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Ask Motorhead

THE BEST MOUNTAIN TRACK LENGTH

THE BEST MOUNTAIN TRACK LENGTH

Hey SnowTrax!

I wanted to ask about mountain sleds and how to choose a track length. I'm an avid viewer of the show (DirtTrax included), but I think sometimes there's an assumption we already posess the foundational knowledge from years of riding experience.

Truth is, I've recently moved to Alberta and have been an avid skier all my life. I've done some slackcountry touring and want to invest in a motorized chairlift. Yeah, yeah. I've heard it all before. A 'chairlift'? Well, I think even you guys are realizing that skiers and boarders are looking for ways to make fresh tracks without the $80 one-time lift-ticket or a $500 per day helicopter.

Thing is, I don't know what the advantages of 15x, 16x, and now 17x track lengths are, which will be best for my intended purpose, my riding style (I'm a younger guy with a lot of motorized and racing experience), thin/athletic body-type (155-160lbs) and even what other factors to consider (I've read snow-type/geography can play into things).

I know it'll be an 850 with a 3", but beyond that....???? Perhaps you guys could incorporate a short segment in one of your upcoming episodes. A side-by-side-by-side comparison of the same sled.

Keep up the good work,

- Colin Watt



Hey Colin -

Thanks for writing to us and thanks for your nice words about the shows. We appreciate it. We also appreciate your perspective on the content in terms of assumptions of viewer knowledge. You're absolutely right, often times we do assume viewers, mountain riders in particular, have a base understanding of things like track length and how that should effect their sled choice. This is because we know, based on demographic research, that mountain riders are among the most knowledgable buyers. With that said, I do agree going back to the basics is always a good idea from time to time.

In terms of track length for you, it's hard to make a suggestion without knowing more specific info on where you plan to ride and what the conditions are likely to be. But here's a short breakdown of what the different track lengths are best at.

A 154 is the shortest you'd want to go on a mountain sled IMO. For a beginner in the mountains the shorter track length can be easier to learn on in terms of maneuvering the sled but that comes at the cost of deep snow traction and flotation. The shorter sled will respond faster to the rider's inputs and your body weight and where its positioned will have a greater effect on the attitude of the sled. If you're riding in tight trees, a 154 might be more desirable. However, for a beginner, more traction and floatation can be a lifesaver when things are deep or steep. If you ride in the deep and steep stuff, even as a beginner, a 154 may not be your best choice.

A 175 is a LONG sled. I've found sleds this long can be more difficult to maneouver. On the other hand, you can't get better traction or floatation when when things are steep and deep, the 175 can and will go places no other sled can go. For a beginner, the extra length can give you the ability to go places you'd need a lot more experience and technique to go on a shorter sled.

If climbing is what you're after, the 175 is the best choice, but my feeling is that for a beginner in the mountains its too much sled. Also, when you do get stuck (and you will) the 175 will be WAY more stuck than a shorter sled. It takes more to get it stuck, but when it is, it's more stuck than anything else.

The 165 really is the middle ground between being maneouverable but still maintaining excellent traction and floatation. This is my preferred length when I ride in the mountains. I can still get the sled to go where I want it to without excessive effort, but it still gets crazy traction and floatation.

Your body inputs into the sled won't have as much of an effect on where the sled will go as on a 154, which can be good, especially on a G4 summit that is so effected by body positioning. However, they will have more of an effect than on the 175. A 165 is good in the steep and deep stuff, almost as good as the 175 which is only better when things are REALLY extreme.

By now I'm betting you've figured out my recommendation for you is the 165. It's a good all round choice thats easy enough to handle, but capable enough to go anywhere. There's lots of room on the tunnel for the Ski-Doo ski rack and lots of extra gear. I'd say you can't really go wrong with a 165.

Hope that helped. Good luck with your buying decision and don't be surprised if after you spend a few days on a G4 using it as a "chair lift" you find you don't really want to put the skis on to go back down the hill anymore. I've talked to dozens of pro level mountain riders who started out as backcountry skiers, using their sleds to access more remote terrain, only to find once they made it out there, they'd rather keep riding than start skiing. Jeremy Mercier is the best example I can think of. He was an avid professional skier... barely skis at all anymore. Spends every day riding.

Thanks again for your message.

Luke