket parts and then there are super High-end aftermarket parts. Carbon Fiber generally falls into the second category so when we got the chance to try a set of highly modified, precision balanced Polaris Clutches with Carbon fiber goodies installed we did what any motor head would do……we said yes.
The clutches were provided and modified by TJ Patrick at Patrick Custom Carbon. If you’re not familiar with TJ, he was a successful independent Polaris oval racer from the late 70s and early 80s but is also is the father of go-cart, Indy Car and NASCAR racer Danica Patrick. In fact, TJ met Danica’s mom (Bev) at a snowmobile oval race in Grand Forks, North Dakota back around 1980. He has spent most of his entire life being around and building super high-end race vehicles. He has now taken that knowledge and turned it into a business designing and manufacturing lightweight Carbon Fiber parts for snowmobiles, which are still a passion of his.
The Polaris clutches he sent us had been highly modified. TJ removed as much aluminum from each as possible while still maintaining functionality and reliability. He then installed a Carbon Fiber Cap on the primary clutch as well as titanium cap bolts. He finished both clutches off with a precision balance and shipped them to us.
We were only able to ride the clutches on one ride, but it was enough time for us to get a decent idea of some of the benefits. For testing purposes, we started with two identical machines: One with stock clutches and the other we installed the Patrick modified clutches. Before installation we weighed each set of clutches without ramps and springs and found that both of the Patrick clutches were a full pound lighter than the stock versions. One pound (each) might not sound like much, but this is rotating mass, much of it a fair distance from the center of rotation. Having to accelerate one pound of rotating mass takes a fair amount of power and time, so it has an effect more like 7 pounds of static mass. With two clutches both being one pound lighter that is more than a two pound reduction in rotating mass!
With this kind of reduction in rotating mass you will reach your maximum engine RPM faster every time you squeeze the throttle. The carbon fiber cover for the primary runs a cool $650 but it also contains the edges of the 6 spider towers for added strength and durability.
Once on the snow it was clear that the lighter & balanced clutches were indeed more responsive, but the biggest difference might have been how much smoother the motor felt with the Patrick clutches. We could feel the difference, even during acceleration. It spooled up both quicker and smoother.
In a drag race the sleds are still about neck and neck which makes sense – the clutches aren’t adding additional power so the speeds will be the same, but one machine was smoother and more responsive. Less vibration means less wear and tear on spinning parts which is definitely a good thing for clutch parts and especially the crank shaft.
Even if you don’t want to get into the carbon fiber parts Patrick offers precision clutch balancing at only $75 per clutch. You might be surprised at how far off many clutches are, even when brand new, and when we’re talking about stock sleds now cranking between 150-200 HP you might want to give this service some serious consideration. The difference can be amazing. Contact TJ Patrick at 815-721-5150 or visit his website at www.PatrickCustomCarbon.com
We are hoping to do a long-term test on these trick clutches this season on our 2019 mountain project sled that we will be telling you about in the near future. Stay tuned……
By Dustin Pancheri, SnowTech Mountain