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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi everyone, new member here. I've never been a serious snowmobiler, viewing them more as a winter tool than anything. I'm from Minnesota, and it's hard to find someone who didn't have a sled. I always had one, mostly for ice fishing. Now I'm in South Dakota, and it seems the situation is completely different. Few people own them, and it seem the ones that do are mostly interested in mountain riding. This coupled with a low population means the used market is slim at best.

I'm finding I need a utility snowmobile more and more every year. I always wish I had something I could haul wood, gear, ice fishing stuff, or even deer better. My current sled is a 1993 Skidoo Safari 440. It is the best I could afford at the time, and it does a surprisingly good job. This one is beat to heck, and it has come to the end of its useful life to me. I can now afford to spend more, but I'm finding the situation is even worse than 10 years ago. I'm mostly looking in Minnesota adds. I knew prices would be high, but I'm seeing 1999 Skandic's, 2000's bearcats etc. for $6000, $7000, sometimes more?! I can go to the local dealer and get a brand new 2022 Tundra for about $8,500. That's insanity what people are asking.

I don't need something so fancy as a new sled, and I'm not sure I want them anyway. I don't encounter deep powder. For my uses, I can't go fast. If I get stuck, no amount of horsepower is going to change that. What I am noticing is all these new sleds are heavy pigs. The Tundra's appear to be about the lightest at 491 pounds dry. That's a lot to roll out of a creek, and they only get heavier from there. don't know exactly what the older ones weighted, but I can throw a 70's, 80's and 90's snowmobile around pretty well. Somewhere in the early 2000's it seems they get quite a bit heavier to where I can barely lift the back end when it's buried in snow.

Despite always owning a non-reverse sled, I'm now at a point where this is not something I'm willing to deal with any longer. I absolutely need reverse, fan cooled, and low geared. It appears some Safari's were made with reverse. I see there is a rather expensive reverse conversion gearcase for the Yamaha Bravo. I have no use at all for the higher powered engines of today. The older 250 cc engines did just fine for me, and 440's seemed overkill. As long as they are geared low, I have no use for going more than 30 mph. I definitely want fan cooled. While I've heard enough work arounds to know a water cooled can be ok, I do a lot of low speed and idling, and plenty of bare ice riding. Water cooling offers me no advantage at all, and plenty of disadvantages. I'm also noticing Skidoo seems to have eliminated fan cooled sleds altogether in 2020 or 2021. The local dealer does have a new 2019 Tundra 550F listed $7,900.

So I'm asking you guys here how you would go about this. Would you look for a less obvious model like a Safari with reverse? Would you buy a less expensive model like a Bravo and convert it to reverse? Would you just pony up the money for an older Skandic/Tundra? Or would you say just buy the "new" 2019 Tundra?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Yeah, it still runs, but it's getting real old yanking it off the trailer by hand. After I hurt my back in 2019 pulling my brothers MXZ off a truck, I've had enough. I just want to back them off. The problem with local adds here is that South Dakota is one of the least densely populated states to begin with, and also offers rather poor riding opportunities (low and inconsistent snow). I've never actually seen any kind of useful sled listed in a local add on craigslist, or local auctions, or anything like that. I have heard that Facebook is now the go-to site for things such as this, but I'm not a member, and have no desire to join.
 

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yamaha makes the viking sled. Very tempted to buy one. I trail ride alot too, just weary of it's ability to handle bumps.

Tundra are tanks..... 600 ace is an added bonus. Huge down side is the weight, the lack of a recoil start on the 4 strokes.... I bought my wife a grand tourng 600 ace... I bought a new battery for her sled and put the old one in my 2010 polaris. I just changed the fuel filter too. 1st ride besides the test stand and on and off the trailer, it was about -5 deg F in NY. Cranked a bit, then I had to pull start it..... Glad I rotated the batteries........

With the market going nuts for new sleds, I'd use what you got this year........

Oddly enough in NY, an arctic cat / yamaha dealer has the same 2019 viking sitting on the showroom floor. If the tundra had a recoil, I would call the tundra the utility cherry..... However, viking wins... the expedition and maybe the tundra has an added air cooler radiator up front too. Those tundra's are used alot in NY for dragging groomers. They handle the use and abuse just fine....... Cheap old plain sled that works well on a budget, the early 2000's panthers do well.
 

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2006 Polaris Fusion 600, 2021 Arctic Cat Norseman 8000X
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I know the OP isn't looking for a l/c sled, but I just bought a AC Norseman for this riding season and I can't say enough good things about it and it's quite adept on the trails.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Nothing good ever did come up for sale. I checked out the new old stock 2020 Tundra, and it is pretty heavy. I can't say anything really bad about it, but overall the impression I got is that it is a trail/race sled that Skidoo slapped low gearing in, and call it a utility sled. Maybe I'm the only one left with zero desire to ride on trails anymore. I passed. This one was a 550 fan cooled, but there's no way I'd ever buy a 4 stroke sled.

As of now I'm still riding the Skidoo Safari. We hardly have any snow yet, so I've not even used it ice fishing. I was really hoping to have a different sled by now, so I could do some work hauling out brush in the woods. Alas it seems every single thing in our country is completely wrecked right now. It doesn't matter if we are talking snowmobiles, trucks, guns, computers, gas, or anything else.
 

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The polaris would suit your needs pretty well. IF you do buy, look into rejetting the sled's carb. Even more-so because your high elevation. To suit the emission gods, they have to run that guy on the lean side. Heard alot of roasting pistons, scared me away from polaris. Was looking for a sled under $10,000. Pretty much the only sled like that for polaris is the 550 motor.

The big line in the sand is, do you need low range or not?

IF you'll go liquid cooled, you might want to peek at the skidoo backcountry sport 600 efi. I know some folks won't like the 85hp engine. Not sure on fuel economy, put I believe that engine does not have power valves. Numerous skidoo models have front mounted radiator's not sure if this one has one.
 

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The only place the 550 was a problem is in the Edge chassis. The ones before and after were fine. Long story short, the problem was that the muffler was too close to the air inlet for the cooling, resulting in hot air being used to cool the motor instead of cold air.

I have a 2003 sled, Gen II (pre-edge) as a backup sled, has 6000 miles, runs fine, has never been opened up. There are lots of them around. The Voyager should be plenty reliable, if it is jetted right (this goes for any carbed sled at higher altitudes).
 

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the new 600efi engines in the tundra have an added radiator fan kit which should eliminate the worry of a liquid cold sled, as an added bonus this engine is considered the economy engine and is very basic for maintainance. the tundra lt with articulatulating rear suspension should be a very capable and affordable option
 
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