How to Choose the Right Snowmobile
You've watched some cool videos, heard about the best trails, and now you're ready to buy your first snowmobile. But how do you choose a snowmobile that's right for you?
Snowmobile makes and models are aplenty, and before you buy one, you should have a solid idea of what your riding needs are. With that in mind, here are some tips on what to look for when choosing a snowmobile that's right for you.
Two Stroke vs. Four Stroke
Knowing the difference between a two-stroke and a four-stroke engines is a good place to start. The two-stroke has fewer parts, which makes it lighter and offers better power for its weight than the four-stroke.
Two-stroke engines are also more compact and easier to maintain, while the four-stroke engine tends to require less maintenance and shifting than the two-stroke. Four-stroke engines are also heavier and more complex than two-strokes, which makes repairs costlier. Before you buy a new snowmobile, ask the dealer whether a two-stroke or a four-stroke is the better option for your riding needs.
For trail riding, you can probably go with a shorter track, as the overall handling is better on packed snow. On the other hand, a longer track length and deeper lugs give you increased capabilities in deeper snow, allowing the machine to "float" better. However, those deep lugs will flex on a groomed trail, and that can hurt your handling. Crossover machines — which feature a track length somewhere in the middle — have increased in popularity and provide more versatility to ride on or off a trail.
Understanding Ski Stance
The ski stance is the distance between the skis on the front of the snowmobile. A wider stance will make the machine more stable and less likely to tip over in a turn. However, a narrower stance is better if you're in powder snow, and it gives you more ability to use your weight to handle the snowmobile.
Considering Passenger Needs
If you plan on frequently having passengers, make sure you get a two-seater snowmobile. However, if you prefer a one-seater snowmobile, you can always retro-fit it with a second seat down the line.
Retrofitting a one-seater with a 2nd seat for a passenger will require a longer track on the machine to carry the extra weight, so keep that in mind before going with the single-rider snowmobile.
Take Suspension into Account
Snowmobile suspension has evolved significantly over the years. With conventional suspension, as the tracks hit a bump, the front of each track compresses. Then, when the back of the track hits the bump as well, it also compresses. This makes the bump kick you at an angle under the seat as the track is angled upward from front to back.
Coupled suspension prevents that from happening. As soon as the front of the track hits the bump, the rear of the track compresses simultaneously, keeping the track parallel to the snow. If speed is your thing, then coupled suspension is the way to go. However, sleds that have smaller engines and don't put down as much power often have conventional setups that work just fine.
Consult with a Professional
Choosing a snowmobile that's right for you really comes down to knowing how and where you're going to ride it. Once you've got that sorted out, work with a dealer to match the track length, power plant, suspension, and any accessories you might want to add.