Think about a snowmobile that really goes around the corners well. We often refer to that as a sled that “corners on rails”, one that holds the line you want it to without pushing, it stays flat and, well, just plain rails around the corners. This is a very desirable trait if we’re talking about trail sleds. This is an attribute that we all seek.
Normally this kind of handling is associated with a sled that sits low to the ground and has an aggressive set of skis with fresh carbides. But one of the problems we often run into is that a sled that rails around the corners also tends to be twitchy or dating, maybe even having a really high steering effort.
Back a couple years ago we came across a new ski design that really caught our eye – the Split Rail skis. They have two carbides on each ski, which by itself is not new, as we have long had dual runner skis, most notably the ones from Simmons. Having two runners gives us a wider ski stance and does wonders for stability, but these Split Rail skis were different. So different that they require the use of a new spindle assembly. That means these skis just can’t be bolted on in a matter of less than ten minutes and swapped back and forth with your stock skis. These skis required a bit more of a commitment.
So what makes the Split Rail skis so different? How do they work? Here’s the story.
Part of the magic or difference with the Split Rail skis is with its ability to keep a carbide runner in contact with the ground. A snowmobile ski’s ability to constantly stay in contact with the trail by conforming to changes in terrain ultimately increases the control and performance of the snowmobile. Split Rail Skis do this better due to its patented center-less ski design and “Dual Axis Technology”.
1st Axis – The Split Rail ski has two low profile keels that permit the two rails of the snowmobile ski to flex from the front of the ski to the rear of the ski. Flexing of the snowmobile ski eliminates bridging of any divots or potholes in the trail and allows the ski to conform to the terrain. The two carbides on the snowmobile ski together with the four sharp sidewall edges remain in contact and carve the snow. Steering and handling is outstanding.
2nd Axis – The Split Rail ski has two rails that flex independently of each other and pivot on the axis side to side. When the ski enters a divot or pothole in the trail, both rails at the rear of the snowmobile ski vertically self-adjust to conform to the contour of the terrain and carve the snow.
Rail Around Corners
Compared to conventional and concave “tunnel” skis, Split Rail skis minimize the snow pressure build up and eliminate the push effect caused by unwanted lifting of the ski in corners. Unlike solid center skis which begin to lose contact with the surface as snow pressure builds, Split Rail’s center-less design regulates optimum snow pressure to its four sharp sidewall edges. The sidewall edges maintain positive contact with the snow surface and help the snowmobile’s trajectory to go where the skis have been pointed. The snowmobile can now make sharp turns with enhanced handling and steering control and the confidence of the rider is increased as well.
The Split Rail ski, conventional ski and tunnel ski underside surface areas are identical and all experience “lift” going straight ahead. When entering a corner, with a conventional or tunnel ski, “lift” continues to increase as snow builds up under the ski. Handling response is reduced as a result of the carbides losing contact with the trail. The surface area of the Split Rail ski is divided, which in turn produces less drag and the Split Rail ski hydroplanes going straight ahead. When entering a corner a Split Rail Ski produces minimal lift as the snow passes through the center of the ski. The rider experiences the best of both worlds as the Split Rail Ski technology produces “lift” in the “straight- away” & “carving” in the corners.
The two most undesirable traits of hard packed snow and icy conditions are darting and reduced track slide-rail lubrication. Split Rail skis patented center-less ski and arched spindle design effectively addresses both issues.
Split Rail skis have two features that address “darting”.
1) Split Rail Skis feature 4 carbides (2 per ski). When one of the carbide runners becomes trapped in an existing groove on the surface of the snow or ice the other 3 tracking carbides overpower and compensate for the trapped single carbide. This enables the snowmobile to track truer and straighter.
2) A Split Rail ski has 2 rails and each rail has 2 sharp sidewall edges. When combined together there are 4 sharp sidewall edges per ski that carve the snow and again forces the snowmobile to track true and straight.
Split Rail skis excel in limited snow conditions due in part to its patented center-less ski design. When turning the snowmobile this design funnels snow through its arch spindles directly into the track area, improving slide-rail lubrication and heat exchanger cooling.
Another operating condition that these work well in is slush. Slush significantly increases drag and robs horsepower from the snowmobile when outfitted with conventional or tunnel skis. Split Rail skis greatly reduce this drag due to the majority of slush being channeled between the rails of its patented center-less ski design. A snowmobile outfitted with Split Rail skis is actually able to partially rise above the slush and hydroplane. Steering control is better maintained due to the 4 sharp sidewall edges of each ski remaining in contact with the trail surface. Overall, the snowmobile is able to maintain its velocity with less bogging or loss of horsepower.
Split Rail skis also excel on bare pavement due to its four carbide cutting edges. When the rider points the sled it goes in that direction. There is no skidding sideways when crossing roads and dragging of the sled when pulling up to the gas pumps is eliminated. Riders will truly appreciate this feature.
One of the most common questions is if these skis increase the steering effort. Surprisingly, they do not. The Split Rails will actually reduce the steering effort on your snowmobile, due to its low profile keel design. What about replacement carbides, are the only available from Split Rail? The carbide runner bolt pattern is that of the Ski-Doo dual-runner Precision ski so standard carbide runners are available from many aftermarket retailers or Ski-Doo dealers. Split Rail sells the 6” Stud-Boy Shaper Bars, which are also available through many sources.
Due to their unique design, Split Rail skis are not available for all makes and models. The most popular applications have been for Ski-Doo XPs, Polaris Pro-Rides and Yamaha Nytro models. It is on the FX Nytro that owners report the Split Rail skis make an incredible difference and improvement to the handling response and steering effort, getting rid of the darting and increasing the rider confidence.
Split Rail is so confident in their skis that they offer a money back guarantee, so you know they’re good. The skis and all of the parts and pieces are made in the U.S. and Canada. To order yours or to learn more visit www.splitrailski.com or contact them at 888-771-9872.