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Old Sleds vs. New Sleds

    Every so often I have a friend wanting to get into the sport of snowmobiling, and one of the questions that always seems to come up is "should I get a newer sled or an older sled?". Well damn...How the hell should I know? Because people vary as much as snowmobiles do, this question is usually pretty hard to answer. This said, I'll give it my best stab. First of all, how much do you want to spend on your purchase? Most newer sleds are going to set you back a bundle, while an older sled generally will not unless it's a rare model or something. Some folks would argue that you'll spend as much on repairs on an older sled as you would buying a new sled, but I find it hard to believe that I will ever spend $8,000 fixing my Bliz 5500. This brings us to our next point: Are you mechanically inclined?(no kidding yourself here, it won't help) If not, stick to a newer sled, as most dealers will know how to work on them. All you have to do is put gas in the gas tank, oil in the oil tank, and take it to the dealer at the beginning and end of every season and you'll do fine. If you are savvy mechanically, then either sled is good for you. You'll be able to do all your own matinence and work, so the dealer can piss of as far as service goes. So now we are down to our final soulsearching question: How much performance do you want? Let's face it, newer sleds are faster, more powerful, and handle better for the most part. Take the 2001 MxZ 380: It's the slowest of the MxZ line and it makes as much horsepower as my Blizzard 5500, plus it handles far better. But then again, do you really need all the performance of the newer sleds? For just kicking around the yard or in the woods, I definately prefer vintage sleds. They're just more fun to ride because they require more skill to go fast. If you're blasting around your yard oval on a Elan 250, it takes some effort to get decent lap times, whereas an MxZ can achieve the same times just by pressing the throttle and turning the bars to the left occasionlly. Sure, with skill the MxZ can post much faster lap times than the Elan, but the you have to contend with the safety issues of going 65mph around your house.  As far a reliability goes, I contend that both types of sleds, when properly maintained, are the same. Some people say that old sleds can't be trusted, and so on, but think: 20 years ago, what was being used on those long, open northern trails? Bingo, the "old" sleds of today. So, if they're are properly maintained, you'll never be stranded. The flip side is also true. If you have a sled that isn't maintained, new or old, and you aren't ready for anything (ie have a tool/parts kit), you're SOL. 


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©2003 Stephen Phillips, Stib Inc.
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