December 22, 2010
Yesterday was a busy day out at the Snow Goer shop near our office in Minneapolis. The place where we store and service our machines needed some organization and some of our demo sleds received their first modifications: snowmobile studs.
Our toolbox was in dire need of a refill after some of the tools had grown legs over the past few years. I spent a few hundred of the company’s dollars on wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers, Allen tools, zip ties, magnetic parts trays, a mallet, sockets, shop towels and the like so we can make adjustments and install aftermarket accessories on our fleet of snowmobiles. I took a few hours to re-organize the toolbox and label the drawers to make tools easier to find, and, hopefully, make it more likely for those tools to end up back in the toolbox.
While I was putting away the new tools, Snow Goer Art Director Randy Kepner installed 126 Woody’s snowmobile studs in our MX Z E-TEC 600 TNT. They were the new Grand Pro Master picks specially built for single ply tracks, and with a cool gold finish. They look great!
Once Kepner finished up with the Ski-Doo, we double teamed our Arctic Cat Sno Pro 500 and screwed in 96 Roetin Hornet snowmobile studs. At just about the time Randy and I finished studding the Cat, sales guys Mark Rosacker and Lane Uherka showed up for their shift to stud our Polaris 600 IQ Shift; that sled got 120 Accord Snow Studs. With three sleds down, we have two more sleds to stud this season; our Cat F8 LXR and Polaris 800 Rush Pro-R.
So why do we use snowmobile studs? Most importantly because we like the added control that the picks — and carbides for the skis — provide when we’re riding, especially on icy trails. Snowmobile studs and carbides help prevent the rear end from washing out on sharp, high-speed turns, they greatly reduce braking distances and they really improve acceleration traction so we can fully appreciate how well modern snowmobile engines perform on groomed trails.
And since we install aftermarket modifications on some of our demo sleds to increase horsepower (engine or exhaust changes) or to put more power to the ground (clutching changes), we need more traction so that we can feel the boost in power or transferred power. Without snowmobile studs in the tracks of those modified sleds, we might just get more track spin, which could prevent us from being able to accurately evaluate those modifications.
A prime example is a few years ago when we worked with Speedwerx (Forest Lake, Minn.) to install a clutch kit on our Arctic Cat CFR 800. For that project we first ran the sled in stock form on a lake and recorded its acceleration curve with a radar gun. Then after installing the clutch kit, we ran it against the gun later that same day on the same laketop test strip to compare performance. Without studs, we couldn’t have gleaned that information that proved how the company’s modifications improved the sled’s performance.
I’ve long been an advocate for snowmobile studs, and I probably always will be. I’m always impressed by the boost in performance I feel the first time I ride a sled after it’s been studded. It feels much more connected to the ground, it accelerates quicker and I feel safer and more secure.
— Andy Swanson, Snow Goer managing editor