The Cost of Weight Loss – Aftermarket Parts vs Body Modification
‘Tis the season—no not that season. The season of performance enhancement. Like most who delve into the world of sled modification, you are probably looking for better performance—usually via either weight savings or increased power. It’s time to take a look at the cost of weight loss.
The Cost of Weight Loss
If you haven’t ordered up a new sled then chances are you are thinking about some upgrades for your current faithful steed. We will focus on the weight savings side for now.
Fortunately for us riders (and unfortunately for the aftermarket industry), new sleds have no shortage of exotic materials these days. Carbon fiber, aluminum, chromoly, magnesium and other lightweight materials are all generously used in news sleds. In conjunction with modern engineering, the manufacturers try to shave every ounce off of your machine—while hopefully keeping the durability and strength intact. The result is that the old days of swapping out a couple of components for lightweight parts and saving 50lbs are long gone. To save a lot of weight these days you have to spend real money shaving tiny amounts here and there, slowly adding up to enough to be noticeable. Or do you?
Aftermarket Parts vs Body Modification
Let’s be honest, there aren’t too many of us who haven’t got at least a couple of extra pounds hanging around our beltline. I know many people who want to “get in shape” for sled season, and recently I included myself on that list. Beyond the additional stamina and energy you have when riding, the weight loss is something we can measure and quantify. Your sled doesn’t know or care if the weight its packing is a part of itself or a part of you—it’s still weight that needs to be pulled up the hill.
Our Weight Loss Plan
About a year and a half ago, my family and I started a program to help us get a little more fit. Okay—my wife did and I just followed along. But she said we needed to be in better shape. I did argue that round is a shape, but you can imagine how well that conversation went.
The plan was simple: no more “white carbs” and no more added sugars. Breads, rice, pastas, cookies, cakes, donuts etc were all OUT. Anything with sugar, glucose, fructose, corn syrup, honey, dextrose and so-forth on the label was also out. The hardest part was actually finding products that don’t have sugar added to them! Once you start reading labels it is amazing to see what has sugar added to it when there really is no need.
It doesn’t take long to realize that eliminating these items automatically means that you start eating real food—things like meat and veggies, berries for dessert, trail mix for snacks (trail mix without chocolate that is!). It takes about two weeks for the sugar craving to pass, and if you can stick it out that long it becomes very easy afterwards. I will admit, one of the hardest parts was giving up the sugar in my Timmies double-double. That little change alone nearly did me in.
Regardless of the details, when we finished this transformation last season I managed to lose a total of 55 lb. More importantly though, what did that mean for my riding? It was time to look at ways to put this weight change into perspective. This is where it got exciting.
How Much Does 55 lb Weight Loss Cost?
If you are a mountain sledder you have probably heard of a guy named Chris Burandt. If you haven’t heard of him let’s just say that he seems to be kinda ok at this sled stuff. Not long ago, Mr. Burandt built himself a Polaris Axys that he named “Jenny Craig”, after the weight loss company founder. “Jenny” weighed in at 355 lb dry (I’m talking about the sled here), or 53 lb lighter than the claimed factory weight for this sled.
Coincidentally this was almost the exact amount of weight I had personally lost. This means that ‘new’ me on a stock Axys would be the same total weight on the snow as ‘old’ me on Burandt’s “Jenny Craig”. Subtracting the base price of the sled from Chris’ build list gives a dollar value of about $30,000 CAD spent on upgrades and weight loss. As a package I had just saved the same amount. Cool.
55 lb of Weight Loss Performance
Once the snow hit last season is when I really noticed the difference that our diet and exercise program had made in my riding. With the weight loss, both my sled and I were able to perform better. I had more energy, more strength and more endurance. There were several times (for example, landing horribly crooked off of a jump—something I have a real talent for) where I was able to pull myself back up and save a dismount where previously I would have had to just let go. In Jumping, climbing and boondocking, I enjoyed a noticeable improvement in performance and fun. To use round numbers (no pun intended), the power-to-weight ratio change is roughly equivalent to adding 10 hp as well.
‘Tis the Season
So if you are like me from years past, this is your not so subtle reminder. It is already August and that means it’s time to get to work on yourself before you let “I’m going to start next week” drag out to the first ride of the year. By then it will be too late to realize that you don’t fit into your favourite riding gear. Another way to look at this is to ask yourself: would you lose 50lbs if someone paid you $30,000 to do it? That’s some pretty good motivation in my book.