5 Things to Consider Before Buying a Snowmobile
If you’re thinking about a new snowmobile for some winter excitement this season, you’re not alone. According to the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA), there were nearly 110,000 model year 2021 snowmobiles sold in North America, and many more are expected to be sold this year. With hundreds of models and options to choose from in both new and used sleds, your choices might seem overwhelming while you shop. Staying true to answering a few simple questions should help ease your buying direction.
- What category snowmobile is right for you?
Snowmobile manufacturers generally divide their lineups into five industry-standard categories:
- Trail, for handling the twists and turns of groomed trails
- Crossover, for on- and off-trail riding
- Mountain, for venturing far off trail through deep snow and challenging terrain
- Utility/touring, for hauling multiple riders or towing gear
- Youth, for younger riders
You’ll find a bit of overlap in the categories based on the type of performance, handling and speed you desire. But once you home in on a specific category fitting your needs, you’ll be able to take some next steps to determine what size engine, track length and passenger seating you’ll need without having to make compromises.
- What is your level of riding experience?
Since there are no set rules for evaluating your snowmobile riding experience, it’s fairly simple to start by putting yourself in one of three categories: new rider, intermediate or advanced. Within each category of snowmobiles, there is a model to fit each of these rider experience levels.
- What’s your desired riding style?
Much like determining your experience level, an honest evaluation of your riding style can be helpful to settle on best engine size and suspension capabilities. Start by envisioning yourself on a recreational ride. Are you the type who prefers a slow ride at your own pace? If so, a smaller engine with lower horsepower and plush suspension would be more fitting than the opposite end of the spectrum. Those preferring to test the full limits of a snowmobile’s capabilities are probably great candidates for the most powerful engines and a stiffer suspension to soak up the toughest terrain.
- How often will you have a passenger?
Most snowmobiles are built for a single rider. If you’re looking to carry a passenger, either occasionally or most of the time, there are options for you, too. Accessory two-up seats can be purchased as a bolt-on attachment to most trail snowmobiles. But, if long saddle-bag tours are your cup of tea, you can opt for a purpose-built, two-up touring snowmobile with creature-comfort features and plenty of room for storage.
- What’s your budget?
Make an honest decision about how much you’re willing to spend. Then, once you’ve determined the basic snowmobile type that is right for you, don’t compromise just to save a few bucks. Find the right machine at the right price. Far too many times, someone purchases the wrong snowmobile type just because they’ve found a more affordable alternative. Then, the first time out, they suffer major buyer’s remorse when the machine doesn’t meet their needs. So settle on a budget and stick with it until you find what you want.
Lean on a Dealer
There really isn’t a bad brand choice among the current major snowmobile manufacturers. What might influence your buying decision for one brand over another is your local dealer. Dealers can be an influential factor on your pre- and post-purchase experience. Look for one who has a strong inventory of parts, garments and accessories and a quality service department with certified mechanics. Then talk to the dealer about how you answered the five questions up above. They’ll likely be able to help you choose not only the right type of machine, but the exact right snowmobile for you and your budget.
Go for It!
We hope these buying tips help ease your purchase decision. Enjoying the spirit of winter via the seat of a snowmobile is truly incredible. You’ll be able to explore endless miles of winding trails through thick wooded forests and access legal backcountry riding in areas only a snowmobile can reach. If you’re looking to ride with other like-minded winter enthusiasts, consider joining a snowmobile club in your area. The folks there are just like you and are a valuable resource for keeping the sport of snowmobiling flourishing.