Snowmobile Ergonomics: Your Ski-doo Out of the Box
You can have a perfect sled set up, but unless you maintain your sled DAILY or after each use you will gradually begin to feel reduced performance and increase your overall cost of maintenance down the trail.
Let’s start with the setup first, before I head out on the mountain, all my sleds (even the new out of box) receive a thorough inspection.
One of the most important is the setting of the handlebars, controls and general ergonomics of the “cockpit”. It may seem like a small details but it is imperative to get it right as this is where your overall sled/rider balance or weight ratio starts. You want to find the most “neutral” riding position and setup so you can instantly react to the terrain or unseen obstacles beneath the snow and not get knocked off balance.
Make sure that the riser is in line with the steering post, this will allow for the most amount of leverage and the least amount of feedback from the skis or twitch in the bars when side-hilling and/or going through rough terrain at high speed.
The next thing you want to make sure of is the angle or “rise” of the handlebars. A slight incline of 1-2 degrees from clamping point to grip area, so your elbows are slightly elevated comfortably at your sides when standing on the sled with knees slightly bent. Make sure you tighten the clamps equally too. You want to have your hands on the flat part of the grip, not bending around the bar turndown/hooks.
Now while you comfortably grab the bars your thumb should land on the last ½” of the throttle lever. This is usually a 1”space between the throttle block and grip, but may need to be adjusted depending on hand size.
Run lever at a slight angle down as well, so when you are working/riding off the right hand side of the sled on a side hill you can reach around and pull it with your fingers… palm of your hand facing up. You should be able to have a nice smooth transition from your thumb to your fingers while keeping the throttle at a constant speed over any obstacle, body position or speed from the right hand running board. The throttle block should spin with considerable force this way if you hit it with your body it won’t break or impale you….I’ve seen both and neither is convenient or comfortable.
Move the brake lever to a horizontal position fairly level with the handlebars, don’t worry about the master cylinder not being level or slightly tipped up towards you. When your left hand is on the flat part of the handlebar your index finger should be somewhere in the middle or closer to the ball end of the brake lever. This way you will have the most leverage and best control when using the brake. Having it here allows you to reach the lever if you should find yourself in a less than ideal riding position… eg: some cool side-hill move, sweet whip jump, laying on running board, dragging beside sled or other near failure type maneuvers. It will also be easier to control regardless of body position. This way you can rest your finger on the brake and maintain full control of the snowmobile regardless of position. The master cylinder should be loose enough when you grab it firmly with both hands it can move, this way if you tip the sled over it will have less chance of braking. You may need some blue thread locktite on the bolts as most master cylinders are a pinch style clamp. Our Aerocharger race sleds have tiny marks from a soldering iron for extra traction on the lever, which can also apply to the throttle lever.
Moving the reverse button as far as you can inward but so you can still reach it with your thumb, this will assist you when side hilling on the right. It gives you clearance between the reverse button and your index knuckle, this is especially helpful for people with smaller hands (Ladies/young folks) this will make it easier to control the brake while modulating your speed by slight brake pressure.
Next is the kill switch, move it inward towards mountain bar making sure it to can rotate with reasonable force. This way the red button on top will not get ripped off in the trees or when the sled may be upside down.
I hope these tips on setup will make your ride easier and more enjoyable.