Opinion
March 23rd, 2021
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In the MIX With a SIX! Why You Should Consider a 600 cc Mountain Sled

Prior to a pandemic-related boost, the snowmobile industry had been contracting and a walk through a modern dealership will help with some clues as to why.

For someone who was pumped after watching some videos on Instagram, the lineup and price tags will start at $15K, all before buying a trailer, onesie, airbag and don’t forget the $250 spare belt. Of course, you are different—you’re a hard-charging mountain slayer. Three hours to change and index spark plugs priced like 12-year-old scotch is well worth it.

The problem for manufacturers is that they must build what sells. The arms race of mountain sleds has replaced the Snocross of the ‘90s and the ovals of the ‘70s for technical advancement. The Average Joe doesn’t want to be left behind so an 850 with a 165 must be what it takes. We are all excited by the tech and capabilities of the new iron, and that’s what every video and magazine article must focus on.

The truth is that the machinery has far outstripped the capabilities of almost all the riders. My other love, Motocross, is very similar. The showroom floor and starting lines are littered with titanium valve 450 cc monsters. That’s great and wonderful, but James Stewart could come out of retirement, jump on a 15-year-old 125 two-stroke and kick the ass of all but maybe 20 guys in the world.

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Here is what I’m asking you to do. Buy a 600!

Don’t laugh, these sleds have been relegated to wife, kid and spare sled duty for too long. Change the paradigm to focus on fun and realize there is no correlation between cc and enjoyment. In fact, a 600 is WAY more fun.

“Give that sled back to your sister,” is what I was told in the parking lot by a proud 800 owner back in 2013 when I unloaded my 600 Pro. Subsequent events proved to be very upsetting for my tormentor as the little 6 ripped and zippered its way all around and above where the 8 could go. Of course, apples to apples and even rider skills will have the higher displacement come out ahead, but just think of the street cred of being in the mix with a six!

Details on the Polaris 650 Patriot and Ski-Doo Rotax 600R E-TEC engines here.

Why You Should Consider a 600 cc Mountain Sled

It has been a long time since a stock 600 cc mountain sled couldn’t get you anywhere in the alpine. One of the benefits of a six include having fuel leftover at the end of a hard day and no more snowy refills at the cabin!

A 600 rips along so smoothly, you could put a champagne glass on the dash at idle and not spill a drop.

Another advantage is the difference in rotating mass. The gyroscopic effect is lessened, making it much easier to toss around.

Every big bore twin is a marvel of horsepower per cubic centimeter of displacement, but pistons that big are constantly trying to transform single pieces into multiple projectiles of flying shrapnel. When was the last time an 800 made it to 10,000 km on the odometer? Like the Tiger King, buying a big bore makes for great TV and parking lot puffery, but it’s just a matter of time before the master is in rebuild solitary, whining about that bitch Carole Baskin.

But the best argument comes from the real world. Consider this: Keith Curtis won a bunch of classes at this year’s Afton, Wyoming hillclimb. This is never a surprise for a beast like 711, but the fastest king run of the day was on his STOCK 600!

Sledders are funny. We spend tens of thousands of dollars to have the latest whiz bang turbo but don’t bother to upgrade the component that has the biggest effect: the rider. Why not snow check a 650 or 600 cc mountain sled and put that extra cash into more riding days, maybe one with Kuster or Burandt to learn how to do more with less?

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What’s More Fun Than Being in the MIX on a SIX?

Think back to the most fun you have ever had on a sled.

For me, it was with Graham Guntrip on a deep day in Revelstoke, doubling on a Summit 500 after his mod blew up. We endoed, flipped, and scorpioned all day while that sweet little 500 sat idling waiting for the two giggling idiots to climb back on again.

I know it may seem crazy, but our industry could use a little diversity, and that could start with your spring order this year. Prove it to everyone that you are a good enough rider to run a 600.

 

– Gregg

 

Don’t believe Gregg? Check out our story on the capability of the Ski-Doo Summit SP 600R here.

Ski-Doo Summit SP 600R