To have a frame of reference, we drove the snowmobile over 2,000 km using the standard settings. This allowed us to compare its performance after adjusting the settings. The driver was 170 cm tall and weighed about 95kg. This information is important because results could vary depending on the driver’s size…
Observations on standard settings
As we explained in the first article of the series, we noticed that the skis had a tendency to lift when cornering. The machine also slid a lot.
The standard rear suspension settings offered a very comfortable ride.
Suspension setting adjustments
The main reason we adjusted the settings was to keep the skis from lifting when cornering. Here is a list of the modifications we made:
We reduced the spring tension in the front suspension (skis). This is very easy to do. We just loosened the standard setting by 3 complete turns.
We increased the spring tension in the central shock absorber by tightening it by 3 turns. We also shortened the limiter straps by one notch (approximately 2 cm).
In the rear, we adjusted the suspension block from M (Medium) to S (Smooth).
Results after adjustments
We quickly noticed the impact of our adjustments. We virtually eliminated ski lift when cornering. And when the skis did leave the ground, it was only by about 2 or 3 centimeters, which is much less than with the standard settings.
When accelerating, weight transfer was accentuated, which reduced sliding a bit. But the weight fell back on the skis when decelerating, which improved control of the sled.
Finally, adjusting the suspension block delivered a more supple suspension that absorbed trail bumps even better. We hesitate recommend these settings for softer surfaces. Other tests will have to be done because no new snow fell for over a month during our tests.
The tests we have conducted so far clearly demonstrate that the RS-Vector is comfortable enough for long trips of up to 500 km. Most snowmobilers usually don’t go further than this. But how comfortable will the sled be on longer trips?
To accurately test the snowmobile’s comfort, our driver rode 725 km in one day. Very few people cover such distances in a single day so this is undoubtedly a great test of the sled’s comfort.
On this excursion, conditions varied greatly, and we came across a wide variety of trails. We started off on ice and moved onto a hard-packed trail. We then traveled off trail for a little over 100 km. After a break, we drove about 350 km on semi-hard trails in temperatures ranging from –2°C to –5°C. Trail conditions were similar on the return trip.
The snowmobile passed our comfort test with flying colors! The driver was just as comfortable at the end of the trip as he was at the start. Naturally, he felt some fatigue but said he was ready to try an even longer test (1,000 km in one day). We should be doing this test in early March!
We added a component in our tests to see what impact changing the driving position had on handling.
As expected, by moving a bit forward in the seat, we changed the center of gravity and improved cornering in tight turns. However, this position is a little less comfortable for long rides because it isn’t the RS-Vector’s “natural” driving position.
Maintenance after 5,000 km
At about 2,000 km, we noticed that steering became a little more difficult. The handlebars were harder to turn, which amplified the feeling that we were sliding. The dealer inspected the sled and found that a simple lube fixed the problem.
We also changed the carbide ski runners at 3,500 km. The original runners were completely worn. Considering the extremely severe conditions we experienced since the tests began (ice, bare earth, ice-packed trails), this was to be expected. We installed simple, aggressive carbide runners for precise handling on icy surfaces.
Also, the gauges fogged up occasionally, making it harder to read the speedometer and odometer. This can easily be fixed by at the dealership
Click image to enlarge
We now have more data on the 2005 RS-Vector’s fuel consumption, which we tested in a wide range of trail conditions. We are still very satisfied with the figures, because, regardless of the trail conditions or driving style, the sled always delivered excellent fuel economy compared to the other models on the market.
So far, fuel consumption has ranged from 18 MPG to 23.5 MPG, depending on driving conditions. At no time after the breaking-in phase did we change our driving style to improve fuel economy.
The next article in the series will look at the engine, clutch, and overall driving experience.