The response was just about the same from everyone we asked to help us with this article for SnoWest.
Just ONE product?
Along with the editors here at SnoWest Magazine, we randomly (very randomly) asked a handful of snowmobile enthusiasts to scout out the Idaho Snowmobile Show and pick one product/device/gadget/sled/whatever that really jumped out at them during the two-day show.
They (including our editors) were incredulous that we would force them to pick just one product out of the hundreds on display at the Idaho Snowmobile Show, held Sept. 26-27 in Boise, ID.
Sometimes, though, you've got to make the tough decisions.
R&M AXESS SEAT
Steve Janes - Publisher, Snow Group, Harris Publishing
Sometimes what determines whether you are comfortable and confident riding a particular brand of snowmobile comes down to how your butt feels in the seat. And just as Goldilocks discovered . some are too hard, some are too soft and some are just right.
We've also found that some are too wide, which is a common complaint of the Ski-Doo XP seat. But at the Idaho Snowmobile Show, we found a solution to this-the R&M Axess seat.
Designed and built by R&M Lightning Products and new for 2009, the Axess seat is two inches taller and a whole lot narrower than the stock XP seat while providing a storage area under the seat that is three inches tall, about 10 inches wide and 24 inches long.
The seat fabric is a neoprene with four-way stretch and features a nice tacky grip that allows grip for your butt, even in powder snow. Its two-piece design uses the same stock mounting, which means you merely remove the stock seat and attach the Axess seat.
(You can put the stock seat away or even trade back and forth during the season.)
The base features a clean finish and slides easily into the plastic tabs that are on the XP's fuel tank; the top of the seat then slides cleanly on the base. The storage is accessed between the top and the base.
R&M designed this seat last winter and spent the season testing and improving it.
If you were to take a bird's-eye view of the stock seat, you would see its hexagon design features a 10-inch width and 20-inch length. The R&M Axess seat is only 4 inches wide at the front and expands to about 8 inches wide at the rear and is 24 inches long. From the tunnel up, the stock seat is just over 11 inches tall, while the R&M Axess seat is just less than 14 inches tall. The R&M Axess seat retails for $399.95.
SCOTT USA VOLTAGE PROAIRSNOW GOGGLE
Royal Kingsley - Secretary/Treasurer, Idaho State Snowmobile Association
The Voltage ProAirSnow Goggle is one of the newest goggles in Scott USA's already popular lineup of winter eye protection.
How do you make great goggles even better? Scott started by designing a new nose/cheek shield that offers even more protection for that bit of exposed skin on your face. Improved foam-officially called HydroX Face Foam-is another area Scott improved and made bigger, again to provide better protection against the elements. While we're on the subject of foam, Scott uses winter seal vent foam to keep snow dust out of the eye area, allowing you to see by preventing fine snow crystals from passing through. Venting is maximized through Scott's RAM (Revolutionary Air Management) Air Ventilation system, which essentially directs the flow of air in such a way that it won't swirl inside the goggles. The new strap is designed to hold stretch and shape and not get all out of sorts due to weather and sunlight. The strap is also lined with silicone to eliminate the strap from slipping on your helmet.
The first thing that caught my attention was the rad look of the goggle. After trying it on, I found the fit and feel to be very good. The goggles' nose and forehead protection is an added bonus.
TRUE ADVENTURE GEAR LIGHTNING PACK
Lane Lindstrom - Editor, SnoWest Magazine
With this new pack, it was the little things that really caught my attention. With my present pack the handle for my avalanche shovel keeps whacking my helmet on occasion and that is bothersome (and that's putting it mildly). True Adventure Gear solved that problem by basically designing the pocket that holds the avalanche shovel handle so that the bottom of the handle slips through the pocket but is still held firmly in place by straps. In other words, it's not going to fall out. By sitting lower on the pack, the top of the handle sits about even with the top of the pack and therefore won't be smacking your helmet or catching on branches as easily. Another little thing that TAG has done is put strap ends on all straps so that the straps you pull on to tighten or loosen the pack are attached and not flopping in the wind while you're riding. Again, it's a little thing, but something I can relate to and welcome. That's one of those changes where you're thinking, "Why didn't someone think of this before?"
Then there are the attachment loops on the shoulder straps where you can hook on a smaller bag to carry little items.
That extra potential space is in addition to the 1300 cubic inches of space (18 inches tall by 10 inches wide by 6 inches deep) in the Lightning Pack itself.
Thad Lawrence - Race Director, Mountain West Racing
I'm impressed with what people are doing today with paint jobs, but I'm especially impressed with those sled wraps. They do so much for the look of a snowmobile.
Sled wraps are wrap-around vinyl that helps customize the look of any snowmobile and are an alternative to a custom paint job. There are advantages to sled wraps, such as they're replaceable. Say you wreck the side panel on your sled and just need to replace that section. Then all you need to do is replace that part of the sled wrap after the repair work is done. Sled wraps are also very durable.
FIRE N ICE HEADLIGHT INTAKE KIT
Jacob White - Technical Editor, SledHeads Magazine
So you've worked hard all summer long, stashing away every extra penny you can scrounge so when winter finally comes around you've got a little something extra to buy some cool new parts for you sled. Well, if you're like me, you'd prefer spending that on something with a good bang-for-your-buck.
Walking around the Idaho Snowmobile Show, the one product that stood out in my mind with a good return on investment was this neat little Polaris headlight/vent kit from Fire n Ice. Not only does it replace the stock headlight, reducing weight by more than 3 lbs., but it also adds some pretty serious venting surface area-right where the sled can use it most.
Not many parts of a snowmobile see more wind and air flow than the upper hood and windshield area, so gaining airflow to the engine and under hood area through the headlight area makes perfect sense.
Fire n Ice also spent a lot of time ensuring that the fit would be perfect. It can even supply the 55-watt round light that wires right into the factory headlight harness and installation can be done in about a half hour. Can't get much easier than that. So not only does it drop a couple pounds, you gain some engine airflow and can still ride at night.
The Headlight Air Intake kit retails for $300.
ARCTIC CAT GOGGLE HOLDER
Lane Lindstrom - Editor, SnoWest Magazine
(ED-I am the editor and since I make the rules, I don't have to live under the pick only one rule. Here's my second pick from the Idaho Snowmobile Show.)
I first saw this goggle holder early last winter on a ride with Bret Rasmussen down in Preston, ID.
I personally have my favorite pairs of goggles and I know some of them are long overdue to be replaced but I like how they work (for the most part) and like to wear them. However, some of them no longer keep from fogging like they used to and, depending on the conditions (read: snow falling from the sky or really working hard on a ride) I really battle with my goggles and being able to see. Sometimes that's not a big issue when you can just lift up the hood on your sled and strategically place them near the engine where they'll warm up, dry out a bit and unfog while you take a break from riding. However, these days, mountain riders know that on some sleds you can't do that anymore so it's a real challenge to see.
That's why the Arctic Cat Goggle Holder is so cool, although Cats are some of the sleds where you can still raise the hood and thaw your goggles out. Regardless, the goggle holder is a great idea because you can dry your spare set of goggles while you ride. The holder mounts right up next to the steering column in the engine compartment, not too far from the pipe (a big source of heat in the engine compartment). You can't leave your goggles in there forever as the heat could eventually take a toll on your goggles, but the system works for shorter periods of time.
And that means I can hold onto my old goggles a little longer.
2MOTO RADIX CONVERSION KIT
Dyke Morris - Snowmobile Clothing Product Manager, Scott USA
I just bought an '09 Honda so my pick is the Radix conversion kit from 2Moto. I've ridden the 2Moto Snowbike and it's fun. It's the two worlds I love the most come together-dirt biking and sledding. It's the best of both worlds. It's more of a dirt bike feel than a snowmobile. I love it. I've been dirt biking since I was 9 or 10 years old.
2Moto has a patented curved paddle design on the track part of the kit, which puts nearly 50 percent of the track on the snow. The track is 93 inches long, a little less than 11 inches wide and has two-inch paddles. The front ski is a Simmons Flexi-Ski. All together, the kit adds about 40 lbs. to the weight of a dirt bike.
Interestingly, the track is driven at the rear of the track, which is opposite of a traditional snowmobile. 2Moto uses what it calls Levelink, a "force distribution mechanism" which distributes the shock load between the front and rear of the track. That evens out the weight distribution.
I'm throwing myself out there with this pick. I bought a dirt bike hoping it will snow a lot and I won't get to use it this winter. I also think this kind of thing can bring in guys who wouldn't buy a sled but will slap a conversion kit on their bikes. I think it's a way to get guys into snowmobiling.
I look at it this way. Remember when alpine skiing was slowing down and snowboarding came in and kind of jump started it? I look at this conversion kit as doing the same thing to snowmobiling.
TO BE BILLET JACKET
Dave Alexander - Salesman, Snow Group, Harris Publishing
The best thing about snowmobile shows is that you can actually touch, feel and see the products you've been reading about in SnoWest and lusting over online. How good are the welds on the rear suspension you're considering? How much "stuff" are you really going to add to your sled with that new turbo kit? How much lighter does that new rotor you've been ogling actually feel than the stock part? These are the types of questions you can answer at snowmobile shows that pictures in magazines and on the web don't answer. This is especially true of clothing. How the fabric feels to you, and most importantly, how that new jacket or helmet fits-you will just not know until you actually try them on.
These thoughts were somehow going through my dense head when I saw, in person, the new to be Billet jacket offered by to be Technology. I had seen the pictures and liked the looks of the coat, but being able to touch the fabric, heft the overall weight of it and see the trick features on it confirmed the Billet as my pick as coolest new product at the Idaho Snowmobile Show.
The Billet is a two-layer, waterproof, lightweight shell with taped seams but without any lining. I really hate lined jackets that become sweat-soaked when dealing with one of my numerous self-induced "stucks." The Billet is the perfect weight. It has a detachable hood and a roomy fit to accommodate a protective vest. It is available in red, desert camo and black camo-the one I like and the one on display at the show.
What really sets it apart, though, is the optional ($30) iPod remote controller that attaches to the left arm of the Billet, just above the wrist. The controller wire is encased in a super-beefy fabric that looks like it will really last. The controller wire feeds though a rubber-sealed hole in the Billet's sleeve, up through special holders in the sleeve and down into a pocket within a pocket on your chest. Here the iPod resides safe and cozy, protected from the elements. No external wires to get caught up on handlebars and you'll have the ability to pause/play, adjust volume and change songs right on your sleeve. Very cool. If you don't like those earbuds that came with your iPod that are always falling out and pretty much guaranteed to snag on your helmet when you pull it off, you can also pick up the new to be Technology DOT and ECE race-approved Do Rock helmet. The innovative Do Rock has built-in Skull Candy speakers which are a first for a moto helmet. Say goodbye to aggravating ear buds.
Ready to listen to your favorite jams when riding? Check out the new $310, to be Billet jacket.
Ryan Harris - Tech Editor, SnoWest Magazine; Editor, SledHeads
Cutler's Performance Center had one of its M Series turbos at the show and it is one impressive-looking kit. The CPC M8 turbo kit puts out more than 200 hp thanks to an Aerocharger II turbo with variable vane area turbine nozzle (VATN) technology.
What's unique about the CPC kit is how the intake is still plumbed up to the hood's factory intake screens that draw air from next to the headlights. This design keeps a cold source of air flowing into the turbo, making underhood steam and high temperatures a non-issue as far as the air intake is concerned.
The CPC turbo's exhaust also exits the belly pan through the stock exhaust outlet, so you don't have to modify it or cut holes in your sled to route the exhaust. The kit weighs just more than 10 lbs., so you're not adding much to a light sled, and it comes with complete clutch kits for both clutches.