You can ride a snowmobile without carbides. However, doing that may cause its rods to wear out faster and compromise steering control around corners. It can also make your ride uncomfortable.

A snowmobile needs appropriate gear to function properly. Among such gear is the carbide, which connects to the bottom of the rods on your snowmobile to protect them from wear. While most people understand this all-important role, there has been some curiosity as to whether it is possible to use a snowmobile without carbides. 

The rest of this post will explore the subject of riding a snowmobile without carbides in greater detail. It’ll cover what benefits you sacrifice by doing that, what the snowmobile community thinks about riding without carbides, and much more. Let’s get started.

Why You Need To Ride a Snowmobile With Carbides

Riding a snowmobile can guarantee you an experience of a lifetime. Just the thought of moving through the ice and frost at incredible speeds can leave you giddy with excitement. 

However, that might be impossible without the right setup. Snowmobile Carbides are a crucial element of the “right setup”. 

They provide several benefits, as outlined below: 

Carbides Prevent Rods From Wearing Out

This is the key reason why you would need a carbide. You already have the rods attached to the bottom of the snowmobile, but they are not resistant to the elements when you are riding. 

Placing the carbide under the rods protects them from getting damaged quickly. While that means that the carbides get worn out faster, it is a preferable outcome. It helps avoid frequent rod replacement, making your snowmobile cheaper to maintain.

Carbides Improve Steering Control

If you love riding your mobile on the track, carbides are an absolute necessity. Some riders claim that having the carbides on when going downhill can lead to scratches. However, this is a small price to pay once you consider that the carbides can limit your collision rate when you’re moving at high speeds.

Additionally, carbides are perfect to have if you are still getting used to riding snowmobiles. They act like training wheels that help keep you on track, so you don’t get off course. 

Carbides Ensure Smooth Movement

Dashing through the snow on rods alone means that you are bound to come into contact with rocks and bumps that make the ride uncomfortable and forgettable. By attaching a carbide to the bottom of the vehicle, you get to glide over surfaces without worrying too much about the type of terrain you are going over.

Do You Need Carbides on Your Snowmobile?

This is the big question, and there are conflicting opinions on what constitutes the “right” answer. In fact, you can say there’s a 50/50 split.

On one side, you have regular snowmobile riders who claim that carbides are always good to have because they assure you of a safer ride.

Their main argument is that having carbides protects you and your snowmobile if you hit an ice patch, which isn’t uncommon. The pro-carbides camp also argues that they are perfect for getting you over hard snow, where your mobile needs that extra edge to get going. 

On the other hand, some snowmobile riders argue that investing in carbides is a huge waste of money. 

The distrust in carbides can be linked to the fact that you sacrifice comfort for safety. It’s worth noting that this opinion is mainly held by off-trail riders who are not concerned about the trail benefits offered by carbides. Carbides are also known to chew up the deck or shop floor, a situation most riders try to avoid.

Given these conflicting opinions, all we can say is that it is possible to ride your snowmobile without carbides. However, whether they count as a necessity is largely dependent on the type of terrain: 

You need carbides on your snowmobile if you are sticking to the trail. If you are built for that off terrain life, you might be better off sticking with wear rods. 

Choosing the Right Carbides

There is a misconception about carbides that having a longer one is always better. This could not be farther from the truth because if the carbide is too long, you can maneuver less around corners, and the skis will dig in more than it should. 

This is why the length of the track plays a vital role in the type of carbide you get. If the track is short, a 4” (10.16 cm) carbide is a perfect selection. This is a favorite for most trail riders, but it pays off a lot more if you are just an average rider. 

In this case, a short set of 4” (10.16 cm) carbides improve handling, especially if you have to deal with a 121” (307 cm) in track with 96 or fewer studs or up to 1” (2.54  cm) lugs on the track when you’re riding at moderate speeds on corners.

The longer carbides become necessary when you add more studs to the mobile. This is ideal because having short carbides and traction in the back means that the sleds get less time to change direction at the corners, a situation you need to avoid. 

There are additional factors to consider, including:

  • Your riding style and skills: The skills and style you perform on the track will determine the type of material you should get.
  • Weight: If your snowmobile gets a lot smaller when you board it, try getting carbides that the pressure won’t affect.
  • Track type: Keeping the terrain in mind will make it a lot easier to choose carbides that can handle the strain of sharp turns, bumpy tracks, and downhill rides.

How To Know When Your Carbides Have Worn Out

The easiest way to determine whether your carbides need more attention is during the actual rides. When they’re worn out, you’ll notice that you keep losing more control of the sled at high speeds. Once you start experiencing the drifts, it’s time to check those carbides. 

In any case, preventive measures are always better than restorative ones, so consistently inspecting your carbides will go a long way in preventing any lasting damage. The tell-tale signs of wear include

  • Missing pieces
  • Bent mounting bolts
  • Cracks
  • Square/blunt edges etc.

If the carbides are not looked after properly, the wear may spread to the wear bars. This would mean that the bars completely disappear, and you end up rising on bare skis (which is not a good idea).

On the upside, you do not need to replace your carbides once they start wearing out completely. You always have the option of getting them sharpened, which brings us to the next point in our discussion: how to do it.

Sharpening Your Snowmobile Carbide

Sharpening your snowmobile carbides becomes a routine task with the snowmobile carbide saver or the snowmobile carbide sharpener. Essentially, this is a little diamond-fitted grinder that you mount in a cordless drill. 

The ideal way to utilize it is by removing the carbides and then fastening them in a vice for precise sharpening. However, there is no point in sharpening the carbides if they are already completely rounded. This is because the whole point of the sharpeners is to make the edges sharper. 

If the carbides are in very bad shape, you have no other option but to buy new ones. 

Final Thoughts

Snowmobile carbides are an awesome addition to have when you’re zipping through the terrain at high speeds. It is possible to move without them, but snowmobile rides are so much better with them.