A snowmobile is a motor vehicle that is designed to be operated on snow or ice. Usually, snowmobiles resemble an oversized sled and are used like motorcycles or all-terrain vehicles. Designed with skis and tracks instead of wheels, snowmobiles achieve greater traction on snow and ice, without getting stuck in the snow.
During winter, it is difficult to travel great distances on roads covered with ice and snow. Moreover, automobiles are unreliable in such harsh conditions as they can get stuck in the snow. Hence, the snowmobile was invented in the early 1900s as a means of transport in snowy terrains. After the first patent for a motorized snow vehicle was given, many developments were carried out on the snowmobile to improve its speed, power and reliability.
There are two types of snowmobile engines available: lighter 2-stroke engines or heavier 4-stroke engines. Smaller snowmobiles are usually fitted with 2-stroke engines, while larger snowmobiles come with 4-stroke engines as they can deliver more power.
Depending on the type of engine, a snowmobile may use diesel or unleaded gasoline. Snowmobiles with 2-stroke engines usually use diesel, while those with 4-stroke engines use unleaded gas. Since the exhaust from diesel combustion engines is hazardous to the environment, manufacturers have begun producing more snowmobiles with 4-stroke engines.
Snowmobiles are also designed to have a low center of gravity, making them harder to tip. This is a very useful feature because they often travel on snowy terrain that is usually rugged and unleveled. The low center of gravity ensures that the snowmobile remains stable while moving on such terrains.
Snowmobiles can be classified into two categories: individual snowmobiles and multi-passenger snowmobiles. Individual snowmobiles are ridden like motorcycles and can carry two passengers. They can move at high speeds and are often used for racing and recreational activities. Multi-passenger snowmobiles can carry several passengers or a lot of cargo. Multi-passenger snowmobiles are usually covered and move slower than individual snowmobiles.
In regions that are covered with snow throughout the year, such as the Arctic, a snowmobile is a necessity. Unlike riding a dog sled, driving a snowmobile requires less training. Moreover, the harsh climate in these regions can sometimes make dogs unreliable as a means of transport. Compared to dog sleds, larger snowmobiles can carry more, making them a better choice for moving passengers or cargo.
Snowmobiles tend to create a lot of noise, and this may be unappealing to those who prefer peace and quiet. However, thanks to developments in technology, snowmobile manufacturers have been able to drastically reduce the noise produced by these vehicles.
Despite their utility in harsh weather conditions, snowmobiles need to be used with extreme care as they can be unsafe when driven at high speeds. However, with a snowmobile, you will be able to travel on almost any snowy terrain, without fretting over getting stuck on snow-covered roads.