EDITOR’S NOTE: In the February issue of Snow Goer magazine, we looked back on the interesting snowmobiles that were being built around the turn of the millenium, by brands that were all attempting to be the “fifth manufacturer” to join Arctic Cat, Polaris, Ski-Doo and Yamaha in the snowmobile market. Here is the Part 3 of that story. Get the lead of the story and details on the FAST Blade here; read Part 2 about the Scorpion TKX here. And watch for followup reports on the Manta, Trail Roamer and more. 

 

The Redline Revolt

The Plan: Promising to use offroad truck suspension technology, its own powerplants and truly radical styling, San Diego, California-based T-Mag Industries came out of nowhere and entered the market with a ton of bravado with Redline Snowmobiles.

Redline Revolt snowmobile
Truly unique styling still makes the Redline snowmobile a show stopper.

Unlike other brands that first issued press releases and showed drawings, Redline appeared at its first public event with two fully assembled snowmobiles; one featuring a 200 hp, 1300cc, two-stroke triple and the other with a dual-overhead cam, 110 hp, 950cc, four-stroke V-twin. Both had exhaust systems that ran under the seat and exited out the rear (remember, this is four years before the Yamaha RX-1).

The dual A-arm front suspension featured super-tall shocks, while the rear suspension was damped by a single, outboard-mounted shock found under the hood, where a chaincase would be on a normal sled. It was all found in a tubular chassis. Redline officials showed both trail and mountain machines, but also openly discussed plans to prove their concepts in snocross racing. The company booked space at the major snowmobile shows, signed up dealers and racers, sold t-shirts, was featured in video games and even had Redline toy snowmobiles created.

Redline Snowmobile NoseSoon the plans were altered, as the company focused on building two 800-class two-stroke models for the 2001 season – the 800 Revolt with a 121-inch track, and the Mountain Revolt with a 144-inch track, each costing about $12,000.

What Happened: For awhile, Redline appeared to be an amazing marketing and money-raising machine. The sleds were featured in magazines both in and out of the snowmobile industry and won design awards, millions of dollars were raised and the sleds appeared to be everywhere – except on the snow.

Redline Snowmobile Rear After some starts and stops, Redline ceased snowmobile operations on May 10, 2004, though the brand name later appeared in off-road buggies.

“Our last week [in 2004], we sat there and watched it happen, and we all just cried,” Kent Harle, Redline’s president at the time, said recently. “We built 51 that had serial numbers, and about 14 of them had [exhaust systems].

“I think certainly we made some mistakes along the way, but more than anything we  underestimated what it would take to raise a lot of money, both in terms of time and money,” Harle says now. “And, every time I was out raising money was time I wasn’t developing snowmobiles… I think we were probably about $6-$10 million away. But then you’d need to spend money to raise that money, so we probably would have had to raise another $9-$15 million.

“If I were to it differently, I would have developed the snowmobile with a known engine,” Harle said. “When you’re developing an engine at the same time as the platform, it’s hard to tell sometimes what’s happening with the different parts.”

Looking Back Now: The Redline parked outside of TA Motorsports for our photo shoot still looked futuristic. In that way it has stood the test of time.

“I think a Redline of 2014 would look much the same today as what we had in that original design,” Harle says. “It still looks good; the Redline has elements of a timeless design.”

Redline snowmobile engine
Redline built its own chassis and its own powerplant: Doing both may have helped sink the company, the onetime president said.

Collector’s View: Rothmund found the Redline Revolt he now owns in 2007. He also has a bunch of marketing materials, including Redline shirts, to go along with the original dealer application he got when considering becoming a Redline dealer.

“With the Redline, the cool part is that even though it failed, it had a lot of revolutionary or innovative ideas,” Rothmund said. From the four-stroke engine to the rear exhaust, the suspension geometry to the overall design, Rothmund points out that the Redline was truly ahead of its time.

“I have not driven this sled at all,” he said. “It came after the season was over and the machine was drained and fogged and hasn’t been run since. The main reason we haven’t ridden it is it has the factory exhaust system and I’ve been told they had about a 50 mile life on it before they blew apart.”

Redline front suspension

 

 

13 thoughts on “Dream Sleds 3: What Happened To The Amazing Redline Revolt

  • John,

    I would like to chat with you about Redline, I worked for the company, and it was an awesome three years of my life, Kent and Chris are Great men that had a vision, I only wish it would of been successful, I will be in Eagle next weekend as I work for a champ team, Lets chat….

    Guy

    Reply
    • Sounds good, Guy. I obviously wasn’t on “the inside” like you were, but from the outside I always really enjoyed dealing with Chris and Kent on the level that I did, and was sure saddened when Redline went away. RE: the chat, yeah, I’ll be in Eagle River all weekend; if you want, we can set a time, or you can just come find me in the infield with a camera around my neck… What team are you working with?

      Reply
  • Guys
    It would be fun to chat. I was the driver for the team that did the testing in northern Minnesota and logged a quite a few miles with them.
    Ryan

    Reply
  • If you guys know anyone looking for one. I have two.One complete running with 1400 miles and a second rolling less enging and boxes of parts. Everyone still thinks its awesome but I need to raise $$$ for another project.

    Reply
    • do you still have the redline to sell thanks larry 1 716 866 089

      Reply
      • There are 9 brand new ones in Wasilla AK.

        Reply
        • where are they and do you know if they are for sale? who would I talk to there

          Reply
  • My brother ran the assembly company that put together some of the machines. I did get photos of some of the machines during assembly and have a few hats in my closet. They were a cool looking snowmobile.

    Reply
  • Hi Chris,

    Per your email below, I would be interested in obtaining the second Redline you have that doesn’t have the engine. Email me your info at: krkoehler AT hotmail.com if you would please. Thanks, Bob

    “If you guys know anyone looking for one. I have two. One complete running with 1400 miles and a second rolling less engine and boxes of parts. Everyone still thinks its awesome but I need to raise $$$ for another project.”

    Reply
  • I have a complete and running 2005 Redline Revolt with the 800cc twin two stroke. I have done a lot of work to get it dialed in. Everything from clutching, jetting, exhaust mods and other adjustments and mods to make it functional. I would consider selling it as I do all mountain riding and it ends us staying at home or in the trailer after a brief run down the trails. If interested call me at 916 799-9914 Todd

    Reply
  • Hi Redline fans, I have the remaining inventory of parts, also a few prototype machines that are available. I can be reached at 920-980-0766 if you need parts or are interested in a machine. I am currently restoring the black test machine that was featured in maximum sled magazine 2004 article. We named it Max and hope to have it out on the snow this winter. Bob

    Reply
  • I seen a 53′ semi trailer with a huge redline snowmobile grafix on the side,it reminded me of a dream snowmobile I wouldn’t mind to try,location of the semi trailer was north battleford Saskatchewan canada

    Reply
    • Haha that trailer is in Winnipeg access from the manotuba wildlife fed office

      Reply

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