Duraflex Ice Scratchers (Jim Tucker)
Published on Thursday, December 5, 2013 in News & Updates, Snowmobile Tech
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This month we are going to look at a novel product that just might increase your confidence level heading into that next ride. Snowmobiles are off-road conveyances and as such they encounter some pretty nasty trail conditions out there. Rocks, dirt and ice have adorned some of the trails encountered at one time or another in our riding careers. Hey, we’re supposed to ride on snow right? That white stuff that makes everything beautiful and the machines work oh so good.

One thing no rider likes to see is a freeze-thaw cycle that sets the trails up to be bulletproof hard pack, or worse yet, icy conditions here and there. We’ve all been there and rode that and lived to tell the tale. Making it home in one piece is numero uno in this writer’s book. I’ll save the subject of studded tracks for another time, however, the machinery takes a real beating in these types of conditions. I don’t know about you, but I love to have all the goodies on my sled that make it suitable for anything I encounter.

One such goodie is a set of ice scratchers made by Duraflex. I scored these bad boys late last season for testing purposes and hoped to have some miles under my belt so I could tell you if they were a thumbs up or thumbs down product. After many miles of testing I can thankfully say they rock! Let me explain…

The scratchers are a cable-type device with carbide tips at the end. They bolt onto each slide rail of the rear suspension and hang down to drag on the ice and snow. This dragging action sprays snow up onto the heat exchangers and hyfax. As you may well know, bony trails make for some hot running engines and burned up slides. Slides need water to stay lubricated and snowmobile engines need snow thrown up on to the heat exchangers to keep that dreaded hot light on the dashboard from coming on.

The scratchers are stored up on the rail when not needed but when the trail turns sour you can easily pull them out and let them hang down. I have a video of us heading across an icy lake you can check out on my YouTube page at Teamgreen71111

Taking them out of the package revealed a very beefy cable and some really top notch, well thought out construction. Installation was easy, as my Cat already had a hole in the rail that fit the bill. Mount the scratchers as far forward as space allows to get maximum benefit from the spray. Some rails will have to be drilled to accept the threaded bolt that holds the cable tight. Thread locker should be used on the bolts as the suspension really vibrates and cycles.

Be sure to find a place on the rail that allows enough clearance so that the chassis will not hit the cable at full compression. Adjust the cables so that they are perpendicular to the snow for maximum spray.

Lest you think these are throwaway devices, the carbide tips are replaceable and that just sweetens the pot, purchase-wise. Previous scratchers were wire devices that bolted to the slide rails but never worked in reverse. The Duraflex units work in reverse mode without hanging up or breaking off, so us saddle baggers can have our cake and eat it too!

One word of caution is in order. When the scratchers are deployed they will drag lots of debris into the suspension. Riding through muddy areas brought dirt and grit into the skid, so be careful there. Regardless, this is proof positive that they really throw up a lot of “whatever it is” you are riding through, hopefully snow! My riding partner, who did not have them installed, had a snow-white suspension while mine was brown during that particular outing!

Duraflex Ice Scratchers test

They retail for about $80 and should be a necessary part of any rider’s arsenal. Mountain riders benefit greatly, as they have longer paddle tracks that essentially move the track farther away from the snow, not to mention there is a lot longer hyfax to worry about. I remember a particular media trip when I was riding a mountain machine behind the leaders on groomed trails. The trail was hard pack from the previous day’s freeze-thaw cycle and I began to smell burning candles! Hyfax burning, hello! Some folks had their hot lights come on but the ones who had scratchers were okay.

Duraflex scratchers have been around for a while but the latest generation seems to have all the bugs worked out, something I have been following quite closely over the last few years. If you search YouTube you can find all sorts of homemade contraptions that do the same thing but they all have some sort of failings. I say buy the best and you won’t be dissatisfied.

So, to conclude, this is a worthy upgrade for any platform out there. One that will serve you well for years to come and just give that little extra edge when heading out on the next adventure. I rate it five out of five carbides!

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