The majority of snowmobiles are still manufactured without power steering, except for some Yamaha and Arctic Cat trail sleds. However, the good news is that aftermarket power steering kits are available from various manufacturers.
If you want to find out more about power steering systems in snowmobiles, you’ve come to the right place.
We at PowerSportsGuide have compiled all you need to know into this post!
Do Any Snowmobiles Have Power Steering?
Although this technology has been available on ATVs since 2007, power steering only appeared on snowmobiles in the 2011 model year.
The first snowmobile with power steering was the 2011 Yamaha Apex, which got a lot of media attention, making it instantly popular in the marketplace.
Although the Apex has already been discontinued, the Japanese manufacturer still offers sleds with this addition.
Therefore, the currently available snowmobiles with power steering are specific models belonging to the famous Yamaha Sidewinder family. What’s more, thanks to cooperation between the two companies, some Arctic Cat snowmobiles are also available with this nice addition.
When it comes to other manufacturers, it seems they are still sticking to manual steering on their sleds.
But do you really need power steering on a snowmobile? Keep reading to find out the answer!
Do Snowmobiles Really Need Power Steering?
Many say that the only reason why Yamaha (and Arctic Cat) use power steering is that their sleds are so heavy.
Even though power steering adds extra weight to the machine, it surprisingly makes the vehicle feel lighter. Since Yamaha snowmobiles are often criticized for their weight, the manufacturer makes every effort to build its machines so they’re easier to use.
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and compare the pros and cons of snowmobile power steering head-to-head!
Pros and Cons of Snowmobile Power Steering
- It makes the vehicle feel lighter
- Results in less rider fatigue, especially on long rides
- Easier handling for senior/disabled riders
- Higher resale value on the sled
- Increase in weight
- It makes the sled more complex (higher chance of malfunctions)
- Extra cost
- Increases the stress on the steering components
Experts agree that the key advantage of having power steering on a snowmobile is that it helps reduce rider fatigue. This comes in handy, especially if you want to ride hundreds of miles on twisty trails!
Let’s face it, it’s not the ‘70s anymore when a great snowmobile tour was about 20-30 miles. Today snowmobiles commonly run 200-300 miles a day on longer tours, resulting in a lot of fatigue. Therefore, anything that makes these long rides easier comes in handy.
This is where power steering comes into play. Since it makes handling much easier, you have to exert significantly less effort when steering.
As stated by SuperTraxMag, besides the easier steering, another key advantage of a snowmobile EPS system is that it improves the machine’s reaction to negative input from the trail. Finally, it leads to a more stable feeling of a lower center of gravity.
You also feel a lot less twitching when the skis hit something, which ensures smoother riders.
On top of that, Yamaha’s snowmobile EPS (electronic power steering) features a variable ratio, meaning that you can expect more steering effort as you increase your speed. Therefore, you get more predictable handling at any speed.
Sure, there are riders who don’t prefer power steering. They simply like the exercise and having sore muscles the following morning. They often say that other riders should adjust their suspensions and hit the gym instead of installing power steering.
But let’s face it, snowmobiling is not only for young people. Considering the fact that the average snowmobiler is 45 years old, there are many senior riders out there.
Some of these people already have poor joints and muscles, not to mention riders with disabilities. Power steering can make riding for these people more accessible and keep them in the sport.
Because of this, it would be nice if power steering was available on all snowmobiles at least as an option. We’re guessing that many riders would pay extra for it.
On the other hand, don’t forget that power steering adds weight, cost, and complexity to the sled.
Can You Add Power Steering to a Snowmobile?
Yes, the good news is that it’s possible to install an aftermarket power steering kit on many snowmobile models. What’s more, you can choose between electric or mechanical power steering kits based on your needs! Drawbacks? The price tags on many of these kits range from $300-$2,000 depending on the make and the model.
Let’s move on and take a look at the best snowmobile power steering kits available!
Mechanical Power Steering Kits for Snowmobiles
The cheapest way to add power steering to a snowmobile is to invest in an MPS (mechanical power steering) kit. As the name suggests, this solution uses mechanical force to reduce the effort on the handlebars. One of the best snowmobile MPS kits is manufactured by Barn of Parts (BOP) Sled Salvage LLC. This “bolt-on” kit fits on Yamaha Sidewinder and Viper models and is designed to cut the steering effort up to 40 percent.
Electric Power Steering Kits for Snowmobile
Aftermarket snowmobile EPS (electric power steering) kits are much more pricey than their mechanical counterparts. One of the most well-known snowmobile EPS kit manufacturers is GSE Performance, which offers kits for specific Yamaha and Arctic Cat snowmobiles.
How Much Weight Does a Power Steering Kit Add to a Snowmobile?
The general rule is that a power steering kit adds about 13-15 pounds to a snowmobile. These kits typically weigh about 20 pounds, but in most cases, some parts have to be removed from the vehicle during the installation process. Therefore, the increase in overall weight is not significant.
Takeaways – FAQs About Snowmobile PS
Do all new snowmobiles have power steering?
No, except for some Yamaha and Arctic Cat models, most snowmobiles still come without power steering.
Which Yamaha snowmobiles have power steering?
Yamaha currently offers power steering for specific models of their Sidewinder family. Regarding older models, this feature was available on many different Yamaha sleds, such as:
- Apex SE
- Apex X-TX
- RS Vector
- RS Vector L-TX
- RS Venture GT
- RS Venture TF
In what year did Yamaha Apex have power steering?
Yamaha introduced its snowmobile power steering system on the 2011 Yamaha Apex.