Modern snowmobile tracks provide more traction than tracks that were marketed 15 years ago, but even new tracks still pale in comparison to the amount of grip a studded track will provide on hard-packed trail surfaces.
Metal picks make tracks stick to frozen surfaces for better acceleration and braking, plus sharper handling that makes snowmobiling safer and more fun. But track studs gradually lose their ability to perform because the tips wear flat from rocks, pavement and frozen dirt over time. Short of removing and replacing worn studs, riders haven’t had a reasonable way to restore traction. Thanks to New Hampshire-based Biteharder, though, owners of studded sleds now have a viable way to tune up their traction packages.
The BiteHarder Pro Series Carbide Stud Sharpening Tool provides a relatively simple way to sharpen studs without removing them from a track. Classified as a professional-grade tool by Bitheharder, it’s made from “higher quality” diamond cutting media than the standard grade carbide runner sharpener that Biteharder also offers. The stud sharpener is designed for use in a shop environment with electric or air-powered tools that spin at least 10,000 RPM – they’re not meant to be used in entry-level electric or battery-powered drills. Bitheharder claims a stud sharpener will sharpen at least 750 studs.
We chucked the tool in a quarter-inch air grinder – a tool that’s available at most tool and equipment stores for less than $50 – and sharpened 84 studs that had been run for more than 3,000 miles under a 2015 Ski-Doo MXZ TNT 600 H.O. E-TEC. We were impressed by how accurately and easily the tool restored the studs with a nice, uniform point that was consistent across each of the studs. The job took about 90 minutes, with stops to shoot photos and let the air compressor catch its breath.
Air tools that spin 10,000 RPM use a lot of air. In fact, the 20-gallon compressor that powered our grinder cranks out 5.7 cubic feet per minute at 90 PSI, but this job made the compressor’s electric motor run continuously unless we stopped to let it catch up, so consider that when preparing to sharpen your studs.
Biteharder suggests following a two-stage process with its tool. The first step removes the host material and exposes the stud’s carbide insert after grinding for about 10 seconds. For step two, users continue grinding until a point has been restored on the end of the insert – also within about 10 seconds, though the amount of wear affects the duration of the process. Sparks fly when the carbide material is being cut, lending a visual cue about the status of the job.
After sharpening a half-dozen studs, we figured out that the most effective and efficient way to use the tool was by running the grinder in a counter-clockwise direction around the studs so the sharpener could bite into the stud material, which essentially provided traction that made the tool easier to control. The stud sharpener didn’t “hook up” on studs when we rotated the grinder in a clockwise direction because the air tool also spins clockwise, and that made it more difficult to hold against the stud.
The Pro Series Carbide Stud Sharpening Tool worked better and more easily than we expected. It will enable repair shops to offer a unique service to their customers, and certainly some do-it-yourselfers will add one to their tool box. However, considering its $150 price tag and the fact that the tool will eventually wear out, we don’t expect it to become the next must-have service tool that most snowmobile owners will buy.
Editor’s Note: In each issue of Snow Goer magazine, our team of product testers reviews various aftermarket products in the Cold Tested department. This review was printed in the January 2018 issue of Snow Goer. Subscribe to Snow Goer now to receive such reviews, 6 times per year delivered to your home.