It was inevitable, wasn’t it? With the enormous shift in engine technology to accommodate emission regulations and legislative pressure to enforce previously unenforced sound regulations, aftermarket high performance merchants had to feel the pinch. Age-old performance enhancements like 2-stroke tuned pipes are quickly fading into history.
Clearly, the across-the-board move to fuel injection and, more importantly, sophisticated Direct Injection (DI) and Semi-Direct (SDI) fuel injection systems has created enormous headaches and ultimately a retreat from staple 2-stroke mods like tuned pipes. The complex systems now in place to control fuel intake necessary to clear EPA emission mandates have made modification to SDI and DI systems difficult at best.
The aftermarket performance biz revolved around exhaust and intake mods for more than 20 years. That business, with the exception of some slick 4-stroke aftermarket exhausts and a handful of slip on 2-stroke silencers, has all but disappeared.
The problems and risks associated with remapping SDI and DI systems precludes the modification of exhaust systems beyond simple silencer swaps. Simply put, if you can’t get more fuel into an engine modified to breath harder with pipes, it won’t produce any extra horsepower.
In fairness, there are some pretty interesting tweaks still available, particularly for Arctic Cat 2-strokes, that center around porting mods, replacement modified “Y” pipes and, almost unbelievably, stock exhausts. These systems require ECU remapping but so far, the wizards offering these mods are having success on Cat’s big 2-strokes.
With the aforementioned realities fully entrenched in our sport and the added problem of many jurisdictions in the US and Canada restricting modifications to snowmobile exhaust systems, surprisingly, there’s still a healthy aftermarket providing both new and age-old performance enhancements delivering real value for money spent.
First, lets talk about the latest trend in performance mods any owner of a late model sled should consider. In a word: clutching. Take a look at the stuff both Dalton Pro and Team Industries are marketing right now. Their stuff is rooted in increasing drive train efficiency, taking advantage of power already under your hood never captured by your sled’s factory calibrated clutches.
We’ve tested a bunch of these clutch and drive line components and they really work. In fact, they work so well we wonder why these things weren’t focused on more than 10 years ago. In actual fact, clutching was tweaked years ago but most often only in response to power generated by porting and exhaust system mods.
Today, there’s an impressive stash of hidden power lurking under your hood requiring only the careful and precise calibration of an aftermarket clutch kit to release. Interestingly, there’s more power available from both Ski-Doo E-TEC and Polaris Cleanfire engines from maximizing clutching.
Another area you can gain increased performance from is your link with the trail. This issue is not new but it’s never been more important or effective.
The overall improvement in both acceleration and braking, not to mention cornering control and speed, is undeniable when traction products are installed.
It was true 20 years ago and it remains true today, before you put more power under the hood or attempt to get more power to the track, you need to make sure you can “hook up”.
It makes zero sense to spend big bucks increasing engine power or transmission efficiency without first installing traction studs. The quality and variety of the traction stuff available today is amazing. You can get all kinds of stud lengths that work efficiently with any lug depth and these long-lasting carbide tips are absolutely the most cost effective way to go.
Finally, while this seems strange, 4-stroke snowmobiles are rapidly becoming the most popular target for aftermarket exhaust systems. There’s impressive power to gain and improved efficiency from installing these bolt-on systems.
The good news is, most do not require any changes to EFI systems or engine control modules. Most makers of these performance exhausts and slip-on silencers are producing systems that are pleasing to the ear without being overly loud.
It’s a new day in the sno-mo-biz as we enter the second decade of the new millennium. Today, our sleds are nearly automotive-like in their sophistication and as a result, the opportunities to modify them are becoming equally sophisticated and much more specifically targeted.