Nothing ruins a day (or trip) more easily and more quickly than a bent or broken A-Arm. Alternative Impact aims to end this with their cleverly designed front end. After a year of riding on a set, how’d they fair? Check this for the scoop.
Alternative Impact 39″ A-Arms
- Product Type: Front End
- Price: $515-525
- Widths Offered: 42, 39, 36
- Weight: Not Listed (not distinguishable from stock)
Polaris did a remarkably good job with the Axys platform. Sure, there are a few electrical gremlins we have found and yeah, its still a snowmobile (it isn’t perfect), but by and large, its a great sled. However, if there is one part many have complained about, its the stock Axys Pro RMK forged A-Arms. They were designed by the Polaris engineering team to bend before causing damage to the bulkhead, a great idea in theory. Unfortunately, it seems they went a little too far with a number of riders bending or breaking arms in situations whereby maybe they should have stayed strong. To add, being a forged aluminum product, replacements aren’t cheap. Somewhere around $400+ per side.
Thankfully, aftermarket has come to the rescue. We’ve tried two to the three most noteworthy alternatives (Z-Broz and Alternative Impact). Though we don’t have the nicest things to say about our Z-Broz kit, we’ll leave that to a different post. In short, Z-Broz was better than stock but their finish and attention to detail left a lot to be desired. Its like Z-Broz got the product to “C” level and quit.
Alternative Impact’s “special sauce” is their break away ball joints, designed to fail in the case you hit something you shouldn’t. In theory, the rider should be able to change this in the field, and assuming they carry a spare, never miss a day of riding due to a downed front end all the while protecting the bulk head and your wallet.
Does it work? We’ve had the product on 4 of the Powderbuggies test sleds over the last 1.5 seasons. We are thankful to report the system works as advertised. We’ve broken a number of ball joints, each and every one would have been a broken A-Arm utilizing any other company’s product. We are also yet to damage one bulkhead.
To add, the way they’ve failed has also protected our limbs (wrists!). It fails in a very “clean” break away fashion, almost like a properly adjusted ski binding. This was an unforeseen bonus.
- We were not paid by Alternative Impact for this post. We did not receive a discount. They are not “sponsoring” us in any way, shape or form.
- By our estimations, its saved us collectively about $1000 since installing them last season. That’s not a small amount of money.
- While they may not be as swanky looking as the Skinz stuff, workmanship is great, welds strong and they are well thought out. Form-follows-function and they bolted right up. We are happy with Dan’s (the owner) work on the “aesthetic” side of things, though this may be the only area where they are one notch down from “perfect”.
- Due to how they are engineered, they come with ball joints. No messing with presses or pullers, a huge time saver. To add, they come with bushings installed. Quick installation is always a plus.
In our eyes, if you ride an Axys and find yourself in rocky terrain, go ahead and give this front end a hard look. Clever engineering, good workmanship and a solid price point make this a win.
A few notes on the narrow front end:
In our eyes, if you are “normal” sledding weight (190+ lbs), going narrow is a bad option (Skinz 37″ may be the exception – more on that below). Riding style, terrain, and suspension do play into this, but overall, going narrow we’ve found creates more problems than it solves. In short, its a band-aid to poor riding technique, not a “fix” to an inherent problem to the sled.
At 195 in street clothes and 6’2″ I’m a fairly average sledder build. If anything, I’d argue I’m on the lighter side of the equation, but probably right in the middle. When I rode the sled with a narrow front end, I found the sled marginally easier to roll on its side from a stand still. However, once there, it had a much smaller “balance point”, especially in wrong-foot-forward situations. It was a tricky situation, the sled would often fall over too far on edge in wrong foot forward situations where I’d be trying to put weight back over the other side of the sled (usually unsuccessfully, looking like an idiot).
I tried adapting my riding style, instead riding it more like a dirt bike, which worked if I was going slow and staying off steep terrain. However, once in steep terrain the sled overreacted to my input and was difficult to control, especially at speed or in rutted out terrain. No stability. The balance point was compromised.
Remember, the Axys has the highest center of gravity (COG) of any mountain sled on the market. At 39″, it may have the widest front end compared to Cat or Doo, but when you factor in the higher COG the wider front end starts to make sense. I lowered the sled slightly to compensate for this. Sure enough, it started to work, but then I lost the advantages of the higher front end (there was more drag on the snow when deep). It ended up a compromise I wasn’t willing to make, so stock width it was…
The Axys will never roll over like a ski-doo at a stand still. There are so many factors beyond ski-width that serve catalyst to this. If you want a sled to roll over like a Ski-Doo, buy a Ski-Doo. If you want a sled that holds a side hill like an Axys, buy an Axys.
The exception to the front end argument may be the Skinz 37″ kit. Not only do they *strongly* encourage you to buy their custom shocks with the kit, the arm is also engineered to increase the “wheelbase” of the sled. EG, the ski is further out in front of you to enhance stability.
This geometry change and suspension change is likely noteworthy and could be the secret sauce to getting the narrow front end to be more stable. However, considering the kit is over $2300, we’ll stick with our $550 Alt Impact front end and stock-ish shocks!
One caveat – if you are on the lighter end of the spectrum, the narrow front end may be a great option as you won’t “overweight” the sled in wrong foot forward situations. (this means less than 170lbs)