How To Choose the Right Snowmobile For You…
What’s the right snowmobile for you – that’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? When we acquire a new automobile, most of our decisions are made before purchase – make, model, options, etc. Then we pretty much drive away from the dealership without much (if any) further thought about how it might perform or handle better. Basically, we live with what we’ve bought, because most of us aren’t in the habit of adjusting or personalizing a new vehicle much to improve ride or comfort.
Many of us go through the same “as is” process when we purchase a new sled for snowmobile tours and snowmobile vacations. We choose make, model and maybe a few options, and then don’t make many adjustments or changes after delivery. All too often, we end up hating the sled (and maybe even the brand) because it just never felt comfortable as the right snowmobile.
Too bad, because snowmobiles are made to be tweaked and tailored to suit each individual rider. The four manufacturers go to considerable effort and expense to make sleds adjustable and adaptable, but some dealers don’t bother to do customer-specific set up, and most of us don’t read the owner’s manual and aren’t wrench-savvy anyway. Consequently, we may end up with an uncomfortable ride. Here are a few tips that can make a big difference to how you experience your new sled as the right snowmobile for you…
Be An Informed Shopper
As with automobile shopping, sled manufacturers offer different models specialized for the main sledding categories – Crossover, Mountain, Trail Performance, Touring and Recreation/Utility. So before you buy, understand what category targets your primary riding interest. If your priority is mountain riding, don’t buy a trail sled and vice versa. Also remember that each manufacturer’s approach to categories is somewhat different, so one brand’s crossover sleds may suit one person, but not another. So brand shopping up front can get you a new sled better suited to your riding style out of the box, but every sled can also be further personalized to for greater enjoyment…
Getting the suspension set right for your style and weight is critical to ride comfort and my vote for best in the business on a stock sled goes to Ski-Doo’s rMotion. A properly adjusted suspension (front and back) affects everything from a smooth ride to steering capability. An improperly set suspension is likely the number one reason for disliking a sled, and many riders don’t even realize that’s the problem. Your suspension choices start before purchase, because different models provide various suspension options. If you’re a leisurely trail rider, you may find the suspension on an aggressive trail sled too hard, so be careful what you buy. When you take delivery, do whatever’s necessary (including hands on advice from your dealer) to get your suspension working best for you – or you may never be happy on that sled. Depending on your needs and budget, you might also want to look at upgrading the stock front shocks with aftermarket ones.
A properly adjusted suspension can go a long way to benefit steering. Adjusting the height or angle of the handlebars can also provide better steering leverage as well as a more comfortable riding position. But having the right skis and carbides is a major factor for comfort and predictability too. I’ve tried all kinds for trail riding, but have settled on Ski-Doo’s adjustable Pilot TS skis with carbide runners made by Woody’s. For me, this combo delivers optimum steering, cornering and handling with no darting. Adjusted to the trail conditions, the Pilot TS skis are so light and effortless that my wife calls them “the great equalizer” – they hardly require any muscle power to manoeuvre and give her the confidence to ride with the guys!
Keeping You Warm
Some sleds are warmer to ride than others and that makes them more comfortable in whatever Mother Nature can conjure. For example, Ski-Doo’s REV-XS platform has proved itself to me by diverting the cold air away from my body like nothing before. My next key to warmth (after stock hand and thumb warmers) is adding the right height of windshield and a good set of handlebar muffs. Add whatever you need to your sled to be comfortable in those sub zero temperatures or your won’t be the right snowmobile for you!
Avoiding Throttle Thumb
Those with small hands or light grips often find stock throttles uncomfortable because the thumb lever is too wide or too stiff. Sometimes an adjustment can be made to rotate the right hand grip slightly so that the ball of the thumb can be used instead when the thumb gets tired or sore. But Ski-Doo has introduced a more practical solution – the industry’s first electronic wireless throttle. With no cable, this throttle is very easy to squeeze and adjustable without tools to adapt to either thumb or finger use, eliminating most causes of throttle thumb. Other alternatives to combat a sore thumb include throttle extenders and left side throttles.
My final tip for getting the most comfort and enjoyment from the right snowmobile is not to be constantly fiddling. Make your adjustments and additions before and during your first rides, get it set – and then leave well enough alone (unless you add a passenger or more baggage) – because the most enjoyable part of a properly set up sled is just enjoying the ride!
The tips and advice in this blog are the opinions of the author, may not work in every situation and are intended only for the convenience and interest of the reader, who has the personal responsibility to confirm the validity, accuracy and relevancy of this information prior to putting it to their own use.