How Fast Can Snowmobiles Go?


You’re feeling adventurous today and you really want to crank up the adrenaline and the figurative volume on your snowmobile. As you’re out on the riding trail with your friends, you find a particularly awesome hill you’d like to do a trick on. How fast can your snowmobile go?

Depending on the type of snowmobile you have, the highest achievable speeds are somewhere between 95 and 200 miles per hour (MPH). Drag racing snowmobiles may be able to exceed 200 MPH, but other types of snowmobiles likely cannot.

If you’ve never heard of a drag racing snowmobile before, then you may have some questions about sled speed. Ahead, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the speed of your snowmobile, including what may be limiting your sled’s own speed and how you may increase it. You’re not going to want to miss this! 

How Fast Can a Snowmobile Go? Why Sled Type Matters

Last week, we wrote a great introductory post on the types of snowmobiles. These include trail, sport trail, mountain, crossover, touring, performance, and utility sleds. As we discussed in that post, snowmobile speed varies depending on the duties the sled is equipped for.

As an example, a touring snowmobile is intended for long trips out in the wintry weather. Thus, this type of sled often includes cargo space, room for extra passengers, and heated seats. It won’t go very quickly though because there’s no reason. The same is true of a utility snowmobile, which is meant for lugging around heavy gear, sometimes including snowmobiles. This is a more powerful than fast sled.

Compare that to a performance snowmobile, which is designed for tricks and maneuverability and is thus pretty fast. The same is true of the mountain snowmobile. This type of sled must go faster because, as the altitude gets higher, speed losses more rapidly occur.

For those types of snowmobiles, you can expect typical speed ranges of 95 to 120 MPH. By getting a higher-powered sled, you may be able to achieve blistering speeds of 150 MPH. 

If you ever feel the itch to zip on by on your snowmobile at speeds that leave even 150 MPH in the dust, then you’d need a drag racing snowmobile.

Yes, that’s right, drag racing is not only done in cars, but now in sleds as well. Most drag racing snowmobiles have two-stroke or four-stroke gas engines that can easily reach and even surpass speeds of 200 MPH. 

Now, in case you’re wondering why you’ve never had the pleasure of witnessing a snowmobile drag race near you, it’s because these races don’t occur in the snow. Instead, snowmobile drag racers will compete on concrete or asphalt tracks. Here’s a video showing what a snowmobile drag race looks like.

These races are definitely not for the everyday sledder, as snowmobile drag racing requires a specialized skillset considering you’re out of your element (the snow). That said, the races sure are fascinating to watch! 

What Is the Fastest Snowmobile on the Market?

If you’re a speed demon who’s shopping around for a new sled, then you’re likely seeking some of the fastest snowmobiles out there. What are they?

The speediest snowmobile for 2019 was the Arctic Cat ZR 9000. This sled can easily reach over 200 horsepower (HP) due to its turbo-charged 998cc triple engine. Other features of this fast sled are its ultra-powerful three-cylinder, four-stroke horizontal in-line engine with a dual overhead camshaft (DOHC) configuration. 

The 2019 Arctic Cat ZR 9000 also has an electric starter, fuel-injected carburetor, and reverse transmission. This trail sled measures 10.42 feet long, 47.8 inches wide, and 51.1 inches tall with a maximum ski stance of 43 inches and a minimum ski stance of 42 inches. Its fuel capacity is 9.9 gallons, and the Arctic Cat ZR 9000 weighs 603 pounds dry.

According to Snowmobile.com, the 2019 Arctic Cat ZR 9000 retails for $17,599. 

More recently, the newest sled that’s taken over the prestigious title of fastest is the 2021 Yamaha Sidewinder SRX LE. This trail snowmobile boasts a four-stroke 998cc ultra-performance Genesis Turbo Engine. It also includes Low Profile SRX 137 Suspension for better suspension calibration thanks to the low preload rear torsion springs and dual-rate front shock springs. Both enhance your ride height, containing the ski’s profile so your performance and top speed are better.

The ARCS front suspension in the 2021 Yamaha Sidewinder SRX LE boasts upper A-arms that weigh less than ever as well as forged alloy spindles for great durability. The ground clearance has been improved upon with the upgraded front suspension, as has the function of the suspension.

The YSRC high-performance clutch system has primary and secondary roller clutches built for better operation of your sled, as the torque from your Genesis Turbo engine goes to the track without wrecking your drive belt in the process. 

The 2021 Yamaha Sidewinder SRX LE starts at $17,999. 

What Inhibits Snowmobile Speed?

If you recently bought a used snowmobile or your new snowmobile has celebrated a couple of birthdays, you may notice a strange phenomenon at play. Namely, your sled simply isn’t going as quickly as it once did. 

Why is this happening? Here are a few reasons you’ll want to look out for. 

Lack of Maintenance

Are you maintaining all the intricate components of your snowmobile as often as required? This includes inspecting parts, topping off fluid levels, replacing worn-out components like belts, and cleaning and/or lubricating parts as necessary.

Failing to maintain your snowmobile or only doing it seldomly will cause accelerated wear and tear on the parts as well as eventual parts failure. 

Poor Gas Mileage

A healthily-running snowmobile will have a gas mileage of 10 to 20 miles per gallon with a standard tank size of 10.5 gallons. This should let you ride for roughly 200 miles before your snowmobile begins running out of juice. 

The gas mileage of your snowmobile won’t necessarily stay the same forever. Gas leaks can cause the gas mileage to worsen, as can riding an older sled for too long as well as general wear and tear that’s left to worsen. If you’ve never changed out the spark plugs of your snowmobile, these could cause choke sticking that wrecks gas mileage. You’ll notice the plugs are black and sooty-looking, which are signs that it’s long since time for a replacement.

Clutch Issues

Having problems with your clutch can also negatively impact snowmobile speed. If the clutch takes several seconds to get engaged, then it’s time to stop your sled and take a look at the clutch. It may need to be repaired or replaced outright, so have your snowmobile repairperson’s number handy! 

Is There Any Way to Make Your Snowmobile Go Faster?

Maybe you weren’t concerned so much with speed when you bought your snowmobile a year or two ago. The sled is in perfect running shape, but it simply doesn’t reach the high speeds you wish it could. Is there any way to make your snowmobile go faster or are you better off saving up for a new sled?

You can try modifying your snowmobile for greater speed. As a word of warning, if your snowmobile is covered under an active warranty, you may void that warranty by tinkering with your sled using the following methods. If that’s a risk you’re willing to take, then here’s how you may enhance snowmobile speed through mods.

Use a Turbo

Snowmobile turbo kits such as these can reliably enhance your sled’s speed. Many are computer-driven so you can adjust your snowmobile’s boost precisely to your liking.

Get a Supercharger

If your sled didn’t come with supercharged features when you bought it, fake it by getting one now. Also referred to as a blower, a supercharger is a centrifugal external unit that relies on air that comes from your crankshaft and is transported via a belt. If you want more blower boost, you can adjust your pulleys to get it.

As a downside, you do tend to lose some engine power due to the way superchargers work. That said, you get reliably good boost and power for the lack of efficiency. 

Nitrous Oxide Kits

You can also power up your snowmobile with nitrous oxide, the chemical that’s sometimes referred to as laughing gas. The nitrous bottle must remain full for these kits to work, and you’re going to spend between $400 and $1,100 for this mod. That said, you can sometimes increase horsepower by as much as 80 HP, so the risk may be worth the reward.

Try Fuel Controllers

Fuel-injected snowmobiles can benefit from a fuel controller, which is a tool that lets you rewire the computer that determines how well your carburetors perform. You can either use software or an external box for this. The box will receive your computer’s signals that are supposed to run to the engine, divert the signal, and then pass it along so your sled operates how you want it to. 

Again, this is a pricy modification, as fuel controllers can set you back between $300 and $1,000.

Shop for a Bolt-on Kit

Bolt-on kits, sometimes referred to as big bore kits, can adjust the calibration of your pistons and cylinders to alter the way fuel is sent throughout the sled. For instance, you can opt for a fuel injection system or a carburetor jet by choosing the appropriate kit. You may pay $600 or even four figures for a kit, and they can go wrong with inexperience. Tread carefully. 

Final Thoughts

The average snowmobile reaches speeds of close to 100 MPH, but drag racing snowmobiles and other higher-powered models can easily cruise at speeds of 200 MPH and faster. If your snowmobile isn’t quite up to snuff, you can always try modifying it so it’s faster, but do keep in mind you may void the warranty if you do. 

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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