Ask the Experts

To accessorize or not, along with some suspension set-up tips from a pro!
To Accessorize or Not
Q Hi I have been a subscriber for more than 10 years from Québec. I have a little question on the 2018 Ski-Doo MXZ X-RS. I saw in the 2019 preview that you installed a medium windshield and hand-guard extensions on a Renegade X-RS. Do they hit on full turn? Thanks for the best mag in the biz! I had a great year with 9952 km (6183 miles) on my sled. Merci!
– Michel Lafleur

A Bonjour Michel! Yes, we install medium windshields and the accessory hand-guard extensions on just about every Ski-Doo we have as demo sleds (X-RS and Backcountry X this year). The extensions do not hit the shield even on very sharp turns. See example pic.
Thanks for reaching out to us and glad to hear you had a great season!
- Mark Boncher

Benefits of aftermarket clutches
Q I was wondering about the durability of different aftermarket clutches, I’ve been doing some reading and some aftermarket clutches are not warrantied on triples and some are not warrantied on twins. Some say a quick change spider is not recommended, so I’ll ask on here what is the best drag racing clutch for the 800R Ski-Doo twin, in pro stock trim??
- Robmacdoo on forums

A A great question, but leaves quite a large amount of information that’s needed to be required to get a dialed in answer. Currently Straightline has the fastest 1000ft speed run time and some of the quickest 500ft engines on the market. All our machines are using the TRA3 clutch on those machines with no issues. We have personally used the STM and have had great success on all our higher HP machines. It will also depend on what your tuning skills are, as both of these are completely different tuning clutches.
– Jason Houle, Straightline Performance

Larger engine, Lower MPG?
Q I have a 2005 Yamaha SX Venom 600 triple. I have noticed that my dad’s V max 700 gets 12-14 miles to a gallon and mine gets 8-9. I don’t understand why this is. I just replaced the nozzles and cleaned the carbs. I always thought that a smaller motor would use less gas than a bigger one. Anyone have any advice?
– Nick on forums

A The size of the engine may not have anything to do with gas mileage, but this is not uncommon. We have also seen that the smaller engines when comparing to the larger engines on the same ride that the smaller cc sleds will use more throttle to keep up with the larger cc sleds, then in turn will use more fuel. It could simply be a maintenance issue too; carb cleaning, valve cleaning, exhaust leaks, clutching needs maintenance and is not running the proper rpm vs. throttle position. These are just some of the possibilities. Hope this helps.
– Jason Houle, Straightline Performance

Gas tank and line change

Q We have a 2006 Ski-Doo 550 fan that I want to pull the gas line out of the tank on. There is a plastic insert at the fill cap that I can’t get out to fish the line out. Does this insert come out or does anyone know how to get at the gas line in the tank?
– Ron, AKA Polaris500 on forums

A At the front right side of the tank should be the fuel line out, it has a large rubber grommet that can be removed with the through-tank fitting and the fuel line that is in the tank. That is the best way to service the in tank fuel line. It may be necessary to purchase a new grommet as after time they become weathered and come apart when servicing. Thanks!
- Todd Guthrie, Dyna-Tek Performance
Early Beginnings
Steve Martin started racing when he was 5 and has been competing on sleds and bikes since.
Set-Up Tips From the Pros

Suspension set-up is one of the most important aspects that can enhance the performance of your snowmobile. Before the shock adjusters are ever turned on, it is important to address the controls and a few other key chassis variables first.

■ Right off the bar
The first thing to address on a sled is the handlebar riser. An out of position riser will cause the snowmobile to handle poorly. The riser should always be in line with the angle of the steering post. If the riser is in a vertical position, the handlebars make a swinging motion as they are turned, which makes the snowmobile a handful to ride. A riser at the correct height is also very important. The handlebars should be about waist height while in the “attack position” - standing, knees slightly bent, elbows up.

■ The Hills
New mountain sleds are getting easier to ride every year, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t improvements to be made. The shocks are set up soft out of the box, but with spring adjustment, they can perform very well in stock form.

The first thing I do is remove the sway bar. You can remove one end-link, or remove the entire system. This makes it easier to hold a side-hill, especially when crossing over an old track, the sled won’t try to set the downhill ski down as easy. By removing the sway bar, the front end will feel even softer. I adjust the preload of the springs so the snowmobile will hold itself up without settling into the suspension at all. I put enough preload in the springs so that the snowmobile doesn’t sag much, or at all, even when the rider is sitting on the sled.

Over the years, I have found that it is easy to initiate a side-hill if the front suspension isn’t trying to soak up all the movement. I basically tip the sled over by turning the skis at speed, letting the snowmobile do the work. This allows me to carry a lot more speed through the trees. More preload on the springs will also make them harder to bottom.

■ In the back
There are countless adjustments that can be made in the rear.

Whether you are running coil-over or torsion springs, the adjustments are quick. If you are experiencing bottoming from the rear, increase the preload until you can ride all day and not bottom out. I avoid the stiffest position on torsion spring adjusters, if you find yourself in the stiffest position, a stiffer shock and spring is needed. If the rear track shock and rear springs are too stiff for your weight, you will begin to lose transfer. It won’t be easy to wheelie, and it will feel heavier on the skis. In order for a mountain sled to remain playful and nimble in the trees and not smash the bump rubbers all day, you have to make adjustments.

Sometimes a spring adjustment isn’t enough for bigger, or more aggressive riders. The rear track shock will need to be upgraded. An aftermarket shock will often be more adjustable than the OEM shock. To tune a shock, I click the high speed to the middle setting and use the low speed adjuster. The low speed controls the big hits. The rebound adjuster controls the speed in which the shock returns to the static position. More preload will cause the suspension to return at a faster rate. Spring rates and preload usually aren’t adjusted much after you find the sweet-spot. In spring conditions, I run the low speed considerably stiffer than I do in deep conditions to prevent bottoming.

The center track shock drives a lot of the handling of the snowmobile. During the deep months, I try to run it as soft as possible. This allows the shock to temporarily collapse during acceleration in the deep snow, allowing the attack angle of the track to improve, which in turn allows the snowmobile to get on top of the snow faster. Of course you don’t want it too soft, if it bottoms hard under acceleration, you lose track tension which will allow the driver axle to slip on the track, potentially doing damage to your drivers.

The limiter strap can be shortened, or lengthened depending on your riding style. A longer strap will put more track on the ground, allowing the sled to wheelie more. A shorter limiter strap gives the snowmobile more ski pressure, and controls ski lift when there is a lot of traction. It can also improve how well the sled will hold a side-hill at lower speeds, but initiating the side-hill will require more rider input. I prefer the limiter strap in the stock location for mountain riding, or slightly longer than stock. When a limiter strap adjustment has been made, check the spring preload of the center shock.

The adjusters are there to improve your ride, don’t be afraid to play around with them. It will help you understand what changes affect the performance, and what changes you would like to make in the future.

Born in High River, Alberta, Canada in 1984, Steve Martin now lives in Evanston, Wyoming. His biggest accomplishment was winning the 2005 ISOC Pro Open championship. Steve loves sleds and motocross and is one of the original riders in the SledNeck series of films. He rides often with the AmSnow TTRP crew in Utah.
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