CLUB MEETING TO BE HELD
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2020 @ 7:30 PM
PLEASE NOTE LOCATION & RULES OF MEETING BELOW!
Welcome to the Official web site of the Franklinville Snowmobile Club! Please browse our site to learn more about our Club and our volunteers. Our Club meets on the first Thursday of each month beginning in September and ending in April.
Due to the current COVID-19 situation, our meetings will be held at our Club Shop located at 22 Pennsylvania Avenue in Franklinville. All of those attending must wear a face mask and practice social distancing. Thank you for your cooperation!
Pizza and wings will be available after the meeting!
It is never too early to get ready for the riding season!
RIDING GEAR PRIMER
Snowmobile riding gear has advanced a lot and is partially responsible for the look of the latest snowmobiles. Without good riding gear we would still be stuck in the '70s. Winter sports gear and snowmobile gear are not the same. Sport gear is good to about 20 degrees at 20 miles per hour. The best riding conditions in this area occur at about 10 degrees and you will seldom find yourself going as slow as 20 miles per hour. It is not unusual to come back on a night ride at -15 degrees at 60 miles per hour. Buy snowmobile specific riding gear!
You can purchase your riding gear from many sources and at a large range of prices. Generally speaking, the snowmobile manufacturer's gear will be top quality and the most expensive. If you aren't into looking like a rolling billboard or want to save some cash, look to the aftermarket. Not surprisingly the sled makers gear is actually made under contract by an aftermarket supplier.
In the aftermarket world, the cost doesn't reflect quality as much as appearance. The ratio of color to basic black is up to the buyer’s budget. Most manufacturers offer all black for those who want simplicity. Basic colors like Arctic Cat Green, Polaris Red, Ski-Doo Yellow and Yamaha Blue, are available for those who are brand loyal but not flamingly so. A variety of colors that closely match the sled colors available for each year and pink for the ladies. And finally, totally tasteless wild colors and graphics for those who want to be noticed and different types of camouflage for those who don't.
When comparing products, it is important to compare apples to apples when it comes to quality. An easy measure of quality is the weight of the material. The higher the number the more durable the material, 400 denier seems to offer about the right mix of durability and flexibility.
Choko is a very popular supplier because even their basic gear has all the latest tech in wind and water proofing. They save cost to the consumer by being among the plainest and even their colored varieties are mostly black. The only problem with their product is a lack of pockets. Others in the same price range (Coldwave, Castle, etc.) are harder to find which makes it harder to test fit before buying. Less expensive manufacturers (Duratrak, Mossi, Himilian, etc.) do not supply anywhere near the protection or durability in their standard offerings forcing the consumer to move up line and up price to get their good stuff. More expensive manufactures (HJC, HMK, CKX, etc) don't offer any real advantages other than a bigger selection and some pretty wild color and trim material combinations. The ultra-expensive stuff (FXR, Klim, etc.) is usually so because they are constructed of more expensive materials like Gore-Tex or leather. Contrary to popular belief, leather is no warmer, dryer or more durable than the new man-made materials.
No matter where or from whom you purchase your riding gear, the requirements are the same. The shell needs to be abrasion resistant and wind proof. The insert needs to be waterproof in critical areas (butt, knees and shoulders). The insulation needs to … well … insulate and not bunch up at the joints. The liner needs to make getting dressed as easy as possible and wick perspiration away from the rider. The clothing worn under the outer garments needs to be comfortable, unrestrictive and also perspiration wicking. Basically, buy the best gear you can afford. Package deals can be a big cost saver for the person who needs everything. Buying last year’s left over can be an even bigger cost savings.
One sticking point about buying snowmobile gear on line is that nearly all are manufactured outside of the United States. The rest of the world recently switched to "Unisex" sizing. In general, that means you need to try on recently manufactured apparel to get an idea of what size to order. In my case a medium jacket and bibs still fit, but boots have to be two sizes larger and gloves one size smaller than before.
What follows is a more in-depth look at the individual components that make up the required riding gear, starting at the bottom:
Because you must walk on snow and ice at some point to get to your snowmobile, your boots need to have a traction sole. The boot needs to fit sung enough to allow for easy walking but not be so tight it restricts air flow around the feet. Wear the socks you intend to use for riding when test fitting boots! The outer material needs to be waterproof from top to bottom. The fewer seams used in construction the better and any seams in the outer layer need to be sealed. The tongue needs to be sealed to the rest of the outer, not free floating. Ideally the boots should have removable liners to aid drying between rides. If you ride often, it is money well spent to have a second pair of liners. Ease of entry is another plus but not at the expense of weather proofing. Speed laces are better than eyelets. Clasps are better than laces. Zippers and Velcro are not the best fasteners as they can freeze shut or pop open depending on conditions. Well designed and proper fitting boots will keep your feet dry and warm without having to resort to electronic inserts or heating pads. Ugly is not a bad thing when it comes to boots. Besides, your bibs will likely cover most of the boot anyway.
Keeping your feet dry is the secret to keeping them warm. If a boot gets damaged or isn't as waterproof as it should be, a cheap and easy fix is to slip a plastic shopping bag over your socks before putting on the boot. Leave the top of the boot a little looser than normal to help vent perspiration vapor trapped by the bag.
For this item it is not necessary to look for something snowmobile specific. The material needs to be something that wicks perspiration away and will keep your feet warm if it becomes wet. Wool is good. But blends may be better if wool feels itchy. Applying clothing in layers aids retaining warmth and applies to socks and is a good way to get the benefits of wool without the itch. The socks should have a re-enforced toe because your foot will have a tendency to push forward in the boot when riding in a sporting manner. Socks should also be taller than normal, to just below the knee, to help keep cold air from seeping in at the top of the boot. If they go further up the leg, they also have less of a tendency to creep down while riding.
There are hundreds of designs of bibs but really only three kinds. Those that end at the waist, like a normal pair of pants, are popular for mountain riders and racers who work hard while riding and expend a lot of energy. There are ones that extend all the way to the chest, like coveralls, which are the most popular across the sledding community. Some are designed so that the upper sections can be removed if needed. Lastly there are the drop seat models designed for females to make pit stops a bit easier.
Bibs with full-length zippers on the legs are much easier to put on, so that’s a plus. Unfortunately, zippers are not windproof and tend to freeze so a storm flap over the zippers is also a plus. Storm flaps with Velcro are easier to close but snaps stay in place better.
Adjustable inseam length (fold-up cuffs that snap or Velcro in place) is rare, but a plus if not too much more expensive.
Bibs need to be waterproof especially in the seat. Seam sealing helps, but the better choices are those that use a membrane inserted between the shell and the insulation. Better yet if the knees are also waterproofed.
Although not a necessity, look for reinforced panels, heavier material applied over the shell, in the seat, knees and the area on the inside of the legs that will rub against the tunnel. In some cases, the knees and inner leg pieces are available with padding. Cost here is the determining factor.
For those with suspenders or shoulder straps, wider with snap type adjusters are more comfortable. The narrow straps with sliding clip adjustment provide infinite adjustment, so the choice is yours.
Pockets are always a plus. The more the better! Hand warmer pockets (lined with insulation) are better yet. The downside to pockets is that they need to be weatherproof and the user needs to remember to close them.
If you are just getting started and bought older gear that was water resistant more than waterproof, or your bibs are not as waterproof as advertised, or the waterproof material has been damaged, there is a quick and easy fix. I wouldn't use this long term, but I know some who do, but it will let you finish out a season and wait to get new gear when last season’s left overs go on sale. Technically you need a reverse diaper to keep the water away from your posterior. Find a medium duty plastic garbage bag with an opening at least as big as your waist. Starting small, cut the corners off the bottom of the bag making the holes just large enough to make it easy to pull the bag up over your pants. Pull the leaky bibs over the bag and you can ride dry. If you tuck the top of the bag in, no one will ever know you are wearing it so your cool factor will still be intact.
This is also an area where layering can improve warmth and comfort. Snowmobile specific clothing is available but not necessary if you follow these simple suggestions.
Underwear - if you use them … I'm just sayin' … should be made of a wicking material and free of seams at the base of your butt. Seams in this area, combined with the shape of most seats, will restrict blood flow and can cause real pain on even shorter rides. Those who wear Tighty-Whities may want to read this again.
Intermediates layer, if necessary, should be constructed of thermal material like Long Johns and not fleece like sweat pants. Fleece is warm only as long as it is dry. It does not breath and it absorbs perspiration making it ineffective.
Pants need to fit loosely but not bunch behind the knees or in the crotch. The material should soft enough to allow easy movement but heavy enough to provide some protection in case the unexpected happens. Older denim is an excellent choice and since it can't be seen under you bibs it doesn't matter how crappy it looks. Not having back pockets is a plus because it removes extra material and seams from that critical area.
One convenient and comfortable way to get an additional layer of insulation is to use flannel lined jeans or work pants.
The array of jackets available is mind boggling, but, like bibs, there are only a few types that all fall into. The jacket types are pretty much based on the activity required by the rider.
Touring jackets are generally the most heavily insulated. They are intended for sit-down riding and slower speeds so they are generally not cinched up at the waist and only secured with Velcro at the wrists. These jackets usually have a dropped rear hem to insure they do not ride up and expose the lower back when pressed against a backrest. They generally have large square cargo-type pockets that are only closed with a flat. One trait they share with inexpensive jackets is no adjustable venting.
Sport jackets share a lot with their touring cousins but have features that work better for occasional standup riding and higher speeds. They are generally sealed at the waist and sleeves with elastic, Velcro straps or shock cords. More expensive ones will use all three. Their hems do not extend below the waist. Pockets are generally limited to hand warmers that zip shut. The main zipper is usual weather proofed. More elaborate ones use an inner flap, double zippers and an outer storm flap. Most have a zippered pocket that is accessible by only opening the storm flap and not the whole jacket. Other than the most basic models, they feature some form of adjustable venting. More expensive ones will vent the upper back and chest in addition to the armpits. Most, but not all will have a removable liner. Their collar can be stood up and zipped in place to protect the neck or left unzipped and folded down. Most riders use mid-priced jackets of this type because their adjustability allows them to be used reasonably well for all types of riding.
Shell jackets are designed for very active riders who mostly stand and are popular for racers and mountain riders. Trail riders who just can't give up and do a lot of spring riding also use these when the temperatures are above freezing. Generally, these jackets are unlined but some do have a removable partial liner. They are not cinched up at the waist and only secured with Velcro at the wrists. They do not extend below the waist and do not have collars other than a soft strip to prevent chaffing. They are vented everywhere and most vents cannot be closed. Because they are used by mountain riders, they have a lot of pockets with flaps and a pair of zippered hand warmers.
Although not a necessity, look for reinforced panels, heavier material applied over the shell, at the elbows and shoulders. In some cases, these areas are available with padding. Cost here is the determining factor.
Having a storm flap over the main zipper, a removable liner and adjustable venting is a plus but usually comes at an additional cost.
A few jackets are available with a small zippered pocket in sleeve just above the wrist. If the choice is close between two jackets and one has this pocket … buy it. This is an excellent out-of-the-way place to carry small items that you need to get to often without having to open up your jacket to get to a shirt pocket.
Reflective material is a really good idea, but is missing from most base model jackets and sparingly used even on more expensive models. Having more reflective stuff is the deal maker for similarly priced jackets.
As with socks and pants, layering of shirts is a good idea. Snowmobile specific clothing is available but not necessary if you follow these simple suggestions.
Under shirts should be made of a wicking material. The material should not bunch up in the armpits. In colder weather, long sleeved versions work well.
The outer shirt should fit loosely but not bunch behind the armpits or ride up at the waist. The material should soft enough to allow easy movement but heavy enough to provide some protection in case the unexpected happens. Flannel is an excellent choice and if it has a button up collar … even better.
On colder days an intermediate layer can be added. A turtle neck thermal shirt is a good choice. Some have longer necks that can be extended up to cover the chin and lower ears.
Another option for colder weather is a neck gaiter, dickie or a balaclava. These are small enough to be carried in a pocket. They allow you to dress normally and dawn the additional neck protection only when needed. The difference between the neck gaiter and a balaclava is the Balaclava includes a light head covering to help hold it in place and provide additional warming for the ears.
Despite the advances in aerodynamics, heated handle bar grips and throttle levers and wind deflectors for the hands, good gloves are a must! Like the rest of your outer gear, gloves have to be wind proof, waterproof, well insulated and lined with a material that wicks away perspiration. There are three types of gloves in two styles. There are fingered gloves, mittens, and a combination of both available with or without a gauntlet. Mittens are generally the warmest because your fingers do not have to fend for themselves. Unfortunately, they are the most difficult to wear because the limit use of the levers, switches and key of the sled and zippers and snaps on riding gear. Finger gloves have come a long way in closing the gap in keeping the fingers warm and provide a lot better dexterity. Combination gloves are not the best of both worlds but better described as the worst of both worlds, thus you see few people using them.
This is definitely on piece of riding gear for which you should have multiple pairs. It is always a good idea to leave home with at least two pairs. There is no quicker way to freeze you fingers than to stop for food, then go back to riding with wet gloves. The moisture in the gloves was not a problem when warm but once cooled off will absorb a lot of heat from your hands and the grip warmers to get back to body temperature. By then it may be too late.
Gauntleted gloves do a better job of sealing at the jacket sleeve but are more difficult to put on. Ones with some means of adjusting the gauntlet are easier to use.
Gloves with some form of hand protection are a plus so long as the armor does not interfere with the controls. Most modern sleds only require one or two fingers on the brake lever to lock the track. That means most riders never remove the rest of their hand from the warm handgrip and if the lever hits the glove before applying the brakes you could be in for a thrill.
Another nifty feature on some gloves is a visor wiper. Even in the dead of winter there can be light rain or fog and the only way to see is to remove the moisture form the face shield. The few gloves that have this do not cost more than their wiperless rivals so it’s a definite plus if you can find ones with it.
Gloves that have a grippy material on the palm are a plus.
There are also thermal liners, really a very thin thermal material finger glove, that can be kept in a pocket and used as an extra layer for the really cold rides.
This piece of riding gear has gone through the biggest technological change of all. Some snowmobile helmets are so much different from their street going cousins that they are not actually street legal. This is one item that must be snowmobile specific. There are three different types, open face, full face and modular. The type you choose should be based on your style of riding and the following information.
Open face helmets are based on the chin bar equipped off-road helmets currently used by dirt bike and ATV riders. The less expensive versions are simply warmer lined versions of these helmets. Upper level versions add some wind protection for the face and neck. These helmets require the use of goggles to protect the eyes. These goggles also need to be snowmobile specific to prevent fogging and still protect against the cold. These helmets are intended for the active rider and are preferred by racers for their lighter weight and mountain riders because they are less restrictive to breathing. Even with all the high-priced amenities they are still cold. It just doesn't seem right to be wearing a $300 helmet and have your face, neck and ears covered with duct tape to stay warm.
Full faced helmets are based on those used for street motorcycles. Just like the open-faced ones they have a warmer liner and less air flow than the street bred versions. The really big difference is in the face shield. All full faced snowmobile helmets use a double pane shield to reduce fogging. Most also come with a moldable breath deflector to further reduce fogging. These helmets are the warmest and quietest of the snowmobile helmets. With criminals being what they are, most retailers will not allow full faced helmets to be worn inside their stores. If you wear glasses, they must be removed every time the helmet is put on or taken off. Few of these helmets are currently available with an inner sun shield but one with it would be worth the additional cost.
In a turn of fate, modular helmets were first developed for snowmobile use and later migrated to the street. These helmets are exactly like their full-face cousins except the chin bar can be lifted away in the same manner as a face shield. These helmets do not need to be removed for entry into places of business and do not require glasses removal. They also make conversation much easier. More expensive versions include a drop-down sun shield, which is worth the extra cost. Top line versions include a breath evacuation system that resembles the air supply mask used by modern aviators. When properly adjusted to the wearer these completely eliminate fogging of the face shield and greatly reduce fogging of glasses' lenses for those of us who are forced to wear them. These helmets are noticeably heavier, somewhat noisier and a bit colder than the full-face helmets. Despite the shortcomings, for most riders and especially those with glasses, this is the helmet type of choice. Lazer (Bombardier/Ski-Doo) is by far the best choice in this class with first generation ones easily available at reasonable cost, but a lot of the aftermarket and riding gear suppliers have entered this market as well so choices and pricing options have improved.
DRR, Franklinville Snowmobile Club