Blog 1 - Birth of the permanent bump test trackby Al Halfaker
Like many people who are taking the time to reading this blog, you have been riding a variety of snowmobile trails for many years. Sometimes the trails are well groomed and all too often they are not. You have been very sore and tired after pounding over a bumpy trail for 100 to 200 miles in a days ride. As you get older you think twice about a long ride and do as much checking on the trail conditions as you can before you go on the long ride.
In 1996 I discovered the joys of riding a new type of suspension called an M-10 manufactured in Eveleth, Minnesota by a man named Gerard Karpik. Gerard was a famous cross country snowmobile racer who won many trophies for many years in the 80’s. What more qualified person could you find to design a suspension with a soft ride designed for long rides without feeling beat up by the end of the day.
I purchased one of those first M-10 suspensions with 10” of travel. The suspension was very tough to adjust for the rider weight to get maximum performance with a soft ride, but when I got it right for my weight it was fantastic compared to factory suspensions. I purchase three more M-10 suspensions for later model snowmobiles.
When I heard about the new M-10 and M-20 suspensions with air springs I knew it was time to purchase a new suspension from TeamFast Inc. in Eveleth which is the name of Gerard Karpik’s company today. After all, Gerard’s company has been building and improving the M-10 suspension for 20 years. The evolution to air springs would have to provide a softer ride.
Think of it this way. Big semi trucks went to air bags on their suspensions and air bags on the drivers seat years ago. Snowmobile suspensions should have quality air bags (air springs) instead of steel spring. It just makes sense.
My current baby, a 2005 RX-1 with the M-20 Airwave
Verbal testimonials about how good a suspension rides are just words, soft, great, best ever, new and improved, fantastic, and you have to ride it to believe how soft and how great this suspension is "blah, blah, blah".
I approached Gerard about working for TeamFast Inc. and creating a permanent bump test track on a hay field at my hobby farm outside of Grand Rapids, Minnesota. I would make the bumps out of wood that would not change with use. The bumps must always be the same for every suspension tested. I would take videos and document the performance of the new M-10 airwave and M-20 airwave suspension versus factory suspensions from all the snowmobile manufactures. Videos tell the truth!!! Gerard thought that was a good idea so I was hired. I have now finished the first group of Snowmobile Video Suspension Testimonies for TeamFast Inc.
In the next three blog entries, I'll show you how the test track is laid out (see Blog 2 - Bump Course Design), how TeamFast's suspensions is designed differently from every other suspension you've ever tried (see Blog 3 - Independent vs. coupled suspensions) and finally I'll show you the videos to demonstrate what it all means for your ride (see Blog 4 - Suspension demonstration videos).
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