Looks like the Kawasaki engineers just figured that everyone only wanted to go fast and that is how they designed the machine to run. At least you were able to sell it to someone that hopeully likes keeping the pedal down.
Too bad. Some of the most fun I've had on snowmobiles has been through the trails with friends. It's nice to be able to go online and review products like this now. I hope that as consumers start to use the internet and become more informed manufacturers start to develop products for the real consumer. Not just what some marketing guys thinks the consumer wants.
I would think there would be some recourse in terms of having these machines meet safety regulations regarding speeds. Unless you can regularly ride wide open spaces without the threat of trees, roots, or low hanging branches, the single high-speed mode is an accident waiting to happen.
This has racing numbers on it. Was this purchased used and modified? If so, maybe the previous owner modified it to perform specifically at full speed for racing?
If this is the case, it would make sense. Racing machines are often set up for all out performance without any regard for driving slowly, which is not what they were set up for. Just try to drive a top fuel dragster running nitromethane at 40MPH for half an hour. There not might be an engine left. But - if you ask it to hit 300MPH in 5 seconds, this is right in its zone...
I think the sled chosen didnt match up with the intended use. Back in that era I had 2 Cats, 1 Puma and 1 Panther. The Puma was just like that Kawi and powered by Kawi. Each had their place though the Panther actually hill climbed better due to the suspension.
As for safety..you're kidding right? Its a high speed snowmobile.....
I think when it comes to safety it's often buyer beware. However, more and more states are requiring licenses or lessons to operate snowmobiles or 4 wheelers. Often high speed sleds are better for river riding or trail riding in the northern states.
However, to buy a sled that requires a certain amount of speed to keep it cool would be rather frustrating. In some cases the temperature might be 25-30 degrees and having to wait until it gets colder than that might be a little frustrating.
I'm NOT sure how the concern for "safety" entered into this forum discussion about the KAWASAKI snowmobile, but for me, as the owner, it was never really an issue. My total disappointment w/ this vehicle was in the fact that I could not enjoy it to its fullest, since the engine would overheat while riding trails. And, I'm NOT talking about marginal snow or ambient temperature conditions. I'm talking about daytime temps that hovered in the low teens, with nighttime temps near 0ºF!! As I previously mentioned in other posts, this INVADER was a replacement for a RUPP NITRO 340, also liquid cooled. The RUPP featured an external rubrail/bumper of aluminum (extrusion). The center of this extrusion was hollow, and the outside was finned. Cooling liquid ran through it. The RUPP also had a tunnel radiator which recieved "splashed" snow from the revolving track. In the 1970s, liquid-cooled snowmobile engines were becoming more popular since they provided more power, and were more likely to run better under more diverse weather conditions. In all the years I had the RUPP, I never once had an overheating situation, whether it was during the peak of the winter season w/ ambient temperatures hovering only in the teens, or in March, when daytime temps were in the low 40s, and snowmobiling was limited to the evening / nighttime when the cover would refreeze. This WAS definitely a design deficiency w/ the KAWASAKI machine, and it turned out to be a very annoying and disappointing experience.
As an aside, I had several KAWASAKI motorcycles in those years, and never had any major design and/or handling issues w/ any of them. For the record, I've been riding motorcycles in the mid 1950s, so I've had considerable experience w/ them from several manufacturers, including BSA, TRIUMPH, NSU, HONDA & KAWASAKI.
Back when this machine was produced, it was all about speed. Manufacturers were competing for customers by producing the fastest machine around. Obviously, the sacrifice was "ride-ability"... Sure, it was fast, but nothing more.
Interesting, we've got a Kawasaki Jet Ski with a similar issue (same basic engine). With lake cooling, obviously over-heating is not an issue, but that ski only likes to go flat out (and as with your sled, does that very well). Any other speed and it surges and porpoises badly. I'm agreed that it's just not fun to ride at a leasurely pace. Either they're not designing the full speed range well, or we're all getting older. My vote is that both are true !
What I find most troubling about this story is the lack of accountability by the manufacturer. I wish there were some mechanism whereby we could bring manufacturers of faulty products to address issues in a fair setting, similar to a small-claims court - somewhat informal, but with enough teeth to make things happen. Very few people have the resources, time or resolve to pursue issues of this nature, and manufacturers know it, so they stonewall until the complainant just gets tired and goes away. For now, probably the best solution is to make as many as possible aware of manufacturers who treat their customers this way so that the rest of us can avoid buying anything from them. I will certainly think twice about buying anything from Kawasaki.
If this was modified by an owner for racing (as it would appear) then it is that owner (seller) that misrepresented the product, not the manufacturer.
If that owner modified it in such a way that it is "the fastest sled around" and is not set up for driving slowly, then the only problem here is that this owner did not inform the buyer that it was set up only for this purpose and that it would overheat if it were driven slowly.
First, I want t o clear the air on ONE major issue at hand. I do not know who KURT McQUEEN is. But, I can tell you that he has PLAGIARIZED this Comment from me! Furthermore, the photo of the snowmobile shown is NOT that of a 1980 KAWASAKI INVADER 340. I bought it brand-spanking new from a dealer of farm equipment in Riverhead, L.I. N.Y. in the early winter of 1980, and brought it to friend's farm in upstate NY immediately thereafter. It was a replacement for a RUPP NITRO 340, of which I bent the frame. The INVADER was a medium blue w/ black accenting, and featured a fold-down headlight. Finally, I still have the original sales literature brochure that KAWASAKI published back then.
I made this comment several months ago in response to another person's rant about a vehicle in which he was having a major operational problem. When I responded to that incident, I prefaced my remarks w/ the statement that even though it was "off topic" and dated (in the early 1980s), I still felt it was a prime example of the great disconnect between consumers & the manufacturers.
Answering some of your comments:
1) I agree. The TOTAL LACK of concern for me as a consumer was outstanding. I was tempted to write to the Ohio Atty Gen's office w/ a formal complaint. The original selling dealer was of no help either. I petitioned him several times, and he finally admitted that he could not get any satisfaction from the factory either.
2) Well, KAWASAKI is long since out of the snowmobile business, so I wouldn't concern myself w/ purchasing another one. Besides, living in FLA, we really don't get that much annual snowfall, so it might not be a wise decision.
3) I had friends who owned ARCTIC CATS. One of them was a 440 liq. cooled sled. It was a BEAST! Right out of the box!!!!! Besides, the INVADER was a 340, and it was a 2-person sled, considered to be an all around traveler. It was NOT specifically designed as a "go-fast-ONLY!" sled. The reason I titled my comments was because as it turned out, that's the ONLY way the engine temp. gauge would stay in the normal zone.... when it was basically close to flat out in spite of the fact that there was BOTH an upfront radiator AND an additional radiator in the tunnel which got snow splash from the spinning track. The problem was that the cooling system was NOT designed correctly from the outset, and that is why the factory refused to address the issue because they were well aware of the design deficiency. But, since it was NOT a safety issue, and laws were a lot more lax then, they were able to successfully ignore the pleas of dissatisfied customers.
4) The INVADER was NOT advertised as a "racing" sled. The brochure specifically shows families astride enjoying it. Furthermore, I KNEW I'd be traveling w/ companions, and the bulk of our trips was through the wooded trails, so I certainly would not have purchased this machine under those circumstances.
I hope this clarifies the situation. I have written Bob Spiegal in a separate e-mail with regard to the plagiarism. Let this be a lesson to all of you. Be VERY alert when posting items on these forums. It seems there are a number of totally immoral & unscrupulous persons who will stoop little for a few seconds of the limelight!!!!
Please understand that the time frame I'm referring to was the early 1980s, FULLY 30 years ago, and so it is not relevant today. However, the PLAGIARISM issue IS very relevant, and I have voiced my concern about that w/ Rob Spiegal, editor of this forum. My original contribution dates back several months ago, as I previously stated to input my comment in commiseration w/ a fellow tech person who had entered a post regarding a problem w/ a vehicle he owned. I do not remember the exact details of that post.
It IS most disconcerting to me that the forums presented here are in the main submitted by accomplished technical people, engineers, technicians, scientists, etc., and not your typical "Dear Editor" comments one would expect to receive from an editorial submission in a newspaper which is more widely distributed. That someone would stoop so low to extract someone else's contribution to seek 30 seconds of fame, claiming an incident to be their own is absolutely unconscionable to me! It makes me wonder HOW many of these solicitations have been forged by others in the name of notoriety. PATHETIC! is all I can say.
Finally, the snowmo that I owned was the INVADER 340, NOT the 440 version. In those years, KAWASAKI also had a companion model series, called the INVICTA, but these sleds featured a fan-cooled engine, NOT liquid-cooled. Also, the main reason I purchased the INVADER 340 was because the brochure specifically detailed it as a "family" fun machine, showing several photos of women (presumably, wives & / or girlfriends) and children operating it. And, when I discussed this aspect of this model w/ the salesperson, I explained that I would be using it MOSTLY for trail riding. Based on the answers AND the photos in the brochure, I purchased it. I still have the sales brochure....... I keep all of them (cars, motorcycles, etc.) as memorabilia.
The MOST disappointing aspect of this experience was that the KAWASAKI factory representatives would NOT address this issue at all.
To be fair, snow mobiles are not the only vehicle with that issue. Don't know about snow mobiles, but try buying a motorcycle if you don't know what you are doing. Out of college, I got a XT250 dual sport that is freeway legal thinking is going to go on the freeway to the trails. No way in Los Angeles!!! Thinking that was too old, got a newer XT225. No way on the freeway. Engine was reving at >7000rpm!! Then got a DR350. That was better until a long trip. No way, the buzz gets to you. Finally realize you need at least a 600cc for freeway and 900cc for touring.
Realize there are many types of motorcycle out there, each one is very specific to doing one thing well. Some of them are so specific you can't even ride a 1,000 miles without an engine overhaul! Those information are never posted. You are suppose to "know".
Now that was before days of internet. If you do the same thing now, you are a fool for not doing even a google search that will tell you all you need to know in an hour.
The sled in the picture is a Factory Kawasaki Sno-Pro ice oval racer, it has only 2 modes, idle and full throttle. I have owned and raced several different sleds from that era and each had their own problems. As for the Invader sleds, they had a radiator without a cooling fan which meant they had to be moving faster to get air flowing through the rad. These sleds were marketed as lake runners and not trail sleds. I have ridden a 440 Invader for 1 season and it is an excellent sled for it's intended purpose. To make it a trail sled you had to add a cooling fan. Some Arctic Cat sleds that used the Kawasaki engine had the same problem but, after the first or second year Arctic Cat added the cooling fan. Yamaha's SRX had the same setup but, had a cooling fan. As for snowmobile safety are you kidding me, what about motorcycles, ATV's, Jet Ski's, PWC's, or even boats. Safety is on the onus of the operator. As for the most dangerous snowmobile it has to be the factory Yamaha SSR. On a ice lake you could get 120 mph or more out of it, problem was this little sticker on the dash that read "Warnig operating this vehical at full throttle for longer than 6 seconds can result in injury or death to the operator", motor explosion.
Snowmobiles and motorcycles were often sold by the local garage, lawn mower dealer, or avid hobbiest (been there!). The ability of those people to communicate with the manufacturer was limited. Most sold just enough machines to get one or two free ones for their own use and maybe make some winter money doing repairs. Outright warranty repairs for faulty manufacture could take months, if ever. Further, Kawasaki made outstanding 2-stroke engines but not necessarily good snowmachines, finding it difficult to translate successful motorcycle experience into snowmobiles. You can't guarantee your new purchase is well engineered or repairable, but if you buy from a reputable dealer your chances of a favorable outcome are greatly enhanced.
Interesting that the machine could only runnat full speed without overheating, Of course, that is the only way that I have seen them run. Going slowly on twisty trails never did seem like what they were made for. I tried going slowly on a borrowed snowmobile once, and discovered that I was overheating the "torque converter " drive mechanism. That mechanism does seem to be optimized for drag racing and other full throttle activities. My solution of choice would be to install a motorcycle engine and transmission, with a manual clutch, so that the vehicle would be useful at other than full throttle.
Some of the very early snowmobiles actually did have 4-stroke engines that could pull a load of firewood, or passengers on a sled, at speeds of a fast walk. But along came market surveys and "product improvement" and now they all seem to have more like a "firing pin" arrangement instead of an actual throttle.
Of course, handling at lower speeds is sort of exciting, as well.
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