Photobomber 2017 AmSnow Sled Build Project

Western editor Ryan Thompson's suped-up mountian machine
2017 Polaris Pro RMK 800 AmSnow Photobomber
Plenty of Ponies! With 215hp under the hood, the 2017 Photobomber is light, nimble and fun to fly!
Growing up in the 80s, I had the opportunity to be around and a part of many “sled projects.” My dad always had some sort of build going on. Whether it was simply applying his magic to the clutches on the workbench, or a full sled overhaul from the ground up.

So when the opportunity presented itself to build a mod sled using a 2017 Polaris Pro RMK 800 Axys, we jumped at the chance.

Of course we needed a name for our build. Brandon Titensor (RMSHA racer) from Wyoming came up with the name “Photobomber” and it stuck. Why Photobomber?

Well for those of you that don’t know, I am a professional photographer. Photo-crazy now for over eight years on the RMSHA (Rocky Mountain States Hillclimb Association) circuit as well as shooting a lot of other snowmobile related stuff, and of course for AmSnow. So the name just fit. Especially since this sled would be my work-horse that carried all of my photo gear.

■ A little help
First I have to give a huge shout-out to AmSnow test rider Kevin Thompson as this build would have never happened if not for him. Kevin works as a full time mechanic and is a master of all things mechanical! AmSnow test rider Lonnie helped a little too. I on the other hand was behind the lens giving back-seat-driver advice and just trying to stay out of the way.
Nine New Mods!
1. ZRP A-Arms and Spindles
Phone: 435-753-2733
Billet (machined from a solid block of aluminum, no welds) A-Arms and Spindles from ZRP were the first thing we installed. Travis Zollinger owner of ZRP (Zollinger Racing Products) makes one of a kind billet items for snowmobiles and UTVs in his large machine shop located in Cache Valley, Utah. His extensive knowledge comes from years of racing and riding in the backcountry. When he sees a need or recognizes a way to improve something he simply does it. Travis does not just sell top notch items, but he uses them and beats the hell out of them first to make sure they will live up to the highest form of abuse.

ZRP A-Arms and Spindles come in different anodized colors; so you don’t have to worry about paint chipping off, they are stronger than the stock A-Arms and Spindles but not so strong that you will break the bulkhead taking a hit, believe me I know. I took a direct hit at 18 mph and 7200 RPMS (pretty close to pinned) on a small but decent sized pine tree. The reason I know the speed is because my GoPro recorded it all, including what a scorpion looks like to the one performing it.

I remember lying there in the snow thinking the whole right front end was gone; there was no way it took that hit without severe damage! But it was perfectly fine! The A-arms are also curved for higher clearance.

We also installed the lightweight Billet clutch cover from ZRP. A lot of people asked if there was really a notable difference, honestly yes there was. You get ½ pound shaved off the weight, less rotating mass leads to faster acceleration and better throttle response; it is stronger and more rigid than stock, which definitely makes for more efficient shifting. Heat was not an issue since its open face allows for cooler operating temps!

2.  Fox QS3 Clicker Shocks Burandt Backcountry Edition

Phone: 719-395-6727
Not only do the QS3 Burandt Backcountry clicker shocks work unbelievably well, they look amazing! Once we got them on (very easy to install) it was just a matter of tweaking them for ride preference.

The awesome thing about these shocks is that the clickers (three options) work extremely well for quick adjustments to almost any ride from deep powder, boondocking, to trail riding both rough and smooth. The shocks come with a pump but we only had to use it a couple of times to adjust the ride more than what we were able to get out of just the clickers.

The QS3s worked extremely well on hits both small and big. We were very impressed with how well they held up to everything we threw at them in all types of conditions. You don’t realize how much of a role good shocks play until you actually have them and the Fox QS3s performed flawlessly.
2017 Polaris Pro RMK 800 AmSnow Photobomber
Handful of fun. Test rider Lonnie Thompson putting down the landing gear. Power and maneuverability made more 'saves' possible.
3. Twisted FX Sled and Trailer Wrap
Phone: 435-713-5438
We wanted a sled wrap that was not cookie cutter but also not overbearing. Ty and Kelly Parkinson of Twisted FX did an amazing job on both designing and installing the wrap. I gave Ty some color preferences but for the most part left the design and creativity up to him. Ty and Kelly also designed a full wrap for our two-place enclosed trailer that matches the Photobomber. Twisted FX wraps more than just sleds, they also do vehicles, bikes & UTV’s. We couldn’t have been happier with the attention to detail our Photobomber received. I guess we could call it a “sledicure.”

I was amazed that the sled wrap held up so well to everything it was put through, such as tight trees and constant branch rubbing. There were times I would stop and check the wrap because I was sure it had been severely damaged, always to find it looking like nothing happened. I was super impressed that at the end of the season the wrap still looked like new, this says a lot about the quality and finish of the product. Want to see more of TwistedFX’s work, check them out online you will not be disappointed!!
2017 Polaris Pro RMK 800 AmSnow Photobomber
4. SLP Stage 2 Can and Pipe, Magnum Force clutch weights
Phone: 208-529-0244
We wanted to add some horsepower and take away some weight and the SLP Stage 2 can and pipe does just that. The Stage 2 can and pipe takes off close to 14 pounds and adds almost 10 horsepower. Pretty impressive gains. The install is straight-forward and probably the easiest way to quickly gain HP. SLP was an easy choice for this install considering their attention to detail and reputation. The install of the Stage 2 setup took less than 20 minutes. Some sleds sound super mean but that is as far as it goes. Not with the SLP can and pipe you definitely notice the gains in HP.

We also used the new magnum force weights from SLP that allowed us to quickly adjust the clutching in the mountains. The set screws go in from the heel of the weight making it easy to adjust them. However once you’re dialed in, there is not a whole lot of adjusting to do. They work extremely well and engagement was very smooth, at all elevations.

5. Zbroz front and rear bumpers and coupler (K.I.S.S)
Phone: 435-753-7774
Zbroz builds a lot of aftermarket products for both sleds and UTVs, from narrower front ends to shocks, bumpers and coupler systems. We were excited to add their bumpers, front and rear to our build.

We ran the Zbroz rack system rear bumper on our sled build project. The great thing about this system is that the quick draw rack system is designed for added tunnel support, and it comes with four DZUS clips that you can disengage and pull the rack platform that sits on top of your tunnel off. This is an awesome function since it allows you to haul in gear and then simply disengage the rack platform and take it off and ditch while you ride, or you can simply leave it on. The system is very versatile. I used it to haul all of my photography equipment and drone around, with no issues at all. Currently I am working with Zbroz on a system just for photographers and videographers. Stay tuned if you are looking for and easy on/off system that is waterproof, dust proof and can take a serious beating.

If you are a serious or aggressive rider at all you need the Zbroz front bumper system. This system has all of the protection you need in a good bumper all while being light weight - 3.35 pounds to be exact (Polaris Front bumper with Skid plate). Comes with a UHMW Polyethylene skid plate which is a bolt-on design that does not require any kind of customization of the bulkhead. I can’t tell you how many times this system saved my bacon (or bulkhead). Early riding in baseless snow is a pucker game for sure. But with the Zbroz front bumper and skid plate, that pucker factor goes way down. Zbroz bumpers are powder coated and come in a variety of colors and look damn good on your sled.

On to the coupling bracket. The idea behind this is in the name. K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid). That is precisely what Zbroz did when then designed this bracket system. The idea is to allow you to simply turn the blocks to a new position to go from no coupling (stock) to choosing how aggressive you want the upgraded coupling to be. This is great for your sled if you are running a turbo and want the option on a steep climb to keep the front end more grounded, giving you greater control over your sled during the climb. Or, simply turn it to the no coupling position and ride the back six inches of your track up the mountain.
2017 Polaris Pro RMK 800 AmSnow Photobomber
2017 Polaris Pro RMK 800 AmSnow Photobomber
6. Turbo Performance Atomic Turbo System
Phone: 801-807-8046
Turbos in the backcountry are more than just a novelty, with more new companies coming out each year competition is driving the price of turbos down and innovation and reliability are going up. Now don’t get me wrong, they are not a cheap add-on, however they are a lot less expensive than even five years ago and much more reliable. The systems today take less tweaking and are much more user-friendly. Phrases like “pull and go” and “pump gas turbo” are common place. And for those of you that think they are a fad, you probably still own a flip phone. So like those that still brandish their flip phones with pride (not mentioning any names Kevin), while they still get the job done, like a smart phone, a turbo adds the fun factor to your sled. While those of you in the Midwest and on the East Coast may not see the need for a turbo, in the Mountains of the West, everyone wants to be the Alpha dog of boondocking and hillclimbing,. While this requires mostly skill, that skill is much easier to find when you have the horsepower to back it up.

We contacted Bryce Kendrick, owner of Turbo Boyz Turbo Performance in Northern Utah and sent the Photobomber off for some surgery. Bryce turned it into a rocket! The Photobomber got the “Atomic Turbo.” Pushing it over 215 HP at about 8-9 lbs. of boost. All of Bryce’s systems are American-made and ready for low elevation to high elevation riding with no tuning needed. The turbo automatically adjusts for elevation so you’re not fidgeting with it at different altitudes. These turbos are very easy to install and are extremely clean looking. Bryce personally took the sled out and did the initial clutching. We never changed a single thing on it after that, because it simply ran flawlessly the entire season, even on some wide open long hard pulls lasting for almost two minutes, we never had a single hiccup, unlike other turbo riders we know. One guy that rides with us, went through three turbos in a season! He just had bad luck with his turbo… three times… Maybe now he will see the light and run a turbo from Turbo Performance this year.

While we ran our setup at about 8-9 lbs. of boost, we did have the capability to run it as high as 18. However for most backcountry riding 6-8 pounds of boost is pretty normal and will give you good longevity on your sled, while giving you great performance. If you really want someone to help you with a turbo that gives full attention to detail, give Bryce a call at Turbo Performance. Tell him we told you to call.

7. Blow Hole Kit and Vents from MTNTK Performance
Phone: (208) 652-0122
Heat will always be an issue as long as you have moving parts. While snowmobile manufacturers have come a long way in keeping their engines running cooler, there is always that need for extra cooling, especially if you are running a turbo or mod sled. When we installed our turbo, we made sure to install the MTNTK Blow Hole kit. This is not just another vent cut into the plastic of your sled. The difference is that you actually have a fan working to pull out the heat from around your clutch and engine. While pulling heat out, it is also pulling in cooler air from outside through the other vents on your sled. This goes a long ways in keeping your sled running at much cooler temps. I have no doubt this is part of the reason we never ate a belt on the Photobomber all season. This setup pays for itself. With quick release fan housing you can take it off without tools for effortless belt changes. For the price, this is an absolute must. Check out their website for a video of the kit and vents in action.
AmSnow Photobomber
8. Simmons Dual Runner 6” wide Flexi-Skis
Phone: 435-752-4951
We were looking for something a little different than the cookie-cutter skis that most people were running, so we decided to try out the Simmons Dual Runner Flexi-Skis. The “Flexi” in Simmons skis comes from them being designed to give a more compliant ride through bumps and hard snow.

The dual keel design made a notable difference in improved turning. Our sled had fewer tendencies to push through turns, and even though we were only running the 6” ski and not the large 10” wide ski we, certainly noticed the ski wanted to come up on the snow quicker with its concave design. Trail handling was much less “darty” at high speed; the dual runners kept the skis pointed in the direction you wanted to go. But most notable for me was the ability to turn easier in crud and in powder; the turning radius was certainly smaller which is a very good thing. If you are looking for a ski that handles extremely well in all conditions but also gives you added control in turns, this is a great option.
2017 Polaris Pro RMK 800 AmSnow Photobomber
9. Undercover Lights
Phone: 888-765-3691
We really wanted to add a little extra “bling” to our sled, but we did not want too overdo it. Undercover lights were the perfect solution. We received a kit and followed the instructions and in no time at all had awesome LED lights under the hood of the Photobomber. These lights are waterproof and can run off the battery on your sled or you can use an auxiliary battery to power them. I actually used a battery from my drone, which was small and compact and worked really well with the kit. It had enough power to run the lights for over eight hours. The lights look awesome and ran all season with no issues at all.
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