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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I want to start trail riding with my daughter and from time to time, my parents. Now to be fully honest, I have never been a fan of snowmobiling over the years. Often, locally, the weather is too warm and the snow is soft. My parents always seem to have a few too many laying around that a ride a year or every two was fun but never tempted me to buy one. Over Christmas my daughter and rode around the property on one of their sleds. It was ok but my kid loved it. We could use another winter activity so here I am.

I believe that every new hobby should be started at a price point where you lose as little money as possible in case it’s not for you. That said with the current inflation situation that is a wildcard (best case). We were on a standard seat and it was obvious we could use more room. She is four years away from being able to drive herself in our state. The only thing I’m ever remotely confident of is I should be looking for a two up seat.

I was surprised that the top ends need to be rebuilt at dirt bike type intervals. I actually “should be” able to know if there are mechanical problems and how to fix them because of dirt bikes and street bikes over the years. “Should be” because the centrifugal type (cvt) transmission is something new.

What do you guys recommend I look for? I simply do not know enough to know what to know. Where is the sweet spot to pick something up, without expecting problems on top of maintenance? I tried to search this but it seemed all similar threads were actually the I bought “x”, now what to achieve “y” or years old. I’ll apologize upfront if I missed something.
Lastly, thanks for anyone who read all of this and will offer an opinion. I appreciate your time.

Edit to add more info: We are in central WI, 99% of riding will be groomed trail riding. I would believe most riding would be local but maybe trips to northern WI. Better trails, free lodging with parents…. Total combined weight might approach 400lb I’m a big guy and at eight she’s 5’4”. Would expect nice easy paced riding. It is WI, so mainly stops at taverns, but really your just driving around taking in the winter views and sights. The taverns are to warm up and get a snack and drink of choice. I don’t drink, medical reasons, which is odd locally fyi. Honestly do not know what else to put here. I enjoy doing off season maintenance on bikes or my camper, shouldn't be different. In my head I wanted to spend less than $3k but we have suitable everything helmets to socks, we already went out once this year. The first guy and my parents said the same thing, buy new to newish. I do not see that happening unless this gets flooded with that type of comment. This will literally be an under 30 hour a year hobby, possibly 10. If that changes I will get something more suited to fit whatever the path takes.
 

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first off welcome to the site
next, you may want to add more info on what type o riding you plan to do, as there are many different types of riding and each will use a different type of sled to a point!

SO< will you be riding on some actual groomed trails?or will you just be riding about private property and in fields and such? as in maybe what is called more OFF trail riding, breaking trails .making your own like!

as these things make a bigger difference in who you will want to pick a sled to use!

next is be honest at what you and your daughter will be weighing in at, as this too will come into play in things like what sized sled to get, traction concerns and such

NEXT< sine you don;t know much about snowmobiles, BEST advice is, IF or when going to look at used snowmobiles, TAKE, someone with you that has experiences with both working on them and maintaining them!
this alone can save you a LOT of both money and stress!

NEXT and take with a grain of salt, SNOWMOBILES< are IMO much more higher maintenance toys, so, when looking at possible sleds, MY advice is buy the newest lowest mile best condition one you can
and keep in mind, riding ALONE can be dangerous all the more so with a small kid with you, as break down far from help or?? and you can have a LONG walk out in cold conditions, this is why its so strongly suggest to NOT ride alone,
add in your new to things, and your at higher odds of something going wrong
NOT trying to scare you, just giving you real food for thought, but again, this can come down to where you live, , plan to ride and how you plan to use a snowmobile!
if you plan to ride groomed trails, keep in mind most are maintained by clubs, Joining a club, can also help you FIND a good sled, or a member willing to help you look at used sleds, so, joining a snowmobile club where you plan to ride or near your home might not be a bad idea to help you with finding. buying, a sled as well as a mentor on helping you learn about them , that is if you don;t have anyone else to do so!
if you list where your at here, you also might find help from a member here too??
food for thought, best of luck to you, it is a great sport, but its not cheap or one you don;t have top maintain things to stay reliable with!
 

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The only sled I would look at is the Ski Doo 900ace. You can put the learning key in it and limit the speed to 25 mph and let your daughter take it out. Yet it’s a sled that you can take out and travel at 85+ mph. It’s quiet smooth has easy throttle pull for small hands. Gets amazing fuel mileage and no 2 stroke oil to worry about. It may be the sled that will make you love snowmobiling.
 

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For that kind of money, you probably won't get anything decent. The cheaper you buy, the older it will be and the more maintenance it'll require. I think you need to double it to at least find something more care free, which seems to be what you want and need.

Sounds like you want to do it for your daughter. Good reason, but difficult to want to put money into it and start enjoying it yourself.
It'll be difficult to enjoy it when you aren't that into it and think it's all too expensive.
Go cheap and break down, will end your enjoyment completely. And your daughter will stop liking it as well, being stranded out in the cold.

Can't you borrow one of your parents for a season? Just to try it out and start to enjoy it?
 

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Rent a sled, or phone a business that offers sled rentals and tours, they take care of all
the gear you need for the ride. There is quite a bit of expense
when owning a sled and dont forget the trailer to tow it.....
New to sledding, renting is the cheapest way to start and if the
sled has mechanical issues if your in a group tour everything
is taken care of....
 

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Also renting a few sleds with a tour group is less worry,
what if you steer accidentally in the deep snow and get
the sled stuck.... Also guided tours are safer, its easy
to get lost out there on the hundreds of miles of trails,
and dont forget the blowing wind and snow when your
out snowmobiling much safer when riding with a group
if your new to snowmobiling.....
 

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ok I' ll a tad more, and I agree at 3k your not going to get a great sled, between crazy pricing right now on things, and the fact for 3 k even in a normal market your most likely looking at older generation sleds with low seating, which YOU will not enjoy much in short order,m or as soon as trails get beat up, the fun will turn into dislike REALLY fast
the difference in older sled to new rider forward and higher seating is HUGE, in rider comfort
and if you have any medical issues, as in a bad back,knee's all the more so,
SO< you need to either step up on spending amount, or, your most likely IMIO< not going to enjoy things much really fast, not what you want to hear I am sure, but honest information

and I fully agree, MAYBE the better thing to do here is just rent a sled a few times and take her out on a new reliable machine, and see how much she likes it or not before spending money buying a sled
as this way if she doesn;'t like it, your not stuck with a sled to sell or???
and again riding ALONE just isn;t the best advice or thing to do, safety reasons, so if your going to do so, riding a new rental sled will up the odds of NOT having a break down, over maybe a older used machine with unknown care done to it!

I also again will state joining a local club is still a great idea, they can also help with getting her and maybe even you, thru a safety course, and help her if she likes this sport, get into things as many do training to get kids certified as they get to correct age and can offer a lot of information, maybe you don't know, and it helps support the sport , a small price to pay for what all they can maybe help you with! many clubs know of sleds for sale too, due to they are involved in many places and people that are snowmobilers
 

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Honestly $3k will probably not get you a decent sled that will make you really enjoy snowmobiling with your daughter nowadays unfortunately. EVERYTHING is overpriced right now. And Snowmobiling is expensive in general. Its a commitment. Just being honest.
Trust me I have 2 daughters and an Older Touring 2 up sled in the stable. I was looking to upgrade that one this year because im sick of working on it but its just ridiculous.

I think if you are willing to spend maybe $5-6k instead you will get a Sled you will not have to wrench on and be able to enjoy. If you dont like it you should have no problem selling and getting your money back. Probably almost easier to sell than a $3k Sled.

That being said, whatever you end up spending if you go 2 stroke id stick to a 550 Fan cooled or 600cc twin.. 800s and triples are just more maintenance, more expensive and usually need rebuilds sooner also. The older Polaris Edge tourings were pretty bulletproof in the 550 and 600 form. Probably could find one of those in the $3k range. Just keep in mind they were $1500-2500 just a few years ago.

If you can swing it price wise because they will be more a newer four stroke like mentioned a 900 Ace Ski Doo would most likely be the perfect Sled for you and your daughter. Good luck.
 

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ok I' ll a tad more, and I agree at 3k your not going to get a great sled, between crazy pricing right now on things, and the fact for 3 k even in a normal market your most likely looking at older generation sleds with low seating, which YOU will not enjoy much in short order,m or as soon as trails get beat up, the fun will turn into dislike REALLY fast
the difference in older sled to new rider forward and higher seating is HUGE, in rider comfort
and if you have any medical issues, as in a bad back,knee's all the more so,
SO< you need to either step up on spending amount, or, your most likely IMIO< not going to enjoy things much really fast, not what you want to hear I am sure, but honest information

and I fully agree, MAYBE the better thing to do here is just rent a sled a few times and take her out on a new reliable machine, and see how much she likes it or not before spending money buying a sled
as this way if she doesn;'t like it, your not stuck with a sled to sell or???
and again riding ALONE just isn;t the best advice or thing to do, safety reasons, so if your going to do so, riding a new rental sled will up the odds of NOT having a break down, over maybe a older used machine with unknown care done to it!

I also again will state joining a local club is still a great idea, they can also help with getting her and maybe even you, thru a safety course, and help her if she likes this sport, get into things as many do training to get kids certified as they get to correct age and can offer a lot of information, maybe you don't know, and it helps support the sport , a small price to pay for what all they can maybe help you with! many clubs know of sleds for sale too, due to they are involved in many places and people that are snowmobilers
A tad more? That was like reading a book!
 

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For 3k u aren't gonna find much thats really newer. If I were to look in that price range for a sled I'd look for like a 2013 skidoo renegade 600 etec. If taken care of they go 10k mi with very minimal issues! U also should look for stuff to look at on used sleds, bent bulkheads, bad wheel bearings, driveshaft and jackshaft bearings , worn out suspension bushings in front and rear skid. Let's be honest here, a 3k sled nowadays is gonna be a pretty used up sled .
 

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For 3k u aren't gonna find much thats really newer. If I were to look in that price range for a sled I'd look for like a 2013 skidoo renegade 600 etec. If taken care of they go 10k mi with very minimal issues! U also should look for stuff to look at on used sleds, bent bulkheads, bad wheel bearings, driveshaft and jackshaft bearings , worn out suspension bushings in front and rear skid. Let's be honest here, a 3k sled nowadays is gonna be a pretty used up sled .
All good points, but if the guy is asking what kind of sled he should buy, he may or may not even know what most of these items are and how to look for potential damage or wear.
 

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All good points, but if the guy is asking what kind of sled he should buy, he may or may not even know what most of these items are and how to look for potential damage or wear.
Why do u think I mentioned the things to look for? So if someone told me what I just said on a snowmobile fourm, I'd go to the 2013 skidoo section, or any sled I had my particular eye on and start searching for those posts on what to look for 🤷‍♂️ Maybe im smarter then some, maybe I'm dumber, but I have common sense
 

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Welcome to HCS. I disagree that snowmobiles need to be rebuilt as often as a moto cross bike. Sleds can go years with no issues, dirt bikes often need to be built yearly. Seems like price is your biggest thing vs. Performance or maybe even comfort. I think you would do just fine with a older generation sit down sled. Often times you can find them in better shape than newer rider forward sleds. Especially 2 up sleds. Just know 2 up sleds and sit down rider sleds do have low resale value. Also that being said i personally would never ride a sit down style sled ever again. But if you dont know the difference it may be a non issue for you. With winter under way and covid price hikes, you may want to wait until spring and see if you really still want a sled. If so it will maximize your 3k and give you the summer to look it over. Good luck shopping, keep us posted!
 

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I would buy the sled in the best condition with the least miles. If you are buying a sled with a 2 up seat, the market will be limited but the good thing about 2 up sleds are the chance of it being abused is much less than buying a hot rod sled from a ditchbanger! If you have never ridden before, you will not know the difference between the newer rider forward sleds and the older sit down sleds. If you find a mid 90's sled with a 2 up seat that is is great condition you should be able to have many hours of fun for you and your daughter. The good thing about buying in the 3K price range is you will not loose much money. In a couple years it will probably be worth what you paid for it. Look for a sled that has been stored indoors and that has been trailered on an enclosed trailer. Buy from a guy that either looks to be mechanically inclined or a guy that takes it to the dealer for everything. Look around the guys garage. If its neat, organized and clean, thats good. If he lives in a shithole and there is garbge and junk stacked everywhere, you may want to pass. Good luck on your search and welcome to the fun!
 

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3k is more than enough to get you a early 2000s fan cooled sled. They stupid simple and run forever. Find one with a 2 up seat that has been taken care of and you will be fine
 

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When my oldest son was 11 I bought him a 2009 mxzx 550f we hated that thing. Noisy, stinky, terrible gas and oil mileage and it had a stiff throttle pull for small hands. I sold it and bought him a 900ace. When my youngest boy turned 11 I bought him a 900ace as well. We couldn’t be happier with those sleds.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
First thanks for all of the great advice everyone has shared. There appears to be an overwhelming majority who think my budget was too, and I will definitely plan on spending more. I would still like to limit my depreciation losses. Is there a sweet spot to be looking at? I believe condition is still key but say did 2013 bring about a major comfort advancement? Steering? I will spend (and therefore risk depreciating) what I have to to give this pass time a fair go. I’m still trying to learn enough to make a good decision. I did look at two local sub $3k sleds, both were solid for being over 20 years old but you guys are right they both had minor issues I could identify and would not offer either the higher view for the passenger nor the updated suspension comfort and it was obvious. I honestly didn’t expect there to be such difference.
 

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yes there was a huge gain in comforts in the new rider seating over the older sleds
like I said, if you have any back or knee issue's a older sled pre rider forward design, you will NOT be happy for long, unless you always ride perfect trails

I have back and knee issue's and did all i could to a older sled, to TRY and MAKE it better, and its just not possible, due to how low you sit IN the sled over ON the sled!

and you want a sled designed for two up riding, NOT just one that has a two up seat added,
as at 400lbs between you and your daughter your way past what most sleds for single riders were designed for,
heck to be honest you will be at the higher end of what a good two up sled is set up for ,
add in age of used equipment and odds are shocks will need to be rebuilt IF possible, or reproached
also a pure two up sled will have comforts set up for the passenger, where a sled that just had a two up seat added won't unless they Aldo added them!
 

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How about you post some used sleds for sale and we tell you if we like them or not? I'm afraid to see what is for sale for under $3,000.
 

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I believe condition is still key but say did 2013 bring about a major comfort advancement?
I'm not sure, but I think 2014 and younger.

You could still try renting first, for a few seasons. That way you can try different sleds and feel what works and what would give you joy.

This looks like a good place for rentals: Snowmobiles - Runamuk Rides
You can chose guided or unguided rental.
Don't know if that's near you, but there will probably be similar near you.
You probably would want to try out a few, because often they only have one brand to rent and I'd advice you to try different brands as well as different models.
 
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