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Instead of putting the rubber on the road like a motorcycle, a snowmobile puts its rubber on the snow via its tracks.
This page will provide you with all the information you need to measure your tracks and choose the right type for your sled.
What are snowmobile tracks?
Snowmobile tracks, like tires, wear out and need to be replaced every so often.
When it’s time to replace your tracks, you’ll need to know how to choose the right one.
Snowmobile tracks are what delivers power from the engine and transmission to the surface of the snow. In other words, they’re what move your sled forward.
The tracks feature an endless loop design, which is rotated by gears, chains, rollers, and idlers. At different engine speeds, the track idlers adjust themselves to tighten or loosen the tension of the track, which provides the proper power and traction at different speeds.
When riding at lower speeds, the track will have less tension to allow the sled to better grip the surface. At higher speeds, the track’s tension increases to maximize speed.
You can learn more about how a snowmobile works here.
Modern snowmobile tracks are made of rubber composites, which typically consists of rubber, Kevlar, carbon fiber, and other materials to provide strong, sturdy traction.
In order to select the right tracks and know when it’s time to replace them, you’ll first need to get familiar with some key terms.
The main things you’ll need to know about your snowmobile tracks include:
- Track Ply: Snowmobile tracks can be found in single ply (1 ply) or 2 ply construction. Single ply tracks are generally lighter and have less friction, while 2 ply tracks are better for studding and riding at higher speeds.
- Clips: Snowmobile track clips are the metal cleats that fit into the track’s windows. Their purpose is to keep the track aligned against the suspension hyfax and to reduce friction and wear. The most common clip configurations are generally fully clipped (a clip every window) or clipped every 2nd or 3rd pitch. They typically last the life of the track, but sometimes fall off and can be replaced.
- Pitch: The pitch is the measurement in inches from the center of one lug to the next on your snowmobile track.
- Lug: The lug is the raised extension that provides the snowmobile track with grip and traction.
- Lug Height: Lug height is the measurement of the distance the lug extends off the surface of the track.
- Track Width: Track width is the measurement from edge to edge.
- Track Length: Track length measures the inside circumference of the snowmobile track, and is given in inches as well.
- Application Type: Different types and designs of tracks are better suited for different types of riding and applications. You’ll want to select the style that best matches your riding needs.
Types of Snowmobile Tracks
Snowmobile track manufacturers design tracks for a variety of conditions and riding styles.
The mains types of snowmobile tracks you can find include:
- Trail tracks, which are best suited for groomed or packed trail riding.
- On/Off trail tracks or crossover tracks, which can be used in a variety of conditions.
- Mountain tracks, which are designed for deep powder and steep terrain.
- Racing tracks, which are designed and tuned for certain types of racing events to improve speed, increase grip, and/or reduce drag.
- Utility tracks, which maximize grip and efficiency for working sleds.
It is best to select a track that matches the riding style you’ll be doing most often. This will allow you to get the most out of your sled and help your tracks last longer.
How to Measure a Snowmobile Track
In order to replace your snowmobile track, you’ll first need to know its measurements.
When in doubt, refer to your snowmobile owner’s manual or the manufacturer website. The manufacturer will list the size of tracks that are compatible with your specific sled.
You can also measure the snowmobile tracks yourself.
The most important measurements you’ll need for your snowmobile track are the length and width. Track measurements are listed as LENGTH X WIDTH when you shop for them.
Measuring your track width is easy, simply take the measurement in inches from edge to edge.
The most common track widths range from about 14” to 16.”
Next, you’ll need to measure the track’s length.
For this, you’ll need to know the pitch and the number of lugs/crossbars.
To measure the pitch, you can measure the distance between 11 lugs from center to center (this will give you the sum of 10 pitches).
Next, divide the number by 10 to get your pitch length.
e.g If the measurement from the center of the first lug to the center of the 11th lug is 30,” then your track’s pitch is 3.”
The most common snowmobile track pitches are 2.52”, 2.86”, and 3.”
Next, count up the total number of lugs on the track.
Finally, multiply the total number of lugs by the pitch.
The result is the track length, which typically ranges from 120 to 156 depending on the type and size of your snowmobile.
When should you replace your snowmobile tracks?
Under normal conditions, snowmobile tracks are typically designed to last between 3 to 10 years.
The lifespan of your tracks will vary on a variety of factors, such as:
- How your snowmobile has been cleaned, stored, and maintained.
- How and where you ride.
- The type and style of track you have.
There are some signs to look for to know when you should replace your sled’s tracks. The main ones include:
- Rips, tears, cracks, and large punctures in the track material.
- Dry-rotted material.
- Broken lugs.
- Multiple missing clips.
- Worn edges.
If you notice any signs of wear and tear on your tracks, it’s best to replace them before it causes a blowout on the trail.
Keeping your sled clean and stored properly will help to extend the life of your tracks.