Choosing a Track
There are several factors involved in choosing a track:
A longer machine tends to glide over the tops of the bumps and
floats more on powder snow. However, if the track is
too long it will be hard to steer in tight places and takes more
power to turn the track.
Short tracks are better for hard trails and sharp corners, as
in racing. If the track is too short, the machine will get stuck
in soft snow. A short machine tends to give a jerky ride because
it goes in and out of all the bumps.
If the track is too narrow, the machine will be tippy. If it is
too wide, it will be hard to steer and require a lot of power to
drive it. It will also be too wide for the driver to straddle.
If the track is too thin, it will tear. If it is too thick it
will take too much power to drive it, especially in cold weather
when everything is stiff. Wise operators elevate the rear of the
machine and spin the track for a short time before traveling. This
loosens the track and prevents burning the belt on cold starts.
The surface of the track is very important. If a track is too
smooth, there isnt enough friction with the surface of the
snow, and it will spin out. If the track is too rough, like a machine
with racing cleats, it will dig down and get stuck in powder snow.
Mountain climbing machines have one- to three-inch paddles on their
tracks that allow them to go uphill almost verticle in deep powder
tracks have steel cleats across the width. They can pull large loads
on hard trails without spinning out. Unfortunately, cleated tracks
can slide sideways. A young man went sideways off a windswept mountain
top with a brand new machine. He lived, but the machine was destroyed.
Racing machines often have stars bolted on the track surface.
They resist spinning out and they dont slide sideways.
Basically, if the track is too large, it takes a lot of power
to drive it. If it is too small, the machine sinks in powder snow,
or it spins out when pulling a load because there isnt enough
surface area in contact with the snow.
There is no perfect track, since one is good for one condition
and not good for another. The main things to consider are the surface
area, how much flotation and contact are needed, and how much friction
is needed. The use of the machine will determine which track to