February 24, 2013
Preparing To Be Impressed
By: Steve Janes Blog
Whenever we get a chance to ride a new sled, we look for the kind of terrain we know our readers will be riding in. Although the new model intros are designed to allow snowmobile magazines opportunities to get photos of the new sleds, we're more interested in getting the new sleds into the areas where you would take them if you had the chance.
About the time you get around to reading this, the SnoWest staff will be heading
to an undisclosed location (which looks very similar to those undisclosed locations we’ve gone to in years past) to test ride the 2014 model year snowmobiles.
This is our first and only time to get on all of next year’s sleds for comparison
purposes. It won’t be until we do our Deep Powder Challenge next winter before we see the difference from what the manufacturers promised to what they actually delivered. So the few days we have to ride become very precious.
Naturally, we try to cram as much technical riding in as possible in a very short
time and with some significant stipulations. For example: We cannot use any measuring device (such as a radar gun) in head-to-head comparisons. Also, since these snowmobiles are prototypes with the main intent for photographic purposes, we must refrain from any style of riding which could alter their appearances (read: avoid hitting trees and rocks).
All we can do is ride them hard enough to get a feel for their design while
recognizing that in the 3-5 months prior to the actual manufacturing of these models
there will still be several dozen significant changes made to the sleds—engine
calibrations, shock calibrations, types of metals uses, etc.
Sometimes we wonder if the manufacturers aren’t using us for one final focus
group to figure out last minute changes or problems. Throughout our rides the factory reps are checking constantly with us about the performance of their products and making whatever adjustments possible to create the best ride for us. The difficulty for a rider is that every snowmobile has multiple adjustable features that can change the handling characteristics of the sled. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether the adjustments are incorrect or whether the sled merely has design flaws that create a certain type of ride. In other words, can a bad handling sled be adjusted into a good handling sled, or is just plain bad.
So for the next few days, we’ll be riding, comparing, note-taking, photo-taking
and doing all we can to acquire enough information to write about the 2014 model year sleds next fall. It’s during this week we acquire the information we will share with you next fall in SnoWest Magazine.
Obviously, there is a lot of work involved … but bottom line is we’re riding next
year’s sleds—how much fun is that?
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