Dating your Sled Before you Decide to Dump It
In a world where everyone seems to try and one-up everyone else with the latest gadgets, latest vehicle models and/or the latest fashions, it seems that we simply can’t stay current enough to be content and achieve happiness. We live in a consumer hungry, materialistic, throwaway world where the need to buy “new” this and buy “new” that, is what many believe is the definition of happiness. Don’t get me wrong, I am not claiming it is evil or wrong to buy new things, only that we should consider our purchases carefully and enjoy the things we have and not opt for the latest and greatest, just because it is available. Now you are saying, ”Yeah that’s what people say when they can’t afford new stuff!” For some, that may be the case – not for me honestly, I believe it is a mindset; we need to learn to love what we have and enjoy it!
The same can be said when it comes to snowmobiles. The latest machines are all kinds of amazing - lighter, more horsepower, faster, better handling, etc. etc., the manufacturers are pushing out some amazing technologies these days. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence and you are riding along on your five or 10 year old machine and thinking, damn I wish I had a new 850/Sidewinder/800 Pro, etc.… Some spend their time riding and observing what they don’t like about their current machine instead of enjoying it. I urge you to embrace your current machine and if you haven’t mastered it (lets be honest now), get at it! It is noted that there are instances, where people outgrow their machines due to increased skill or a change in riding habits, terrain etc., and upgrading to a more suitable machine may the most sensible solution.
Some people think a new machine will “instantly” make them a better rider, kind of like a new set of expensive Callaway golf clubs - if you are a crappy golfer with old golf clubs, chances are you still suck with your new expensive Callaways! Sure you may hit the ball a bit farther and look a lot cooler, but really, who are you fooling – probably only yourself. Some of the new performance sleds have some incredible performance stats behind them and I am impressed to say the least (if only they weren’t eating belts, losing turbo bolts and flatting clutch rollers! – that’s a story for another day). A new sled may make you go faster, or do better cat walks (this seems to be the latest useless thing people like to do), carve harder, climb steeper chutes, etc…but these properties will only serve you better if you have the skills and abilities to utilize them.
Some riders never put enough miles on a sled to master its capabilities and understand the sleds limitations before they get bored with it and move on or simply give up and move on to the next thing, while others never ride their sled to its fullest potential because they simply don't know how to ride it. Take the time to get to know your machine and find its limits – you may find the challenge a lot of fun and a lot cheaper to boot! Watch videos on YouTube of riding techniques and ask buddies for pointers – I found this very helpful when I was learning the basics – then practice, practice, practice!!
Learning to ride your sled and getting it set up will take time and effort – kind of like a relationship with your significant other will require your investment. It takes experimentation and practice to get it right. You need to understand the balance, tipping point, throttle response and other properties of your sled to optimize its performance. You may need to play with the set up of the sled, the suspension, the stance, the riser height etc… research ways to adjust your machine to fit your riding style. You may find after some experimentation that some aftermarket upgrades are necessary to achieve the desired feel you need. Research better aftermarket parts to enhance the qualities you want from your sled. In the end you may still decide that you need to upgrade to either a different used sled or a new Sidewinder or a new 850 E-TEC, and that is fine, we all deserve a gift now and then! All I am saying, is don’t give up on your sled until you really give it a chance.
I have been riding the same sled for four seasons now and I find that the more I ride it, the more I enjoy it as I am more capable to really pull the most out of it. When I first got it, I was unable to do too much with it and I easily became frustrated and found that I was not as capable as I was on my old sled. I grew frustrated to the point I blamed it on the sled and had it in my mind I as going to sell it and find something new. I decided to stick it out, do some adjustments, add a small riser, upgraded my skis and in the end and still ride that sled today – that was 4 years ago and I love it!
Once you understand your abilities and those of your sled, you will be able to ride it to its fullest potential and carve, climb and boondock like a champ. Anyone can go out and beat the complete #%# out of a sled...but it takes a master to carve and ride aggressively with flow and style. It should be like a dance, not a bar brawl - just my two cents!