When you hop on a snowmobile, any snowmobile, there is one adjustment that almost always can and should be made so the sled works...

When you hop on a snowmobile, any snowmobile, there is one adjustment that almost always can and should be made so the sled works properly for you. More accurately, for your weight. For a snowmobile to perform properly, it must be in balance, front to rear. When you place your weight on the sled, if it is not set properly this balance is not achieved.

The adjustment we’re talking about is the rear suspension preload, which will set the sled’s ride height. If you weigh more than the average bear and do not change the rear preload, then the sled will squat too low in the rear and lift up at the front, leaving less pressure on the skis for balanced steering and handling in corners. Traction will be awesome, maybe even too good, and the front end will be loose.

Or, if you weigh less than what the sled is set for, the rear of the machine will not squat down far enough and the track will be far more prone to spinning, causing poor traction. The tail of the sled will be loose, wanting to slide out around corners, and the steering will be heavier, even darty, with more weight on the skis and less being carried on the rear of the sled. You’ll also find the sled doesn’t cool as well, as the tail of the sled sits so high that you aren’t picking up as much snow and ice scatter to contact and cool the heat exchangers mounted up in the rear of the tunnel.

Each sled has a particular method for increasing the rear preload, or spring tension, to carry more or less weight. Typically each sled is going to target a specific ride height, or maybe a specific amount of shock compression (some Yamaha models). Typically it is going to be roughly 30-40% of the available travel will be used up in sag, so the ride height should be 60-70% of total unloaded height. Each sled is different, so refer to your owner’s manual for what the manufacturer suggests for that particular model. Once you establish this baseline you can then make adjustments as needed for specific behavior or specific conditions, or your own personal preferences and priorities.

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