WHAT NEW RIDERS WANT MOST
This year, there are so many new riders out on the trails – and prospects for many more next year - we're wondering what kinds of sleds are attracting new riders to the sport.
Although value-priced sleds in the 60-85-hp range haven't been the biggest volume sellers in the snowmobile market the last few years, we think the OEMs will be building even more of this type of sled as soon as next year. Why? Used sled prices are through the roof.
Here's our list of new-rider priorities:
Keep in mind, we’re talking about NEW riders, not those who were hardcores a few years back and suddenly are re-enthused to get back into snowmobiling after a half decade lay-off.
We think this is the most critical feature novice snowmobilers are looking for. The problem is, you can't tell what a sled rides like when you're looking at it in the showroom. This is why it's super-important for the OEMs to prioritize a snowmobile model's suspension compliance above all.
If a new rider gets on the sled they've just purchased and are uncomfortable or beaten up after an hour on the trails, they're not going to recommend either the snowmobile or snowmobiling to the rest of their family or their friends.
We think this especially applies to the lower priced and entry-level sleds the manufacturers are offering – the level where most new-to-snowmobiling new-sled buyers enter the sport. However, it also should apply to dealer setup.
It's really helpful when dealers take into account the size, weight and experience level of the people who will be riding the sled and then make suspension adjustments to suit them before the sled hits the snow.
The reason many first-time snowmobilers get into the sport is because they rode a friend's sled and liked it. Frankly, it's pretty common knowledge more novice riders buy their first sled used rather than new.
With the lack of good, used sleds priced cheaply in the marketplace right now, we think this "buy used" trend is coming to the place buyers would consider a new, value sled with a full warranty as their first ride rather than pay an inflated price for a used sled with a dubious history.
Fortunately, the industry has some really good, well equipped value sleds available in MY2021 and a buyer can get into these brand new, fully warranted snowmobiles for very reasonable prices.
We're not saying price is the first priority - many new buyers will pay more to get more features and comfort, up to a certain level.
Warm windshields, comfy seats and good hand and thumb warmers go hand-in-hand with priority #1 – good suspension.
New riders should be over-impressed with how comfortable they are when riding. We also like the trend toward multi-featured digital instruments on many of the current value models offered - and the fact pretty much everything in this price range comes with electric start and reverse.
Believe it or not, ultimate power is not even registering a blip on this rating scale. Not to say new riders don't want the thrill of experiencing engine performance every time they mash the throttle flipper; it's just that a 60-85 horsepower sled feels plenty fast to a new rider.
As new value-conscious sleds are planned out in the future, horsepower in that range is definitely where OEMs should be targeting new customers.
In the past, sleds in the lower percentile of that HP-range have tended to be stripped down, bare bones models with basic suspensions and spartan comfort amenities. Why not include coupled suspensions with basic gas cell shocks on all 65-hp sleds along with other comfort and convenience features?
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