October 2015 Ask the Experts

Steering, sled weights and smoking 2-strokes
2012 Ski-Doo Renegade X 800 Pilot 5.7 Skis
Pilot 5.7 skis came standard on 2012 Ski-Doo Renegades.
Steer Me Straight
Q My stock 2012 Renegade X 800 steers pretty hard. I have the 1.25-inch Ripsaw stock track with two studs per bar down the center. I am running the stock skis with 6-inch Shaper carbides. I have the front track shock spring cranked down pretty tight to take some weight off the skis. I need advice  on what ski/carbide setups work best to lighten up the steering. I am open to aftermarket skis if that will help out. I love the sled other than this problem. – saltyss

A Shaper Bars do have a tall flat (square) profile that makes them ultra-aggressive and sometimes hard to steer at slow speeds, but respond at high speeds. If you soften your front ski spring pressure, that may help. Changing back to a standard round bar 6-inch carbide may have to be what you do if you want to stay with the original ski. We have been selling a lot of the Curve XS skis on the new Ski-Doos. It has a good rocker on the keel and is very easy to turn, and holds its line in the corners well. Its parabolic shape also lets you go off trail and has float for deep snow. I always suggest an aftermarket ski to anyone that hasn’t tried them. It is almost always a good investment in ride quality. – Todd Guthrie, Dyna-tek Performance

Bypassing the Dealer?
Q We had the hot light go on while riding in marginal snow for a few miles on our 2008 Ski-Doo GSX; not the red light, just the engine light. It flickered four times then stayed on. The owner’s manual says take it to a dealer. The ’09 sled riding with us had the same light go on, but went out (reset itself) as soon as we got into good snow. The ’08 did not. The dealer said he had to put it on the computer to reset the light. We don’t have any choice but to ride in marginal snow occasionally. My question is how can we put this light out without having to go to a dealer every time this happens? This is not practical as we are at least 30 miles from the nearest dealer.  – Polaris500

A While it’s never recommended to disobey they owner’s manual, there are aftermarket communication kits for reading and clearing codes, but they are not cheap. If the only code you ever throw on that sled is an overheat, I would suggest using a dummy sender and plugging into that to bypass the temp light switch, then installing a real temp gauge on it to monitor your motor temps. If your snowflap is damaged or is cut short, it will affect how the sled cools. If riding in marginal or hard pack conditions is a frequent thing, then a set of ice scratchers might be all that you need too. – Todd Guthrie, Dyna-tek Performance
Intercomp race scales weigh snowmobile sled
AmSnow weighs sleds using state-of-the-art Intercomp race scales to find out just how "beefed up" sleds like Ski-Doo’s X-RS and Arctic Cat’s RR really are.
Proper weights
Hey guys, just read your article about Real World testing. I think you better check your scales. Last year the Arctic Cat 6000 weighed in at 509 Lbs. This year the Arctic Cat RR comes in at 588 Lbs. Also the Ski-Doo Backcountry X is 25 Lbs. lighter than the Renegade X-RS. Some of those numbers don’t seem right. – Mark Samagalski, Libau, Manitoba

It is important to remember that studs and carbides make a significant difference in Weights. If you read the NOTES in the box-outs regarding the weights from 2014’s Real World Shootout and from 2015, you will see that last year we weighed the El Tigre without studs or carbides (our studs shipped late last year, so several of the sleds we were planning on studding did not get done). For 2015 the 6000RR did have studs and carbides installed. Also, the RR is going to be heavier due to beefed up chassis components for racing. This is basically Cat’s race chassis which, although somewhat counterintuitive, is  heavier in the consumer version than the standard trail sled. This is NOT Tucker Hibbert’s exact sled though, obviously, which has trade-offs for weight, durability, rules, etc. The Backcountry also did NOT have studs or carbides installed. The 1.75-inch lug, and off-trail nature of this sled influenced our decision NOT to stud this it. Also, again, the X-RS is in Ski-Doo’s race chassis and the same logic applied above on the RR also rings true for this chassis. – Experts

No smoking?

Q My Mountain Max 700 triple seems to be smoking a lot more than it should. It starts one pull then idles smooth for about 5 minutes, but then it seems to idle rough and bogs until you can get it above 2,000 rpms. Meanwhile, it smokes like crazy and leaves a dark black spot on the ground. Any help with this will be great. – Ewbaker95

A When a 2-stroke engine begins to smoke over time and no changes have been made, typically it can be traced to lower compression as the main culprit. Unburned fuel and oil are not being burned properly due to the lack of compression and thus smoking more than normal. There are other reasons too that should not be overlooked; incorrectly set oil pump settings, bad gas from your last stop, and leaking exhaust gaskets are a couple other options to check too. – Jason Houle, Straightline Performance
2010 Polaris RMK 144
The 2010 Polaris RMK 144 was available in both a 600 and 800 engine as a purebred mountain machine.
Track for track
I want to change my 2-inch lug on my 2010 RMK 144 to an OEM 144x1.25-inch (a spare track) from a 2005 Edge Switchback. I mostly trail ride and don’t need a big lug. Does anyone know if this is doable? Will I need to change any chaincase gears or can I leave it stock? Also, will it affect any engine cooling issues, as the 2010 only has a bulkhead cooler? – polaris1

A Both tracks should be 2.52-inch pitch tracks and dimensionally they are the same length and width. It should work. If your intention is to do more on-trail riding and not stay in the deep snow, your engine temps may suffer. The only thing I suggest is to add the front radiator or an in tunnel cooler. They have kits for both. – Todd Guthrie, Dyna-tek Performance

Body size?
Your report on the 2016 Ski-Doo 1200 (Spring 2015 issue) states that the throttle body is 40mm (same as ACE 900). Can you confirm this, since the current 1200 size is 46mm? – John Zinckgraf, Raymond, ME

A Unfortunately we were originally given the wrong specs. After checking with again with the engineers at BRP we got to the bottom of this. The old spec was 52mm, and the NEW spec is 46mm. Good catch! – Experts

What caused it?
We have a 2004 800 H.O. Ski-Doo that must have hydro locked. After the back fire happened the motor sat for 8 or 9 months. After pulling the motor and tearing it down, we found the bent rod, mag side, and both sides of the case full of oil. How did all this oil get in there? Not sure what caused the Hydro lock. Did this oil cause it or was it a fuel problem, like normal hydro locks and after it sat for 9 months the oil seeped in the cases? I don’t think the center seals or oil pump check valves went bad all at the same time. – Dick from Wellston

A Typically the oil would have to come from the center seals leaking, because the case drive is full of oil to lubricate the oil and water pump drive gear. It is not uncommon on these engines to have some center drive leaking after long storage periods, but it was only minimal and was not a concern. When the engine is full, as in your case, the seals needed to be replaced, or a new exchange crankshaft now because of the bent rod. – Jason Houle, Straightline Performance
2016 Polaris Switchback 800 Pro-X
Polaris offered a bevy of options throughout their lineup for MY2016. Both trail and mountain sleds had Spring Buy options from ski-loops, to rails, to painted tunnels, to colors.
Give the people what they want!
Q I wish the OEMs would ask us, their buying customers, for more input, like how to handle their ‘spring buys’. They could take leads from the options offered in the automotive industry and let their customers choose their options for their sled. With costs averaging $15,000-plus and all summer to manufacture them I, for one, find this a no-brainer to satisfy their usually brand-loyal customers. – Ken ‘Sherm’ Sherman, Michigan'

A Ken raises an interesting point. It’s one many consumers have voiced over the years. It would be cool if each sled started as a ‘base model’ letting consumers pick the options they wanted to add, just like buying a new car.

But let’s be fair to the OEMs with the average cost estimate. Maybe Ken is talking $15,000 in Canadian currency, but in terms of U.S. pricing, the average sled is not quite up to $15,000… yet. If you’re adding all the top-notch bells and whistles, then you’re probably in that $15,000 - 16,000 US range, but that’s not average.

Now on to the point about sleds with options. One OEM started trending that direction over the past two seasons as Polaris ’15 Pro-RMK Spring Buy program let consumers ‘build their own’. It wasn’t a ton of options, but buyers could add some uniqueness to their sled. For 2016, Polaris offered an ‘a la carte’ buying program for their Rush and Switchback sleds as well. Customers picked a sled and then chose to upgrade components as they saw fit. So you could  start with a ‘base’ Switchback 800, and then select from a variety of options including suspension (Pro-S or Pro-X), track, storage, windshield, color, etc.

Customizing your own sled with all the options offered will put you up in price no doubt, and if people are willing to pay the high price for all the options, why don’t all the OEMs do it this way? All the manufacturers keep one eye on the competition. If this sales model is successful for Polaris, you can bet we’ll see the others follow suit in their own way.

Unfortunately, I doubt we’ll ever see much more customization than what Polaris is offering, and certainly nothing to the level of automobiles. The auto industry has sales volume on their side. They will sell so many cars that they can afford to offer the individual customer true customization... for a price. The sled industry doesn’t have the sales volume or profit margins to support that type of production model. At least not without I fear even bigger price increases. – Experts
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