It shouldn’t take you more than a quick glance to determine these are some very different carbide runners. Instead of using the traditional round or square host bar with a carbide insert of varying length, the Pro-File runners instead use a banana-shaped host bar that adds a keel to the runner profile, giving it some depth to grab the trail surface, but more importantly, it gives the ski bottom the much-desired keel curvature so the weight of the sled is concentrated into a smaller runner length on hardpack for easier steering, while maintaining a longer runner length in softer snow conditions.
Maybe we should back up for a moment. Pro-File carbide runners come from HRP Motorsports, which is Hulings Racing Products, as in Brad Hulings, one of the most talented and decorated oval racers of all-time. One of the members of the Polaris Midnight Blue Express, Hulings went on to race for Scorpion and Ski-Doo, and many will remember him as a fierce independent racer that took the race circuit by storm on his Mercury Sno Twsiter sleds. He still rides snowmobiles for thousands of miles every winter and builds some pretty crazy high performance parts and accessories to help make the sleds owned by us mere mortals work even better. Pro-File Carbide Runners are one of these, a unique and different approach to the ski runner.
According to Brad, Pro-File runners were designed for experienced riders who are looking for better steering control in a wider range of trail conditions. He tells us the runner’s arched keel is the key to significantly improve steering control with the least amount of muscle effort from the rider. If you are looking for less steering effort than factory runners, then these runners are not for you. But, if you have tried other high performance runners and you’re looking for runners that steer easier & friendlier down the trail plus have great steering control, then you will really like the Pro-File runners.
Snowmobile ski runners (a.k.a. wear bars, carbides, skegs) are commonly misunderstood by snowmobilers that think the “CARBIDES” are what steers the sled. Actually the length & depth of the runner (and ski keel) is what steers the machine in most trail conditions we all ride in. The carbide section is primarily a more durable wear surface, and their sharp edge is occasionally helpful on an icy surface. While typical snowmobilers call them “carbides” that is not the proper name, and is not what they are called by the snowmobile manufacturers – they are “ski runners”.
There are two basic types of ski runners. First is the factory installed runners which are best suited to less aggressive riders that want very easy steering. Second are aftermarket high performance runners which are designed for experienced riders who want more steering control or ski grip for more aggressive riding style and who are able to muscle up the extra steering effort.
Typical factory runners are made with 3/8” square or rounded steel rods bent to fit the ski. The runner normally bends to match the shape of the ski when it’s installed. Usually there are 3” to 4” of sharp carbide which are about 1/2” below the ski or depth into the snow at the carbide sections. Sharp angle carbide sections in the runner improve the steering control on an icy surface when new & sharp but are also the primary wear surface. Experienced factory test riders decide what runners best fit the needs of “average” snowmobile riders on their brand of machines. Usually these are the easiest steering runners you can buy and may be what fits your riding style best.
Aftermarket high performance runners usually feature larger diameter host bars, often using 1/2” rounded or aggressively shaped steel rods that are 5/8” below the ski (depth into the snow) at the sharp carbide sections. Adding length to the sharp carbide section is the most popular way other runner builder’s rate their products performance, suggesting that more carbide equals better steering. Unfortunately, the length of the carbide on the runner is also the primary wear surface on the ground. Remember seeing brown snow trails? Guess what you’re riding in, “SNIRT”. What about going to the gas station on the road? The runners take a beating in those conditions and we ride on them often. Sharp carbide edge sections wear out and it doesn’t take very long. Once the sharp edge is gone most runners lose steering control very quickly since they rely on the sharp carbide sections to do the steering.
The down side of increasing the length of the carbide sections on the runner is highly increased effort from the rider to steer & control the sled and loss of steering control when the sharp carbide edge is worn away or dull. Any runners that are longer will steer harder, that’s just the way it is due to simple leverage. The further away the end of the runner is from the center of rotation (ski spindle) the more leverage there is and the harder it is to steer.
Hulings has found the better way to significantly improve the steering control or ski grip is to increase the depth the center of the runner is into the snow. Pro-File ski runners are designed with a totally new concept, both visually & functionally. He starts by using computer aided design “CAD” technology to accurately measure the shape of each ski. Next they build the runner model to fit that ski surface exactly. Pro-File Runners are designed to not bend or flex, which keeps the ski & runner always at the desired shape or profile for optimum steering performance in all conditions.
Next they design the “keel” profile to best fit the machine. Pro-File runners’ arched keel shapes are deeper into the snow at the center and less into the snow at the ends than bent rod runners. This unique design allows the center of the runner to penetrate deeper into the snow for improved steering control. Tapering off the ends of the runners allow the skis to turn easier with less muscle effort by the rider. Pro-File keels are also wider across the runner face with square corners. This provides more “edges” to grab the ground and allows the runner body to do more steering than the carbide section. This unique feature greatly improves steering control in loose snow trail conditions, much like a ski with multiple ribs or runners would have more edges to grab the snow as it is sliding across the ground.
Pro-File runners are made of tough carbon steel with 6” of sharp carbide at center of the ski. This length of carbide provides long mileage life to the runners and good steering on icy trails. Even after the sharp edge of carbides is gone there is very little loss of steering control because the body of the runner is primarily steering the sled, not just the sharp carbide edge.
This unique design & manufacturing process also allows HRP to reshape the keel profile to correct drivability issues like darting or over-steering. Darting happens when the runners follow groves in the trail from other sleds. Over-steering happens when the skis turn by themselves with no effort from the rider, or if the skis are so aggressive that the tail of the sled wants to come around on you. Both conditions are very uncomfortable for the rider. Pro-File runners have been test driven and reshaped for each ski profile until the runners perform properly on the machines and skis they were designed for. Testing & tuning is done by experienced snowmobile riders who know how a trail sled should drive for long distance trail riding in a wide variety of trail conditions.
What about changing snow conditions? Trail surface snow conditions greatly affect how a snowmobile handles. In loose snow the steering effort is easy & skis have less grip than when snow has melted and refrozen to a hard pack surface. This is why riding hard pack trails in the morning is usually quite different than softer loose snow on a sunny afternoon. Pro-File runners are designed & tested to work better in both of these conditions.
Occasionally a warm day will melt the snow which then refreeze overnight into an icy top layer with a soft under layer. This condition makes steering the sled much more difficult and erratic. Usually this only lasts for a few hours in the morning, but when it stays cold & cloudy all day & the trail stays frozen it can take the fun out of riding. The only way to significantly adjust the machine for this condition is to reduce the amount of runner in the snow. Changing back to the 3/8” factory runners may be the best solution for some riders to ride comfortably in these conditions. Years of testing has proven this to be true.
Suspension tuning and ski alignment also greatly affects the drivability of the machine. Pro-File runners are designed & tested on stock snowmobiles with factory suspension settings front & rear as recommended for the weight of the rider. HRP strongly recommends the suspension, especially the rear suspension front arm limiter adjuster, be reset to factory settings and ski alignment checked when Pro-File runners are installed.
Pro-File Runners sell for $189.95 per set and can be ordered from HRP Motorsports at 616-874-6338 or