It's time for our next snowmobiling technique tip! On this occasion, we're going to take a look at neutral position turns. This is a movement that is known by many names. When it comes to off trail and power riding, neutral position turns are a fundamental skill. If you plan on progressing beyond intermediate level then you really should be aiming to master this particular maneuver. While easier to do in powder, this is something that you should be able to eventually do any any snow conditions.
Anyway, let's get started! To perform this movement, you must have good throttle and brake control, as well as overall balance of your machine. If you're not yet comfortable with your snowmobile then it's worth practising the basics first. For ease of explanation let's look how to do a left neutral position turn while turning on flat ground. Naturally, you can then do the opposite when it comes to making a right turn!
So for a left turn, you should counter steer to the right. Counter steering removes the support of the left ski and carves out snow to let the machine fall left or inside the turn. While counter steering, use your throttle in controlled bursts in order to lift the ski and maintain balance while performing the turn. Obviously too much throttle is just going to tip the machine over to the left whereas too little won't lift the ski off the ground.
A helpful tip is to use your right foot to lift up on the foot hold to maintain your body in an upright position. You can use your brake to control acceleration and reduce the radius of the turn. In fact you may alternate the brake with throttle burst to achieve the speed and angle desired. The counter steering will also control the radius of the turn - the more counter steer, the smaller the radiu turn which then requires more throttle bursts to lift the sled. Again, throttle will control the balance point. Too much throttle will tip the sled on its left side. Not enough, the machine will fall flat and you’ll lose the turn. It's worth watching the duration of your throttle bursts. If you are holding onto your throttle burst for too long, then you will accelerate off on a tangent on one ski and not be able to actually turn.
Essentially, in a well executed balanced turn, you will be using your counter steer, throttle bursts, and breaking all in coordination. It sounds like a lot to take in but with some practise there's no reason why you can't become proficient in this. You should keep attempting this until you can do perfect figure 8's. Once you've become the master then you can progress to u-turns and controlled sidehilling. Good luck!
Did you find this useful? Do you have any tips for this technique? Let us know in the comment section below!