The snowmobile aftermarket performs the job of providing products for you and your sled that the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) doesn’t, won’t or can’t. Recognizing that snowmobile companies must concentrate on their complete line of sleds, aftermarket outfits can hone in on the most popular models and offer unique pieces specifically for them. This has been a profitable role for the aftermarket.

But with sled sales shrinking since the turn of the century, the OEMs want to keep profits in-house and not give them up quite so easily to the aftermarket. If you look at each snowmobile manufacturer’s financial statements, you’ll see the impact keeping parts, garments and accessories in-house can make. For example, Arctic Cat’s financials show its 2014 sales came from three general areas: wheeled products including ATV and UTV (41 percent), snowmobiles (43 percent) and PGA earnings that accounted for 16 percent of the total. Polaris PGA for fiscal 2014 represented 17 percent of its totals. Tightening up the profitability of parts, garments and accessories means big business — more than US$700 million for Polaris this last year. Arctic Cat totaled more than US$113 million in PGA, which helps explain why the company acquired powersports apparel manufacturer MotorFist this past March.

These bits and pieces fit into the overall profitability of the OEMs. Arctic Cat specifically referenced its MotorFist acquisition in its most recent corporate annual report:

“The acquisition complements Arctic Cat’s garment and riding-gear business, and is an example of our strategy to grow through small, bolt-on acquisitions. We expect MotorFist to contribute to fiscal 2016 PG&A sales.”

COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2015 MotorFist Snowmobile Gear

While MotorFist may be a “bolt-on” to Cat’s profits, there are in-house profits to be contained by not letting them slip away in the first place. Snowmobile manufacturers have become very savvy at keeping their customers loyal to their brands by offering unique and branded parts, garments and accessories. Rather than allow creative aftermarket suppliers the opportunity to jump on Cat’s own product innovations, the company adroitly becomes its own aftermarket supplier. Check out just how quickly Cat announced a retro-fit mountain suspension kit for older Cat deep powder sleds.

Although parts are just now coming on-stream, Arctic Cat knew that its new Arctic Mountain Suspension front end, found on its recently introduced 2016 deep powder sleds, would be an in-demand add-on with powder hounds. By late June, Cat announced an AMS A-Arm Kit to upgrade 2013 to 2015 M models. While Cat’s move doesn’t shut the door on aftermarket creativity, it keeps Cat owners shopping at Arctic Cat dealers for the latest Arctic Cat branded technology.

Arctic Cat AMS Spindle ShapeLast winter when Arctic Cat showed off its new mountain suspension for 2016, you knew there would be aftermarket kits to retrofit older deep powder Cats.

According to Cat, the AMS A-Arm Kit for Arctic Cat ProClimb snowmobiles is claimed to give Cat riders the same experience in carving and side-hilling as you’d get with a 2016.

Retailing for US$699.95/C$907.95, the kit delivers the same 36 in. ski stance as the 2016 M Series snowmobiles and includes the new, lightweight forged aluminum spindles and lightweight alloy A-arms. Upgrading to the AMS kit provides the narrow stance, increased spindle caster and ski camber that gives the 2016 M models improved off-trail cornering and more predictable counter-steering. The kit comes with black or white A-arms and colored spindles, tie-rod tubes and shock spacers. They’re available for most 2013-2015 M models with spindle color options of Black, Green, Orange or White.

Arctic Cat Mountain A-Arm KitStaying ahead of the aftermarket, Arctic Cat offers its own branded Arctic Mountain Suspension A-arm kit that exactly mimics the all-new 2016 M-series Cat front end.

Cat strives to keep its riders loyal by creating special Ready to Ride packages that can be handy for riders of brand new or slightly used Cat models. Available for most of Cat’s current and many popular older models, these ready to ride kits cleverly package the basics needed by sled owners. For example, the Ready to Ride Package for owners of four-stroke ZR, XF, CrossTrek models provides an oil change kit that includes a gallon of Arctic Cat-branded C-TEC4 synthetic oil, oil filter, necessary fittings, and even a disposable funnel. This gives you the ability and necessary product to ready your sled for winter before the season starts.

COMPARISON: Read our review of the Updating Your Arctic Cat

But, like a late night TV infomercial, wait! That’s not all. For the US$509.95 price of the kit, you’ll also receive a cover, belt, handlebar bag, goggle bag, and 20-foot towline.

Arctic Cat also offers such ready to ride kits for the M series, Pantera, XF, and select two-stroke models, with two-stroke lube and a slightly lower price tag. These kits can be ordered from most Arctic Cat dealerships and through the Arctic Cat online store at

By offering unique brand products, Cat can help ensure that you visit its dealerships or, at least, shop online at the company store. Limiting its product offerings to only a couple of outlets – dealerships or authorized website – effectively freezes out competition. Of course, the adroit aftermarket manufacturer isn’t really excluded if it’s providing branded private label products for Arctic Cat. For example, it’s likely that Arctic Cat sources its new green Premium Limited Cover from a trusted vendor that created the cover with an iconic Arctic Cat style.

Arctic Cat Snowmobile CoverStyled in Cat’s iconic green, the Premium Limited Cover is constructed from long-lasting Surlast fabric that’s UV-protected, water repelling and fade-resistant, this fitted cover features an adjustable windshield strap to accommodate different windshield heights and mirrors.

Constructed from long-lasting Surlast fabric that’s UV-protected, water repellent, and fade-resistant, this fitted cover features an adjustable windshield strap to accommodate different windshield heights and mirrors. It offers worry-free protection whether you merely store your sled or trailer it. The cover features cinch-down straps and adjustable Velcro spindle fasteners for a snug fit with minimal buffeting. There’s also a zippered gas cap panel to provide easy fueling with the cover on the snowmobile.

Available for all Arctic Cat ProCross and ProClimb snowmobiles, the iconic Green Premium Limited Cover retails for US$249.95 or CDN $324.95.

COMPARISON: Read our review of the Making Your Arctic Cat And You Look Good

But, don’t get the OEMs like Arctic Cat wrong; they recognize that they can’t control the wants of its riders or the creativity of the aftermarket, but they can help maintain the Arctic Cat owner’s experience by working with aftermarket suppliers to maintain the quality of approved accessories and aftermarket add-ons. That’s why you’ll find Arctic Cat offering a recommendation for customized Elka Suspension components on its website and in conjunction with its dealers.

At its online store, Arctic Cat references suspension components perfect for customization. Retailing for about US$480, the Elka Stage 2 Track Shock for the front rear suspension arm is offered with a base valve and spring package. Cat features these Elka Suspension components for the most serious riders who want to devise their own unique ride and performance settings. While a basic package can be ordered, custom options are readily available through Elka, which is a 15-year-old Quebec-based manufacturer of innovative high-performance suspension products.

Elka ShockCat features Elka Suspension components for the most serious riders who want to devise their own unique ride and performance settings. While Arctic Cat’s online store offers a basic Elka Stage 2 Track Shock for the front rear suspension arm, custom options for Arctic Cat models are readily available through Elka.

Elka shocks and suspension components are high-grade with standard features that include: • CNC-machined, aeronautical grade anodized billet aluminum parts and adjustment knobs • High-quality triple-seal heads, o-rings and wearbands that reduce friction and heat for longer shock life • A checkball that isolates the compression circuit from the rebound circuit, so they don’t interfere with each other • Proprietary oil that can withstand higher operating temperatures to reduce fatigue • High-tensile proprietary springs • Spherical bearings at both ends that isolate the shock absorber from forces in torsion

Arctic Cat offers selected Elka products, but notes that full customization options can be ordered through

Obviously Arctic Cat, and the other OEMs don’t want to totally shut out the aftermarket, but they do want to keep as much add-on profitability that brand-specific PGA can provide to the company’s bottom line. With millions of dollars in PGA, why give it away?