Stuck sledders rescued

Snowmobilers rescued in Sugar Lake area

Stuck sledders rescued

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Electrics Everywhere - Now on the Mountains

Share this post TFUPM Posted March 22, 2020

Thrashing through the snow on a 200-horsepower electric sled feels pretty good. It feels like skiing, if you happened to be skiing whilst straddling a 250-kilogram rocket.

The electric snowmobile from Montreal-based startup Taiga Motors looks like any other snowmobile to untrained eyes. Gently press your thumb onto the throttle and the machine is amiable and unintimidating, just as company co-founder Gabriel Bernatchez said it would be. It pulls away more smoothly and predictably than a typical gas-powered sled. The only noise is the sound of the tracks crunching snow. It makes this novice snowmobile rider feel confident and in control, or, at least initially.

But flick it into Sport mode, and you’d better have a firm grip on the handlebars. Give the throttle a confident jab, and the electric sled accelerates like a roof-less Tesla, with all the traction of a tank. It streaks forward through deep snow like some kind of apparition, leaving in its wake only a high-pitched killer-bee buzz and a rooster tail of fresh powder.

Its electric motor takes just 0.1 seconds to deliver full power, but you can’t physically press the thumb throttle fast enough to experience that, says Bernatchez, who is Taiga’s chief technical officer. The sled will do 0-100 km/h in around three seconds, which makes it quicker than most, maybe all, gas-powered sleds from established brands.

As Tesla has electrified the car market, Taiga Motors hopes to electrify the powersports market with its battery-powered snowmobiles and personal watercraft.

Bernatchez co-founded the company in 2015 along with Sam Bruneau and Paul Achard. The three met while at McGill University, working on a student project to create and race electric vehicles. After graduating, they knew they wanted to continue making electric vehicles, but unlike Elon Musk or Robert Bollinger or so many other founders of upstart EV companies, Bernatchez, Bruneau and Achard were not already rich.

“We didn’t have any money. We were students, and we didn’t come from rich families,” Bernatchez says. They put a few thousand dollars of their own money into the company in the early days to build the first prototype and set about attracting investors.

There are 1.2 million snowmobiles registered in the U.S., with another 600,000 registered in Canada, according to the International Snowmobile Manufactures Association (ISMA). Last year, 133,100 new snowmobiles were sold worldwide, of which 46,800 were bought in Canada.

The market is dominated by four major manufactures: BRP, Polaris, Arctic Cat and Yamaha, none of which yet offer an electric model.

Bernard Guy, senior VP for product strategy at Quebec-based BRP, said the company is exploring the potential of electrified snowmobiles but hasn’t committed to a timeline for producing one. “It’s all a matter of finding the right market segments for which the performance, range and charging time, and the cost all make sense. This may be limited to niche segments at first,” Guy said in an e-mail.

Sam Bruneau, co-founder and chief executive of Taiga Motors, sees potential to grow the snowmobile market with an electric sled.

“Hundreds of our reservation holders are people that don’t currently own snowmobiles but who used to snowmobile when they were younger,” Bruneau explains. “They don’t own one now because it’s loud, it pollutes, they don’t want to disturb their neighbours, and they’re kind of maintenance-heavy … electric allows them to get back into the sport.”

The company currently has more than 600 reservation holders who have placed $500 deposits.

Fleet and utility snowmobile users – ski hills and tour operators, for example – are a prime market as well, Bruneau says. The Aspen Skiing Company, which operates four mountains in Colorado, is getting a Taiga sled to test.

The rise of Tesla has been like a gateway drug for other e-things. “A lot of [reservation holders] are people who are buying Teslas and other electric cars, and they’re looking for other electric products,” explains Bruneau. People are becoming more comfortable with EV technology, he says.

Not all snowmobilers are convinced just yet, though.

John Enright has been riding (gas-powered) sleds for 30 years and is a director with the volunteer-run Haliburton County Snowmobile Association (HCSA).

“It’s going to take time for these to catch on,” Enright says of electric snowmobiles. “Are they going to be No. 1? No. Are they going to have their niche? Yes,” he says.

There’s a small but growing buzz around “e-sleds” in the enthusiast community, Enright explains. Taiga has been written about in snowmobile magazines, as has a company in Finland that’s converting a small number of gas sleds to electric. Enright thinks the HCSA’s 2,500 members are generally open to the idea of e-sleds, but expects their concerns would echo those of drivers considering an electric car: high prices, short range and a lack of charging infrastructure.

Taiga’s snowmobile starts at US$15,000 and has an estimated range of 100 km. On a 240-volt outlet, a charge would take two hours. On a DC fast-charger, it would take 20 minutes to refill the battery up to 80 per cent. Canadian prices will be announced at a later date, Bernatchez says.

“According to our market study, 80 per cent of people do less than 100 kilometres a day on a snowmobile,” says Bernatchez. He acknowledges that the range won’t be enough for everyone.

The range of electric vehicles often suffers in cold weather, which you’d imagine would be a major problem for snowmobiles. However, Bernatchez says Taiga developed a preheating system for the battery, so it only loses 10 per cent of its range at -40 C. If the sled is plugged in while preheating, you’d still get the full 100-km range, he says.

The first of Taiga’s electric snowmobiles should reach customers next winter.

“The goal is to launch higher-volume production in the coming year, and for that we’re putting together a big funding round at the moment,” says Bruneau, Taiga’s CEO. The company is aiming to produce 500 snowmobiles next year and ramp up from there.

Assembly will take place in Quebec in partnership with an existing tier-one manufacturer, Bruneau says, although he’s not willing to divulge who that is yet. Taiga’s personal watercraft (think: electric Sea-Doo) will be assembled in the same facility, making this a potentially year-round operation.

The company’s three founders have yet to strike it rich like Elon Musk, but they have so far raised “several million dollars,” according to Bruneau. That has been enough to fund prototypes, testing, begin low-volume production and grow the company to roughly a dozen employees.

Of all the vehicles it’s possible to electrify, snowmobiles seem especially ripe for it, given how much the sport is affected by climate change. Over the three decades he’s been riding, Enright says he has noticed the snowmobiling season in Ontario becoming shorter. There’s less snow, and it’s less predictable.

Enright won’t buy one of Taiga’s electric snowmobiles himself, at least not yet – he has nowhere to charge it – but he says e-sleds are the future. “They are where Tesla was 10 years ago,” he says.

Credit - the Globe and mail - Matt Bubbers

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Ski Doo Forges New Territory with Factory Turbo - Everyone to Follow

Share this post TFUPM Posted March 22, 2020

Ski Doo knocked the socks off the mountain riding snowmobile ecosystem half way through the 2019/2020 season by launching the new factory turbo sled mid season. Rumors were abound, but it was still shocking to see a mid season launch. No doubt the timing of the launch of the Ski-Doo Summit 850 E-TEC Turbo was mostly about marketing and foreshadows that both Arctic Cat and Polaris will do the same for the 2021-2022 product season. Launches of those products are just around the corner so we'll find out.

For mountain sledders, especially those of us who like to ski and snowmobile via our sleds, this is welcome news. While doubling up steep terrain, often at elevation, every extra horsepower helps.

Check out the riding video Mountain Sledder has put out with a foggy but fun and deep snow ride!

 

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Announcing the Combo Ski and Snowboard Holder

By far our most common question over the years has been "can I fit skis into the snowboard holder," OR "can I fit a snowboard into the ski holder." Well, the answer is now yes!

We have updated the geometry of the ski holder so that it can now accommodate a Snowboard well! By adjusting the lengths of our various protective areas and strap lengths, we can now fit snowboards into the ski holder.

At the same time, we've also made another small update to the rear outer protective strut, so it should be a bit more durable as we can a couple issues in 2018.

Our pros tried out the new setup last season and were stoked. For those of you who want to accommodate a few different buddies that only ski or snowboard, opposite to your preference, this update is for you. For those of you who want to ski or snowboard, depending on the day, this one is for you.

Instead of tough choices, we now offer you the optimum set up... and here it is:

a) Choose your snowmobile rack. If you can fit the large rack, use it as it hold skis' slightly better and you get more space for you bags or fuel.

b) buy one Ski holder or one Snowboard holder of your preferred set up. If you like to Ski, get the the Ski/Combo holder. If you like to Snowboard, get the snowboard holder.

c) then get the ski/snowboard combination holder for the other side, so any of your buddies, or anyone you want to help out up the mountain can be accommodated.

d) grab an accessory strap or two to carry any bags or spare fuel cans you might want.

This is a pretty sweet development for the Port Tack Racks systems. Nobody likes to compromise, so now everybody can get set up to handle whatever comes up on the mountains.

All Prices in USD.

What it holds:

  • 1 set of skis and poles per Mount Kit
  • Racks can hold 1 Mount Kit per side 

NOTE: Rack must be separately purchased this, the Ski Holder Mount Kit Does not include the snowmobile rack.

 Installation:

Here is a video showing how to install the mount kit to one of our racks. Takes just a few minutes and then you're ready to go.

Works with:

 

Specs:

Weight: .6 pounds 
Material: UHMW plastic holders, over sized stainless steel bolts (do not worry it is strong enough!) 
Hardware: Ski Mount Includes all mounting hardware and bolts required for installation. 
Installation: Bolts onto racks via pre-drilled holds - takes about 5 minutes to install (Including a 3 minutes break!)


Shipping:

Free shipping with all orders over $ 165 Within Canada and the US (lower 48 States). Worldwide shipping available.

 

Questions?

Have a question? Something not clear? Send us an email at ben@portackracks.com or phone us at 604 340-3749 - Would we be happy to help!

 

 

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Everything in Stock and Ready to Ship

Share this post TFUPM Posted September 13, 2018

Port Tack Racks is fully geared up for the 2018/2019 season. After running out of Large racks in 2017/2018, we have made a larger batch for this season, so we shouldn't run out this year. It's always hard to predict how much inventory to build every year, but hopefully we can keep up this year.

All the rest of the gear is on the shelf and ready to go. While the forecasts always say there is going to be great snow this year, we actually have no real clue. What we do know is that it's too late to strap a board/skis to your sled if you order your rack on the day it's snowing deep. 

Order early in the season, so when the perfect riding day comes, you're already set.

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Montana Avalanche Shows How Quickly Loss Can Come

Share this post TFUPM Posted January 04, 2018

The GNFAC talks us through that happened in Cabin Creek early in 2018 with a rider loosing his life in fairly innocuous conditions. The group knew about the unstable terrain, even taking steps to avoid triggers, like no highmarking, and no riding the steep terrain.

The tragedy struck while the riders was below a steep zone, triggered from the bottom. Be careful out there snowmobilers, and take special note when conditions are unstable.

 

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Ski Doo 850 Takes Snowmobile Rack Even With Tunnel Radiator

Share this post TFUPM Posted February 09, 2017

A number of riders are enjoying the new Ski Doo 850, with it's insane power and handling.  Ripping up all those miles will leave a smile on your face, but even more so if you're able to carry a bit of spare fuel for now worries along with your skis and board for clean lines.

There was some worry about the full tunnel radiator interfering with being able to carry a rack, but fear not, there is plenty of room along the sides of the radiator to secure a rack to it.  With the 850 making it so easy to double riders and so easy to get to the top of sweet fresh lines, we'd recommend always bringing along at least a board.

In these photos you can see a large rack placed as far forward on the machine as possible.  For those who will carry skis with them, we recommend the large rack as it decreases the leverage on your skis more while riding.  For those who will carry a snowboard only, a compact rack would be the cleaner choice, unless you want to be able to carry 10 gallons of spare fuel, and thus opt for the large snowmobile rack.

Happy riding!

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Canadian Shipping Lightening Fast

Share this post TFUPM Posted December 21, 2016

After reading about Canada Posts new commitment to their parcel service last summer, we decided to give them a try for winter 2016/17.  So far, it's been a fantastic success.  Delivery is so fast and conveninent, and cheap too that we've been able to deliver next day or 2 days to Westen Canada while also dropping our minimum price for free shipping down to $35 order quantity!

Check out an order this week from (lets call her Christy) who needed a snowmobile rack for her husband for Christmas.  He's been hauling the kids around and needed to carry extra fuel.  

I said if she ordered Monday it would almost surely get to her by Christmas (Friday - 5 days)... well, turns out it got there next day!

We had a similar experience last week, with delivery to Edmonton in only 2 days.  Obviously with free shipping we're using ground, so if you're back east you'll still have to wait for as long as it takes to drive that far, but we're really quite impressed!

For our American Customers we continue to use Fedex as we don't quite trust the system yet for crossing the border, but will do some experiments and keep trying to improve all aspects of the customer experience.

In any case, everything is in stock, and for those of you in Western Canada, it might not be too late to get a Christmas present ordered!  Works especially well now for customers using PO boxes or in buildings, where Canada Posties have access to your mailbox properly.

For those in Alaska, we're offering for cost shipping now and want to try using Canada Post for you.  We think it will be only about $40 for a rack and won't take too long.  Send us a message to test it out.

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6 Ways Cheap Oil Is Perfectly Timed for the Snowmobile Season

Share this post TFUPM Posted February 27, 2016

 

1) Sure, you’ll still be gone all day, totally exhausted when you come home, smelly, and useless, but your wallet will be full enough for your to order pizza and leave you alone.


2) The North American oil industry is dying for reserves to be used up to stop the slide… time to help a brotha out and burn some of that fuel, and do your part for the working man.


3) No more reasons to fight with you buddies about who’s turn it is to fill up the truck on the way to the mountain, everyone will be begging for it to be ‘their turn’ to take advantage.


4) Safety first, even more reason to carry around a spare jerry can full of fuel, smart and cheap.

 


5) Bring a friend, your treat. How much more justifiable is it to offer to take a buddy up for the first time now that their trip is half price.


6) Expedition time. There’s never been a better time to load up a rack or trailer full of gear, plan a point to point trip, and burn baby burn! As the snow starts falling, it’s time to nail down that expedition you’ve been dreaming of.

 

 

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Price Drop - Sort Of

Share this post TFUPM Posted December 21, 2015

Many of our Canadian customers ask us why we are pricing in USD when we are a Canadian company.  The basic answer, or so we thought, was psychology.  We figured that Canadians are used to recalculating prices into CAD from USD while our American customers would not be used to that, and would only really see our headline price, which looks higher.  We've always been committed to providing quality racks at modest prices, and we wanted to make sure everyone knew.

In 2014 our price for a Large Snowmobile Rack was 219.99 CAD and for a Ski Strap was 129.99 CAD.  We figured that by changing to 184.99 USD and 99.99 USD the price for Canadians would be the same while the price for American’s would seem lower, so sales would improve.

Well, in a year of trying this what we can say is that both our customer bases, Canadian and American, much prefer buying in their home currency, but since we only have one shop, that’s a challenge.  Instead of selling 50-50 to Canadians and Americans it's now more like 75-25... fellow Canadians, we're looking to improve!  So, as the Canadian dollar continues to tank, and with it our home country sales, we’re here today to announce a price drop… sort of.

We’ve taken 30 dollars USD off our racks, and 10 dollars USD off our ski straps, but had to keep snowboard straps at 99.99 USD as we'll probably run out in early 2016.  For American’s, enjoy the price drop.  For Canadians, know that we are trying as best we can do shield you from the tanking Canadian dollar, and don’t forget there is no tax on our items, so don’t be so afraid of the conversion.  Happy Holidays everyone, may your days be filled with braaap braaap.

Ben, Peter, and Jer

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