Cable-Free Tether Allows Riders to Cut the Cord

Cordless Phantom Teth-Air improves rider safety
Polaris snowmobile Phantom Teth-Air cable-free tether
If tethers get in your way, the answer may be the latest Phantom Teth-Air.
I realized I wanted a tether when I found myself looking six feet up from a tree well, my sled on its side in front of me with my boot inside the tunnel. Thankfully, the throttle side of my handlebar was the one out of the snow, but had I been turning the other way it could have been pinned wide open with the track chewing me up like a meat grinder.

It has always been a mystery to me why tethers don’t come standard on all snowmobiles. On the RMSHA hill climbing circuit they have proved to be invaluable in helping to keep riders safe. Racers are often being thrown from the snowmobile on a tight turn with a high probability of having the throttle pinned open by a snowbank. The corded tethers, however, have shown their weakness in this arena.

As a photographer, many times I’ve had to run to a racer to pull a tether that didn’t disconnect from the machine. Source Innovations Ltd. looked to solve this dilemma by creating the Phantom Teth-Air. This cordless tether provides an engine shutdown when the rider is separated from the machine, all without the use of a cord.

■ Tether problems
The makers of the cordless tether came up with the design after an online survey indicated that only 20% of riders that had corded tethers said they used the tether every time they rode, and riders complained of the tether getting hooked around a handlebar or pulled off by tree branches.
Phantom Teth-Air cable-free snowmobile tether
Install this simple system in less than 60 minutes.
Additionally, there were reports of riders without tethers getting injured by spinning tracks after they had fallen off their sled and the throttle was either jammed or frozen open. Snowmobiles were being damaged as they continued to run after a rider dismounted, and there were reports of 4-strokes being damaged unnecessarily due to a lack of oil after running full throttle while inverted.

The Phantom Teth-Air was far from perfect when first designed and met with mixed reviews. I was one of those that found the first generation Teth-Air lacking. However, with adjustments and changes in technology the latest Phantom Teth-Air has proved to be a fantastic addition to my personal sled, and one I hope to see standard on all future sleds.

■ Original design
The first-gen Cordless Teth-Air was a 2-part device, the transmitter was worn on the wrist, and the receiver was mounted under the hood. It was set up to have the device shut off the engine when the radio signal was lost by being more than 10-15 feet away. Using high-frequency radio signals, the device also would shut down if the transmitter was under the machine or even behind the rider’s back. While great in theory, this wasn’t ideal.

Some riders really liked that it was automatic and provided security from theft, but others did not like the single range and timing it offered. Source Innovations, compiled the feedback the firm received to make improvements, and the second attempt was far better.
Phantom Teth-Air cable-free snowmobile tether
Phantom Teth-Air cable-free snowmobile tether
The Teth-Air is priced at about $300 US or $395 CA.
■ Upgraded tech & changes
The second-gen design was a lot more sophisticated. First, the transmitter was eliminated and replaced by a capacitance sensor on the throttle side of the handlebars to know when the rider’s hand was on the bars. This design also incorporated a tachometer circuit to initiate the unit only when the rpm were high enough, as when the clutch was engaged. There also was a sensor added to detect rollovers and shut the engine down when the sled was inverted. Additionally, the rider could customize a delay in the shutdown from each sensor, controlling when the motor would stop when the rider’s hand left the bars or when the sled rolled over. This customization was done on an easy-to-use remote control.

This gen had long installation times and the hand sensor occasionally was fooled in humid conditions.

■ Latest and greatest
The third-gen Phantom Teth-Air is even more effective, with an easy plug-in installation, and a small pod mounted on the throttle block. Its wiring plugs into the factory speedometer wiring with OEM style connectors and the hand sensor was replaced with a Class 1 laser. I was skeptical at first with the laser sensor being sure that snow would get packed around it or prevent it fr CV TECH om reading correctly. A season of riding proved there was no problem. The placement of the sensor is ideal to keep snow from inhibiting its function. It read my hand position just fine. 

Note too that the Teth-Air now only engages while the track is spinning and your throttle hand is not on the handle bars, or when the sled is inverted. However, you can program the engine shutdown to be delayed 0.5 to 3 seconds.

When might you want this delay? Well, if you’re going down a hill or the trail and temporarily take your hand off the throttle (while the sled is still moving/coasting) to adjust your goggles, helmet, or just to stretch your hand. By customizing the tether’s delay, the machine keeps running during that short period.

My tether is programmed for a 3-second delay, allowing me to adjust my gear while coasting downhill. There also is a light that provides a visual cue on the pod to let you know when it is sensing a hand, reminding you to put your hand back on the bar.

The Teth-Air has greatly improved and while not perfect, gen-three is a vast improvement from cabled tethers, or not having a tether at all. It’s priced at about $300 in the U.S. and $395 in Canada. For more info, click here.
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