Why use a tether?

Snowmobilers are asking manufacturers to supply a tether from the factory.

by Trish Drinkle

Tether up for safety.
Tether up for safety. Photo courtesy of Brook Evans

It's a picture-perfect day in beautiful Cook City, Montana, as Lucas Vogelsang and his cousin Ben Stenzel prepare to head out for the day of blue skies and deep powder snowmobiling. Preparation is a must for these veteran riders: TekVest, avalanche bag, beacon, shovel, probe—and sled tethers. 

A tether is a cord between a snowmobile and rider that acts as a engine kill in the event the rider and machine should become separated. Never taking safety for granted, Vogelsang ordered and installed a tether soon after purchasing his machine, understanding the potential danger of riding without. 

That day the pair came upon the holy grail of bowls to play in. Deep, untouched powder is what most riders live for. Vogelsang manouvered his sled into a well-executed sidehill, completely in control. Out of nowhere, a mound of ice caught him off-guard. Too much throttle and he found himself in an uncontrolled wheelie that seemed intent on flipping him over backwards. Instinct kicked in and Vogelsang bailed. The sled began to roll, following him down the steep hill. As he braced for impact, he heard the engine rev. His machine pinned him, sucking up his arm and his thigh as he rolled to protect himself.

“In an instant one of my biggest fears out riding was happening before my eyes," said Vogelsang. "I was about to be eaten alive by my spinning track.” 

Luckily Stenzel quickly came to his aid, hearing the blood curdling screams from his cousin. It could have been much worse, but thankfully some bad bruises were the only result. Vogelsang was lucky. Many have lost limbs, even lives due to this same scenario. 

Vogelsang knew enough to purchase and wear a tether, so what went wrong? 

In an attempt to make his snowmobile safer, he went to his local dealer to purchase a tether. Unfortunately for him, it wasn’t the correct tether for his machine, resulting in failure when it was most needed. 

With people purchasing parts online and doing installs on their own, many variables can effect tether effectiveness. BRP’s Ski-Doo snomobiles are the only machines that supply a tether from the factory. 

Riders want tethers to be standard equipment

Nicole Sapriken works in the parts department at Playmor Power Products in Crescent Valley, B.C.

“Honestly I was shocked when I found out that the other manufacturers don’t supply tethers," said Sapriken. "Apparently BRP feels the same, as they have been supplying tethers for decades.”

Many riders agree. Close to 200 have signed a petition expressing a desire to have tethers supplied from factory and are sharing their feelings with Arctic Cat, Polaris and Yamaha. 

This simply makes sense. The more available the tether, the more they will be used. The petition doesn't seek to make tether use mandatory. It is simply the voice of today’s rider saying, “Yes, horsepower and a lightweight chassis are important, but so is safety.”

You can find the online petition at change.org

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