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Survey: Snowmobile buyers turn to dealers

By By Liz Keener

Snow Goer survey reveals riders’ current habits, future plans

Nearly one-third of the snowmobilers recently surveyed by Snow Goer magazine plan to buy a snowmobile within the next 12 months. Snow Goer, a sister consumer publication to Powersports Business, surveys its readers annually to gauge their sentiment going into the upcoming riding season.

More than one-quarter of the readers who participated in the Snow Goer magazine survey plan to buy a helmet this season.

More than one-quarter of the readers who participated in the Snow Goer magazine survey plan to buy a helmet this season.

The 2015 survey found 31 percent of riders plan to buy a new sled in the next year, while another 12.5 percent say there’s a 50/50 chance that they’ll buy in the next 12 months. Three-quarters of those who are buying soon plan to buy a new unit from a dealership, while another 9.8 percent will buy a used snowmobile from a dealer. The remaining 15.2 percent plan to buy a used snowmobile from a private party.

Snow Goer also asked which parts or components riders will be purchasing within the next 12 months. Not surprisingly, oil stood out as the top contender, with 67.9 percent of consumers planning oil purchases. Drive belts were second on the list, with 51.5 percent. They were followed by fuel additives at 32.3 percent, trailer accessories at 25.1 percent, traction products (studs and/or carbide runners) at 24.8 percent, clutch parts and components at 19.1 percent and on-board storage (i.e. tunnel or handlebar bag) at 17.8 percent.

When it comes to gear, new gloves are on 37.6 percent of riders’ wish lists. Helmets are in the next 12-months purchase plan for 28.8 percent of snowmobilers surveyed. Boots and bibs or pants came in tied for third at 27.7 percent each. Underlayers followed at 26.4 percent.CHART 3

Current trends

Snow Goer readers were also asked about their current habits and what they are wearing now.

A majority of those surveyed — 42.3 percent — said they most often ride a performance trail snowmobile. That was followed by the trail-oriented crossover category, which 21.6 percent reported is their primary segment. Mountain sleds are usually ridden by 15.8 percent of riders, and common trail sleds are No. 1 for 12.6 percent.CHARTS 1

Modular helmets are most popular among those polled, as 44 percent turn to this style. Full-face helmets are the preferred lids for 29 percent of riders, while 27 percent wear MX-style helmets with goggles.

While all four snowmobile OEMs are among the Top 10 brands of jackets riders wear, Klim took the top spot. Three OEMs — Ski-Doo, Arctic Cat and Polaris — followed. At No. 5 on the list was FXR. “Other” jackets, that ranged from Cabela’s to Reima to Joe Rocket and more, took sixth place, while Yamaha came in seventh. Choko, Castle Racing and Cold Wave rounded out the top 10.

In terms of where riders bought their current snowmobile jacket, 39.3 percent purchased theirs from a dealership, and another 6.5 percent bought theirs from a dealer’s website. More than a quarter of riders purchased their jacket from a show or event from a dealership or other vendor, and 14.6 percent got theirs from an online or mail-order snowmobile parts retailer.

Service and trailers

The data on where riders get their snowmobile serviced and types of trailers used was also intriguing.

Unfortunately for dealers, 67 percent of snowmobilers report they do their own maintenance and repair. However, 22 percent said they rely on their dealership.

One-third of riders transport their snowmobile in a two-place enclosed or capped/covered trailer. Two-place open trailers are the next most popular, with 21.5 percent of those surveyed using them. Four-place enclosed trailers are relied upon for 18.4 percent of Snow Goer readers, while 10.7 percent use three-place enclosed trailers.

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