Loyalty…A Perishable Commodity
By Stephen Furlong
We all know that friend who refuses to consider any Snowmobile other than the brand his family has been buying since they can remember. This person may be riding a sled that isn’t tailored for their riding goals, but still refuses to consider the right sled from another manufacturer. Maybe their brand is falling behind on touring machines, or maybe they are not with the times on engine performance, or dry weight, or mountain performance, but they remain loyal nonetheless.
To this friend I say “wake up and open up your mind”. If you remain loyal despite any shortcomings, then you are blindly loyal. While this is a desirable trait in a friend or family member, it is not a helpful attitude for advancing yourself as a rider, or advancing the industry of snowmobile design and manufacturing. The whole thing is a game, a race between the big snowmobile companies that continuously improve their product and increase their price tag. If you are supporting this industry with your hard earned cash then you should demand getting the most out of it. In this race, each competitor constantly strives to be out in front, and often times the leader changes from year to year. If we follow the leader then we generally end up with the best product and only by falling behind will the other competitors improve to take the lead again.
If you’re brand refuses to update their engine tech, or suspension philosophy, or mountain sled geometry, but you still buy their machines time after time then you are sending the wrong message. I see the entire industry as a team made up of competitive members striving to be captain. While there can only be one captain, the team will always improve as long as everyone works to be better and doesn’t totally ignore the others. If you look at how far snowmobiles have come in the last 10 years, you cannot argue this. All brands now have amazing machines for any ride style and none of them came up with it on their own. The industry players have pushed each other and taken inspiration from each other resulting in the evolution of snowmobiles we enjoy today.
There are some other factors to loyalty that we all must consider such as the price of the sleds and their resale values as well as what you think of the “bang for your buck”. Dealerships and service also come into play and must be considered. Loyalty must be earned and maintained.
In my time I mostly owned Arctic Cats, I always loved the power and reliability of the motor that I experienced. However, I looked at Ski-Doo and thought they are leaders in new technology and fuel economy and I wished my Arctic Cat had some of those features. I also wasn’t able to deny the amazing capability of the Polaris RMK on the hills and I felt like my sled should have that geometry, but the Cat sleds still had the old shape. I always like the ride of a Yamaha and the longevity and comfort you get from their product as well. I did have a few Ski-Doo sleds in between my Arctic Cats, but a few years ago I broke down and bought an RMK. It was the right decision for me. I wanted to push myself to the next level of the back country and improve my technical riding, and Arctic Cat wasn’t there yet. My time logged on and RMK told me it was the right sled at the time and I have absolutely no regrets.
My two years on my RMK have been my best and I sometimes surprise myself with what I am able to pull off and where I can go. This is largely because I bought the best tool for the job and I have improved as a rider because it. Now for 2018, I think the new Ski-Doo chassis and the new Arctic Cat chassis have finally come onside with their geometry to provide the right angles and centre of gravity to make it comparable to the maneuverability of my RMK. I think Yamaha still has work to do for my type of sled, but they will get there as well. I usually spend two seasons on a sled and the time has come to sell my RMK, and to be honest I am not sure where I will go next. One thing I am sure of is that my decision will be based purely on the price and performance of the sled and not on the stickers that come on the side.