I thought the topic of my first letter should be about the biggest snowmobiling decision of all; Which sled should I buy?
This is the toughest, most heartwrenching, dollar stretching decision you have to make. We all have our 'Dream Sled', some of us can afford it, but most of us cannot. At the end of the day we must find that middle ground that satisfies both our pocket book and our pride.
I came up wth a method that I want to share with you all. It really helped me decide what to buy. I feel that my decision making process is logical and infallibly gets you the machine you SHOULD buy every time. I simply apply these questons to my own situation and the end result is the sled that I want. Think of those autotrader.com commercials with the huge racks of cars. The questions just keep reducing your options until voila! The perfect sled.
It's really just a matter of applying some simple math to the problem. I wanted a machine that could handle some hard groom trail riding as well some hill climbing and boondocking. I essentially needed a 'hyprid' length track and a relatively light machine that would allow me to do this. I thought a 144" or 136" track would be best. After talking to some local shop mechanics I decided that Yamahas MTX, Polaris's RMK, and BRP's Renegade and Summits were my best bet. Since I couldn't afford a new one, I began to 'scour' the Buy and Sell magazines and NL Classified sites for some prices.
I quickly saw that there was a certain pattern. After 4 years, a typical snowmobile (just like a typical automobile) loses it's original retail sticker price value down to about 45%. That is to say, if you buy a NEW snowmobile, in the first 4 years, it loses over HALF it's value. After that, the 'valuation line' really flattens out and the snowmobile starts to keep it's value over time.
So, can you buy a 4 year old snowmobile, and get something that's reliable, stylish, and has the latest in snowmobiling innovations? Of course you can!
In 2005, a couple of years after BRP initially raised the bar with the forward design REV chassis, EVERYONE had brought their 'A-Game' to the market. If you look at 2004 vs 2005 sleds, virtually EVERY manufacturer brought far better sleds to market than the year before. Polaris's RMK for example, looks like a completely different sled, and it was! The timing for me couldn't have been better. From 2005 until today there doesn't seem to be a big difference in sled technology (Note: The only 2 exceptions are the E-Tec and Rush designs). In 3 or 4 more years, I will be able to sell my current 2005 and get an E-Tec OR Rush for HALF of what it costs today.
It gets even better. In 3 years, the re-sale value of my 2005 Renegade will be about $4000.00. Deduct this from my cost a few weeks back of $6000 and I'm riding for about $700 per year (ie. $2000/3 years = $700 per year). This is a lot cheaper than my buddy who just bought a new E-Tec. It will cost him about $2300 per year ($13000 new - $6000 re-sold in 3 years = $7000/3 years = $2300!!!). It's easy to why you should buy used. It would be about the same for a NEW Yamaha, Polaris Sled, or any of my other choices.
To conclude, the laws of depreciation still apply when buying a snowmobile on a budget. Think of not only today's costs, but what the re-sale value will be, and you will be MUCH father ahead in making a budget friendly decision with your next snowmobile.
Bring on the snow!
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