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What to Expect at a Snowmobile Dyno Test

3 things you need to know before hauling your sled off to the dynamometer for modifications
2016 Arctic Cat ZR Sno Pro snowmobile
No matter the make, you can always get more out of your sled. To do that, you’ll need a dyno session.
You’ve probably seen us and other snowmobile media use the term “dyno” quite a bit when talking about the horsepower of a snowmobile engine, but a dynamometer machine goes way beyond just measuring power output from an engine.

The dynamometer is a valuable tool for those looking to tune or modify their sleds for the best performance out of them. If you’re looking to add power through aftermarket parts, and you want to make sure you’re squeezing every pony out of what you paid for, a dyno session is a must.
Straightline Performance snowmobile dyno test
However, you’ll want to be well informed prior to taking this step. Jason Houle owns Straightline Performance, which is one of a very few trusted AmSnow dyno sources. He told us three things you need to know before you dyno. These will help you in your modifying and tuning endeavors.

1. Engine or chassis dyno?

Know the difference. For snowmobiles, there are two types of dynamometers you can use depending on what information you’re looking to gather. Understanding the difference is important.

“Its really important that we have that early conversation with a consumer to figure out what they’re looking for when they leave our facility,” says Houle. “An engine dyno (which hooks up to the engine’s crankshaft) basically tells you what kind of motor power you’ve got. As an aftermarket company, we’re not here to tune a machine on an engine dyno, we’re here to find out what engine components are going to make power, and this helps us immensely.”
Straightline Performance racing snowmobile dyno test
Whether it’s snowmobiles, ATVs, or side-by-sides, Houle and his team simply know performance. Their sleds are commonplace on racing podiums.
“A chassis dyno is hooked up to the snowmobile’s track to tell you how much power is generated at the track. It’s a great machine for getting information for doing clutching, gearing, etc.,” he added.

2. Is your machine in good running condition?

This is the most important part, especially if you’re there to test and tune your sled. It’s impossible to know what you’re going to make for power if your machine is not running correctly.

“Your machine needs to run,” Houle said bluntly. “Whether it be an engine dyno or a chassis dyno [session], if we get the dyno prepped and running and then we diagnose that you have a problem with your sled, at that point the dyno session is effectively over. That’s why the first question I ask is, ‘Does your machine run?’”
Straightline Performance snowmobile dyno test
It’s all business in the Straightline dyno room, aka The Heartbreaker.
3. Dyno shop vs. service shop
This goes hand-in-hand with point No. 2. A dynamometer is an information-gathering tool. You can then use that info to identify parts or calibrations to improve the performance of your machine. It is not a place to “fix” a problem with your sled. We are talking performance here.

“A dyno gives you data; a dyno cannot fix your machine,” says Houle. “Can we possibly diagnose a problem on a dyno? It can’t always pinpoint a problem, but it might give us a few items to look at. At that point your dyno session turns into more of a service session, but it’s not cost effective to a consumer to hook up to the dyno only to find out we have to tear down the engine and put it back together. We truly do have our customers in mind and we want our customers to really get what they’re looking for out of their dyno session.”

Check out our video interview with Jason Houle about dyno testing and how it's used.
Jason Houle Straightline Performance dyno testing facility
Jason Houle, Straightline Performance
Who is Straightline Performance?
Jason Houle is the owner of Straightline Performance in Forest Lake, Minn., and a part-time contributor to American Snowmobiler. Jason is a lifelong motorsports fanatic, time spent racing and tuning snowmobiles is considered “family time” for the Houles.

Straightline Performance has been in business since 1997, and today, the company manufactures just about any type of snowmobile and ATV product, from chassis to driveline to ergonomics. However, the company is best known for performance products (e.g., clutches, intakes, exhausts), or, as Houle puts it, “The stuff that actually makes the power and makes [snowmobiles] perform.”

With three generations of family experience in making snowmobiles and ATVs go fast, and numerous world speed records to their credit, it’s safe to say that working with the Straightline crew is time and money well spent.

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