Tips for new and returning snowmobilers in Ontario
Maybe you’re new to snowmobiling or you’ve had a single riding experience or maybe you’re returning to the thrilling motorsport that you once loved many years ago. Whatever your story, ensuring you have a great experience can depend on several things.
Service your snowmobile
Your new or used snowmobile probably looks great, all shined up in the garage, but you should still get it serviced before riding. Keeping it well maintained will help avoid mechanical problems halfway into the season.
Find a snowmobile dealer or service provider you can trust by asking questions, talking to sledding friends and studying what type of maintenance snowmobiles require. Get acquainted with the different types of snowmobile maintenance issues that often get overlooked.
Choose the right gear
A common question is “what brand or combination of gear is the best." Because everyone’s body type and needs are different, there isn’t a straightforward answer to that question. It’s a good idea to reach out to other snowmobilers who share your needs ((fingers get cold, faces and feet sweat, eyeglasses are an issue, etc.) and compare notes.
Finding someone with similar physical traits isn’t easy, but it will pay off in the long run. Choosing the right gear for you makes the difference between comfort or discomfort on your ride.
Klim produces motorsports clothing, including Gore-Tex gear that will keep you dry during long days outside. Regardless of which gear you chose to wear, plan for the weather, learn how to layer your clothing, and bring extra gloves for weather changes or if you get your first pair wet.
Practice, practice, practice
Test ride your sled in a safe area. Note: Always stay on marked trails.
Older snowmobile models from the 1970s, 80s and 90s had lower centres of gravity, a somewhat relaxed steering response and were arguably less responsive.
Today’s snowmobiles offer great long travel suspensions, which can help you enjoy longer days riding. But with the longer suspension comes a higher centre of gravity, meaning that you can tip over more easily. Many of these suspensions also allow for “ski-lift” or “transfer”, something you need to get used to because you don’t want to lift your skis while cornering your snowmobile.
If you compare the horsepower numbers of the new 2021 Indy 650 twin with the numbers of a 1990 Indy 650 triple, you’ll be amazed at the difference. Horsepower numbers aside, these modern fuel injected sleds offer amazing throttle response and torque.
Take the time to get used to your snowmobile. Test it out safely to see how it rides and how you will react. Resist the temptation to hop on and expect it to handle like your last snowmobile from the 90s. You’ll want to be ready for the difference in acceleration and braking capabilities.
Check trail conditions
The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) is your one-stop-shop for snowmobiling information in Ontario. They have diligently developed the Go Snowmobiling Ontario App, a mobile app for Android & IOS devices, in addition to their interactive trail maps that snowmobilers know and rely on.
Many of the snowmobile clubs manage Facebook pages, which help foster a sense of community among riders and may offer insight into local trail conditions. However, always use the OFSC maps for your official trail status updates.
Use caution during early season conditions
As the anticipation builds for snowmobile season, sometimes safety is overlooked. There’s a great temptation to get out and ride the trails the minute the season starts. Sadly, that’s how many people get hurt.
Read up on how to start your sledding season safely, learn how to identify ice conditions and be up-to-date on snowmobile ice safety. Never ride a trail that's marked as Red on the OFSC Interactive Trail Guide or trespass on private property by wandering off the marked trail.
Starting your season by riding small loops and considering the right conditions and weather will allow you to enjoy riding on OFSC Prescribed Snowmobile Trails without stress.
Have a great season, stay safe and enjoy Ontario’s amazing snowmobiling trails.
Check out even more tips for planning your next ride.
Last updated: January 3, 2023