Snowmobile Ski Test: The MoHawk by SLP (Jim Tucker)
Published on Thursday, February 12, 2015 in News & Updates, Snowmobile Tech
Tags: , ,

Great American Ski Test Part IV: The MoHawk snowmobile ski by SLP

Oh, my God! What was it I pulled out of the box, labeled Starting Line Products? Was it a black roller coaster? Was the plastic thingy with bumps on it from outer space or the deep sea? Nope. The skis from SLP were all about wow! These things are what make for some very pleasant snow dreams in the twisted mind of a techie.

I’d seen the pictures, I’d heard a few reports, I just had to get me some of them there MoHawk skis and test those bad boys out! I immediately reached out to Jerry Matthews, owner of Starting Line Products, and told him I craved a set of these skis for a shoot-out style test. He readily agreed and understood that I called the shots as I see them and there could only be one winner.

Speaking of which, the reigning kings of skis, the Curve XS, deserved a shot against this new ski, and so do you, the loyal followers of this column. Do the new MoHawk skis best the Curve XS’? Are they champs or just chumps? At this level of competition you can’t stay at the top of the heap forever – or can you? Buckle your chinstraps, as we are about to embark on a wild ride.

MoHawk snowmobile ski test and review

Once in my hand, products always get the acid test and the chips fall where they may. I pull no punches and speak the truth as I see it. After all it’s my integrity at stake here. If it works it gets a thumbs up, if not, I work with the vendor to sort out any issues that arise or questions relating to fitment or performance. I appreciate business owners lending me products for testing, and by the way, I receive no remuneration for this article or free gifts from the manufacturers. ‘Nuff said on that one.

Read other SledMass snowmobile ski tests:

The Great American Ski Test: Part I

The Great American Ski Test: Part II

With the ground rules set, a large package soon arrived on my doorstep. I unboxed the skis and noticed how much wider the MoHawks are than the stock SLP Straight Line Tracking skis or stock boards from Cat. Now for you technical types, the tale of the tape is as follows: MoHawk skis: Width 7.5 inches, weight 7.4 lbs each, tip to tail 39 3/8 inches. SLT skis: Width 6 inches, weight 6.13 lbs each, tip to tail 39 1/8 inches. The weight includes saddles, loops, six-inch carbides and all hardware. It does not include ski rubbers.

The MoHawk ski hardware is top notch and fits well.

The MoHawk ski hardware is top notch and fits well.

The new MoHawks have a somewhat deeper keel than my trusty SLTs but that may be because of the high miles and the resulting wear. They also have a very pronounced patented rocker-type pattern to the center keel for deep snow tracking and precision in the corners. The top rails are raised in a roller coaster-type fashion, higher in the front, lower in the rear, and laced with bumps on top, which aid traction when you get stuck.

The outer edges of the skis are deep on the bottom and higher on the top, following that curved pattern mentioned above. See the photos for details. This edge design helps the ski maintain more precision in the corners, both on and off-trail, by “plowing” the snow in corners.

The MoHawk are touted as being made for the crossover, rider-forward sleds of today. As usual, the test mule for this shoot-out is my venerable 2010 Arctic Cat Z1, non-turbo, four-stroke, without studs. So, why would groomed-trail riders like these wider skis? Let’s examine some ski physics. A wider ski planes up better off-trail: Check. A wider ski corners better in loose snow on groomed trails: Check. A wider ski seems to “fit” the look of the sled better: Half check! With all these checks, they should add up to better performance, right? You betcha!

Assembling the components revealed many nice touches the boys from Idaho Falls include, such as stainless steel and aluminum fasteners, and Loctite to keep them fastened. Instructions were easy to understand with lots of pictures. I like pictures! Set-up tips for Arctic Cat’s came with the package. Call before ordering and they will help with your particular brand. Boy, those guys think of everything! Note that the literature pronounces “unbreakable ski loops” but it also states not to tow the sled by the ski loop. Always tow using the spindle, a wise practice across the board.

I used SLP’s six-inch carbides, part #35-123, torqued to spec and installed the saddles on the skis. This is where I made a mistake. You should instead install the saddle on the spindle first, then the ski to the saddle. Odd, but that’s what is required for the Z1 Super Kitty. The ski rubbers were not included, so I used the stock Cat ones. I mounted the ski saddle combo in the rear hole of the saddle, thus putting the ski most forward.

Snowmobile Ski Comparison

With the ski wars heating up as much as they are, just the slightest tweak here and adjustment there can make huge differences on the trail. Make no mistake about it, any aftermarket ski will garner riders more performance than stock. The yellow brand riders (Ski-Doo for you folks that live in the backwoods) might argue with that statement, as they seem to have the best OEM skis out there, but I still stand by what I say. Try it, you may like it!

The initial test day looked promising, with conditions to match. My heart was pounding the first time I tried the skis and carbide combo. I was immediately stunned, the skis seemed to be made for the sled. Effortless turns, just like the power steering sensation I get from the SLT’s that I run on a regular basis.

Okay, let’s start slow and get the feel, then turn the heat up. But these skis just begged to be challenged. I still held off, going many miles until I felt confident of the next tier of speed. The more I pushed, the harder the skis bit into the turn. Amazing. A powder ski that turns like a true trail ski! Time to slow down and head off-trail in my heavy four-stroke, just to see what happens. I was certain it would bog down and make me beg the snow gods for mercy, but no, they planed up very well. So much so that my confidence increased and I began to play in the soft stuff. Nice!

Even though you may not go off-trail that often, it’s nice to know you can when you need to. Take for example a typical U-turn on a tight trail that forces you off the hard-pack and into the fluff. With the MoHawks, you just glide right around. I’m liking it!

So, how do they stack up against the SLP Straight Line TrackingSimmons original Flexi-Ski, C&A RZ Razors and the Curve XS Skis? The C&A’s have the solid look and feel of a race ski, the SLT’s have that smooth power steering feel, the Simmons have the shock absorption and ultra precise cornering, and the Curve XS’ combine all those good points and just flat out rock across the board. But the MoHawks had another idea, like stealing the show. How they did it is a testament to the tenacity and testing by the gang at Starting Line Products. I can just imagine the dozens of hours of on-snow testing performed, and know that every Starting Line Product reeks of quality, through and through.

Turning precision of the MoHawks was buttery smooth, even on bombed-out washboard trails, and the nubs on the top rail of the ski worked as advertised with the best boot traction I have yet seen. This really helps for those unexpected off-trail excursions that happen every so often, giving you that extra measure of confidence knowing you can recover quicker.

I’m now a real believer in the wider skis for us groomed-trail riders, as the benefits of easy off-trail turnarounds, un-groomed connector trails, and virgin powder on top of the trail make the ride that much more enjoyable and safer. There was no special setup for cornering needed, just go in and put the skis wherever you want in the turn, apex down low, down the center, it was just another day at the office for these boards.

It’s funny how these skis just give zero negative feedback to the handlebars, no chatter, no back and forth movement, or bad vibes at all. I tried the optional Keel Blade with four-inch carbide combo on the ski, which works well enough to earn most snowmobilers’ trust, but they didn’t have the precision of the six-inch, 60-degree, carbide. Most riders won’t know the difference, but for the aggressive gang out there you will love these skis with the 6 x 60 set-up.

For the crossover segment, these skis are a must-have as they are not a full-blown, on-trail or off-trail ski, they are a combination of just the right ingredients of both. In reverse gear the ski does what it is supposed to do and again no surprises. One side note is that since the skis are wider, loading on a two-place trailer gets tricky as you have to overlap the skis of the two sleds in the center of the trailer in order to fit. I’ll take that any day for a product that rules the trail.

So, the MoHawks get high praise for their precision, effortless cornering, and attention-getting looks. The flotation is head and shoulders above any ski tested but is a crossover specific ski that just happens to rule the groomed trail as well. The hardware is top notch and fits well. They are without a doubt the best skis this writer has tried to date and that says a lot because all the other skis are really terrific.

The MoHawks can be ordered a la carte at the Starting Line Products website, with a wide choice of colored saddles, loops and several types of runners. I told you my choice, what’s yours?

This is the fourth round of ski tests and the third time a new champion has been added to the list. Almost every time I test a ski a winner emerges. It just goes to show that ski evolution is on the fast track, and you, the snowmobilers of today, get all the benefits.
In conclusion the MoHawks gets a five out of five carbide rating, the highest I’ve ever given to any product, period. I’m hard-pressed to think of anything I don’t like about these skis and I’m a tough customer, just ask my wife!

« | »

Return to full list of entries