Snowmobile Wear Guards vs. Carbides

Snowmobile wear guards and carbides attach to the bottom of the skis and significantly improve traction and handling, especially on ice or hard-packed snow. These are must-have accessories, and it’s good for every rider to know what they are and what they do. 

I’m a lifelong snowmobiler with a passion for these machines and other winter sports. I know through first-hand experience most of the parts of a snowmobile and have worn through many wear rods and carbides over the years. 

In this post, I’ll compare snowmobile wear guards and carbides. These both play a role in added traction, and they really aren’t different components but rather different parts of an increased traction tool. 

Let’s dive in. 

Initial Thoughts

If you ask around, you might get different opinions about what a wear guard is compared to a carbide. Some people will tell you that these are two separate things, but they really are different parts that attach to your skis to give you added traction. 

Part of this confusion is because their names are synonymous, and a few other terms describe them. I’ll try to clear this up in the section below, but I wanted to mention it if you’ve heard wear bars described as skegs, rods, or runners before. 

What is a Wear Bar? 

If you look at the bottom of your snowmobile’s skis, there will be wear bars or wear rods attached. These are extra pieces of usually metal material that provide added traction and provide a place for carbides to connect to. 

Wear bars can provide added traction and grip into the snow, and this is important to help you maintain control of your sled when you are turning, cornering, or making any other maneuvers. They are a must for nearly every rider. 

What are Carbides? 

Carbides attach to the wear bars and provide even more traction. They are made of composite steel infused with carbon, making it much harder than regular steel and giving you extra bite and grip in the snow. 

Because carbides attach to the wear bars, they work together to give you more traction and control. You can’t have carbides on your skis without a wear bar. But technically, you could have wear bars without carbides. 

Carbides work kind of like ice skates. They are sharpened to a point and will dig into the snow or ice you are riding on. This helps your skis or runners stay in place much better than if they were just flat. 

Snowmobile Wear Guards vs Carbides

As you can see from the section above, there isn’t a big difference between carbides and wear guards. It’s more a matter of what the various components of a snowmobile ski traction system are called.

With that in mind, carbides and wear guards work together to serve the same purpose – increased traction and control in the snow. This helps you get better handling and can also help you stay safer at high speeds by having increased control at all times. 

There are a few different types of wear guards or carbides to know about, and they can offer different levels of traction for different riding styles and any preferences a snowmobiler might have. 

Hard Bars

Hard bars are basically wear guards without carbides. This will attach to the bottom of the ski and give you added steering control but won’t give you a ton of extra grip in ice or hard-packed conditions. 

Hard bars come standard on many sleds and can be used by beginners who are just learning how to ride. 

Single Tip Carbides

These are a common type of carbide that gives you that ice skate blade-like control in ice and packed snow. These carbides stick out from the bottom of the runner and provide added traction and control. 

Dual Tipped Carbides

Dual tipped carbides give you even more traction and control, and they have a design that uses multiple carbide edges stacked on top of one another. This can be a good option for experienced riders or racers who demand serious performance. 

Replacing Wear Guards and Carbides

Wear guards and carbides are not built to last forever. They will wear down a bit every time you ride and might wear down pretty quickly if you ride on hard ice or have to do road riding and hit the pavement. 

This means that they need to be replaced fairly regularly if you want to keep the benefits of traction and control. You’ll want to keep an eye on the bottom of your skis to determine when it’s time to replace them. 

Carbides can also be sharpened instead of replaced, and this is a good thing to learn how to do to give you the best performance. I know some people who sharpen their carbides after every day on the trail. 

Keep in mind that they will eventually wear down enough to where you can’t sharpen them anymore. At that point, they’ll need to be replaced. 

Final Thoughts

Snowmobile wear guards and carbides are essential equipment to give your sled increased traction and control in the snow. The terms for these are somewhat interchangeable, but I hope I explained them well to provide you with a better understanding of how they affect performance. 

Keep in mind that maintaining control of your sled is critical for safe riding. That makes these traction devices an essential part of sled safety. They can help prevent accidents, so you need to understand what they can do for your machine.     

About Chaz Wyland
I’m a snowmobile fanatic. I live for riding and am out on the trails or backcountry as often as possible during the winter months. I was born and raised in the Rocky Mountains and have snowmobiled in dozens of North American locations. When the snow is falling, you’ll find me on a sled.

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