There are multiple factors that can determine how your snowmobile will handle. The one that you might change the most often is your sled’s traction. Choosing the right carbides is a crucial component of setting up your sled’s traction correctly. Choose the wrong ones and you will be in for a not so pleasant ride and run the risk of getting in an accident. Getting the right wear bars goes beyond choosing the right brand. Different sleds and riders will require varying lengths of carbides with different degree cutting angles.
A common misconception about snowmobile carbides is that longer is always better. This, however, is absolutely not the case. When the length of the carbide is too long, the snowmobile skis will tend to dig in more than it should while you are cornering. This can cause the back end of the sled to break free and come around too quickly. For the average rider with a short track, a 4” carbide is all that is needed. A sharp set of 4” carbides will generally handle a sled with a 121” in track with 96 or less studs or up to 1” lugs on the track ridden at moderate speeds through the corners. For most trail riders, the 4″ will most likely be the best all around carbide.
When more studs are added and/or the length of your track lugs increase, you will want to add longer carbides. With the added traction in the back and too short of carbides, the sled will tend to “push” through on the corners. The skis will not get enough bite to change the direction of the sled fast enough in a corner. A 6” carbide will usually be good for a sled that has a 136” track or shorter with 1 ¼” or less lugs on the track. A 121” track with more than 96 studs may also require a longer carbide length. A 6” carbide length is good for the intermediate riders who occasionally push their sleds to the limits.
When the sled is maxed out with studs, and/or has a 144” or longer track with paddles, an 8” or longer carbide is acceptable. Also, if the rider is more than 200 pounds and rides aggressively, an 8” or longer could be necessary. The harder that you ride your sled, the more carbide that you will need to get around the corners safely.
Another misconception about carbide length is that the longer the carbide, the longer it will last. This really is not true because the full length of the carbide is making contact no matter the overall length. A 4” will usually wear at the same rate as an 8” or even 10” carbide. To get a wear bar that will last longer, you will want to find one with a larger diameter host bar.
The degree that the carbide is cut is also important to the longevity. A 60 degree cut will give you more bite when the carbides are new, but because more of the weight is focused on the point, it will wear out faster. A 90 degree carbide will not give you as much bite when new, but will last much longer and give you the best traction in the long run. A 60 degree carbide should really only be used in race conditions where the sled is being pushed to the limits over a short period of time.
Darting is an issue that a lot of snowmobilers face. Longer carbides can sometimes solve this issue, but it usually is not the correct solution. Brands like Woody’s and Stud Boy have developed wear bars that have two rows of carbide per wear bar. The theory is that these wear rods will carve out their own paths instead of diving into a singular path that was already created, which can cause darting. Darting is not always caused by the carbides, though. Your ski pressure and ski alignment can be adjusted to help solve darting as well.
These, of course, are just general guidelines to follow to find the right carbides. Applications will vary due to size of the rider, the aggressiveness of the rider, the snowmobile’s setup (number of studs, track and lug length, and ski pressure) and type of terrain that you will be riding on. For more information and recommendations, you can contact Dennis Kirk’s Tech team at email@example.com.