Editor’s Note: In each issue of Snow Goer magazine, our team of experienced product testers reviews various aftermarket products in the Cold Tested department. This review was printed in the October 2015 issue of Snow Goer. Subscribe to Snow Goer now to receive such reviews, 7 times per year delivered to your home.
The Gates Rubber Company has long been recognized within the automotive industry for its fan belts, fuel hoses and hose couplings, but the company also makes powersports drive belts, including a line of G-Force C12 belts for snowmobiles. C12 belts employ some nifty features for durability, good performance and an accurate fit.C12 drive belts look like any other top cog belt, but their foundation – and a unique feature – includes a 1mm diameter, continuous carbon tensile cord inside. To understand how the belt is constructed, picture a string neatly wrapped in rows around a sphere so the string is one layer thick without one segment overlapping another segment. The continuous carbon cord is wrapped next to itself and bonded inside a conventional aramid fiber-reinforced, rubber compound. Kevlar is an aramid fiber made by DuPont, for example.
Carbon was selected because of its strength and resistance to stretching, said Fred Millard, an engineer for Gates. Reducing stretch and flex from a belt allows snappier responses and crisper power inputs to the drive train, and creates less heat. The carbon cord wears at the same rate as the rubber base compound so it won’t pop out like what sometimes happens when conventional belts wear, Millard said.
I tested a G-Force C12 drive belt on the clutches of the Snow Goer 2015 Ski-Doo Summit X 800R E-TEC demo with a 174- by 3-inch track. Deep powder days that load the big track were few and far between last winter in Montana where I live and ride, but I made on-the-mountain swaps between the Gates and the stock belt to directly compare the aftermarket belt’s performance to the factory belt.
At wide-open throttle through 2 feet of snow with varied consistency (ice chunks, trenches, sugar), both belts left the speedo showing 45 mph and peak engine speed at 8000 rpm – right where Ski-Doo specs the 800R engine to purr. A difference between the two that I felt through the seat of my pants was that the sled accelerated quicker with the Gates belt installed, especially when near that 45 mph peak under full load.
As recommended by Gates for proper break-in, I took it easy on the G-Force belt for about the first 40 miles. Wear after using the belt 400 miles was comparable to other belts. There aren’t any cracks, discoloration or material transferred to the clutch sheaves, so there’s plenty of life left so I can use it on other Ski-Doo sleds powered by the 800R E-TEC engine.
G-Force C12 Belt – $144 (part no. 49C4266)