6 things you forgot on your last snowmobile ski alignment

My arms were still jittering and I could barely squeeze the throttle. My forearms were insanely pumped from constantly muscling the sled back on center of the trail of ruts for the past 20 miles.  I took a day off from work for this? Way to muck up what was probably the last great ride of the season.

If you’ve ridden on the trails in your lifetime, you know how darting can ruin what would otherwise be a great day if you’d had your sled well adjusted. Or worse, darting can be outright dangerous.  With sled technology and expertise available online, there’s no excuse for it to happen anymore. But it can be confusing to know what products to trust, who to believe or what techniques to try.  Before you ruin your next trip getting thrown off the trail, and before you spend more money slapping aftermarket parts on, getting toe-out set up correctly is the first simple adjustment you should make to reduce the risk of darting.

The typical stock set-up calls for 1/8-in. toe-out alignment (that is, for each ski from parallel to track). Many people still neglect even adjusting toe-out, yet when implemented correctly, this small adjustment makes a big difference. There is also confusion around where to measure from.

Here at Curve we’ve done and continue to do extensive testing with each model and have found optimal toe-out configurations.  We also suggest toe adjustments to be done at a minimum seasonally and verified at least once every couple of rides.   We always provide detailed instructions to our customers on how to implement and maintain this critical configuration.

  1. If you hit something or felt an unexpected impact, it's best to check the toe as soon as possible.

  2. Ensure that the front end of your snowmobile is in optimum mechanical condition before proceeding with a toe adjustment.  Jack the skis off the ground from the belly pan of the machine and inspect the A-Arm bushings and all spherical bearings for slop or wear.  Also pay close attention to the spindle bushings where the ski bolts on.  Move the handlebars and see if there is slop between your input and the linkage output at each ski.  If you have a loose front end, no performance enhancement in the world is going to solve your handling issues.  Fix what components are damaged or worn before attempting to upgrade your skis and wear bars or perform a toe adjustment.  Many of our customers have experienced poor or unfavorable performance due to lack of machine maintenance.

  3. Make sure the handlebars are straight.  Measure from the bar ends to a point on the sled that's the same on both sides, like a bolt on the boards. You could use the rear bumper or any other feature that's on either side. Once you have the exact same distance, secure the bars straight with tie-down straps so they don't rotate.

  4. Start by making sure you get the skis parallel to the track. This process starts with placing the sled under weight on level surface, and handlebars straightened.  Place a 6’ straight edge (like a contractor’s level) bungeed to the track, and a bungee between the ski loops holding them tight without slop.    

    Next you should find two points on the ski to use as a reference that still touch the snow surface. For example, the point could be approximately at the front of your carbide.  These points also need to be parallel to the centerline of the ski. One point is in front of the ski mount (call this point A) and the other behind it (call this point B). On Curve Skis, we use the prongs at the front and rear mounting structures as our points A and B. To make a ski parallel to the track, you will adjust the tie rods until you are able to measure that you have the same length between the straight-edge and point A as you do from the straight-edge to point B.

    Repeat for the opposite ski. NOW that both skis are parallel to the track, you are ready to adjust the skis to your ideal TOE OUT configuration.

  5. Again, we’re going to be adjusting the tie rod and comparing the distances between point A and the level parallel with the track, and point B and the level parallel with the track.  But now, the goal is to get the distance between the level and point A (front toe) to be GREATER THAN the measurement between the level and point B by the suggested amount. Stock typically suggests this amount to be ⅛-inch.  Repeat this for the other ski.  Since we’re often testing every sled under the sun, here at Curve we publish updated suggested toe out configurations based on your model.  Feel free to contact us for more info.

  6. Now it’s time to verify your work!  Measure from the front point you selected on one ski (A) to the front point on the other ski (A). Do the same for the rear B points you selected.  The measurements taken from the front points should be greater than the measurement taken in step 5 multiplied by 2. So if you were going for 1/8” Toe-Out, the difference should be 1/4”.  If this is not the case, revisit adjusting toe-out using the contractor level to determine which ski is incorrectly set.

If you want to read more detailed instructions on ski alignments, what configurations work best for your sled and riding style, and to hear more handling performance tips and videos from the Pros, Sign up for for email list: Curve Insider.


Up Next:  Louie Skebo from PowerModz reviews Curve Skis. 


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