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.
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.