General Thoughts on Snowmobile Clutching, Clutching Performance and Testing
Clutching a snowmobile is really not all that hard. Generally, stock clutching (OEM supplied) suffices just fine for a large percentage of the riders.
For those that want to realize/experience different shift characteristics from their sled, altering the clutching is a very good way to accomplish this.
BUT… What is the desired shift characteristic?? Hmmm…. that is the question…
What is the answer?
The Answer is: IT VARIES FROM RIDER TO RIDER!
Different riding styles warrant different clutching set-ups.. It's really that simple!
Let’s break it down a bit:
1) If you are a rider that does very little hill shooting and prefers to spend most of the time playing in the trees or in the meadows… then you would want a clutching set up that has great acceleration at part throttle but is also very smooth. This way you do not trench in the trees but you can accelerate very quickly. This style of clutching would not necessarily be the fastest in a drag race nor would it put the high mark on a long hill in 3ft of powder. BUT.. it would make tight tree riding and meadow turns very nice.
2) If you are a rider that prefers to sit at the hill or at a straight-away and race other sleds most of the day.. then you would require a MUCH different clutching set-up than #1 above or # 3 below. You would need a HARD accelerating set-up that launches like a rocket out of the hole and pulls like a train for the 1st 100-200 ft. You would not really be concerned too much with what happens at 500-1000ft because you would already be out in front and the race would, most likely, be over. THIS type of set up would be horrible if pulling a deep powder 1000ft long hill or blippin’ the throttle in the tight trees.. But would surely shine for the race application!
3) If you are a rider that prefers to find the biggest, longest, and steepest hill and try to get over it…Then you would not want a clutching set-up that has a hard accelerating “hole shot” like #2, nor would you care about part throttle responsiveness like #1. You WOULD want a clutching set-up that will allow you to have MAXIMUM possible track speed under HEAVY LOADING and one that would MAINTAIN this track speed during LONG runs. This set up would also only down-shift the MINIMUM needed to maintain the proper rpms. This reduced down-shift would allow the speed to be higher and the rpm variation to be minimized. These type of set-ups sometimes FEEL a tad lazy when tooling around the flats and certainly do not win any races against LIKE sleds that are more set-up for racing. BUT.. on the long hill pulls, in deep powder, they shine like nothing else!
CLUTCH TESTING: With the popularity of public forums, especially snowmobile related forums, there is ALWAYS the “comparison” thread present!
These threads are always VERY interesting because you have conflicting opinions and results WITH THE SAME PRODUCTS! HOW CAN THIS BE??? After-all, they all have the same product YET, the results are conflicting!! Why is this?? WELL… because the testing scenarios VARY!!
If you have a rider who is racing and has a racing set-up and he compares, via racing, to a non-racing set-up. GUESS WHAT??? The non-racing set-up gets the thumbs down! If you have a hill puller set up and the other has a boon-docking set-up and you compare on a 1200ft hill in 3ft of fresh powder…. Who shines?? Not the boon-docking set up!
Then there is the “all telling” “FEEL” results… This is where you install a new set up and it simply FEELS better! Well, this is all great stuff, but FEEL does not win you the race nor get you to the top of the hill in the steep and deep! It SIMPLY makes you feel better on your sled and sometimes this is all one is looking for. So, mission accomplished.
OK… so, now you can, hopefully, see that there is not a “one size fits all” clutching set-up! It REALLY does vary with riding styles and preference!
You can also see that when you find a comparison thread on a public forum, that you have to really consider how the item in question is being tested. AND ALSO who is testing the product?
For example, If you have boon-docker or trail rider testing a hill pulling set-up, despite what you may think, that rider does NOT have the credentials to PROPERLY test a true hill pulling set-up.
If you have a person in a certain state, that loves to pull hills but only has 300-400ft long hills in their riding area, then, even though, they are hill pullers, the difference in terrain makes it so that they really do require a different clutching set-up then the rider in a state that has very long hills.
So, when you hear of some "Super Set-Up" that blows everything else away, ask yourself if the person boasting about it has the same "needs" you have in a clutching-set-up and how it is being evaluated.
How does one determine if the clutching they have is the best suited to their riding style?
My thoughts are that you ask the various clutch kit vendors if they have a set up that fits your particular riding preference. If they do, then talk with them about it, if they do not, then they probably have an idea who does and can steer you in the right direction.