Blade snowmobiles are among the most innovative sleds in the marketplace. These amazing machines are designed and marketed by the Minnesota-based FAST Inc. The boutique manufacturer introduced its first sled in 1998, known as the FAST Blade. Although mass-production was stopped in 2004, the company still offers custom-built sleds on request. If you are looking for a Blade snowmobile for sale, or just want to learn more about their history, you are in the right place.
We at PowerSportsGuide have compiled all the key info about these legendary machines into this post!
Blade Snowmobile History
The history of Blade snowmobiles starts in the 1970s when the Karpik brothers decided to revolutionize the snowmobile industry.
The brothers (Gerard, David, and Randy) grew up in a little town in Minnesota. Situated close to the Canadian border, the area was rich in snow and crowded with sleds.
The brothers basically grew up on sleds so it’s not surprising that they ended up in the world of snowmobile racing.
They were among the world’s best snowmobile racers but the most successful of them was arguably Gerard “King” Karpik.
Relying on their racing reputation and experience, the brothers founded FAST Inc. (now known as TeamFAST) in Eveleth, MN. Their main goal was to design and build innovative snowmobile suspensions that offered excellent ride quality and handling. And they did a really great job!
The team focused on the product rather than profit and as a result of their effort the M-10 suspension was born in 1993. This unique system was far ahead of its time and fundamentally changed the design of snowmobile suspensions.
The legendary M-10 was a long-travel rear suspension system that utilized a revolutionary technology, known as “coupling.”
The M-10 quickly became popular, and more and more sleds appeared with this suspension. As expected, market leader manufacturers also started redesigning their suspension systems inspired by Karpiks’ new product.
The FAST Blade is Born
Besides this suspension system, the brothers had some other innovative ideas. However, they hesitated to come up with them, believing that the major manufacturers would quickly borrow these new ideas as well.
To avoid this, in the mid-‘90s FAST Inc. contacted each of the market-leading manufacturers to directly offer their products and services. Unfortunately, these efforts were unsuccessful as the “Big Four” [Yamaha, Polaris, Ski-Doo, Arctic Cat] were not interested in this opportunity.
Because of this, the Karpik brothers decided to develop an entire snowmobile. They wanted to bring their dreams to life and the only way to do that was to build their own sled from scratch.
Their main goal was to design an agile machine that would be lively but still easy to ride.
The all-new FAST Blade debuted in 1998 at the Haydays grass drags in Minnesota. Thanks to the spirit of the Karpiks’ team, the Blade featured many innovative patented systems and ideas. According to SnowGoer, the key features of this machine were as follows:
- Boxed (full-perimeter) chassis
- M-10 rear suspension system
- “Double wishbone” (SLA) front suspension
- Special driveline (without a chaincase and jackshaft!)
- “Comp-link” stabilizer
- Driveshaft-mounted brake
- Forward and higher riding position
- Less than 400-pound dry weight
- Polaris 700cc twin engine
- Lower and reverse engine position
The new engine layout had proven a game-changer in weight distribution.
At that time, each manufacturer made a lot of effort to improve the stability of their sleds. To do this, they moved the engines down to lower the center of gravity.
But as a side effect, these low engine designs typically increased the overall length of the sleds. It was undesirable as this moved the heavy engine towards the front of the machine.
To eliminate this problem, the FAST team began thinking about what happens if they turn the engine by 180 degrees?
Finally, they simply fitted the engine in a reversed position, which caused the carburetors to face forward.
This revolutionary engine layout had many benefits, but the most significant one was arguably mass centralization. Simply put, it meant that the engine weight was moved closer to the rider.
Today it doesn’t seem like a huge invention but at that time mass centralization was a revolutionary idea.
The first FAST Blade was powered by a 700cc Polaris twin, while the handlebars were also provided by Polaris.
Later models were available with 600 and 800cc 2-stroke, as well as unique 4-stroke V-twin engines.
The peak of FAST Blade snowmobiles was the 2002-2003 season when the company produced 240 units. Unlike other boutique snowmobile manufacturers, FAST always did the same testing and certifications as the market leader brands!
But let’s face it, unlike the big players in the industry the small FAST Inc. was always on a budget, and in 2004 they ran into financial problems.
That year the manufacturer already employed 50 people, but it quickly dropped to six when things started to go in the wrong direction.
Although the mass-production of FAST snowmobiles had been stopped in 2004, the company still offers custom-built machines!
Blade Snowmobile Models
Without claiming completeness, the most well-known production Blade snowmobiles were as follows:
- 1998 FAST Blade 700
- 2002 FAST Blade Striker 700
- 2002 FAST Blade Striker 800
- 2002 FAST Blade 1-WX 600
- 2002 FAST Blade 1-WX 700
- 2002 FAST Blade 1-WX 800
- 2003 FAST Blade OutLaw
Vintage Blade Snowmobiles for Sale
To the greatest regret of many fans, vintage Blade snowmobiles are very rare on the used market. This is because they typically land in museums and private collections!
If you are in the market for a Blade sled, it’s recommended that you start your research at the major online classified ad sites.
With a bit of luck, you may find a Blade snowmobile for sale on Craigslist, eBay, Snowmobiletrader.com, or other dedicated snowmobile classified websites.
Also, you may want to visit some Blade snowmobile forums and FB groups. On these sites, you can find a ton of great info about these iconic sleds, along with some potential deals.
If you can’t locate one don’t worry, as custom Blade snowmobiles are still available directly from the manufacturer.
However, if you’re considering buying a new Blade sled, be prepared for a hefty price tag!
Blade snowmobiles are manufactured by the Minnesota-based FAST Inc. The company was founded by the legendary Karpik brothers in the ‘70s to design an innovative rear suspension system.
The first FAST Blade snowmobile was introduced in 1998, which was followed by many other models throughout the years.
These legendary sleds were in mass-production from 1998 through 2004, but the company still offers custom-built sleds on request.