The 17 best ways to make a snowmobile lighter are as follows:
- Remove the E-start
- Remove the mechanical reverse
- Replace/lighten the seat
- Use plastic skis
- Modify/replace the exhaust system
- Port or replace the track
- Install a belt drive
- Replace the gas tank
- Install custom running boards
- Invest in carbon fiber panels and hood
- Invest in a carbon fiber chassis
- Upgrade your suspensions and arms
- Consider a big wheel kit and aftermarket sliders
- Install a lighter brake
- Shave some weight from the smaller parts (lights, bolts, etc.)
- Don’t carry unnecessary equipment
- Lose some bodyweight
If you want to find out more about these methods, you’ve come to the right place. We at PowerSportsGuide have compiled the best tricks on how to lighten your sled!
How to Make a Snowmobile Lighter?
1. Get Rid Of the E-Start
There’s no question that one of the most common ways to make a snowmobile lighter is by eliminating the electric start. The e-start on a sled weighs about 20-25 pounds with a regular battery, so replacing it with a pull-start seems like a good idea.
If you insist on having the e-start on your sled, you should consider a lithium snowmobile battery, as these batteries weigh as little as 2-4 pounds!
2. Remove the Mechanical Reverse
Another system that adds noticeable extra pounds to your sled is the mechanical reverse. So, if you have an older sled with a mechanical reverse, you should consider removing it.
Unfortunately, not having a reverse gear can be a drawback in many situations, so the decision often comes down to personal preference.
3. How to Make a Snowmobile Seat Lighter
Another great way to lighten your sled is if you shave some weight off its seat. How do you do this?
As a rule of thumb, there are two common ways to make a snowmobile seat lighter. The budget solution is to cut some foam from the seat and replace it with Styrofoam. But if you are not on a budget, you may want to invest in a lightweight aftermarket snowmobile seat.
Older sleds especially feature unnecessarily large seats, which are often full of water. As you might assume, this water makes them very heavy!
What’s more, there also is usually a large plastic under the seat, which results in a lot of extra weight. If you have the skills and tools, you can modify your stock seat to make it lighter.
Let’s face it, not everyone is a DIY person. If you are looking for something off-the-shelf, you should look at aftermarket mountain snowmobile seats.
These seats typically sit on a frame to make the entire unit lighter. Another advantage of this design is that it offers a taller seating position and storage space under the seat.
Extra lightweight snowmobile seats like BOSS or SKINZ are not cheap, but they can reduce the weight of your sled by 5-10 pounds!
4. Make Your Snowmobile Lighter with Plastic Skis
If you have an old sled with heavy metal skis, it makes sense to replace them with lighter plastic skis.
They are not only lighter than their metal counterparts but they also have deeper keels, offer better floatation, and create much less drag in turns.
On top of that, they last longer as they aren’t prone to deforming and bending like metal skis.
5. Lightweight Snowmobile Exhaust Systems
Replacing the exhaust system can also help to lighten your sled. Lightweight aftermarket exhaust pipes and silencers offer a weight savings of 10-20 pounds and can add a lot of extra horsepower to your engine as well.
On top of that, the sound of a well-tuned aftermarket snowmobile exhaust is music to the ears!
Mainly the price tags, as compared to other modifications replacing the exhaust can be very pricey.
6. Lighten Your Snowmobile’s Track
Generally speaking, there are three common ways to save some weight on the track of your sled:
- Port your stock track
- Invest in a lighter track
- Consider a shorter track
Porting a snowmobile track means drilling holes onto the track’s surface, resulting in 4-6-pound weight savings.
This process not only lightens your track but as a hidden benefit, it helps the skid get rid of the accumulated snow, resulting in further weight loss.
Although poring the track is common among mountain riders, not every rider agrees with this solution. Therefore, if you are considering porting your track, it’s recommended that you consult with a professional before you cut the first hole!
Instead of porting, your other option is to invest in a lightweight snowmobile track. The lighter the track, the easier you can handle your sled in powder. Also, a lighter track ensures better acceleration and deceleration as well.
But while porting doesn’t cost anything, new tracks always come with hefty price tags.
If you are considering replacing your track, you can also purchase a shorter track, which is lighter and makes your sled more nimble.
On the other hand, the smaller footprint results in less traction and floatation. Again, it comes down to personal preference!
7. Install a Belt Drive
Another lesser-known trick to make a snowmobile lighter is replacing the chain drive with a belt drive. Unfortunately, the chain drive adds a lot of weight to the sled as the chaincase is filled with heavy oil.
Therefore, installing a belt drive on your snowmobile can save you up to 6-8 pounds! As a hidden benefit, you also don’t have to change the oil in the chaincase anymore, which leads to cheaper and easier maintenance.
On top of that, a belt drive means less rotating mass, so it spools up much faster than a regular chain drive. Therefore, it delivers more usable power to you!
8. Lightweight Snowmobile Gas Tank
If you want to drop some extra pounds, you should consider an aftermarket fuel tank.
Lightweight snowmobile fuel tanks can be made of both special composite plastic or carbon fiber.
Typical weight savings are about 7-10 pounds, while many have 1-3 gallons more capacity over stock tanks.
Also, carbon fiber snowmobile tanks look awesome and are much stronger than their plastic counterparts.
It also has to be mentioned that a fuel tank swap causes a weight saving towards the front of the machine, which ensures a better riding experience.
9. Replace the Running Boards
Let’s face it, factory running boards are often far from ideal. They can easily accumulate snow and ice buildups, which result in a lot of extra weight.
This is where aftermarket running boards come into play. They are lighter than their stock counterparts, and thanks to their design, the snow can easily fall through them.
At the same time, these custom running boards are really wide and offer excellent traction for your boots.
10. Consider a Lightweight Hood and Panels
Another great way to lighten your sled is to replace the hood and the side panels with lightweight aftermarket units.
For example, the hood on old sleds with instrument clusters and gauges can weigh about 25-35 pounds. By replacing a heavy hood, you can shave a remarkable 10-20 pounds directly off the front of the sled!
Besides the hood, you may want to replace the side panels, the belly pan, and other smaller units as well. The most stylish and lightest snowmobile hoods and panels are made of carbon fiber, so they can give your sled a personal look.
But it’s also good to know that these units are pretty flimsy, so mounting an airbox or headlight on them is usually hard to impossible.
If you are considering fabricating your hood and panels, don’t forget to cut some vents into them, which must be covered with a mesh material.
If your snowmobile has a lot of openings, they allow a lot of snow to accumulate inside the machine. And these snow and ice buildups can add significant weight to your sled!
To avoid this, try to seal up the nose of your sled as much as possible.
11. Carbon Fiber Snowmobile Chassis
Just like the panels, the entire chassis of a sled can be built of carbon fiber. Besides its weight, another key advantage of carbon fiber is that it doesn’t fatigue like aluminum.
However, carbon fiber snowmobile chassis are incredibly expensive, so they appear rarely in the marketplace. Another drawback is that this material shatters instead of bends, making it less attractive for the average rider.
12. Lightweight Snowmobile Suspensions and Arms
Just like other major parts, the suspensions of snowmobiles are also really heavy. The general rule is that a stock snowmobile skid weighs about 50-70 pounds! In contrast, the weight of aftermarket skids ranges from 25 up to 45 pounds.
You can also cut off a couple of extra pounds by investing in carbon fiber A-arms and aftermarket shocks. For instance, Fox Float shocks are about 6 pounds lighter than stock units.
13. Big Wheel Kit and Sliders
You can make the skid even lighter by installing a big wheel kit and aftermarket sliders on it. At first glance, big wheels seem heavier than stock idler wheels, but surprisingly the exact opposite is true.
Big idler wheels are made of aluminum so that they can be lighter than stock wheels despite their larger dimensions. However, the main idea behind big wheel kits is to reduce the track’s rolling resistance, which can rob some engine power.
Another great way to shave some weight off your sled is to install an aftermarket slider. They are typically made of unique materials, so they have a much higher melting point.
This feature allows you to bolt off the inner wheels from the skid. As a result, you can expect a weight savings of 4-8 pounds while the new setup provides more slider wear.
14. Lighten a Snowmobile Brake
When it comes to making a snowmobile lighter, the brake system is often overlooked. An aftermarket brake disk swap can lighten the sled up to 2 pounds, not to mention the lightweight brake hubs, calipers, mounting hardware, and titanium bolts.
Many aftermarket part manufacturers (like Brembo) offer complete brake systems for snowmobiles. They not only shave a couple of pounds but run cooler and deliver a better performance.
The lighter disk also means less rotating weight, which translates to a slightly better throttle response.
15. Remove/Replace Smaller Parts
You can also lighten your sled by replacing/removing some smaller parts.
If you don’t ride on trails, you can consider removing the lights and their wiring. You can also replace some smaller parts like brake and throttle levers, bolts, or handlebars with lighter units.
Unfortunately, these tiny parts are pretty expensive compared to how much weight they can save for you. For example, installing a titanium bolt kit on your sled can shave off about 3 pounds of weight while it costs hundreds of dollars.
16. Have the Right Accessories
Let’s face it, snowmobile riders are prone to carrying everything but the kitchen sink on their sleds.
If you are looking for the easiest way to make your sled lighter, make sure you only carry the really essential equipment.
If you use a lot of fuel, creating a “fuel depot” somewhere near where you ride also makes sense. This means you have to carry the extra fuel on your tunnel or in a sleigh behind you and take it off when you arrive at your spot.
This way, you can run your sled with only a half tank of fuel as you can return to your depot to refuel anytime.
This trick allows you to save about 20-25 pounds on a half tank of fuel, and you also don’t have to carry another heavy jerry can with you if you need extra fuel.
17. Lose Some Body Weight
Riders spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars trying to make their snowmobiles lighter, while it would be much cheaper and beneficial to lose some bodyweight instead.
This simple method is not very popular, although it has many advantages!
Besides the weight savings, if you get in better shape, you will have more energy for your rides and won’t be as tired at the end of the day. Eventually, it would lead to a better overall riding experience!
Here’s a great tutorial on how to get in shape before the next season:
Consider a Lighter Sled
To the regret of many mountain riders, aftermarket snowmobile parts are often quite expensive. With the above, you could easily shave about 80-120 pounds off your sled, but be prepared to spend several thousands of dollars.
Because of this, often, the most economical way to get a lighter sled is investing in a newer and more lightweight model. Let’s face it, it probably makes no sense to spend thousands of dollars on an old sled just to shave off some weight.
There are many advantages to making your sled lighter, but the most important of these are as follows:
- Better power-to-weight ratio
- Higher top speed
- Better acceleration/deceleration
- Easier handling in powder
- Easier to dig out if you get stuck
- Better hill climbing abilities
- Easier to load/unload your sled on the trailer/sled deck
- More fun!
There are countless ways to make your sled lighter. The most common methods include removing parts like the electric start or mechanical reverse.
You can also shave a lot of weight by swapping your seat, exhaust system, panels, or other features out with lightweight aftermarket units.
Whatever part you replace, make sure not to remove key features and never sacrifice the reliability of your sled. Safety is always the most important factor on a sled, especially if you ride off-trail!
Disclaimer: Before you do any modification on your snowmobile, make sure it’s legal in your state or province. If you don’t have the required skills and tools for these modifications, best practice is to leave it to a professional.