17. February 2014
In the past six years there has been a radical shift in attention to sleds suited for backcountry technical riding. It's practically created a new niche of snowmobilers, tech and gear and most importantly technique targeting a very interesting aspect of this recreational sport.
Unless you've tried it, there's a heart pounding thrill to something as simple as side hilling across a powdery steep slope or shooting up through a steep ascent through a tree line. It may be the sheer "fright" upon realizing how bad things could get if everything don't go as planned that enables you to perform techniques fluidly and accurately as you power and brake your way through technical terrain.
I'll admit I do it a a little, and I love it. I'm a believer that you need to learn and practice the riding techniques Bret Rasmussen, Chris Burandt and the many talented riders that have evolved the sport of backcountry technical riding to the prestige its risen to lately. There's a reason the series of videos called "Schooled" is named so. Purposely to teach you and I newbies a few needed skills and an awareness that being just OK at backcountry riding doesn't happen out of sheer luck and talent. All of us are capable of running out of both very quickly in just about any backcountry situation.
If you really want to learn some back country riding skills, first do yourself a favor and buy the whole series of Schooled videos sit and watch and take notes, and most of all listen to the tips they tell you. There are also some great websites like SledShot (Mountain Sledder Magazine) providing great tutorials on technical skills, I'd highly recommend their "How to Get Unstuck" video, it will make your life a lot easier and your back will thank you for it.
You also need a good safe learning spot that's not to technical and has a variety of terrain to train on. I found a small area with a decent hill and not too many trees, and some room for the sled to runoff without it ending up in a ravine, brook, trees or other obstacle that could injure you or your sled. Practice practice and keep practicing the techniques. Also pay special attention to the techniques of "wrong foot forward" and "counter steering" and learn how to use those techniques on both sides of your sled until it feels natural, and that's just the beginning.
I can't deny the purpose built back country sleds make the act of executing these techniques easier, however, the techniques themselves are much more influential to your ability to get around in the back country and more importantly to get out safely if you do plan to venture beyond the groomed trail.
The good ole days when you pulled your carbs out on the bench to tune that lean spot at WOT, wasn't really that long ago.
If you're still a hardcore backyard tuner you've probably not given up on the carburetor skills just yet because your faith in the reliability of Fuel Injection systems has not proven to win your loyalty.
Oddly, if you've looked under the hood of any late model sled, there's just not that much to see, its all been hidden away from us.
I find it rather amusing.
If you've been following the trends in Fuel Injection systems in the past five years, you've certainly heard many speak of the need to use fuel controllers such as Dynojets Power Commander, to improve reliability and overall performance of today's modern snowmobile engines.
While some may wonder why you would ever need one, especially with the number of sensors now used on sleds to calculate ideal fuel needs no matter what the temperature and elevation.
Technology is marvelous indeed, however, if you have any inclination to tweek your sleds performance, don't be surprised if stock factory settings are not be up to the task. Even if your considering something as simple as a clutch kit, or a deeper lug track you could be adding load on your engine that may and probably will require some tweeking of fuel delivery to get every bit of that power where it belongs.
Other power adders like pipes, high volume air intakes, turbos and high compression heads would certainly require more fuel and if you have a fuel injected sled, you will need to purchase a fuel controller.
I was first introduced to fuel controllers as a result of the poor performing and hardly reliable CFI 4 800 engines that Polaris ran from 2008-2010. By the way the original configuration in 08-09 with the higher compression stock head was a power house, unfortunately Polaris just couldn't pass emissions without leaning out the mid range dangerously, hence the update kit in 2010 and numerous reflashes to detune the engine and increase the sensitivity of the knock sensor.
If you currently have a CFI 4 800 and you've not installed a fuel controller you've either spent a lot of money on rebuilds or you love to gamble every time you ride whether or not you'll be getting a tow home.
Do yourself a favor and buy a Power Commander right away, you'll gain substantial HP and add a level of reliability and confidence you've probably never had before in that engine. If you see one of these sleds for cheap and its a clean sled, you'll get a bargain by bolting on a fuel controller with the right map and you won't be disappointed in the power these engines are capable of delivering.
One of the cool things about fuel controllers is that it made tuning a very clean and easy task.
You basically plug your sled into a computer and tune throttle position, RPM and % fuel delivery using software.
If you're really keen you'll have a subscription to Dynotech Research and get maps they help build on the dyno so you can plug and play.
Maybe you like tuning so much that you build your own maps from scratch, which is fun too. Whatever way you tune it, you still have to use common sense and know how to properly read your plugs.
If you really want to play it safe while tuning, you can purchase a variety of instruments to monitor and record your engines performance while you ride, there's even a tool called "Autotune" which builds an optimized fuel map for your sled based on your riding conditions and style.
Albeit most snowmobilers just want a gas and go solution to cure their sled addiction and the concern for performance is not a priority, however I would strongly argue that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure for those of us who like to tinker and tweek with performance or choose to buy one of those unreliable fuel injected stock engines and hope to get your money's worth.
25. November 2012
If you're in the market for a new track on your mountain or back country sled you have a number of good options to choose from the Camoplast lineup. One in particular you shouldn't overlook is the Peak 2.5 powder track which combines the best characteristics for both powder and hard pack snow with its unique lug design and pattern. [More]