Snowmobile Track Size Guide
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Snowmobiles have differing handling characteristics depending on which type of vehicle you choose. Track size is an important factor. Your level of expertise and the riding conditions you’ll face are both crucial when it comes to track size. While snowmobiling is fun, it can be hazardous if you don’t fully understand factors that influence the performance of your vehicle, including track size.
Choosing a track for your snowmobile used to be simple -- you either used a “short track” of 121 inches or a 136-inch mountain sled track. These days track lengths come in 121-, 128-, 136-, 141-, 144-, 151-, 159- and 162-inch sizes. Tracks are generally 15 inches wide.
Long Track Features
Choose a longer track if you need more flotation. Longer tracks are good for riding in deep, fresh powder snow. Longer tracks provide better stability that can make your ride more comfortable, and also allow you to slow down more without getting stuck. This is an important consideration, as most snowmobiles do not have a reverse gear.
Short Track Features
Shorter tracks are better if you will be riding along tight trails and turning sharp corners. A snowmobile with shorter tracks is easier to turn, whereas longer tracks have a tendency to keep you going straight. Use a shorter track if you will be riding on groomed trails or on packed trail conditions, recommends "Snow Tech" magazine.
Shorter tracks are lighter and require less engine power to make them move. Longer tracks are heavier and use up more engine power to produce an equal amount of speed. This means that to utilize the 159- and 162-inch tracks, you’ll need either a powerful snowmobile that costs top-dollar, or aftermarket add-ons to increase the power of your vehicle. Lower-priced models have engines that average 225 cc, and big engines get up to 800 cc.
Big engines can allow you to hit speeds of up to 90 mph, and longer tracks and more power enable you to get your snowmobile into more areas than vehicles with less track length and power. However, if you are an inexperienced rider, this can prove dangerous. You need the ability to get yourself out of situations that such a bike can get you into, as well as the know-how for recognizing danger. Accidents can be fatal or lead to serious injuries.
Linda Tarr Kent is a reporter and editor with more than 20 years experience at Gannett Company Inc., The McClatchy Company, Sound Publishing Inc., Mach Publishing, MomFit The Movement and other companies. Her area of expertise is health and fitness. She is a Bosu fitness and stand-up paddle surfing instructor. Kent holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Washington State University.