Snowmobiling enthusiasts always look for ways to enhance their riding experience — pushing the limits of power, speed, and maneuverability. And if you are a sled fanatic like me, you have likely felt this way, too. To satisfy this thirst for better performance and exhilaration, let us explore the top snowmobile mods and upgrades that can transform your sled into a powerhouse.
Here are our picks of the ten best snowmobile mods:
- Vent Kits
- Skis and Carbides
- Running Boards
- Handlebar Risers
- Exhaust System
- Track and Suspension
- Big-Bore Kit
- Turbochargers and Superchargers
- NOX (Nitrous Oxide Systems)
- Powder Coating and Wraps
Each snowmobile mod on this list serves a specific purpose, and selecting the appropriate one ensures your sled meets your riding preferences and conditions. Whether enhancing power, traction, or aesthetics, a well-chosen upgrade enhances the overall enjoyment, longevity, and safety of your snowmobiling experience.
Where to begin? Read on and learn more about the snowmobile mods and upgrades that can enhance the efficiency and character of your favorite ice-trashing machine.
Must-Have Snowmobile Mods
Snowmobile mods typically fall under one of the following categories: Carburetors/EFI, Clutching, Final Drive Gearing (Chaincase), Weight Reduction, and Oil/Fuel Quality. These areas, when improved, significantly enhance the overall efficiency of snowmobiles, regardless of their application or class.
However, not all modifications universally apply to all snowmachine types. Nonetheless, here is a list of the best mods and upgrades you can do on your sled if you want to see significant gains in its handling, flexibility, and performance:
1. Vent Kits
A highly recommended mod, venting ensures your snowmobile receives the necessary airflow (especially when considering adding a turbo kit to your sled). These kits are notably more accessible as a DIY task than other snowmobile upgrades. They are also affordable, providing various options at reasonable prices.
By incorporating aftermarket vent kits like RPM “Cooler” Air Vent Kit (view on Amazon), you not only enhance the cooling efficiency of your machine but also help preserve the life of the drive belt. This reduces wear on critical components, promoting overall durability while contributing to your snowmobile’s optimal performance.
2. Skis and Carbides
Like venting, upgrading your skis and carbides enhances steering and control with moderate installation effort. Extended carbides augment stability and precision during maneuvers — an ideal mod for those prioritizing trail performance. Meanwhile, the reduced weight achieved through aftermarket skis, such as Ski-Doo New OEM Black Snowmobile Pilot DS-2 Ski Kit (view on Amazon), positively impacts agility, further elevating your sled’s overall handling capabilities.
3. Running Boards
Although often overlooked, upgrading stock running boards proves to be a beneficial mod. It significantly improves traction and control, which are safety elements crucial in snowmobiling. Running boards target the reduction of snow buildup, preventing loss of traction and control (especially in mountainous terrains).
Going for aftermarket running boards that address common issues is the usual route most sledders take. However, there are other steps involved in enhancing these boards. Aftermarket options aside, considering the design and material of the stock boards and checking for their traction features are different ways to ensure their effectiveness in shedding snow and ice.
As long as these latter facets meet your requirements, you may not even need to make an aftermarket purchase. However, this statement may not stand true if you also account for weight reduction and customization options.
4. Handlebar Risers
While handlebar risers are more popularly known for customization and comfort, these snowmobile mods impact both control and leverage during rides. Modifying the bar height allows riders to achieve a more comfortable standing position, supporting more aggressive riding stances while reducing fatigue on snowy trails.
This upgrade demands moderate effort, and options like RSI Angled Snowmobile Handlebar Risers (view on Amazon) cater to specific snowmobile models. However, debates on whether handlebar risers improve control or if lower bars enhance agility persist among veteran riders and savants.
5. Exhaust System
Investing in an aftermarket exhaust can be a game-changer, significantly reducing a snowmobile’s weight by up to 10 lbs. (or more). This mod adds a more appealing ‘rumble’ to your sled, addressing performance and auditory preferences. Benefits aside, aftermarket exhaust systems offer a tangible (if not considerable) improvement in horsepower.
A freer-flowing exhaust, in particular, enhances the engine’s volumetric efficiency (VE) for increased power while contributing to weight reduction. However, one drawback can be higher noise levels. Hence, I recommend choosing contemporary designs from reputable brands to balance these two facets. Moreover, avoid refurbished cans, as their reliability may be questionable.
6. Track and Suspension
An enhanced track and suspension system (view on Amazon) is a substantial investment for snowmobile owners — promising remarkable returns for rider comfort and performance. The suspension system is crucial in delivering a smooth and comfortable ride, whether navigating trails or hitting jumps. Similarly, tracks affect sled balance and performance on various terrains.
While not a budget-friendly snowmobile mod, the advantages of an enhanced track and suspension make it well worth the expense. Upgrades such as on-the-fly suspension systems, upgraded springs, and track studs improve traction on ice and hard-packed snow while reducing drag and enhancing control in challenging trail conditions.
These enhancements work best with modified track drivers, properly aligned skis, and sharpened carbides (among other things). If you are unprepared for these upgrades, I suggest you reconsider customizing the track and suspension of your snowmobile.
7. Big-Bore Kit
Big-bore kits (view on Amazon) are snowmobile mods that boost engine performance by adding displacement. This comprehensive kit usually includes new cylinders, pistons, rings, gaskets, and other essential components. The primary goal is to significantly augment the engine’s power output.
The benefits of big-bore kits are highly sought-after — a substantial increase in engine power translates to enhanced overall performance. However, not everyone can do this mod, as it warrants solid mechanical skills and is not for the faint of heart. Fitting a snowmobile with a big-bore kit is an extensive and intricate process, necessitating carburetor or fuel injection system adjustments.
8. Turbochargers and Superchargers
To say that upgrading your sled with turbochargers or superchargers is a transformative modification would be an understatement. While offering substantial power gains, these enhancements demand meticulous tuning and professional installation due to their complexity.
Turbochargers operate by harnessing exhaust gases, offering impressive performance. Meanwhile, superchargers (or blowers) driven by the crankshaft deliver instant power but may draw power from the engine due to their design. Setbacks-wise, turbochargers may have “turbo lag,” while superchargers are parasitic — potentially affecting fuel economy and the snowmobile’s overall efficiency.
While the latter is more straightforward and yields significant power increases, they come with a higher initial cost (starting at $2,500) than turbos. Ultimately, choosing between turbochargers like Ineedup RHB31 VZ21 100HP Mini Turbocharger (view on Amazon) and superchargers hinges on your preference for immediate power or nuanced control.
9. NOX (Nitrous Oxide Systems)
A high-performance feature, Nitrous Oxide Systems (NOS) offer bursts of power. However, they require meticulous installation and pose potential risks. Available in DIY kits, these systems provide cost-effective power boosts, ranging from 25 to 80+ hp — note that the term ‘cost-effective’ is subjective.
Apart from a complex installation process, its drawbacks include limited full-throttle operation (10-15 seconds per pound) and the need for nitrous refills (approximately $5 per pound). Given these estimates, adding NOX to your snowmobile typically ranges from $400 to $1,100. Hence, weighing its benefits against potential complexities and ongoing expenses is essential. Consider this snowmobile mod only if you engage in competitive riding or racing tournaments.
10. Powder Coating and Wraps
Upgrading your machine with powder coating and wraps adds both style and functionality. While giving your sled a distinctive look, these mods effectively shed snow, contributing to weight savings (particularly on deep powder days). They also help preserve stock plastics and components, enhancing the snowmobile’s resale value.
These cosmetic enhancements have minimal impact on performance, making them straightforward. However, they are often considered non-essential as they lean more toward enhancing a snowmobile’s visual appeal than improving performance.
Secondary Snowmobile Upgrades
- Sled covers protect against salt, water, dirt, and rocks during transport, with some options offering extra storage. They are resistant to wear and tear, mold, mildew, sun, snow, and rain. Sled covers are especially essential if transporting a snowmobile on a flatbed.
- Manufacturers specifically design and vet OEM-approved accessories, ensuring compatibility and adherence to quality standards. While often chosen for their aesthetic appeal, these accessories seamlessly integrate the snowmobile’s design and functionality.
- Snowmobile insurance, while more of a necessity than an enhancement, provides financial protection for accidents, theft, or unforeseen damages. This essential coverage safeguards you and your investment in the snowmobile against potential financial losses — making it an indispensable component of responsible snowmobiling.
Naturally, improving a snowmobile’s engine performance and overall functionality is not confined to these modifications. Furthermore, horsepower and acceleration gains from these upgrades almost always have a trade-off in other areas of the snowmobile’s performance. That said, you must weigh the pros and cons of each mod before deciding to implement them on your sled.
Conclusion — Best Snowmobile Mods
To reiterate, items #7 to #9 are intricate and demand a deeper understanding of snowmobile mechanics. Unless there is a dire need for these modifications, I recommend exploring the rest of the recommendations first. But if you ever find yourself thinking about the complexity of these mods, it might be worth considering purchasing a more powerful sled instead. This way, you can ensure that your good intentions do not inadvertently result in sensor issues and engine lifespan reduction.
Kris is an avid off-roader and outdoor enthusiast who loves to brave the elements and take on challenging terrain. He also enjoys sharing his passion and knowledge with others so that they, too, can appreciate the ride.