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Discussion Starter #1
I'm wanting to start snowmobiling I'm looking
at a couple older sleds a 97 Artic Cat Powder Special 580 or a 97
Skidoo Summit 583. What do guys think is the better sled for fun
and reliability. I guess both have a 136 track. Is one faster than
the other or lighter?
 

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I don't know much about the Artic Cat but Ski Doo's 583 is one the most reliable engines that they made. I owned one for 4 years & didn't have a single problem with it. I have always liked the s-chassis & I still have one. :D
 

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I have had about 16 different snowmobiles and the Skidoo 583 is bullet proof; however if you are new to the sport dont waste you time, get a Skidoo Rev or Rev Xp frame, you can thank me later.
 

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that easy

The Summit 583 would be my pick
 

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As an avid Arctic Cat guy, I would strongly suggest the Summit 583, those motors are anvils.
The A/C 580 is not knows as the most reliable motor in the family.
 

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You might want to take a good look at the tracks before you decide. The track length and the lug length make a huge difference. What is on there now may not be stock, so actually inspect and measure the paddle depth. There is a noticeable difference in pull between a 1.5" and a 1.75" paddle on a 136" track (I have both), and if you are intending to ride mountain/powder I highly suggest you go with the deepest paddle you can get. If you pick based on a nebulous category "historical reliability" that may or may not apply to your sled, what have you gained? But if one definitely has a better track than the other then you're sure you have better traction and every time you get stuck you won't be wishing you'd gone with the other sled.

Whichever one you get *make sure* the clutch is tuned for your altitude range and that the carbs are actually configured properly (even though you have altitude compensation, somebody may have ill-advisedly changed the jetting anyway) before you ride. If your mountain sled is set up to run over 10,000 feet and you run at around 4000 feet, your engine will rev to over 9000 RPM (way past the power band and stressing your engine bearings) and if the carbs have been tampered with you could be lean and burn up the engine. I've had the clutches and carbs set up wrong on every single sled I've ever bought (even the altitude compensated), so I can't stress this enough. Find your clutching chart and make sure your setup matches it. If you have an aftermarket exhaust you will need the chart from the pipe maker. It is too important to ignore because improper clutching and carb is what will kill your engine for sure.

Check other things like the ski quality and seat condition, but I would put the track as by far the most important feature over any other, given a similar engine size. Unless you feel like replacing your track...which is a lot of work and expensive even if you DIY. Does this Summit have the 16" wide track? That might be a selling point right there if it does. Lug height and profile is still more important for traction, but extra width will float a little better.

Mountain riding requires tuning, period. If you can afford someone to do it for you, you might want to just go with that brand new Rev XP. If you can afford the best get the best. If you want to save a lot of money and have a lot of fun for the dollar (assuming you're getting a good deal), go with one of these older sleds and make sure it is set up right so it performs right and does not blow up on you. If you are over 5' 10" tall, do not get an original Rev, your knees will never be right again. If you need more specific help on how to set up your clutch or carbs yourself, just ask. Do yourself a favor and run premium fuel, so that when you are running below your tuned altitude range your engine has a better chance of survival. Make sure the oiler is pumping at least 50:1 if not 40:1 and use a name-brand oil. You will probably get a good life out of either engine unless it has already been badly abused. And you have no way of knowing that, so all you can do is tune properly, cross your fingers...and go with the better track.
 
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