When it comes to handling, one of the biggest doubts buyers shopping 137-inchers have is whether or not they’re going to lose the razor sharp handling a short tracked sled provides.
If you’ve ridden both lengths back-to-back on similar models, you have to admit there is a bit of a difference on tight trails and riders usually need to compensate with a bit more body-english in the corners and use more aggressive skis. However, the ride benefits, even on groomed trails, are well worth the extra investment in a 137.
The question has been made even more indelible because of the almost industry-wide conversion from 120-inch sleds to 129s. The extra nine inches of track is nearly imperceptible on the snow and we’d have to say handling is just not compromised at all. The increase only amounts to about 3 extra inches actually contacting the snow with a 129, but it’s closer to 6-inches with a 137.
We’ve found 137-inch handling is easiest to adapt to when the skis and particularly the carbide runners are new and sharp.
First ride of the year, you’ll notice less difference than later on when the runners are more worn and there’s less bite to arc the track out of its straight-ahead momentum on initial turn-in.
One way to work on this is to use a Bite-Harder sharpening tool to keep your carbides honed – especially if you’re riding hard-pack a lot or running on icy trails.
Most riders tell us, for mainstream riders who aren’t running flat-out all day, the handling response with the 137 is completely adequate and not a problem. It’s only at the extreme limits of riding you can notice any difference. The extra floatation definitely makes any compromise worth it.
We’re also wondering if the industry’s move to 129-inchers will stem the demand for 137s after this year. Long-tracked sleds have been freight-training through showrooms the last three years.