Understanding The Types Of Snowmobiles - Sports And Recreation

  In the last series of our studies, we studied in great detail the state of affairs with modern utilitarian snowmobiles. Today, let's talk, perhaps, about the most extensive family of snowmobiles - about cars for sports and recreation. Decided to buy a snowmobile for your summer cottage, but not sure about the model? Now let's figure out what you need!  

It's no secret that the off-road segment is systematically flowing from utilitarian to recreational. Fewer and fewer people buy "quadriks" and snowmobiles for work, and more and more - as equipment for outdoor activities.

Of course, the requirements for technology in this segment are radically different from those that form the appearance of the utilitarian segment.

The resource is not so important, because most likely the "wheeler" will not travel a tenth of the distance that a reindeer breeder does in a year. But the power of the engine is in the first place here, because it should be fun to ride! It is unlikely that a resident of the Far North, who daily drives two or three hundred kilometers along the tundra, would think to "jump that five-meter drop" from a snow peak. The smoother the road to him, the better. He will not climb into the hollow, where absolutely three meters of powder has been blown out, he would better go around such an ambush.

Understanding the types of snowmobiles - sports and recreation

And to the person who went for a ride, on the contrary: the more snow, the better.

A hollow with powder is like a children's sandbox. Visors? Amazing. You can jump! The slopes are super. You can cut it with a traverse! In a word, "riders" and "riders" are people directly opposite in their essence. And the requirements they place on their technique are also opposite.

Understanding the types of snowmobiles - sports and recreation

Needless to say that "recreational" technology is updated annually in terms of design? It’s the driller who doesn’t care what color the snowmobile is - if only it was going. And the "fast" guys on a snowmobile in last year's colors and in public are somehow ashamed.

In a word, everything: frames, suspensions, tracks, motors of recreational snowmobiles is radically different from utilities. Is that there is one class that gravitates closest to "junk" - "tourists".

"Gran Turismo" in winter

Tourist snowmobiles - the class most close to utilitarian.

This is due to the rather close requirements for both: efficiency, smooth running, long resource of components and assemblies. At the same time, the question of the masses is not so acute, because a "tourist" must travel, if not along prepared tracks, then along someone's tracks, some paths. And certainly not on virgin soil. Differences from "junk" are quite "marketing sense" - a powerful engine, to a greater extent as an element of status and involvement in the upper class, many comfortable options, a range of tuning, noble design.

Understanding the types of snowmobiles - sports and recreation

In the photo: Arctic Cat Pantera 7000 Limited - a bright representative of the tourist family

Therefore, touring cars stand on the platforms of heavy utilitarian models, practically without intruding on the structure of the frame, chassis, propulsion unit or suspension.

The track is 152 inches (3,900 mm) long and 500 mm wide with very moderate grip - this is most often a common utility track. The engine in the overwhelming majority of cases is a large-volume four-stroke. This is not only a tribute to tradition or fashion, it's just that 4Ts are always noticeably more economical than two-strokes, they are much quieter in operation and have a very calm character.

Understanding the types of snowmobiles - sports and recreation

In the photo: Canadian Ski-Doo Ex66edition 900 ACE - comfort, silence, wind protection

All these factors work for comfort, and also such a snowmobile can accelerate very confidently, reach rather high speeds, but at the same time it does not smell of burnt oil, it works quietly and smoothly. It should be noted that the main consumer of large "tourists" are the Scandinavian countries and Canada.

In Finland, for example, the length of the official snowmobile roads, which are looked after and maintained as well as the road, exceeds the length of asphalt roads. Of course, in the winter. So a heavy, comfortable, quiet, powerful and economical "tourist", equipped with heating of everything that is possible, with large glass and soft armchairs, is ideal for such conditions.

Understanding the types of snowmobiles - sports and recreation

Pictured: Japanese Touring View - Yamaha RSVenture GT

The disadvantages of such machines follow directly from the advantages. The cross-country ability and maneuverability of tourist snowmobiles is often even worse than that of "related" utilitarian snowmobiles.

There are a lot of reasons for this. It is easier to "plant" such a wheelbarrow in loose snow, but to dig it out is very difficult. Therefore, you should not look closely at this type of snowmobile if there is a lot of snow in your area, and there are few trails for skiing. Or if you live in a hilly or wooded area: every exit will turn into sweat and blood. Of course, talking about "prepared snowmobile tracks", as in Finland, is not necessary at all, but if your main routes are frozen rivers and lakes, or if in your area there are mainly fields, not very dense forests, and snow falls not to say so much, the "tourist" will be able to give you and your companion a lot of positive emotions.

Understanding the types of snowmobiles - sports and recreation

In the photo: Lynx Adventure GT 900 ACE - Finnish look at the question of snow "long-range"

Big sport

Cross models occupy a diametrically opposite place in the hierarchy of snowmobiles. These snowmobiles should be taken out of the scope of "civilian" models, just as cross-country motorcycles, which are not considered vehicles at all, do not have a vehicle registration certificate and are not registered with the traffic police or technical supervision. However, de jure, cross-country snowmobiles are no different from others, so one cannot but say about them.

Understanding the types of snowmobiles - sports and recreation

Turning your attention to this technique, it is worth remembering that it was developed for one single purpose - participation in snowcross competitions. The "cross-country" has a very short and narrow track (120 inches or 3 051 mm long and 380 mm wide), designed to ride on the dense, compacted snow of the prepared ring track.

A powerful two-stroke engine with a working volume of 600 or 800 cubic centimeters (although there are four-stroke models) and a very wide ski base so that the snowmobile does not overturn in fast turns. The variator is tuned for maximum acceleration, and the suspension is very stiff in order to work out maximum loads at high speeds without breakdowns, multi-meter jumping from trampolines and other "delights" of a cross track.

Understanding the types of snowmobiles - sports and recreation

The snowmobile is deprived of such familiar options as heated handlebars, electric start, wind protection. Everything is aimed at minimizing mass. The settings of the variator and engine are such that an ordinary person will find the "crossover" insanely nervous and harsh.

The suspension in the usual "pokatushechny" driving mode simply will not work. To "swing" it, you need to go "for all the money." In a word, any "cross-country" snowmobile is uncomfortable, "evil", tough and at the same time completely impassable. A short track is not capable of taking the snowmobile out of deep snowdrifts, and a wide ski base and tight shock absorber settings will not allow the snowmobile to actively "roll" from side to side and maneuver in deep snow.

Understanding the types of snowmobiles - sports and recreation

In the photo: Arctic Cat ZR 6000 El Tigre is a thoroughbred "cross country".

Short, light and " evil"

But "crosses" often have metal spikes on the track, allowing the most efficient use of torque even on rolled snow and ice, shock absorbers have every conceivable setting, and the catalogs of original and non-original tuning offer a huge selection of parts for tuning the variator and engine.

In the photo: Lynx Rave RE 800 E-TEC - Finnish king of jumps and turns. 215 kg, 174 hp with. and impenetrable suspension

In a word, this class of devices is suitable only for those who are seriously thinking about sports or stunt riding. "Just ride" on these cars will not work.

In deep snow you will have to dig a lot, and on rolled snow - constantly worrying about your own insides - will shake your whole soul out. And, of course, like any other sports equipment, "cross-country cars" are purely single-seated.

In the photo: Polaris 600 Rush Pro-X. Short and wide base, light weight, powerful engine. American Crossing

Only mountains can be better than mountains .


Mountain snowmobiling has about as much practical meaning as riding snowboarding or alpine skiing is an exclusively entertaining pastime. Nevertheless, it is here that the "front line" of the struggle for high technologies lies. Mountain models are some of the most expensive and technologically advanced cars, and mountain riding is the most technical and challenging kind of snowmobiling.

The Gornik is specially conceived and developed to ride high in the mountains, on very deep snow and on very steep slopes. The technique of driving on the "mountain" is strikingly different from those familiar to those who ride on the plain. For example, a snowmobile cannot ride on a slope beyond a certain steepness - it will just roll over. Therefore, the "mountain" ride on one ski, filling up the snowmobile to the slope.

Understanding the types of snowmobiles - sports and recreation

In the photo: the steepness of the slope is often irrelevant.

If only there was more snow!

Hence the technical features - a narrow track and a very narrow ski base. To compensate for the lack of support surface of the narrow "goose", it is lengthened. The Ski-Doo Summit T3 has the longest factory track so far at 174 inches or 4,141 mm.

Photo: Ski-Doo Summit T3 174 - World's First Mountaineer with 4,141mm Track and 76mm Grip

This year the 174 track version is also available for the Polaris RMK, Ski-Doo's main competitor. Actually, "gorniks" are produced by only three firms in the world.

In addition to the above, there is also Arctic Cat. True, the "cats" have not yet reached such a monstrous caterpillar, limiting themselves to a maximum length of 163 inches (4 140 mm). But the "shark" size of three inches (76.2 mm) snow lugs has already been mastered by everyone.

In the photo: Polaris ProRMK 800 - the lightest mountain bike, less than 200 kg.

There are a lot of composite materials and aluminum in the construction - light but very fragile

There is also Yamaha with their FX-Nytro M-TX 162, but the heavy four-stroke makes it bad competitor to light two-strokes from North America.

Understanding the types of snowmobiles - sports and recreation

In the photo: FX-Nytro M-TX 162 - heavy four-stroke is not in the trend of mountain snowmobiling , and even then in urgent need. Therefore, although their suspension is energy-intensive, it is very soft. And the hydraulics often have no settings: in a loose powder, this is unnecessary.

Understanding the types of snowmobiles - sports and recreation

Pictured: The Polaris Pro RMK lower arm is made of carbon and aluminum and is glued with polyester resin.

All for the sake of weight reduction. But such a structure does not hold blows, in principle

The motors of the "miners" are tuned to work in conditions of rarefied air in the highlands and below they do not feel very good from an excess of oxygen, but cooling systems again imply a large amount of loose snow. For the sake of weight reduction, the radiators are cut to a minimum, and if there is a lack of snow under the track or on dense snow, the miners get very hot.

Understanding the types of snowmobiles - sports and recreation

Photo: Ski-Doo Summit radiator. Minimization of mass leads to a deficiency in the performance of the cooling system.

"Gorniks" warm themselves with a lack of snow

All this makes them poor companions on the plain. Long and narrow cars do not hold the trajectory well, they strive to overturn at any change of direction, their suspension breaks through even on a light comb, and the control process itself on dense snow is very difficult, because the snowmobile does not rest on the surface with the entire plane of the caterpillar, but as if it stands on "pointe shoes "huge snow hooks. The grip is zero, there is no controllability either. It is very difficult to maneuver in a forest in a long car, and on a well-groomed track it is constantly warming up. In a word, "mountaineers" are very specific cars.

Actually, like alpine skiing: they are categorically not suitable for anything other than skiing from the mountains.

Universal soldiers

But what about those who want to get a car that can be equally comfortable on a rolled track and in powder? Comfortable, with the ability to carry a passenger, but at the same time vigorous and "toothy", so that you can gasp along the slope and not get stuck among the trees in the forest? This is where crossovers come into play. And now there are so many of them that it is often not easy to understand them. Crossovers gravitate towards the main classes listed above, but they also carry the qualities inherent in other types. There is one rule to remember here: the universal will never be as convenient as the specific.

That is, no crossover with a slope in the mountains will not be as good in the mountains as a purebred "mountain", but in other forms it will be noticeably better.

Understanding the types of snowmobiles - sports and recreation

Mountain crossover is the car that fits most the requirements of a mountain snowmobile, but the base of the skis will be wider so that it does not so persistently seek to tip over in turns, the cooling system will be more efficient (but also heavier), and there will be an electric start in the kit (which means again excess weight).

Understanding the types of snowmobiles - sports and recreation

In the photo: Lynx Boondocker DS. DS stands for Dee310 Snow - deep snow. Almost a "mountain", but capable of something more on the plain.

other types of snow. The mass of the car will be greater, the scope of applications will be wider, but in the mountains it will "merge" an ordinary "mountaineer".

Understanding the types of snowmobiles - sports and recreation

In the photo: Arctic Cat XF Highcountry - "almost a mountain", but slightly more adapted for life on the plain. Not much worse than a purebred "mountaineer", but much more versatile

seat with a backrest and handrails, high glass) and the quality of a "rogue": a rather narrow and "toothy" caterpillar, a medium-width ski base and an "evil" sports two-stroke engine. On this it will be very comfortable to "pull" on a packed winter road or on the ice of a river with a passenger.

And at the same time, he will allow you to "pound" in powder in one person and not get stuck in a dense forest. Everything will be fine with handling and cross-country ability, but it is worth remembering that such a device will be very heavy. In terms of cross-country ability, it will be worse than "sports" models, and in terms of comfort, it will "merge" with "pure" tourists.

In the photo: Lynx 49 Ranger 600 E-Tec - touring saddle and large windscreen, along with "toothy caterpillar" and sporty two-stroke

Crossover with a bias in sport is perhaps one of the most honest variations of "interclass crosses". In fact, these are sports cars, with expanded opportunities for use outside of sports tracks.

This class is characterized by high-power "greyhound" motors, slightly elongated tracks with an average hook height to feel confident not only on a rolled track, but also in snowdrifts, "evil" suspensions with a bunch of adjustments, so that you can safely "plant" ramps and in full throttle hitting the broken "graders", a very wide ski base for stability and a single-seat layout.

Understanding the types of snowmobiles - sports and recreation

Pictured: Ski-Doo Renegade Backcountry X - capable of a lot, but only where there is not a lot of snow

Those who live in the middle lane most of all like those who live in the middle lane, where there is not a lot of snow, but there are a lot of intersections and you want to "gasp for all the money". Moscow, St. Petersburg and other large centers are the main market for such machines.

Understanding the types of snowmobiles - sports and recreation

In the photo: Polaris 600 Switchback PRO-X - almost "crossover", but a little more adapted for life off-piste snow, and the wide ski base makes it difficult to maneuver on the slopes.

The lot of such machines is the middle lane, where it is flat, there is little snow and a lot of gullies.

No pain, head!

In the camp of recreational snowmobiles you can find a car for every taste and with a combination of any characteristics. The main thing is not to get confused in the choice and buy exactly what will best suit your needs. Outwardly, snowmobiles can be very similar. The unity of style in the design of each brand often makes the opposite models indistinguishable to the eye of the layman, and there is a great risk of buying not only an unsuitable snowmobile, but just something that is categorically unnecessary.

How many times have I met people on purebred "mountain climbers" in the middle of the forests near Moscow. How they suffered with them! Although they bought the "best" and the most expensive, and as a result - neither pleasure, nor benefit, and a million rubles wasted in vain.

Understanding the types of snowmobiles - sports and recreation

In the photo: the "mountain man" in the field is as useless as the flippers on the rink

Understanding the types of snowmobiles - sports and recreation

In the photo: a cross-country snowmobile shamelessly sinks in powder

I had to Riding on "cross-country" in the mountains is also not the best pleasure. As soon as I rolled off the full track, I immediately began to dig. "Crossach" refused to go in the snow deeper than half a meter, and on the slopes it dug in instantly and firmly.

In short, the choice in the snowmobiling area at the moment is perhaps even wider than in the automotive world. The main thing is not to be mistaken.

Understanding the types of snowmobiles - sports and recreation

P. S.

Beyond the scope of this material, there is still a lot of interesting equipment: six-seater mastodons and snowmobiles that fit in the trunk of a sedan, children's equipment and much more.

All this under the general name "exotic snowmobile" we will study in the final part of this trilogy.

Understanding the types of snowmobiles - sports and recreation


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