The pull start vs. electric start debate is one of the biggest arguments in the snowmobiling world. Many riders say that an electric start is a must-have on any sleds, as it makes the starts much easier. On the other hand, others argue, claiming that an electric start means more costs, weight, and complexity to the machine.
If you want to compare the pros and cons of these systems head-to-head, this post is for you.
We at PowerSportsGuide have compiled the key factors to consider under one roof!
Snowmobile Pull-Start vs. Electric Start Comparison
If you are hesitating between an e-start and a pull-start snowmobile, there are five main factors to consider:
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and talk about these factors in detail!
There’s no question that the only, but significant advantage of having an electric start on a snowmobile is that it offers more convenient rides.
Let’s face it, pull-starting a snowmobile was never a comfortable task. But as snowmobile engines grew larger, it became more and more challenging to pull-start them. And the more energy you waste yanking the rope, the less you have left for the ride.
Therefore, it’s no coincidence that big-bore 4-stroke snowmobiles come exclusively with an electric start. (Surprisingly, some older 4-stroke sleds were offered with pull-starts. But these models featured a special decompression system, which is commonly used on 4-stroke dirt bikes.)
Besides 4-strokes, an e-start is also a nice addition to any 2-stroke sled, especially on the big-bore 850cc models.
Pull-starting these large engines can be exhausting, especially in the mornings when the engine is cold.
While trail riders are much less likely to restart their engines, mountain snowmobiles have to be restarted quite often.
Riding in deep snow is often tricky, and sleds are prone to rolling on the slopes and even getting stuck. This means mountain riders have to restart their sleds many times a day, often in deep snow and quite awkward positions.
As you might assume, it’s not easy to pull start a sled in these situations!
This is where the e-start comes into play, allowing mountain riders to fire their engines up with a touch of a button.
Many mountain riders say that the convenience the e-start offers far exceeds the little extra weight.
It can be especially helpful after you’ve got your or someone else’s sled unstuck and you are exhausted. It’s nice if you can start your sled without any additional exertion!
It’s safe to say that the biggest counter-argument against the e-start systems is their weight. While it’s not a big deal on trail sleds, the extra weight is always a problem on their mountain-specific counterparts.
The heavier the sled, the easier it is to sink in powder. This is why mountain riders try to shave as much weight as possible off their machines!
While the weight of e-start systems was significant with regular batteries, the newest lithium batteries can virtually reduce the system’s weight by half.
And that’s not even mentioning the ultra-light Ski-Doo SHOT system, which weighs as little as 2 pounds!
For your convenience, we’ve compiled the weight of these different e-start systems into one chart:
|Type of the system||Weight (lbs.)|
|E-start with a regular battery||20-25|
|E-start with a lithium battery||8-12|
|Ski-Doo SHOT system||2|
If you’re a mountain rider, you should consider investing in a lightweight lithium battery to make your sled lighter. Also, the newest mountain Ski-Doos with the innovative SHOT system also deserve a serious look!
Another con of an e-start system is that it’s typically available at an extra cost. While some sleds come with an e-start as standard, this convenient feature is a factory option on many models.
However, it’s still cheaper if you order a snowmobile with an electric start from the factory, as separately sold e-start kits come with really hefty price tags.
Besides the obvious weight and cost increase, the e-start also makes the sled more complex. Just like many other systems, the electric start is just another feature that can go wrong.
But contrary to popular belief, if the electric start goes wrong, it won’t leave you stranded, as snowmobiles can be emergency-started by a pull rope wrapped around the clutch.
What’s more, don’t forget that pull-ropes may also break, typically at the worst time and place possible.
Keeping safety in mind, some riders have both systems on their sleds. Why not?
You can simply install a pull-start on your sled and leave it behind the side panel, even if it has an e-start system. It’s like having extra insurance on your sled, you never know when you will need it!
Except for the innovative Ski-Doo SHOT, every regular e-start system needs a battery, which requires maintenance for optimal performance.
And snowmobile batteries are prone to going wrong due to overlooked maintenance, especially during summer storage.
So which is better, a pull-start or an electric start? It seems there’s no clear winner here, as it comes down to personal preferences.
The primary and only advantage of an e-start is it makes starting the sled much more convenient. It’s awesome when you just press the button and go instead of having to pull the rope many times.
But at the same time, an e-start adds extra weight, costs, and complexity to the machine. On top of that, the battery also requires attention and periodical replacement.