Pro 800 RMX +5hp

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Maximizing Your Fun Factor

by Donavon W. Facey

 

Over the years, the idea of maximizing your fun factor has always been a great topic of conversation and debate. It seems that with most things, a lot changes but the fundamentals stay the same. As we survey the current snowmobiling landscape and look at all the options now being presented by the manufacturers and the aftermarket, there are still lots of ways to go at it. Why do we ride snowmobiles? It’s fun. It’s all about having an enjoyable time participating in a sport that’s fun. Our goal with every snowmobile is to help our customers configure that snowmobile for their riding. There is no one magic combination that is appropriate for every rider or every customer. So often, though, we see people buy a machine because their friends tell them that’s what they need. So they purchase that unit and end up riding it in ways and conditions that something else would be much more appropriate. I always wonder about the guys who buy big engines and then complain about poor fuel mileage when they’re riding down the trail at 35 mph. Two strokes by nature are not very efficient at mid-RPM, so wouldn’t they have been happier with a smaller engine more suited to those types of speeds? Or, I see guys up riding hundreds of miles on the trails at the Range on their Summits and RMKs. Why do that? Both manufacturers make short tracks or crossover sleds which could be long tracked and still handle and ride much more comfortably down the trail. A few years back, I had my lightweight Xtreme Mountain King setup like I normally do - entirely for those days when you leave the parking lot at Rabbit Ears and never see the trail. At one point, we ended up riding about 100 miles down the trails at Cottonwood with it in search of deep snow, and it was certainly not configured optimally. If I was going to ride it that way on a regular basis, the shocks would need to be tightened up and I would definitely want a swaybar put back in. So how do you optimize your fun factor and decide what’s worth spending money on? First, you have to set your budget and second, you must honestly assess how your snowmobile gets ridden. Everybody likes to ride in the powder, but if your group of friends likes to go to Grand Lake and ride up the trail 35 miles and then play around in a meadow, buying and setting up your sled for strictly deep snow use would be silly. If you go to Rabbit Ears all the time and aren’t sure where the trail even is, buying a trail or hybrid would likewise be a dumb choice. In this article, we’ll attempt to help you decide which sled and setup is right for you. Everybody is different. For maximum enjoyment, we can help you build a customized package that is tailored to your riding requirements.

 

Engines: We learned our lesson, along with a few unlucky customers about aftermarket engines a few winters ago. The complications of those products make them impractical for everyday riding. While they may make big power when they’re set up perfectly, they’re very inconsistent and hard to keep in perfect tune. Even when they’re right, they’re more suited to full throttle blasts uphill than tight, technical riding in the trees. A lot of the same feedback is still true with current two stroke turbos. They make big power but most riders can't use it nor do they ride where they need it all that often.

 

Over 500 customers have now taken advantage of our most popular product, the RMX kit. It only adds about 5-20hp to the engine’s peak output, but it makes such a dramatic difference in driveability, throttle response, and mileage, it’s really a no-brainer for increasing the fun factor of the sled. The reason it works so well is because we make the motor run at 10,000 feet like it was designed to run at sea-level and you can’t accomplish that correction by simply changing jets and clutching. For our customers who want more power, our focus has been providing mod packages that pull harder on the top end without sacrificing throttle response. Selling packages that don’t go when you smack the loud handle is not our kind of mod work. We also are very careful in our clutching calibration of changes in altitude. Making the sled pull absolutely as hard as it can at 9,000 feet results in a slug when you get to 12,000 feet. If we understand where you ride, we can optimize the setup for you most of the time. It’s simply not possible for one setup to work great at Grand Lake, Vail, and Cottonwood all at the same time. The good news, though, is that our latest generation of mod work is not nearly as sensitive to losing RPM as were our early combinations so that even if you’re not perfectly in tune, the sled will still run acceptably.

 

What about driveability and throttle response? Day in and day out, the RMX kit won’t require tweaking where the mod motors or turbos will. The modified stock pipe along with the head change combine to give you a combination almost totally impervious to changing conditions. You are always better off buying a smaller engine and adding an RMX kit than riding a bigger engine in stock form.

 

Why is all this changing necessary, I thought this was a mountain sled? That’s a popular question that I’ve been asked many times. It’s also a legitimate question given the marketing efforts of the OEMs trying to convince us that they are producing purpose-built mountain sleds. The truth is the mountain sleds are engineered almost exclusively for mountain riding but the engines in them are exactly like the ones in the sea-level sleds (some mountain sleds do have slightly more compression than their sea-level brethren). For example, a 600 RMK and a 600 Fusion engine use exactly the same parts. NO MANUFACTURER BUILDS AN ENGINE THAT WOULD FAIL AT SEA LEVEL, BUT THAT’S WHAT IT TAKES FOR GREAT PERFORMANCE AT 10,000 FEET. The bottom line is failure. Nobody will build us an engine that would blow up at sea-level, for fear of warranty claims. Essentially, when we install an RMX kit, we are simply compensating for altitude. That’s why we say the kits are only to be run above 8,000 feet and should use premium non-oxygenated fuel. If you take an RMX sled to lower altitudes, it will fail.

 

What about my warranty? Any engine modification performed voids your warranty. With added performance does come added responsibility. You need to watch your fuel quality and not take the sled elsewhere without having the setup changed. We have thoroughly tested the RMX kits and have sold enough of them to know that reliability is not an issue. If, however, you pour 6 month old, 80 octane fuel in it or ride it at 5,000 feet and blow it up, it will be your responsibility to have it fixed. However, current sleds with detonation control systems do provide a degree of feedback and safety compared to older models.

 

Chassis Considerations: The great thing about riding with different folks is that I get a multitude of ideas and preferences for chassis setup. Deciding how to configure the suspension, whether to run a swaybar, or gas shocks, how wide to set the front end up and even how to mount the rear suspension in the tunnel all really depends, again, on how the sled is used primarily. If we know how much you weigh and what types of riding you do most often, we can make a much better guess at a setup that you will enjoy and also educate you on what kinds of adjustments to make to your sled to improve its’ characteristics.