If there is one thing I have learned after each winter riding season comes and goes, it is that the new snowmobiles just keep getting better and better. Sometimes it might not be clearly evident after a single ride, but often times it is. With each passing year, the next generation of new sleds is an improvement over the models they replace. The calibrations, from clutching and suspensions to ECU programming and everything in-between, keep elevating the performance and reliability of the sleds to new levels.
This is really an amazing feat, because there will be times we get off of a new sled and wonder, very seriously, how it can get any better than this. That is when we latch onto a sled and keep it here for comparing the next year’s fleet to. We can not rely on memory alone, but must be able to perform side by side comparisons to what we consider to be the “standard” by which all other sleds are then compared to.
We bring this to light because we get to ride all of the brand new sleds each and every year and get to firsthand see and feel the otherwise subtle differences between new sleds and older ones. If a rider owns a sled that they believe works perfectly well, they might not be inclined to go out and try a new sled because they doubt it could get much better than what they currently own and ride. Trust us, you owe it to yourself to throw a leg over each and every new snowmobile that you possibly can and experience firsthand how it performs.
One of the largest factors when it comes to rider satisfaction that is so often overlooked is personal fit – how does the sled fit you. Most sleds are manufactured for the fictional “average” rider, something like the 6-foot tall male that weighs something like 180 pounds. This stereotype changes with specific models, but if you are not Joe Average then you need to realize that some other sled than what you are riding right now might fit you far better.
This premise came to light with the very first Ski-Doo REV back in 2003. Here we find out we had all been sitting in the wrong place on the snowmobile for forty years? Are you kidding me? And while we all discovered that a more centered riding position with our hips above our knees did wonders for vehicle control and bump isolation, we also discovered that we didn’t like having our knees bent so much. That brought about the 2008 REV XP, which opened up the knee angle and got our feet back out in front of us, but kept the rider in the centrailized position and kept the hips above the knees which makes standing up so much easier. And, the rest is history.
Point is, you need to sit on and ride the new sleds that your riding buddies show up with. Don’t be shy, ask to ride them. You just might find out how much more comfortable it is, or how much smoother it is, or how much quieter it is, or how it just plain fits you better. Something as simple as handlebar height and position can make all the difference between a miserable sled and one that you love.
Another point to consider is that each sled is manufactured to be adequate across a wide range of conditions. This means that there are many components on your snowmobile that can be improved upon. Maybe it is for a specific application, or maybe it is a matter of installing a part of higher quality materials or construction. The OEMs spend a large amount of time and money to make their sleds operate properly, but we also know they spend a lot of time and effort in reducing the product costs of their vehicles. There is no way that a snowmobile manufacturer can make the best possible part for each and every component on your sled, it would be cost prohibitive.
That leaves room for customization and personalization, and is why the pages of this magazine are so full of advertisements from various companies that have parts and pieces for your brand new snowmobiles. Go to their websites, read what we have to say about the accessories, learn what others are saying about the components. There is plenty of room for improvement, even if the sleds continue to get better and better with each year. And do not fool yourself into thinking that your sled is good enough. It is only as good as your experience level allows it to be. Try something better and you quickly realize that you could also be enjoying something better. That’s part of the fun, making your sled work better for you, for where you ride and how you ride. Don’t settle for “good enough”, as there is always room for improvement.
From the September 2013 issue of SnowTech released on August 15th, 2013