During a snowmobile trip last Spring, I had a silly incident. The trails were very icy. I had started to brake before crossing a metal bridge, but I started to skid sideways on the ice. This caused the left skid of my snowmobile to hit sideways before going over the ramp. This ramp was two inches higher than the snow, so it was a good hit. Unfortunately, this blow was strong enough to weaken one of my suspension arms, which broke a few miles down the road.
A few days later, I received a call from Denis of SledMagazine.ca who offered to try a custom suspension from Qualipièces for my snowmobile, which I gladly accepted. Here is a summary of the installation and my test ride.
Installation & Testing of X-treme-36-4-BL Suspension Tables B-PWR
My personal snowmobile is a 2019 Polaris SwitchBack Assault with the Axys platform. Initially, I thought I would be sent the 39-inch suspension. To my surprise, I received the full X-treme-36-4-BL kit, a 36-inch-wide suspension. I was happy because I had in mind to experience a little more off-road riding in the upcoming season.
My main concern was not the width of the suspension at all, knowing that I can always reinstall the stock suspension. My main concern was that I might need to make some custom modifications to install the whole thing and that it would be difficult to go back. So, I will download and print the manual and begin the installation.
X-treme-36-4-BL Suspension Installation
I must first say that I am a beginner and far from a mechanic, but I do enjoy learning and servicing my machines when I have the time to do so. I must say that this installation was relatively simple. In short, my biggest complexity was not doing the suspension installation. I wasted a lot of time undoing a nut in the middle of the ski leg that was literally seized.
After the installation, it is important to note that no modifications were required and that I had all the parts in hand. I had taken pictures with the intention of showing you the installation step by step. In the end, my photos were not very good because I did the work outside and was working in the sun. Also, I found that the B-PWR manual explained the sequence of work perfectly with plenty of pictures.
My test of the X-treme-36-4-BL suspension from B-PWR.
Prior to my Experiment
First of all, I have to mention that the nose of the snowmobile, as well as the whole suspension, is higher than the original one and much more arched. The shocks are also much straighter than on the original suspension. I don’t have the exact measurements, but my guess is that the ground clearance would be about one to two inches higher than the original.
First observation, I am able to lean the snowmobile on its side on a flat surface with great ease and without effort. Not that I couldn’t do it with my original snowmobile and suspension. But rather to do it with ease, without really making any physical effort on my part.
On the Trail
In everyday life, I mostly ride on trails. My first impressions are that I notice a strong difference compared to the original suspension when I test it on the trails. I have to slow down a lot more than before to take the curves. However, the situation is not as bad as I had initially anticipated. Also, the snowmobile is not as sloped as I had imagined it to be from the start before, I tested it. It was not so demanding that I rode over 600 km on my first weekend of the winter. It’s true that the snowmobile is not always as stable as with the original skis and that the skates lift a lot more, but that’s quite normal.
To sum up, after a few more rides, I can mention that I really don’t intend to reinstall my original suspension for the moment. At least, it won’t be this year. In short, I easily accept the compromise on the track for the benefits this suspension will bring off the trail. Obviously, this suspension is quite extreme and not necessarily made for everyone. I thought at first that I would not be able to keep up with other people on the trails. This is not the case and I can easily ride at normal speed without problems.
In my off-road testing, this is where the suspension really stands out. First of all, I find it easier for me to control the snowmobile from left to right and steer it where I want. The width of the skis and the ground clearance really help, it’s even more efficient when you’re riding in the woods and you have to pass between trees. It also helps to keep the snowmobile on the side of the slopes.
Previously, when I was stuck, I had a lot of difficulties unhooking my snowmobile when it was stuck on its side. Now, it is easier to untangle me, that is to say, to stir the snowmobile from left to right by pressing on the gas pedal. In short, everything is better in deep snow with less effort. I could not say that my snowmobile literally became a mountain snowmobile with this modification. However, it is acceptable to say that the snowmobile now has more of a 60/40 hybrid behavior instead of 50/50 with the original suspension.
In closing, I really liked this suspension. If I had to install a non-original suspension again, I would definitely opt for a B-PWR suspension. Its structure makes it much stronger than the stock suspension, which is great especially off-road. I liked this extreme suspension to the point that if it happened to me again, I would probably take the same route.
I am not at all ready to say that I have become an off-road snowmobile fanatic because of this. However, I do allow myself to venture out a little further to places I wouldn’t have gone before. Still, I prefer to see more of the country than to go to the trouble of covering only a few kilometres in a day. A big thank you to Qualipièces and SledMagazine.ca for this test.