have never owned a sled. I have ridden a sled about 7-8 miles. I have the bug and my wife says lets start investigating.
The more I investigate the more I am undecided.....Here is my situation
Here is what we think we are looking for (our situation)
My wife only wants to be a passenger so a 2-up is a definite
we will be on trails in Wisconsin
we dont need speed
we would like a cushy quiet luxury ride.
We dont like to get cold (heated everything?)
I would like lots of smooth power (not for speed but for low speed smooth starts)
I dont want to smell like gas (4 stoke thus is preferred)
I want reliability and I dont want to ever work on it myself
Unfortunately I cant buy until next year (spring of 2011)
I have researched skidoo the most and am thinking about the Grand Touring SE (1200 4 stroke)....then I went to the Milwaukee show and noticed that Yamaha's are built like Mercedes....noticeably better fit and finish than cat and Polaris ....ski doo was close b ut yamis seem to rule in this category.
but is that really that important? I hear great things about the cat 2 up sleds but they seemed to be well....built like a 75 chevy...do not want to offend and I am not a fanboy because I dont have a sled.
Yamaha lacks luxury like adjustable handle bars and heated seats.
I do like the clicker front shocks of the yamaha but the ski doo has the on the fly adjustable rear air shock
I would greatly and humbly love to hear from the group....I know there is a massive amount of experience here!
I wouldn't worry about what your gonna smell like. Honestly i ride a 4 stroke and there are far more 2 strokes on the trail so you end up smelling like a 2troke anyway(this doesn't bother me). Its like riding 4wheelers or motorcycles you still end up smilling like exhaust. When I was looking into 2ups I really liked the arctic cat panthers. The base modle has good power for what it is and the price isn't bad either. If you go with the new 4 stroke yamahas you will probably never have to work on it. The fact is all of the main stream brands make really reliable and great riding sleds. So if you find one that has the creature comforts your looking for you will probably be happy with it regardless of the brand. On top of that you can get most of the warmer upgrades aftermarket.
If weight really doesn't matter to you then 4-stroke probably is a good option for your needs. And this is coming from someone who would rather quit sledding than own a 4-stroke snowmobile.
But just remember, you are riding on snow. If you get stuck in a hole, a ditch, or whatever, that 4 stroke is going to be an extra 150 pounds to get unstuck. If your battery dies, it can't be pull-started. And let's not forget the arm and shoulder fatigue...all that extra weight is over the skis, making steering heavier. All touring models are heavier, but 4 strokes are an extra 30%+. Does that sound like fun? Skidoo's ETEC 2-strokes are really the best solution. Clean, great mileage, awesome power, lowest weight in the industry. If you are dead-set on a 4-stroke, I would still go with Skidoo.
Your first sled probably will not be perfect for your needs, so don't worry too much. You need to ride in order to find out what matters to you. Be prepared to sell your first rig and buy another, or better yet have a second rig. My first snowmobile was a massively overweight touring model. Had plenty of good times on it, but in the end the best decision ever was sell it and get my 99 RMK. Modded the seat so it can 2-up, but most of the time my wife and I both ride our own rigs. It's not exactly safe being out in the middle of nowhere with just one sled, so don't venture out too far without a group.