Time to rally! We’ll, not quite… Snowmobiles can ride pavement better than most people realize. But without a wheel kit on your skis your sled will steer like a barge. Worse, riding pavement will flatten the skegs (AKA carbides) under the skis, and without those your steering on snow will be as bad as on pavement.
If you live and snowmobile in a place where you never have to ride without snow, then good for you. Here in Colorado we get to do plenty of dry running, especially in the spring on roads such as Maroon Creek for access to the Elk Mountains. Thus, a wheel kit comes in handy.
Last spring I got a wheel kit from Sure Grip. Their dollies worked well for short jaunts from garage to trailer, but on rougher ground they tended to flip up sideways off the skis, and the system of cables holding them wore into our aluminum suspension components, and were too slack to secure the dolly from sliding forward and backward in a way that let the ski tilt to the ground and catch on things. So I welded an extension on each side of the dollies so the ski slot is taller, then rigged it so the assembly is held by a rubber sleeved rod that inserts through the suspension component. It takes a couple more minutes longer to install our modified dollies, but they’re solid and reliable on rougher ground.
We’re still using the solid rubber wheels of the Sure Grip, which are not rated for long distance or speeds over 5mph, but they seem to hold up fine if we keep things mellow. Even so, I could see upgrading this system with better wheels and bearings. Or building something from scratch.
Meanwhile, it snowed last night here in Carbondale, and the high country looks caked. Off we go!
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.