WildSnow 2010 Sled Registration – Quieter Snowmobiles?

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | October 21, 2009      

Here in Colorado you know backcountry ski season is coming by the leaves on the ground, skis making it from the storage shed to the garage — and your 2010 snowmobile registration stickers arriving in the mail.

Snomobile registration stickers came with a flier about new noise regulations.

Snowmobile registration stickers came with a flier about new noise regulations.

Snowmobiles can be too noisy. I’ll even say, most snowmobiles ARE too noisy!

Lot’s of people agree on that. Thus, Colorado and other states have passed new snowmobile noise laws. A flier about this was included in my registration envelope. The new Colorado law requires any snowmobile manufactured after 1975 to be no louder than 88 dBA. That’s fairly quiet in comparison to some things, but will still be noticeable in the alpine environment. Apparently 88 dBA is something like quieter traffic noise, but comparisons are difficult. The test (SAE J 2567) used is to place the sound meter microphone 4 meters behind the exhaust outlet, and run the sled at 4,000 rpm with the brake on. That’s actually a pretty good start to having quieter snowmobiles.

Of course, enforcement of this standard will be as difficult as preventing sleds from poaching legal Wilderness. What’s more, loud aftermarket exhaust mods are a religion to certain segments of the petrochemical entertainment crowd, so at least some of those nice quiet late-model sleds will be converted to screaming beasts as soon as they leave the dealership. Again, we’ll see if this stuff can actually be enforced. My take: At this juncture don’t look for anything more than a trend to quieter sleds. On the other hand, I’m confident that the future is quiet.


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17 Responses to “WildSnow 2010 Sled Registration – Quieter Snowmobiles?”

  1. Cory October 21st, 2009 9:15 am

    Honestly, It would be alot harder to be grumpy with the snowmobros if their sleds were quiet. For me, the sound of the super loud 2 strokes is more grating than the dentist’s drill.

  2. Hal October 21st, 2009 9:28 am

    Noise is certainly an issue. My biggest gripe is the stench the 2 cycle engines leave lingering after they run by you. Not only do the 4 cycle engines stink less, they seem to, for the most part, be quieter. So quiet in fact, I’ve been surprised a few times when I see them before hearing them.

  3. Lou October 21st, 2009 9:38 am

    Hal, yeah, the 4 cycles are incredibly quiet and easy to mod to make them even quieter! There is a limit, though, as just the gears, track and stuff make quite a bit of noise when you’re running at over a few miles an hour…

    Cory, I’d think the 2 strokes will be pretty much gone in a few more years. Back in the day when the sled hating first started, I confronted some of the haters and got them to be honest, and they said just seeing a snowmobile harshed their groove, so noise isn’t everything! Also, it’s true that powder sled riders can trash a huge amount of terrain in a very short time. That will always be an issue and is what I’m more concerned about than anything. This isn’t an issue when using sleds for access as we do, but definitely an issue overall.

  4. Mira October 21st, 2009 10:01 am

    My favorite snowmobile noise abatement mod is a pound of sugar in the gas tank. 😉

    I noticed you blurred out the registration numbers. Not a bad idea. I’ve taken to photographing any and all registration stickers as that is what you need to turn poachers in. Up close photos of bilers flying by Wilderness signs is not enough for the Forest Service – you need the actual serial number, which is impossible to get when it is covered in snow and flying by you at 90 mph. So, whenever I see a parked sled, sleds on trailers or stored sleds, I set my camera to macro, close in on the sticker and take a photo. For reporting purposes, it is ideal to match the right registration number with the actual guilty sledder, but close enough is good enough in this case as enforcement is all a big joke anyway.

  5. Lou October 21st, 2009 10:05 am

    Mira, nothing nefarious about the blurred out numbers, just SOP for publishing of license plates and such, to maintain personal privacy.

    I’d like to publish some of your photos of snowmobilers flying by wilderness signs, can you send over a few?

    Thanks, Lou

  6. john Gloor October 21st, 2009 9:22 pm

    Thanks for the reminder Lou, the renewal statement came some time ago. I do not know why it is, but two stroke dirtbikes are way quieter than the four strokes. A motocross pipe on a four stroke lets the loud and low exhaust note travel a long way. The high but annoying two stroke sound does not travel as far. Mine is super quiet since I run the quietest silencer I could find and have a secondary silencer after it. I should find something similar for the sled. The manufacturers must be addressing the noise issue with sleds more., since noise is what upsets people the most.

    I once wrote down the number of a hunter’s ATV miles into a single track closed to them. When I called it in, they told me that without the operators name they could not issue a ticket. That was in Gunnison National Forest. In the White river forest they might have a different view.

    Mira, How would you feel if people treated you like a criminal at a trail head when you did nothing wrong? What If those sledders took a picture of you and your license plate? How safe would you feel. Harassment is not the answer.

  7. Andy October 22nd, 2009 11:05 pm

    Unfortunately Mira has the wrong idea of what to do with a pound of sugar. There are things in this world that I do not agree with, however it does not mean that I get to vandalize or destroy what I do not agree with, such as huge motor-homes or motorcycles that make my head hurt. I don’t agree with them, but it does not mean I am willing to waste a perfectly good pound of sugar to express my point passive aggressively.
    As a snowmobiler first and a teleier second, I do believe the snowmobiling community needs to internally enforce stricter noise levels. To be good stewards of anything, it is my belief in order to protect whatever it is, we need to be proactive of issues and mindful of other enthusiasts. This is said going both ways.
    Lou I have always enjoyed your Colorado Sense (read I dig your Yamaha).

  8. Lou October 23rd, 2009 9:01 am

    In my humble opinion, wasting sugar in a gas tank instead of using it to make pastries is a sin of immense proportions.

  9. adam olson October 25th, 2009 8:04 pm

    I find Mira’s comments about sugar in the gas tank rather shallow. I’d bet money that she is a telemarker too!

    Monkey wrenching somebodies snowmobile will land you in jail. Felony charges will be appropriate considering the $$$$”s involved here. Im going to take license plate numbers at the trailheads from now on whenever I use my sled.

    I intentally bought a 4 stroke as soon as they came out, upgrading from the nasty tasting 2 stroke I owned. It cost me $10,000. If you want a ride all you have to do is ask. I’m sure once I upgrade to an all electric sled (coming soon) there will still be jealous individuals who can only think about sabotaging it. :angry:


  10. Lou October 25th, 2009 8:13 pm

    I think most people are speaking rhetorically when they threaten vandalism, they’re just trying to make sure we know how much hate they bottle up inside. Personally, I like to show up at a trailhead and just have a nice time chatting with people, instead of hating. But each to his/her own I guess…

  11. adam olson October 25th, 2009 9:47 pm

    I chat it up w/ everyone, as you well know. But a line has to be drawn when it comes to passive aggressive comments. I take what has been said seriously. It is not the first time threats of vandalism have surfaced here.


  12. sheenster December 11th, 2010 7:04 pm

    Everyone hates on the Snowmobiler until one of them actually saves you when you’ve bitten off more than you can chew in the back country. As far as tearing up the terrain, it takes 10 Snowmobiles with 10 riders stacked up te equal the pressure of 1 adult standing on his two feet. Once Snowmobiles are not allowed they will work on the skiers then snowshoers and on to hikers. What the heck lets just take everything away.
    OH YEA…please let me know when the skier, snowshoer and hicker starts paying a fee for trail usage or anything else.

    I’ll be sure to let you confirm the DB of my sled when I ride by tipping it on the left ski.

  13. Lou December 12th, 2010 5:37 pm

    Hate doesn’t belong in the backcountry, nor at the trailhead. That’s my take…

  14. sheenster December 12th, 2010 10:14 pm

    I agree with ya Lou. I jusy get a little frustrated at times and want people to realize who pays for grooming and trail maintenance.
    I have no doubt there are people other than Snowmobilers who may donate for these services, however I believe the majority comes from the motorists that are required to pay the OHV fee.
    I don’t understand where the DB level comes into play in the back country. Where I ride there are no homes, animals or other people (unless they too like to ride way off the trail).

  15. Jim November 29th, 2011 9:19 pm

    What else is next? There is a noise ordinance for snowmobiles that operate in the middle of no where, in the winter time when the only other people around are cross country skiers! Ridiculous, snowmobilers bring money to the state! How many People have to register there skies? Just more laws! Just evidence that there are becoming more laws to say what we can’t do, than protect our rights! And yes I am a sledder, but they are not loud! How long till they make dirt bikes follow a noise ordinance! This country is getting ridiculous!

  16. John Gloor November 29th, 2011 9:37 pm

    Many states have decibel levels for sleds and dirt bikes. You should embrace these rules. They are mitigating the political damage loud machines do to our riding areas. I do both sports (I ride two KTM 300’s and an RMK 800), and my main gripe with my fellow riders is the noise of their machines. There is no excuse for machines whose noise can be heard anywhere within two-three miles in the valley they are in. Also, you do not have any “right” to ride. It is a privilege for which you pay to do.

  17. ken February 27th, 2012 3:47 pm

    Not noise pollution!?! Really? And only disturbing to people? You realize that wildlife is a vital component to making forests happen, right? And they live out there in the “back country”. Many of us would not sleep well in New York City with all the noise compared to our mountain towns.
    Sure, we humans will inevitably impact everything. But, the very least we could do is get a handle on noise pollution, by far my biggest gripe with sleds, and i can’t afford a sled and the truck. Or not use them. Just cause you can doesn’t mean you should.
    Regardless, be effing considerate of others, and others than humans.
    But, our forest fire management policy only guarantees it’s all gonna burn before long anyway, in the name of protecting (often moneyed) home/land owners. Nevermind the pine beetle.

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