by Clint Burgess

Now that winter has finally arrived and the subsequent snowfall has left our fair region blanketed in a sheet of frigid beauty, it's time to utilize this pesky precipitation to its fullest potential. That's right, break out the snow toys and let the games begin.

As a kid, I vaguely remember going on a weekend snowmobile excursion with a Boy Scout troop. I don't remember any of the people I went with, but I do remember the ride: the exhilarating thrill of the torque, the wind whipping at my face, the speed. That was some time ago, and sleds have really undergone a transformation since then. There are more applications for a snowmobile. As the winter months can bring on a bit of the doldrums, it may be time for a new snowmobile to get out of the funk and into some

extreme sledding.

There are a number of sled manufacturers and many places to hook up a new ride. One such place in Spokane is the famed Westside Motorsports, just west of town on the Sunset Hill. They carry models from Ski-Doo, Yamaha and Polaris, and they're sure to have something to get you out on the snow in no time. Some of the hot rides from these manufacturers offer an assortment of options that can accommodate the hardcore rider or the pleasure cruiser.

Buyers often covet the most fashionable new models for the upcoming season. Polaris is hoping to get ahead of the game with its 2005 Fusion 900. Coming in just under $10,000, this sled offers power and precision for the macho rides and a more delicate side for those moonlit rides in long, rolling meadows. Recently beefed up in power, this model is a whole lot of sled to handle, but the addition of Accutrak 2 skis and tougher up-front and rear-track suspension ensures that the ride will be comfy.

Next on the list is the RS Venture from Yamaha. While the thrill of racing up towering mountains and speeding wildly out of control across the snow might be appealing to some, just cruising the back country is also a pleasant way to pass the time. This model is the classic package for the cruiser in all of us. At an affordable starting price of $9,000, the RS combines an aptly configured 120-horse, four-stroke engine with the styling of a machine made to float across rolling terrain. Additional appointments like heated driver and passenger grips, an adjustable backrest and plenty of room for two make this snowmobile the best date in town.

For all the daredevils out there, the next piece of machinery is for you. Just the name exudes the idea of going way too fast and liking it. The Mach Z from Ski-Doo is a whole lot of badness on two skis and a rear track. The $10,600 is a pittance in comparison to the experience of this machine. The Rotax 2-Tech 1,000cc engine is the fastest motor ever put in a Ski-Doo, and it features REV Platform technology that puts the driver more forward on the sled, further increasing mobility and minimizing strain.

Even though it's January, there's still time to get plenty of use out of a snowmobile. These trailblazing snow toys are as popular as ever, and they don't show any signs of letting old man winter slow them down.

Publication date: 1/13/04

Make & Takes @ Art Salvage Spokane

Sat., June 19, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and Sat., July 17, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
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