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Old 02-25-2011, 01:12 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Most reliable sled?

I tried searching and got some ideas but I'd like some more info.

I'm new to sledding and want to get a mountain sled for sled-skiing only. Not interested in highmarking or anything like that.

My main concern is reliability as I would just hate getting stuck out somewhere and generally fixing stuff, although it seems pretty unavoidable with sleds but I'd like to at least minimize it.

The second concern is being able to access things fairly easy. I don't need to get there fast, as long as it's possible without too much work.

I live in Whistler and I'd say about 80% of the sleds I see here are all Ski-Doo which has to say something. On the other hand, I've read a lot of stories of the engines blowing up very often and when I look at craigslist ads (which are pretty much all Ski-Doo Summit 800 sleds) they pretty much all say something like 4000km, 2000 km on new motor, meaning it's already blown once at least.

So I'm getting that they're very popular here but don't seem that reliable. If reliability is my main concern, would you recommend a Ski-Doo (and which one) or another brand altogether? I can't afford new so probably looking around a budget of $3000-$4000.

Thanks!
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Old 02-25-2011, 02:43 AM   #2 (permalink)
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OK, i was in your position at the start of this season. I had 1500 USD to spend on a sled. I decided to get the most powerful and longest track sled i could find in my price range. I settled on an 02 Polaris RMK 800 with a 162 inch track.

What have i learned since then. Every sled is NOT reliable. You will have to work on your sled. After ever ride and sometimes before make sure all bolts, nuts, screws, belts, and pumps are working properly. Learn where they are and how they work. Learn how to adjust everything. Most sleds die because of poor lubrication and/or lean fuel/air mixture.

My suggestion sacrifice a small amount of performance and tune your sled so it runs just barely on the rich side with both fuel and oil. Your sled will run fast if it is lean but it will die. Look up what lean and rich means and how to adjust it.

For the first few tanks, if your sled is carburated put a small amount of oil in the gas tank. This is a safety measure in case the oil pump is not working.

If you think you will be able to jump on a sled and ride it to the top of your favorite run you are mistaken. Sleds are heavy and only want to go down hill. Spend lots of time, hopefully with people who know how to ride well, learn how to turn in powder, side hill, and most importantly learn how to get unstuck. You will run into trees, tree wells are sled magnets. Do not get attached to your pretty snowmobile hood. It will die at the hands of the trees.

Once you can do this you should be fully addicted to sledding and never touch your skis again.

That being said, I hae no idea what is most reliable. Seems like once you start modifying your sled it becomes less and less reliable. I would say get a sled that is bone stock, any sled.

Cheers, from one skier to another.
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Old 02-25-2011, 11:12 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Along with what jbrown said, the more the HP, the less reliable over time all sleds seem to be. The 600 size engine in all the major manufacturers seem to last a lot longer with less maintenance than their bigger brothers. If a 600 will do the job you require and you don't like to wrench, it may be the perfect fit for you.

Good luck in your choice, welcome to the forum!
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Old 02-25-2011, 11:40 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I would have to agree, most engines have to be rebuilt because of poor lubrication and/or lack of knowledge e.g. (Putting wrong heat range of spark plugs in. Which results in melting the spark plug ) On the other hand Sleds engines do have to be rebuilt, they're high reving/ high compression engines.

You should really be looking more at a properly maintained sled (with the right features) over the brand/model, but you should still look for "recalls" and/or "constant problems" with certain sleds.

Personally I like Ski-Doo because of the way it was designed. Hood vents that close, D.E.S.S Key among other things(On my 1999). You might be able to get a Rev Chassis in that price range.
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Old 02-25-2011, 12:26 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks for the replies! I understand the most reliable sled is the one that has been best taken care of but just as in cars are there not some models that are less prone to failing?

Am I right in that the smaller the engine, the less issues they have, in general? Would a 600 mountain sled be able to take me up steeper places (I'm OK with zigzagging/sidehilling to get up there.)

On the other hand, I would like to bring a buddy or two. Is it pretty much mandatory to have something 800+ to ride 2up or tow a toboggan/skiers?
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Old 02-25-2011, 03:49 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Your going to need lots of power and tons of skill. two uping in pow is HARD. Zigzagging while two upping im going with near impossible. seems like a 700 is good compromise. My 800 has more power than my skill set can use but i like the fact that it is there when i get better and it is really fun to book it across pow fields. Good maintnance on the sled should keep it running it seems. Id pay attention to good shocks, deep lug track to get you where you need to go.

Last edited by BC_Dan; 02-25-2011 at 04:55 PM.
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Old 02-25-2011, 04:29 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Like others have said:
The most reliable sled, without a doubt, is a well-maintained one! Period!!!

As for riding 2-up in deep snow... it's just about impossible to do. It's hard enough keeping a single-rider sled upright in the deep stuff. My wife tipped over twice on our last ride. The deeper the snow, the more you have to work at keeping it upright and moving forward. Throw an extra rider in the equation, and you'll soon appreciate having them along, 'cause they'll be helping you dig out a stuck sled.
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Old 02-25-2011, 04:31 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Like others have said:
The most reliable sled, without a doubt, is a well-maintained one! Period!!!

As for riding 2-up in deep snow... it's just about impossible to do. It's hard enough keeping a single-rider sled upright in the deep stuff. My wife tipped over twice on our last ride. The deeper the snow, the more you have to work at keeping it upright and moving forward. Throw an extra rider in the equation, and you'll soon appreciate having them along, 'cause they'll be helping you dig out a stuck sled.
I don't doubt that it's hard but I have seen a lot of videos of people shuttling each other up to ski down a slope so it seems possible. What about towing someone? Is it doable in a toboggan in deep snow?
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Old 02-25-2011, 04:51 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Towing a person is much more doable. What you dont see in the video is the years upon years of experience these folks have riding their sleds. I dont mean to slash you dreams but i had the same one. I quickly found that not only was it really hard to drive in powder but add two novices and you got one stuck sled.

Now dont get me wrong. Sled skiing is really really rewarding. I would just recommend spending as much time just snowmobiling as you can to learn how the thing works. It is not as easy as point up hill, go left go right. The thing is 500 lbs. I have found towing a skier is a bit easier and better for your suspension.

That being said Get a sled. It is really fun.
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Old 02-25-2011, 05:01 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by j.brown View Post
Towing a person is much more doable. What you dont see in the video is the years upon years of experience these folks have riding their sleds. I dont mean to slash you dreams but i had the same one. I quickly found that not only was it really hard to drive in powder but add two novices and you got one stuck sled.

Now dont get me wrong. Sled skiing is really really rewarding. I would just recommend spending as much time just snowmobiling as you can to learn how the thing works. It is not as easy as point up hill, go left go right. The thing is 500 lbs. I have found towing a skier is a bit easier and better for your suspension.

That being said Get a sled. It is really fun.
Thanks! I figured it's not as easy as it looks. When you tow a skier, are you towing someone actually standing on skis or in a toboggan? It seems someone on skis would be hard to tow in deep snow (hard for the skier at least.)
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Old 02-25-2011, 05:26 PM   #11 (permalink)
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As far as i can tell you have two choices. Some people have large trailers that tow behind their sleds. They are made of steel or aluminum and have skies in the bottom to keep them afloat. They work well for trail riding or just going straight. I have two ropes that i have attached to the back of my sled. They should be pretty long to keep your friends away from the rooster tail your sled will toss behind it. We just do a bend around their pole and then hold the two pieces of rope in front of the pole. So basically you hands are butted up against your poles and you are holding the rope. This makes it so you can just let go. your polls drop out and the rope goes away.

Forget the toboggan.
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Old 02-27-2011, 10:19 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Deciding what type of machine to buy is probably one of the hardest decisions you will have to make.

Climbing hills and deep powder ...... 600, with 146 track and 2 inch lug and lots of practice (go with experienced riders).

2up.....buy a wide track. Not fancy in the powder but if you want a machine for outdoor adventures... Skidoo Skandic 600 ETECH HO (120 HP, 20 x 156 track).

Reed reviews, watch videos. It took me two years to finally decide what to buy.....
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Old 02-27-2011, 10:20 PM   #13 (permalink)
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O yea... get some tools and a manual. No mater what you buy, you WILL eventually have to to maintenance on it!
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Old 02-27-2011, 11:13 PM   #14 (permalink)
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from what i have seen the 600 in ANY manufacture seems to be most reliable !
and from what i have seen anything over 700 , its not a matter of if.........
but WHEN is it going to break , doo, cat ,and polaris seems to be the worst
nobody seems to be getting the longevity out of the 800's
the 600 will take you there and do it handily , just not going to get you there
the fastest. remember the longer the track ,the deeper the lug , the more
it is going to loose top end cause the gearing will have to be lower to compensate
for the smaller cc!
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