1971 Moto-Ski Bullet

Quebec sledmaker built lighter, smaller race sled with
KMS twin engines like this 650 were built in Japan for Moto-Ski. KMS was short for Kebec Moto-Ski, reflecting that the sled was made in Quebec.
The low-slung 1971 Moto-Ski Bullet's engine problems kept it from being a success, but its overall design stands the test of time.
KMS also built single-cylinder engines for Moto-Ski.
Moto-Ski began producing reliable, durable sleds in LaPocatiere, Quebec, in 1963 for the '64 snow season and by 1970 was making a race sled that it called an SM or Super Mod. It was long and its motor was mounted high on the tunnel.

So for the 1971 race season Moto-Ski decided it needed to make a special sled for racing, something smaller, lighter and shorter. Along came a low lightweight racer, the Moto-Ski Bullet. Bullet motors were mounted in front of the tunnel and very low and came in all the modified cc racing sizes.

Big engine changes

In 1970 Moto-Ski race sleds had used reliable German motors like JLO, Hirth and Sachs. But for 1971 the Canadian sled builder decided to use different technology in its racers. The main motor it planned to use was made in Japan. Moto-Ski wanted to name the motor after Moto-Ski, which was made in Quebec, so settled on Kebec Moto-Ski, or KMS for short.

I think KMS had an excellent design with cylinder bolts going from crankcase to cylinder head to make for larger transfer ports. Additionally KMS motors had large round finned cylinders and matching heads with finned crankcases.

The motors came in 292cc and 338cc single-cylinder models with twins in 648cc and 760cc sizes. Moto-Ski also had a 435cc BSE racer motor that was made in Japan. Likewise, the company still used Hirth motors a 649cc twin Red Baron, and the 793cc triple Honker. All the motors were free air cooling.

With the motor in front of the tunnel and placed down low it created a very low sled with a height to the top of the windshield of only 29 inches.
Bullet also came with plastic fuel tanks, an unusual feature at the time, and a driven clutch cross-shaft to keep the clutch's alignment true for good belt life. Bullet used a double roller drive chain on the smaller motors and a triple roller drive chain on the larger twin and triple-cylinder motors, with a disc brake in the middle of the cross-shaft for good braking.

The '71 Bullet came with an 18-inch wide center-drive cleated track on all the race sleds. Ultimately that proved too wide. Another variation, Moto-Ski's slide-rail was designed differently from other manufacturers' sleds with the front part of the slide-rail moving independently, keeping the sled level when riding over uneven ground.

With the center drive track, Moto-Ski also had to put skid plates on the inside of the track for the slide-rail to slide on.

Up front, the Bullet used dramatically shorter skis than other sleds for oval racing in an effort to keep the ski tips from being run over by other racers, and possibly flipping the sled.

Weight was another vital difference as the Bullet was said to weigh only 300 lbs. for the small motor models and 320 lbs. for those using larger motors.

The down side!
Despite their progressive design, the racing motors from Japan arrived late and were not tested enough, so a lot of the motors seized or burned down. Some say the fins were too big to cool properly. But a bigger problem was the lack of extra parts.

Eventually Moto-Ski had to recall the KMS-powered sleds. The company decided to recall the motors and refund all, or some, of the money and the customers were allowed to keep the sled. Dealers were not happy and neither were the racers since there were no parts to fix their sleds. Frustrated, some even dropped in other motors and trail rode the race sleds.

The bright orange Bullet was considerably smaller and lower than many of the other snowmobiles being made at the time.It proved to be a great design, but lacked the reliability to be competative in racing.

Sadly, the financially rocky Moto-Ski company also could not succeed long-term. It was purchased in late 1971 by Bombardier, which continued to produce Moto-Ski sleds and use much of its technology through 1985. What had been started in 1964 as Moto-Ski, faded from Bombardier's lineup after 1985.
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