“Before I even clicked off a mile, I (_____fill_in_the_blank____) to my sled,” are words that live in infamy with a group of my snowmobile friends.
But as much as we joke about it, there actually are a few things I do to a new sled before I take that first ride.
And with enough snow on the ground here in the Twin Cities area, here are some pix of the process before I take my first ride this afternoon.
Totally stock 2017 Arctic Cat XF 6000 Cross Country Limited. It’s a far more capable sled than the guy who’s going to ride it this season, but there are still a few custom touches I like to give it before I click off that proverbial first mile.
There are a few additional tools and supplies I like to carry in addition to the OE-equipped tool kit, all visible here. There are occasions when I bring along an additional tool (like a wrench to adjust the headlight aim on the first night ride of the season), but the above covers most of what I need.
With stock tool kit and extras bound into an old bicycle seat bag for safe, rattle-free storage, all that stuff is almost ready to pack…
…but first I like to add an extra layer of foam to bolster the foam that comes stock in the rear bag. Why? Because I like my stuff to be properly cushioned, and I hate the sound of rattling gear when I ditch-bang the heck out of whatever situation I find myself feeling surly.
I cut the above prototype ArcticInsider foam out of some high-density stuff that came in a bicycle box, using the stock foam as a template.
What else? An old t-shirt for use as a rag; some emergency toilet paper for those times when I ride with my friend Kale; and a pair of hand-saving Arctic Cat Soft Muffs (P/N 7639-113, available from your Cat dealer).
I have to pack this stuff perfectly to get it in, and it’s an ever-so-slight squeeze to add the muffs. Which is exactly the point, because I want all the gear to be snug inside the bag even when the muffs are giving lovable warmth to my hands. No rattling, no banging around.
So much inside, ready for whatever goofiness happens.
Next up is my favorite item to keep my cellphone ready for use (photos or phone) while being stored inside the Goggle Holder Bag (P/N 5639-767 or 7639-591, at your Cat dealer) no matter how cold it is outside: the sweet Bag Heater Kit (P/N 5639-837).
I suggest a couple tricks to make the heater wiring stay protected, as well as your phone.
First, de-bur the edges of the heater host plate (both sides), taking particular care to smooth the spot where the wiring will touch the plate.
Then, to give the wiring some extra (flexible) support, run a couple strips of duct tape like you see above.
Everything COULD be ready to run as-is, but I like to take one more step to protect my phone from contact with the metal heater…
…placing the whole heater inside an old, stinky sock.
Okay, next you need to cut a small access slot on the bottom of the Goggle Bag to run the wiring through.
Next, running the wiring. Start by opening up the right side panel on the sled, which gives you access to the orphan/accessory plug in the harness.
Plug-in the long wire that came in the Heater Kit. I run the wire up and over the chaincase, to the silver aluminum spar, then up to the steering post/top of hood. If what I wrote doesn’t make sense, it will when you look at your sled and try it yourself.
Then I zip-tie the wire to various spots, making sure it won’t touch the exhaust pipe or get hung-up on the steering post.
Voila! Wiring is up, fished through the bottom of the bag, and then mated with the heater element itself. My phone is feeling warm and it isn’t even near the bag yet.
Next, I spent a few moments sitting on my sled in quiet contemplation, solving the world’s problems with the razor-like clarity that comes only from sitting on a snowmobile.
Then I pretend to ride it, turning the handlebars from side to side (made easy thanks to the ski dollies), trying to get a feel for the handlebar and controls (throttle and brake levers).
Because of my outrageous ditch-banging riding style, I always have to adjust the bars/controls to achieve NxTLvl performance.
Last but not least, the addition of a real windshield (I prefer the Arctic Cat Mid-14-in.).
Yes, I know that such a tall window detracts from my ditch-banging persona. Yes, I know that all the tail-standers who hang with Bobby Flame will make fun of my big window when I show up at the X Games Freestyle competition with it.
But I’ll be the guy laughing anytime the temperature is below 30 degrees F.
Anyway…the instructions that come with the Sandberg-endorsed window are straightforward and fine. However, there’s one slightly tricky part of the install that involves drilling a hole into the forward tip of headlight pod. Rather than over-drill that sucker like I did the first couple of times I installed a taller windshield, I suggest a few wraps of duct tape around the drill bit for a de-facto depth stop. You’ll thank me for it.
That’s it for round one of my Before-I-Even-Click-Off-A-Mile Sled Prep. I have a few more goodies that will be installed on this baby in the coming weeks, which I will detail in another post.
Plus there’s a strong chance that I’ll make a couple of tweaks to the rear suspension to tailor it for my special style of ditch-banging. But I want to get a hundred miles or so on it first before I start making those changes. So stay tuned.
Now…time to ride.
Thanks for reading.