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Old 01-05-2009, 02:55 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Which sled for a bad back?

Greetings everyone! I've never owned a sled, but looked at them seriously in the mid 90's. I'm now seriously considering it again. However, I'm worried about my back. I have a herniated lumbar disc, which lets me know it's there from time to time, but I can do lots of things as long as I'm careful. I wear a back brace if I plan on repetitive heavy lifting. I ride a motorbike in the summer, and would like to have something equally fun for the winter. I have 2 young kids and (only ) 1 wife. I know my 10 year old son would be thrilled to ride a sled. My wife is eqivocal, but is willing to give it a try. So after this somewhat long winded introduction, which type of sled should I look at? The choices now available are bewildering! I prefer 2 stroke engines for outdoor machinery, and would be riding mostly trails and some fresh powder. We don't get as much snow here on the prairies as in mountainous regions.

What are the differences between trail and crossover models? Which have the softest ride? Does type of track influence ride? Is there any particular chassis or specific model that has the softest ride? Should I start with a two up machine, or get a solo model? I don't think my wife would want one of her own, but would mostly be a passenger.

I'm not planning on racing, or spending a whole day ditch banging. My closest dealer is Polaris, but all 4 models are within a 45 minute drive. I'm happy to try used at first. Any good used models for what I'm looking for?

Any opinions/experiences are much appreciated.
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Old 01-05-2009, 03:10 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I for years rode a mach Z 780 cc but after a accident (not on sled ) in may 2008 i thought i might be finished for a while -- but a friend let me try his 1998 grand touring se (700cc) and i ran out and found one WOW what a ride -- 136 inch long track with air ride --two up seat with a backrest that moves forward for when riding solo you have back support and the 700cc has plenty of power ---- this is a very smooth riding machine and is as equally comfortable with two adults on it as you can adjust the air ride to suit your needs /weight etc -- WOULD Highly recommend it or a newer sled equally equipped
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Old 01-05-2009, 03:26 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Touring sleds are generally softer sprung than any other type of sled. The more suspension travel, the more likely the sled will absorb the impact instead of bottoming out and shooting lightning bolts up your back. Longer tracks add weight but smooth out the moguls somewhat. I also have a bad lower back and feel the impact of rough trails. I've thought about adding a 6" to 8" narrow soft seat pad to give a more upright riding position like the newer sleds. This would put more impact weight on the legs instead of the spine.

The best thing you can do is learn how the suspension adjustments work to change the ride and don't be afraid to change it and change it often to find the perfect set-up.

What I do now is ride slower until I find all the bad bumps. It lets me enjoy the scenery and ride again the next day. The wife likes NOT flying off the rear of the sled as well when she doesn't ride her own sled. We tend to do a lot of family tours with both two-up sleds full and one in the sleigh.

Find what you can afford and ride it for a season. You can always trade up next year.
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Old 01-05-2009, 03:48 PM   #4 (permalink)
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touring sleds are your best bet. i have a 2007 Polaris IQ and love it. granted i'm a younger guy without the back problems. but my old man took it for a day i couldn't ride and he loved it also. he said he could believe how much better the suspension was on mine than his 2004 polaris edge x. and now he is looking for one. i would imagine that the touring version has an even nicer suspension and a boat load of luxury features.
i have also heard the the Artic Cat Bear Cats are nice touring sleds. and of course there is Ski doo who is getting to be at the same suspension calibar that Polaris and Arctic Cat have been know to deliver for years.

whichever way you go you will be in good company. this is a sport that you will make alot of friend from alot of places.

good luck with the choice.
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Old 01-05-2009, 04:16 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Yes.. a 2 up would have softer suspesion... and i suggest cat or polaris
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Old 01-05-2009, 04:52 PM   #6 (permalink)
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If you go with a Cat. make it Pantera.
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Old 01-06-2009, 12:16 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Are longer track sleds, being heavier, easier to get stuck in fresh powder, or does the extra length mean better flotation? I see the new mountain sleds all have longer tracks.
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Old 01-06-2009, 12:23 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Longer means more flotation, but more work if you do get stuck too.
One thing you might want to add when you do get a sled is an electric winch.
There are small ones that can be carried in a bag and hooked up anywhere.
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Old 01-06-2009, 05:59 AM   #9 (permalink)
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a longer tack gives you better flotation because it also gives you more surface area to ditribute the wieght over the powder.
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Old 01-06-2009, 06:58 AM   #10 (permalink)
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+1 on the winch like RJ said. With a bad back, you don't want to be trying to get a sled unstuck. Hell, I don't like doing it and I don't have a bad back. Staying on the groomed trails will reduce, but not eliminate, your chances of getting stuck.
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Old 01-06-2009, 07:03 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I just had my 04 Pantera out and LOVE IT! Wow what a ride! I too have had back (and neck) trouble and even have a steel plate in my neck! I though I was done too! Nope the Pantera is the way to go, mine is a 800 twin and EFI! They all come fully loaded with rev, electric start add overload springs, and mine even has the remote start!
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Old 01-06-2009, 10:22 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Thanks everybody! Great advice!

So, to recap: I want a longer track model, preferably touring style, 2 up is best, and should buy a winch.

A local used dealer has a 2007 Arctic Cat Panther 660, but that only came as a 4 stroke IIRC? He's also got a 2002 Cat Z570 for Can $3300, but that seems a bit too performance oriented, no?

One other question: are there aftermarket seats that can turn a single seat machine into 2-up seating for adults? I've found some seats on the 'net but they seem to be oriented for only taking children.

This is all quite new to me, so thanks for your advice and patience
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Old 01-06-2009, 11:38 AM   #13 (permalink)
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If you buy a Skidoo Rev you can get a buddy seat for them right from the skidoo dealer. Not sure about the rest but a Renegade Skidoo with the buddy seat would work. They are a bit more performance oriented then a touring sled though. (stiffer suspension etc)
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Old 01-06-2009, 07:13 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Old 01-07-2009, 12:50 AM   #15 (permalink)
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The Panther 660 would be a good choice too, the three cyl four stroke is a very economical engine to run.
Can be loaded up with lots of extra goodies too.

Check this one out, new model for '09;
http://www.snowmobileforum.com/snowm...ng-review.html
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Last edited by RJ Gleason; 01-07-2009 at 01:52 AM.
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