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Convert a Mountain Sled to a Crossover... on a Budget

Test rider Ryan Veltum's how-to
2009 Ski-Doo Summit 154
Quick and painless. Test rider Ryan Veltum and his dad Butch Veltum did a quick “trail upgrade” to this 2009 Ski-Doo Summit 154 to make it trailable.
Like most loyal AmSnow readers, snowmobiling has been my passion for many years. Fortunately, a couple times a year I get to ride with the staff from AmSnow, but I am an average rider on a budget just like most people. If you’re like me, trail riding isn’t the only type of riding you enjoy.

Backcountry riding in the mountains and off-trail in the Midwest have become increasingly popular the in last 15 years. We do this riding quite a bit.

Manufacturers have also taken notice and are producing appropriate sleds, like the Ski-Doo Renegade Backcountry, the Arctic Cat High Country, the Polaris SwitchBack Assualt and the Yamaha Sidewinder in various crossover trims and packages.

The Plan
I set out this fall with a small budget of $4500. This included the purchase of my machine and all the accessories needed to ride it in either the mountains, the far northwoods of Wisconsin, or the powder play areas of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
146" skid from Ski-Doo Summit
Photo 1
2009 Ski-Doo Summit converted from 154" - 146"
Photo 2
Photo 3

After months of searching online and patiently waiting for a deal, I found a 2009 Ski-Doo Summit X 154 800R with roughly 2200 miles on it. I was originally looking for a 146” track length, but those are harder to come by in my price range. I had the main ingredient and planned to convert my Summit mountain-machine into the ultimate backcountry/trail crossover sled.

First off, the best investment you can make for this project is to buy a Ski-Doo Racing Handbook for your model year sled. It will guide you through almost all the work needed to convert your sled. Also, always check with a dealer for correct parts if you are unsure.

Getting started

Let’s start with the rear suspension. I got a 2009 Summit 146” skid that I found from a parted-out sled on the Internet, then I installed some extra bogie wheel kits and a set of ice scratchers. If you find a skid complete with shocks and in decent shape, that can save some time on the switch-over. I added a set of ice scratchers for low snow conditions, since I don’t run studs. (Photo 1)

As far as tracks go, that’s a big decision you almost have to have a “come to Jesus” moment with yourself about. I consider myself a 60 percent on-trail, 40 percent off-trail rider in the UP and around my house. I have found that the Camso 9094H Cobra 15x146x1.352 is a great all-around track. Camso also offers a Cobra 1.6-inch track, if that is more your style and liking. (Photo 2)

Another important aspect when changing your sled over to be more of a crossover is to determine your comfortable ski stance. It all depends on your preference. I could run mine at 38 or 40 inches wide. I always ride with the skis in the narrower position and I don’t believe the sled feels tippy, but especially shorter folks often feel differently. If you are more of a trail rider, setting them to 40” might suit your riding style. (Photo 3) Also, when you go to a shorter lug track, you will want to make some gearing changes. I went with a 104-length chain too. You can go with either a 23, 24 or 25-tooth top gear as well, while leaving the bottom at a 45 tooth. This change will help for an overall nicer trail riding experience and you won’t run out of gear as quickly.

Finally, your clutching may be the most important change. I replaced the Summit’s standard primary spring and weights and adjustable pin kits and primary springs. I am running a 160 – 320 spring with 18 grams of pin weight. This works well for where we most often ride at roughly 900 feet above sea level.

I used the standard carb settings, but roughly going up in altitude equals down 10 main jet numbers per 2,000 ft.
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