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Posted: 6/17/2009 9:23:51 AM EST
Summertime is here and it's time to shop for snowmobiles.

I have an excellent mechanical understanding of them, but have never ridden one and don't know crap about them.

I live in the land of snow, 12 inches overnight is common. I keep myself prepared for a blizzard or ice storm. This seems like a logical addition as a form of transportation.

I don't plan on much joy riding, but I'd probably do a lap of my outposts every winter, a 240 mile round trip, and a putz around my neighborhood a few times. Mostly in the name of keeping it running well and knowing it.

I don't care at all about speed, flash or luxury though I like the looks of the 1990's and newer models. This will be a survival snowmobile. Don't care about the color, It will probably get a flat black paint job if it ain't black, I won't ride something fluorescent green or yellow.....

What I want is simplicity, commonality, dependability, ease of start and gas mileage. A good seat would be nice. It should be able to hold two 300lb people and be capable of tugging a sled behind it. The 350 Chevy pickup of snowmobiles I guess you could say.

Something under $1000, maybe a bit more if its worth it to me. The cheaper though the better since I would rather have 3 good machines than 1 awesome one.

Is there any that should be on my "look for" list?

Any to run away from?

What is a normal spare parts list for these machines?

Are there any tools I'd want? I'm pretty well off for auto work so it would only be specific snowmobile tools.

I hear "carbides"....studs in the track, right? Do I want them?

Some seem to have much more suspension travel than others Is this useful to me?

Is fuel injection on a 2 cycle better than carbureted ?

I guess that's a good start to my questions.

Thanks


Link Posted: 6/17/2009 10:45:08 AM EST
Snow? Wha da hell is dat?
Link Posted: 6/17/2009 10:56:46 AM EST
[Last Edit: 6/17/2009 10:59:45 AM EST by frozenny]
Please do not take this as my attempt to piss on your parade. I am most definitely NOT trying to be negative. However, the following information is well intended and honest. I do mean well here.......

Snowmobiles are NOT, in my opinion, a really good form of reliable transportation.

12 inches of snow overnight? Great. That makes a fantastic addition to groomed trails. However, many modern sleds don't do well in deep, ungroomed snow. There are deep powder sleds, wiht paddle tracks and longer tracks. A lot of the others have a tendency to sink like crazy in deep snow unless they are barrel-assing along at 50 mph+. I've dug, pulled, and lifted one too many sleds ou of deep snow to really have faith in their ability to run virgin snow without problems. You can either drive somewhat slower and sink into deep holes, or you can barrel ass along at 60 mph over virgin snow (until you hit an obstacle hidden under the snow or tear a friggin ski off). Niether work so well..

You want simplicity, reliability dependability and ease of starting? Do NOT look at pre 1990's sleds. Period. The general rule in one hour fixing for every hour riding... I'm not trying to be funny or piss on your post. I've simply sledded too long to have much faith in sleds.

Good gas mileage? OMG. Thats down right funny. Okay. Here goes: On groomed trails, driving relatively modestly, steady throttle, no driving like a demon, my sleds averaged about 12MPG. And thats premium fuel. Add a substantial quantity of two stroke oil too. This was for a modest 750 cc sled. My four strokes got about 22 mpg, which was considered GREAT mileage. That was when we were 'touring' (driving like two old ladies coming home from Church on a sunday afteroon on hard groomed, easy to drive trails). Get either of these off the groomed trails and gas mileage would plummet like a stone.

Under $1000? Sorry friend. THere are no sleds under $1000. Mine were running $8000+ when I first started buying them nearly a decade ago. They are now $10,000 and more. And used they sell for $4000 and more. Old pre '90 sleds have very old, outdated suspensions and parts. They are VERY uncomfortable and handle poorly compared to a more modern sled. The lifespan of a sled is SHORT. There are a LOT of 'consumable' parts on a sled. I did the math: Each of my sleds cost me $1000 per year before I ever even seen a snowflake. Basic insurance. Engine tune up. Drop the track and replace the track slides. Replace the carbides on the skiis. Replace the skiis themselves. Fix all the little parts that broke, wore out or crapped out each year and I had $1000 in each one before the season started. And these were "new" lower maintenance sleds (not some beat to death ten year old crapped out rust bucket I paid $1000 for). If you find a $1000 used sled, expect to spend another $1000 to make it kinda sorta basically useable. It will not be reliable. It will get you 21 miles out into the remote wilderness and then suddenly die unexpectedly leaving you to freeze to death.

Carbides: There are studs in the track, to provide ttraction on ice. A simple set of metal screw like objects, with corresponding washer and nut like thingies. One set of these babies, as parts (not installed) can easily run $200. The other carbides: Metal rods that act as wear bars and traction devices on bottom of skiis. Replaced once or twice each winter $75 a pair for cheap assed ones, good ones frequently $150 a pair.

There is no susch thing as suspension travel that is "too much". Trails are not roads. Trails get REALLY bumpy. A new sled have massive travel. And used all of it. An old sled has little travel. Reach behind your head until you can feel your neck. Feel those knobby thingies sort sticking up outta the skin? Vertabrae? That is your suspension on a pre 2000 sled...

There are a very very few selected 'work' sleds that are desgned for use on track lines and the like. They are common in northern Canada and Alaska. I think I've seen ONE in my entire life. Examples are Ski-doo's Skandic and Yamaha's Viking. These are rare in the lower 48. If you find one, it will not be for sale. It will be in the process of being worked to death. If it is for sale, it is a half step from death. And all other sleds are recreational toys, and very expensive ones at that.

I have a lot of toys. Boats. Motorcycles (a fleet of those actually). Snowmobiles. Cars. I think I've owned just about everything except an airplane. I can think of nothing mechanically that is as inherently expensive and unreliable as a snowmobile. I eventually sold mine a couple years ago, mostly because I could not stand the constant drain on my wallet. I once sat down and figured out teh true cost of sledding. The sled depreciation. Gas (This was when I was paying $2/gallon for premium). Oil. Insurance. Repairs. The actualy cost then was about $1.20 per mile. Two sleds running for a most 100-150 mile day meant $240-360 in expenses for the day. Add restaurants. Add a larger truck to tow em. Add add add. I enjoy sleds. We had a lot of fun. The are expensive.

There are cheap sleds. There are reliable sleds. However, there are NO cheap and reliable sleds.

Fro.

Link Posted: 6/17/2009 11:22:31 AM EST
LOL, thanks for reminding me why I rent snowmobiles when I want to ride.
Link Posted: 6/17/2009 11:36:47 AM EST
Maybe look into a good quad. I understand they go through snow pretty well.
Link Posted: 6/17/2009 11:49:23 AM EST
froz, I think you just saved me a bunch of cash.

I know so little of this thing called snow; I've not been struck with the desire for a sled, and froz just neutered what little desire I did have for one.
Link Posted: 6/17/2009 12:38:43 PM EST
Skandic WT 7k Canadian MSRP. Drive like you own it it should last a long time. Drive it like you stole it...... well ya know.
Link Posted: 6/17/2009 1:15:24 PM EST
frozenny has pointed out many of the negatives of sled ownership, but he makes it sound worse than it really is.

I've owned and ridden sleds for over 30 years (my 1st sled was a 1972 Moto Ski) ownership isn't as bad as he makes it out to be. The sleds of today are very different from the sleds from the 1970s and 80's however there are many sleds from the late 90's to early 2000's that will still serve you well. With some homework you can find a well maintained sled in the $1500 to $3000 price range. Anything going for $1000 is going to be a wore out high mileage rat trap or so old repair parts are impossible to come by. Have a shop look over any sled you are looking to buy before handing over your money, it will save you head aches and $$$ in the long run.

Some things like shocks, track sliders, carbides and tracks studs (if you have them) will need to be replaced, the replacement schedule will be dependent on riding conditions, riding style and mileage, you may have to replace them annually or you may get 2-3 years (or more) out of these parts. Most of the preventative maintenance and repair work can easily be done by you if you're mechanically inclined and have a factory repair manual.

I have a pair of Arctic Cat ZR600 sleds, one with a carburetor(my wife's) and one EFI. When I replace my wife's sled it will be with an EFI model. For mileage I will get between 8-12 mpg depending on how hard we are riding or just around 100 miles on a tank of fuel. These are performance sleds and aren't the best for deep powder snow, be aware though, even with the best deep powder machine you will get stuck when venturing off trail. Getting unstuck isn't too bad of a chore if you have the basic tools to do so.

Michigan has an extensive trail system, you can go all the way to Wisconsin or south to Ohio on nothing but trails from my house in Manistee.

If you're in the market for a sled, right now in Michigan it is the time to be buying. A lot of people are unloading toys right and left due to layoffs and there are some good deals to be had.

Check out the forums at http://www.hardcoresledder.com/ they have a wealth of knowledge and the Michigan section is pretty active. They can give you some good advice for your first sled purchase.


Here's a picture of me near Wellston this last winter:

Link Posted: 6/17/2009 1:34:28 PM EST
How much did it cost in white paint to stage that photo?
Link Posted: 6/17/2009 1:39:56 PM EST
I have to some-what agree with the above... SLEDS=$$. (I live in Upstate NY as well)

I consider them more of a toy then a tool... unless you get one of the utility style models listed above... but those are more $$ and I would never get one used as it has been used as a work horse and is probably already on its death bed.
I currently have two sleds, a 99 polaris xc 500 and a 2005 polairs switchback 900.
I would say 2.5 feet of fresh snow and the xc is sunk. the switchback can handle as much as upstate NY can throw at it, but like stated above, its balls to the walls or stuck.
also in ny they have added the stupid 10% ethanol and it has been causing all kinds of problems with sleds.
this past year every gas line in my XC rotted. (will be replacing them some time this off season)
Also any sled that is over 10 years old, unless it has been babbied, will need lots of work and up-keep to keep it reliable.

to the OP, if i were you I would look for a fan cooled 2up sled. they have less things to go wrong on an older model.
2up because it just sucks riding two full grown adults on your standard sled.
spare parts, where to start?
belts
runners
sliders
spark plugs
suspension wheels
chain case oil
engine oil (most if not all pre 2000 sleds are 2 strokes)
gas lines

best of luck on finding a good used sled you can find them if you look

~Derrick
Link Posted: 6/17/2009 2:07:26 PM EST
Stay away from Polaris 550 fans cooled motors.
They have a bunch of problems with heat,oil pump and ignition.

Skidoo's in the rev,rev xp chassis have trouble with heat+clutches.
You have to put vents on to keep them cool.

For deeper snow you want a minimum of 133 inch track.
A 144 in track is even better.
A 1.25 or 1.5 track lug height is about all you want if on mostly trails.

You might look at Skidoo's tundra line with the 300 or 550 fan cooled motor.
The 550 would be better if pulling really heavy loads.

Snogo's get used as daily transportation up here.
They do everything from hunting,hauling water, hauling fuel and wood getting.
People pull loads of 2,000 lbs or more with their sleds.

Fuel injection is nice but what are you going to do when it dies out in the middle of nowhere or has bad gas.
That's where carbs are better.
You can works on them out in the field.

Most of the 6 sleds we have are in the late 90's.
With a little care they will run 10,000 miles or more.
Have a 94 that went 10,000 mile before it needed new pistons and bored out.
It still runs.

There are a lot of stuff on the snogo's you can do maintenance wise for little money.
Grease is your friend and do it often.
After every ride.
You can take the idlers wheels off and grease the bearings every year to make them last longer.
They are the same as a pick up or car.
Need maintenance to be reliable.
Link Posted: 6/17/2009 3:02:02 PM EST
WIDE and LONG on the track I think Artic cat and Polaris have a model but you'll not get your

survival sled for 1K
Link Posted: 6/17/2009 3:44:21 PM EST
I have had sleds for over 20 years. I have even built up a couple of custom hill climbers. My perspective is from the west. We almost never ride on groomed trails. Powder, trees, hills, boondocking ect. For powder you really want tracks that are 144 or longer. Most all any more are 151 or longer. If your riding groomed trails the shorter the better. Less track to pull, better cornering, and response on the twisties. Power wise most sleds from the early 90's over 500 cc will fit the bill. It just depends on what your looking for.

Most of the sleds today built in the last 10 years or so, are very reliable. I dont worry about MPG as that is a non issue in performance sleds. Most sleds have fuel tanks of over 10 gal. That should put you over 100 miles on a tank on groomed trails. For us mountain riders we may only achieve 65-80 miles off of a tank. but our riding is different then riding on groomed trails at a steady rate. If your worried then carry an extra 2 or 5 gallon of fuel with you for emergency. I will also sometimes carry a 2 gal jug just in case.

All of the brands out there will provide you with a great ride. Yamaha's have the best ride but are a bit on the heavy side. All of the guys I ride with have Skidoo summits. Polaris makes a great reliable 600, as is the skidoo 600. Ac is a nice ride as well. Like I said before all the manufactures are making good sleds and are very reliable. I would caution you to never ride alone with one sled. You just never know when something might break and your left stranded in below zero temps. If you have another sled at least you can tow yourself out and not spend the night freezing with no help in site.

If your looking for a reliable ride then I would consider a higher budget. For $3,000-4,000 you could find a really nice used sled that would provide you with years of fun.

In the West avalanche beacons,probes & shovels are a priority. Also you should carry some type of pack with emergency stuff inside, extra gloves, fire starter, extra goggles, your lunch and drinks, and extra food in case your left stranded. Extra pair of socks, rope, saw, matches, first aid, space blanket, duct tape, light sticks or flashlight, ect the list is endless
Link Posted: 6/17/2009 6:54:32 PM EST
[Last Edit: 6/17/2009 6:55:19 PM EST by 0699TeufelHnd]
Originally Posted By Seabee_Mech:



Here's a picture of me near Wellston this last winter:

http://i225.photobucket.com/albums/dd121/Seabee_Mech/19160014.jpg


Damn I miss that area.

I used to live in Cadillac.

Link Posted: 6/18/2009 6:59:31 AM EST
Wow, a lot to think about so far. Good info, Thanks guys.

frozenny.... Thanks for the input. Your post is info I didn't think about asking for, or didn't know about at all. All duly noted. Thank you. I like appreciate getting pissed on when the occasion calls for it.

Seabee....you know my conditions. We aren't that far apart, 50 miles or so. I'm about 8 miles south of Traverse City.

His picture is accurate, and typical really. I saw that 6 or 8 times out my back door this past winter.

The day's coming when northern Michigan makes the news with a megablizzard, or killer ice storm.

Although I could drive a snowmobile anywhere I go from my front porch, I can only think of a few real reasons to get one. A trip to the hospital when roads are impassable, a fuel resupply if needed, to run supplies to a family member, or more likely to bring them to my house. Less than 16 miles round trip any way. Other than that I wouldn't leave the house.

As Seabee said, it's a good time to shop for toys in Michigan, plus it's summer. I don't GOTTA have a snowmobile. It's pretty low on my summertime shopping list. I have the luxury of waiting and watching and paying the price I want to pay. I just say a 96 Skidoo for 500 bucks, that's what got me thinkin'. Might have been a pile of shit, but then again, might not. If I need to spend $1500, then I will. I don't have a problem with a rebuildable sled either, I like to know my machines and that's a good way to do it.

I'm not wanting "good gas mileage" in car terms, but some are better/worse than others. I just want to be educated on it. If fuel was at a premium in an emergency I'd rather get 12 than 6 miles per gallon. My truck gets 12, and for what it is, I'm happy with that.

I'm assuming they're oil injected and not mixed fuel? My 1988 boat is.

I asking here instead of a snowmobile forum because I think you guys would understand my questions the way I mean them, and you have.

I have a couple pals at work that are pretty hard core snowmobilers and knowledgeable sled mechanics. When I asked them what to get though, I got the pretty typical Ford/Chevy hot rodder type answer.....Gotta have the latest and greatest like mine cause it's the best and the fastest.

I just wanna know what to look for, and have a few models in mind. Some are just better than others.






Link Posted: 6/18/2009 8:12:50 AM EST
All sleds are oil injected these days, the systems have come a long way from the early days of oil injection systems. Oil injection allows you to just pull up to the pump and fill your tank with regular pump gas without the fear of screwing the mix up and burning down the engine, just check the oil reservoir and fill the fuel tank.

I would budget at least $1500 for a sled, there are plenty of late 1990's sleds in that price range and with a little patience you can find a sled in good shape for that price. I picked up my wife's 1999 ZR600 for $1500 in November, it only had 2500 miles on it and it was meticulously maintained. The owner had the receipts for all the maintenance ever done on the sled and a bunch of spare parts.

As said in my other post I would recommend having a shop look over a sled before you buy, they can warn you of any hidden problems and can give you some leverage when negotiating the price.
Link Posted: 6/18/2009 10:54:08 AM EST
Originally Posted By Poltax:
I have had sleds for over 20 years. I have even built up a couple of custom hill climbers. My perspective is from the west. We almost never ride on groomed trails. Powder, trees, hills, boondocking ect. For powder you really want tracks that are 144 or longer. Most all any more are 151 or longer. If your riding groomed trails the shorter the better. Less track to pull, better cornering, and response on the twisties. Power wise most sleds from the early 90's over 500 cc will fit the bill. It just depends on what your looking for.

Most of the sleds today built in the last 10 years or so, are very reliable. I dont worry about MPG as that is a non issue in performance sleds. Most sleds have fuel tanks of over 10 gal. That should put you over 100 miles on a tank on groomed trails. For us mountain riders we may only achieve 65-80 miles off of a tank. but our riding is different then riding on groomed trails at a steady rate. If your worried then carry an extra 2 or 5 gallon of fuel with you for emergency. I will also sometimes carry a 2 gal jug just in case.

All of the brands out there will provide you with a great ride. Yamaha's have the best ride but are a bit on the heavy side. All of the guys I ride with have Skidoo summits. Polaris makes a great reliable 600, as is the skidoo 600. Ac is a nice ride as well. Like I said before all the manufactures are making good sleds and are very reliable. I would caution you to never ride alone with one sled. You just never know when something might break and your left stranded in below zero temps. If you have another sled at least you can tow yourself out and not spend the night freezing with no help in site.

If your looking for a reliable ride then I would consider a higher budget. For $3,000-4,000 you could find a really nice used sled that would provide you with years of fun.

In the West avalanche beacons,probes & shovels are a priority. Also you should carry some type of pack with emergency stuff inside, extra gloves, fire starter, extra goggles, your lunch and drinks, and extra food in case your left stranded. Extra pair of socks, rope, saw, matches, first aid, space blanket, duct tape, light sticks or flashlight, ect the list is endless


Deep snow and ridding bowls in Park City..."greatest snow on earth"....i recall rolling quite a few sleds(was never any good at making the turn to come back down)...good times!
Link Posted: 6/18/2009 11:21:59 AM EST
Get yourself a 1971-1996 Ski Doo Elan 250 and be done with it...... I have five sleds, some modern and a few vintage, my old 1972 Skidoo Elan will go anywhere any time and is a blast to ride. Don't get me wrong, I love my 08' REV 600 but the little Elan goes places the REV will never see.... Tight woods, deep deep snow and its so simple to maintain and fix its silly. You can still find them for way under a grand if you look hard enough. it will tow a good sized sled with lots lot bugout gear, its small, light and stores in very little space. cool liitle sled, google it and you'll find a lot of info on it......

KDX
Link Posted: 6/18/2009 11:43:05 AM EST
[Last Edit: 6/18/2009 11:44:01 AM EST by lostangel]


Transport, company, and emergency rations. All rolled into a few furry friends.
Link Posted: 6/18/2009 11:52:40 AM EST
Snow? Heavy?

A tracked [front and back] Polaris 6x6 with the small cargo/dump body is one GOOD way to go.

Alway go in pairs, or have a contingency, because these can take you where it would be difficult to walk [snowshoes] out if one broke down.
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