Old Sled Sighting: 1985 Manta & Trail Roamer snowmobiles (Part 1)

Jeff Tanach and Rick Rivers are both from St. Andrews, Manitoba, and they have a cool collection of Trail Roamers and Manta twin track snowmobiles.

1984 Manta sled, black and white in colour.
Rick's 1984 Manta snowmobile has a 440 Fuji fan with a Polaris drive and skid frame. Photo: Jeff Tanach

Here is the first of a few posts we'll be doing about Jeff and Rick's excellent snowmobile collecting adventures.  Jeff recently submitted some photos to our Old Sled Zone page featuring the Manta/Raider/Trail Roamer/Double Eagle snowmobiles he and a friend started to collect. So we asked for some more information and a bit of back story on these cool, rather unique sleds.

Jeff Tanach and Rick Rivers are both from St. Andrews, Manitoba, and they have a cool collection of Trail Roamers and Manta twin track snowmobiles, which they store in their shops.

Jeff Tanach says, “Rick turned me on to these machines in 2009. In early 2010 he was looking for a Manta and found a 1985 liquid cooled 500cc in well-used condition locally. He didn't want it because it wasn't oil injected, so I bought it.” Jeff added, “I am currently in the assembly stage of a frame off restoration of it, and it should be ready for next winter. In 2010, Rick also found a Manta on the Internet in Minnesota that had oil injection and electric start. It was in pretty rough shape, but it ran and was complete. Rick bought it, restored it, and that was the start of it all.”

What about the Trail Roamers? “When Rick was looking for a Manta in 2009, he came across some info and pictures on the Internet of the Trail Roamer. They were really hard to come by and expensive, so Rick put the idea of purchasing one on the back burner. In 2011, Rick found two Trail Roamers with a trailer on eBay. We bid on them and won the auction. We drove to Idaho, which was quite a drive from where we live, and picked them up at a ranch. Cool thing is when we picked up the machines we found out that they were owned by Bill Gates' partner Paul Allen who owned the ranch. Once I had the Manta and the Trail Roamer, I needed a Raider twin track to complete the set. I set out to find a Double Eagle, and in 2015 I found one.”

1985 Manta sled, red and white in colour.
Jeff's 1985 Manta has a 500 cc Suzuki liquid cooled motor with an Arctic Cat drive and Polaris skid frame. Photo: Jeff Tanach

What do they like about these vintage sleds? “We both have late model snowmobiles but like driving these machines more because they are so different. You can hardly tell the difference between the late model machines. I say drive because they are more like a car than a snowmobile. People are always stopping us to take pictures, something that never happens on a regular sled. As for showing them, they are regular fixtures at local vintage sled shows here and they always draw a crowd. While we don't put a lot of miles on them, we do ride them regularly.”

How do the old sleds ride?  “On our last ride, we put 80 miles on the Trail Roamers. As for what machines would go together best is a tough call. They are all kind of related. The Double Eagle is the first generation and it has conventional snowmobile controls. The Manta is the second generation and the Trail Roamer is the final chapter in the twin track story.  Both the Manta and Trail Roamer have steering wheels with gas and brake pedals. Parts for the Trail Roamers are non-existent except for the engines which are V twin 725 cc, 26hp, fuel injected 4 stroke Kolhers.”

Where do you get spare parts for these old sleds?  “All the spare parts, body molds and production jigs were sold as a lot on the Net and we haven't been able to track them down. Most mechanical parts are available for the Mantas from a vendor in Michigan who bought all the spare parts as a lot also. The Mantas use a lot of Arctic Cat and Polaris parts. My 1985 Manta has a 500 cc Suzuki liquid cooled motor with an Arctic Cat drive and Polaris skid frame. Rick's 1984 has a 440 Fuji fan with a Polaris drive and skid frame. The Mantas and the Trail Roamers have duel 9" tracks, while the Raider has the old cleated style tracks. There are a few places on the Internet to get parts for the Raider Double Eagle. Parts are a lot easier to find for the Raider because there were so many made.”

Thanks to Jeff and Rick for sharing their old sled story. Watch for more on these sleds in future columns.

If you have an old sled story or photo to share, please send them to: [email protected] 

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