Go Snowmobiling Double With A Passenger…
Whether you call it snowmobiling double, riding with a passenger or 2-up sledding, you’re referring to carrying two people on one snow machine. I’m talking about passengers 12 years or older here, because snowmobiling double with younger kids is different – and more important – than any other kind of riding you’ll do…
My first tip for snowmobiling double is to configure your snow machine to carry a passenger safely and legally. Typically, this means a “touring” model, factory built with a longer track and bigger seat to accommodate two snowmobilers, like the Ski Doo Grand Touring SE. It could also mean adding an aftermarket passenger seat to a trail or crossover model that comes from the factory designed primarily for a single rider. Two of the best are the LinQ 1+1 Seat System and Seat Jack. But every sled manufacturer offers its own passenger seat options.
Carrying a passenger aboard a snowmobile not purpose-built or properly adapted for it is both risky and dangerous. When riding with a passenger on your snowmobile, remember you have the responsibility of transporting a person entirely dependent upon your actions and abilities. Never take extra risks that will jeopardize your mutual safety. Certainly to avoid any grey area insurance-wise you want to be snowmobiling double properly if an incident occurs.
My next pointer is to find out what motorsports experience your passenger has. A person who has previously (and recently) operated or ridden a snowmobile, motorcycle, ATV or personal watercraft will be better prepared for snowmobiling double. He or she will be more familiar with the feel, balance and expectations of riding. This doesn’t mean any orientation, but it may not be as basic as what a novice requires.
It’s easy for experienced snowmobilers to forget what our first ride was like. But that’s the headspace of a total newbie. So you can’t take anything for granted. Do a thorough orientation. Select a proper size approved snowmobile helmet, layer properly and the warmest possible snowmobile clothing and gear.
Orientation must include everything from proposed ride length to riding tips. This advice includes the passenger keeping feet flat on the running boards at all times, firmly holding the handgrips, and leaning with you into turns. It also includes informing your passenger to stay seated to maintain the lowest center of gravity possible. By standing, a passenger can affect your ability to manoeuvre the snow machine. Also, warn the passenger not to extend arms or legs beyond the snowmobile, where they may collide with branches or bushes.
Frigid and Afraid
Most snowmobiling double occurs with some regularity among couples or family members. Passengers complain most often about being too cold or afraid of riding on the back. You can address the cold factor with proper windshield height, heated passenger handgrips with hand guards, really warm snowmobile gear like that from FXR and things like heated vests, gloves and boots.
The fear of snowmobiling double has two probable causes. One, the operator (you) isn’t exercising enough care and caution to inspire passenger confidence. And two, you haven’t set up your sled for proper control while snowmobiling double. Care and caution is up to you to work out with your passenger according to what makes them feel the most comfortable riding on the back. Setting your snowmobile properly for optimum 2-up riding control requires a few suspension adjustments.
Suspension Tweaks for Snowmobiling Double
Tweaking your suspension is necessary because all the extra weight of the passenger concentrates at the back of your snow machine. This changes the center of gravity and affects your ability to steer the snowmobile. So whatever balance you may have achieved for solo riding is now out of whack. This can result in control issues for you when your previously dialled-in sled no longer behaves as you expect. It also results in passenger uncertainty and fear.
So the idea is to compensate for the added weight at the back. Is your steering too light or the ride too stiff for passenger comfort? Resolve this by increasing the cam setting on your rear torsion springs until the sled settles or ‘sags’ the same amount as it did with you riding solo. If carrying a rear passenger is going to be a common occurrence, most manufacturers will offer a heavier spring option for snowmobiling double. To help keep the front end more planted, try increasing the coupler blocks from 2 to 4. I’d also strongly recommend sharp carbides and good studs for better control.
Snowmobiling Double Benefits
Lots of riders really enjoy snowmobiling double. It’s less expensive than buying and maintaining two snow machines. For passengers who don’t drive, it’s a great way to participate and see the sights. Communication is easier between operator and passenger. And there’s something to be said for the physical contact that’s missing from riding solo. But the enjoyment starts with ride comfort and security. So thoroughly prep your snow machine and passenger before snowmobiling double.
Thanks to John Sharrard of Accelerated Technologies and Craig Irwin for their assistance with this post.
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The tips and advice in this blog are the opinions of the author, may not work in every situation and are intended only for the convenience and interest of the reader, who has the personal responsibility to confirm the validity, accuracy and relevancy of this information prior to putting it to their own use.