Experts share their top sled picks for the season
There’s no denying brand loyalty among Alaska’s riders. Just look at the comments section on any story or photo featuring one brand above another and you’re bound to witness some good-natured, albeit sometimes-salty, ribbing.
Here’s to having favorites. There is true advantage to being discerning with what you ride, be it because of horsepower, reliability, comfort or even color. While all makes of this season’s sleds are the most advanced snowmachines we’ve ever known, sometimes selecting one all comes down to personal preference…and solid advice from the pros. With that in mind, Alaska SnowRider asked a sampling of area dealers to give us their inside line on what they feel are among the best sleds they sell. Here’s what they had to say:
Vice president and general manager
Alaska Mining & Diving
www.akmining.com (907) 277-1741
“We are fortunate to be a Ski-Doo Dealer right now! The Summit and Freeride 850 in the G4 chassis are the most popular sleds we have ever sold. It’s so cool to see so many people coming into the shop to buy the best technology there is for those hard weekend rides. So many Alaskans work all week just to chase the sunshine and pow on the weekends. And when you have to work, work, work to play you want the most reliable sleds out there so you spend more time on the snow and less in the shop. Even Bush pilots know there is no more reliable and powerful engine than a Rotax and that is exactly what you get in every Ski-Doo sled.”
“The Expedition LE 900 ACE is a no-challengers win. This thing is super quiet, ultra smooth and gets fuel economy that would make a Prius look like your dad’s old carbureted Chevy 350 at the pump. Tons of room for three, a super-cooler radiator and two-speed tranny with reverse for hauling all that gear into the cabin or that caribou home on the Denali Highway after a successful hunt (I know, I’ve done it.) A reversible throttle that can be used as a thumb or finger throttle with fly-by-wire throttle makes it so easy that even grandma can drive!”
“Tough question here: Some women are stepping it up and riding with the guys more than ever. I see so many women riding 154- and 165-inch Summit 850s now due to the sled’s effortless maneuverability and lightweight. A great sled for the young bucks and the more trail-tamed ladies is the Renegade 600 or 900 ACE. With a “sport” and “eco” mode selection, you can tune these things down to be tame for beginners or when you loan it to your neighbor who you don’t trust to watch your kids on a Friday night. Then when it’s your turn, “sport” mode turns the ACE into a fire-breathing dragon capable of reaching speeds in excess of 80 MPH… all while sipping fuel at 20-plus mpg.
Sales and F&I
(907) 357-3200 (Wasilla) (907) 694-3200 (Eagle River)
“This season, the new model that has everyone excited has to be the introduction of the Freeride on the GEN4 chassis. It gives those aggressive backcountry riders a strong platform with an upgraded shock package. The weekend warriors have always been big fans of the Renegade Backcountry, and this year marks the introduction of the all-new C-Motion rear suspension and the GEN4 chassis with an 850 Rotax motor.”
“The biggest seller for utility has been and without a question will continue to be is the Skandic, either on the WT or SWT platform. It’s the true staple of utility sleds; with incredible flotation and a patented articulated rear suspension.
“Unfortunately Ski Doo has stopped making a youth sled. As for women, one of our biggest sellers this past year and what we anticipate to continue into this season would be the Expedition Sport 600 ACE. Quiet and easy ride, the Expedition has the most fuel-efficient motor on the market.”
Tony Gatts Jr.
Business manager, Alaska Cycle Center
“For our mountain or deep snow riders, it’s our 2018 Polaris 800 RMK Pro line-up. Get ready to dominate the terrain on the lightest, strongest, most flickable sled on the market today. It’s available in track lengths of 155, 163 and 174 (Snowcheck only).”
“On the HD Utility side, it’s the Polaris Titan. The industry’s most capable crossover sled to hit the trail to haul or tow with its 800cc Cleanfire Engine, 20×155-inch track and its high gear, low gear Alpha transmission. Or, for family and light utility, select the perfect fit from our varied and deep 550 Indy line-up.”
“Top sled for women? Anything the boys can ride you can too, ladies. And for our youth it’s the Indy 120. But hurry, supplies are limited on these models.”
Owner, Eagle River Polaris Arctic Cat
www.eagleriverpolarisarcticcat.com (907) 694-6700
“For this year we are seeing a lot of excitement with the all-new C-tech2 800cc motor in both the mountain segment and the crossover segments. As always, we are selling a lot of the Bearcat utility snowmobiles to weekend cabin-goers, and the mountain sleds are always a big hit, with rebates up to $4,000. The addition of TEAM clutches on the primary and secondary make the 2016 and newer mountain sleds a sure bet for the deep snow riders.”
“Our top picks for utility sleds are the Norseman 3000 LT with the 70-horsepower, four-stroke motor and the Bearcat XT w/ either the four-stroke motor or the two-stroke 570cc motor with 20-inch wide track.”
“The biggest hit for kids this year by far has been the all-new ZR 200. It’s the first true mid-size snowmobile. We sold our allotment of 10 in the snowcheck period last spring.”
Anchorage Yamaha/ Performance Yamaha
“The hot set-up is the Yamaha Sidewinder MTX. It’s 200 horsepower from the factory. The Sidewinder has tons of power, is really quiet and rides really smooth. It’s a full-out mod sled with stock reliability. It’s quiet and deceivingly fast.”
“We are really happy have back the VK 540. It’s a utility sled, so it’s a workhorse, but yet you can take it to the cabin. Load up you and the kids and go out and ride. It’s a two-stroke so it’s simple to use, very fuel-efficient and doesn’t burn a lot of oil. It went away for a good 10 years, but Yamaha brought it back last year. It does a little bit of everything.”
“Try the crossover sleds, like the XTX in the 141 package. It’s not overwhelming as far as length, but it’s good off-trail. The Viper XTX has a 1.6-inch lug track, and is fairly stable with a 42-inch ski stance and comes with a tall windshield.
“The big news is the SnoScoot 200. Unfortunately, we are already sold out. They went that quick. No one has really had a mid-level sled. Yamaha wanted to hit that market to get the kids involved, so they could follow mom and dad down the trail and even get a little bit off the trail. But, we do not expect any more of the SnoScoots this year. We sold out in four days. If people want them next year they need to sign up early and get on the list.”