2015 Ski-Doo Renegade XRS 800R E-TEC – First Test!

The day was Monday, March 10th. A brand new 2015 (prototype) Ski-Doo Renegade XRS 800R E-TEC arrived at Timberline Sports in Bergalnd, Michigan with our name on it. We promptly made our way to the dealer to pick the sled up.

It hasn’t even been a month yet, but we’ve been able to log 1,872 miles on the Renegade XRS so we’re ready to share our initial observations and reactions on this beast.

XRS Side

Being a BRIGHT orange and yellow sled, it is likely it could be seen from the International Space Station. The younger riders tended to gravitate to the color, while older riders were not too sure on the bold and bright coloration. One thing was for sure, this new machine really turned heads and stopped traffic everywhere we went.

The Renegade XRS is a brand new model for Ski-Doo for 2015. The main focus (of course) is on the new geometry of the RAS 2 front suspension. This is what most everyone asked us about when they first saw this sled.

After 1,872 miles we can testify to the fact the new RAS 2 is truly an improvement over the RAS. At first the casual rider might not notice a big difference, but after you ride it for a while you start to notice the benefits from the geometry changes. The RAS 2 front suspension reduces roll in corners as the machine corners even flatter than before. When we performed side-by-side and back-to-back testing with 2014 Ski-Doo models and this was really evident.

The RAS 2 also adds to the rider confidence and cornering precision, especially in bigger bumps, but actually in all conditions. The sled steers easier, especially when initiating a turn while going straight, in that it is easier to get the handlebars to break loose from going forward. But as the bumps get bigger, the difference becomes more evident as the sled more precisely follows your intended line. There is less head-shake as the sled doesn’t need as much handlebar input to do what you want it to.


Through a wide range of snow conditions, you are more confident the front end will go exactly where you point it. The largest benefit of course is in the more extreme conditions, but even motoring down a smooth trail it corners flatter, steers easier, and is more confident across the board. It is more controllable, more predictable, flatter cornering, and overall a nice improvement to an already stellar package.

But the RAS 2 isn’t the first thing that we noticed was different. The running quality of the 800R E-TEC was what we instantly noticed had been improved, yet again. It runs smoother and quieter. We suspect there have been some programming changes to the three-stage RAVE power valves as the transition from stage 2 to stage 3 is smoother and more linear, more predictable and more controllable. The engine just seems to run even smoother and quieter, and with the more linear throttle response it is even more refined than before. For those who know how the 800R E-TEC runs, you will be able to tell the difference in only a few short miles.

What makes this sled so special is how this is the first time we could get an XRS chassis and suspension package in the 137” Renegade track length. The XRS version of the Renegade is more than impressive, it is DOMINANT. This is the most dominating sled we have ever ridden. From the suspension package and its adjustability from compliant to capable, to the unmatched capability of the rMotion rear suspension, to the traction and acceleration of the 800R E-TEC and the 1.5” Ripsaw track, this sleds hooks up and launches hard. The suspensions swallow the terrain with ease and give you the confidence that you are riding the best there is, and that this machine has just raised the bar, yet again. Being an XRS one might think the sled is going to be calibrated very firm or stiff, but that is the beauty of the shock package. You can dial it down to work much like a TNT or Adrenaline package, or dial it up to an X-package or further to the full-on XRS calibration. The range of adjustability is amazing!

What didn’t we like? The Ripsaw 1.5” track is wicked on packed conditions, but is not our track of choice for fresh snow. No surprise, just an observation. It is a good match for the XRS-type rider, but for the loose or fresh snow conditions it is not the best track option. The yellow-orange coloration is bright and horny-looking, but it is more difficult to keep clean where your legs and knees contact the side panels (cleaning the panels is actually quite easy with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser). The XRS-style seat is firmer and taller in the crowned, or raised, center section, again a good match for the XRS-style rider. Our test riders actually preferred the (flatter-top) X-package seat from our 2014 Renegade X for less aggressive riding (which makes it easier to sit up straight and not be bobbing back and forth on the crown, but admittedly isn’t as easy to stand up with). And for longer rides, we installed a taller windshield like we do on all of our sleds. Of course.


It also seems the fuel gauge display has been changed for 2105, as the fuel gauge doesn’t sit on full for such a long time and starts to move quicker. This makes it more accurate, but for a given amount of fuel it will show lower on the gauge than what a rider might be used to on an older REV-XS or REV-XP.

Bottom line, the 2015 Renegade XRS provides significant improvements in handing and overall performance. It will be an excellent upgrade for current X-package riders to step up to if they want a machine with even more adjustability and more capability. The premium shock package and stronger chassis reinforcements match the sled’s suspension capabilities, and now bring Ski-Doo’s best technology to the crossover segment. When the rMotion rear suspension was introduced, it became evident that Ski-Doo’s RAS front suspension could be improved as well to better match the capability of the new rear. With the RAS 2, this is now a reality.

After riding all of the new sleds for 2015, there are many good rides out there, but only one has the complete and total performance package of ride AND handling, and only Ski-Doo has PROVEN direct injection technology in the E-TEC. If you want the very best technology money can buy, here it is – the 2015 Ski-Doo Renegade XRS.

Look for a complete test report in SnowTech Magazine!

To see all the great articles from SnowTech, like the upcoming full review of the 2015 Ski-Doo Renegade XRS 800R E-TEC, you have to be a subscriber to the magazine. Subscribe here - and have SnowTech delivered to your door.


2015 Polaris AXYS 800 H.O. – First Ride !

We’ve just returned from our first rides on the all-new 2015 Polaris AXYS sleds (RUSH & Switchback) fitted with their new 800 H.O. two-stroke twin, as well as their 600.

What did we learn? The new Polaris AXYS sleds are freakin’ awesome. We admit it, they’re that good. These are the sleds we always knew Polaris could build, but could never get – until now.

We were able to ride several different sleds, from 600s to 800s, from Pro-S models to Pro-X models, for hundreds of miles in a wide range of conditions. Quite simply, our test team was blown away at how well the 2015 Polaris AXYS sleds performed.


You look at the new platform and it really does look like a RUSH and at first it doesn’t look all that different, but once you start riding it you quickly realize it is a very different machine. It is light and very fast, noticeably quick and agile. They are quiet, and very smooth in terms of acceleration and power delivery.


But what really stood out was the riding position. When Polaris came out with the RUSH for 2010, they told us how the rider was centered and how you could lean forward for more ski bite and back for traction, but the sled never fully delivered on that concept. Crazy thing is, all of that talk from 2010 now becomes reality with the 2015s.

The rider is perfectly centered and balanced for the ultimate in traction and control. The sleds go through the corners with precision, but very light steering. But here we run into the one thing that many riders might screw up – which sled is best for them. The Pro-X models sit much taller, have longer shocks and deep lug 1.75” tracks. They are set up far more as a cross country sled and are very tippy, or lift the skis quite a bit, motoring down a groomed trail If you mostly ride groomed trails you will be far better off with the Pro-S models, as they corner far flatter and are much more compliant through the trail bumps, and will work far better on hardpack with their 1.25” Ripsaw II tracks.


That said, our test team found the new Polaris AXYS models are the best handling sleds in the biz. The ability to rail through the corners with such confidence and maintain such light steering effort was truly amazing.

Polaris told us how fast their new sleds were, and it shows. The 600 AXYS models are quick, but the new 800 H.O. is really fast. Polaris didn’t want to talk horsepower, but stated that they were going to be where they needed to be, and when you consider how much lighter their sleds are and how fast and hard they accelerate, the exact power numbers become far less important. It spools up quicker, and with V-Force reeds and the free flowing intake and straight exhaust header we are pretty confident the power has to be up significantly from before. The power delivery is so smooth and linear, yet quick and instant, making it a total blast to ride.

There was no mention of any steps being taken to improve engine durability, so only time will tell as to how the new 800 H.O. compares to the current 800 twin. This issue is of concern to many riders, but we just can’t answer that one for you. Only time will tell.

The new rear suspension is also equally impressive as the rest of the sled. It has a FAR wider performance window than before, and with the longer repositioned front arm it works. With the rider centered (4.5” forward from before for your hands, knees and seating position) you feel like you are right on top of the balancing point of the machine. You feel this when you ride it, and the confidence this gives you is amazing. With the coil spring still on the rear shock it isn’t quite as compliant as a torsion spring arrangement, but past that it doesn’t seem to give up anything to anyone. The new PRO-XC rear suspension is such an improvement over what the RUSH and Switchback model had previously that the sleds should have been given a different name; maybe they should have just called it the AXYS and AXYS Switchback and dropped the RUSH name.

These are the best sleds Polaris has ever built, period, end of conversation. They are really fast. They are smooth, powerful and quiet. They have light steering with virtually no pushing. They deliver amazing ride quality and capability. These things ROCK!

Look for our full test reports in SnowTech Magazine!


2014 Polaris Indy 800 SP

In about the first week of March we have been traveling to a snowy location for the past 30 years to ride and photograph all of next year’s snowmobiles. This past year was no different, as we once again had the opportunity to get some seat time and take some photos of the latest and greatest sleds from all of the manufacturers. After getting to ride some 60+ sleds in a week’s time, our staff always comments on a few of the “standouts”, sleds that exceeded our expectations or ones that were just plain dialed. Here, my friends, we have such a sled. The 2014 Polaris 800 Indy SP. This thing is dialed.


It was just last season that Polaris introduced two new Indy models, the 600 Indy and the 600 Indy SP. Many of you will remember how excited we were about these two new models, as they combined the bonded Pro-Ride chassis with a more familiar rear tunnel and coupled suspension (instead of using the RUSH rear end). Polaris continues to tell us the RUSH has been wildly popular and very successful, but at the same time there have been enough of their customers and dealers asking for a sled just like what the Indy 600 was – lightweight, responsive, less expensive, playful and predictable.

With the introduction of the Indy models the standard RUSH models have been eliminated, so the only RUSH models left in the Polaris line-up for 2014 are the 600 & 800 RUSH Pro-R. The simple fact that Polaris is coming out with an 800 Indy SP and is dropping the base RUSH models says volumes in our book. 2014 is the fifth year of the RUSH, and Polaris dealers and consumers reacted so favorably to the 600 Indy models last season that it just plain made sense for Polaris to come back with an 800 engine in this popular Indy package.

Polaris has always done a very good job with their coupled rear suspensions, and this capability remains intact with the 800 Indy SP. The magic formula starts with the 600 Indy SP of last season, and drops in the 800 Liberty twin engine with a new seat for 2014. The new “Indy Pro-Ride” seat design allows easy transitions between seated and standing positions. Its wider surface where a rider plants for seated riding enhances comfort during long days of great riding. There is better support to the seat foam and it complements the machine.

Of course, the inevitable comparisons will be made between the 800 Indy SP and the 800 RUSH Pro-R. The largest differences are found in the rear suspension and shock packages, where the Indy has a coupled rail with non-adjustable FOX shocks and the RUSH gets the progressive rate un-coupled rear suspension. While the RUSH (with its Walker Evans adjustable shocks and progressive rate design) will provide better resistance to bottoming of the rear arm, the Indy actually does a better job at resisting bottoming of the front arm due to the coupling, which means the front and rear suspension arms act together to resist bumps once the arms are coupled. The spring rate and shock action of the front and rear arms are combined, where on the RUSH the front arm is left up there all on its own and, with the rear arm so capable, riders were finding they were bottoming the front arm.


The other difference from all of this is how the Indy isn’t going to be lifting the skis as much as a RUSH, both on acceleration and during cornering. The Indy is going to maintain more consistent ski pressure, making it better suited for groomed trail riding. There will be less chassis pitching and rocking, but yes, when you push it really hard you will bottom the rear arm more than you would with a RUSH.

In an attempt to provide some difference between the two lines, the INDY models come with a 1” lug height Hacksaw track instead of the 1.25” lug height Ripsaw of the RUSH. While this might be an OK move for the 600 Indy, most riders will find the 1” lug height Hacksaw track to be not tall enough for the 800 in all but hardpack conditions. We would prefer a taller lug track, but this is part of the beauty of the Indy in how the lower lug track lets you throw it around in the corners as it isn’t so hooked up all of the time. It makes the sled playful and gives you a lighter steering effort, but with the power of the 800 you will find the track spinning more than with the RUSH. On the other hand, the 800 Indy will be faster out on the lake with this track and is better suited for studs, and some riders will install something even better like the new Ripsaw II track (which would be our personal choice).

There are more of the “premium” features found on the RUSH, things like the TEAM secondary where the Indy comes with the Polaris P2 secondary. The Indy has a simpler gauge package, but it is still very functional. The Indy has a slightly lower bar riser (3.5” instead of 4.5”) and doesn’t get the lightweight brake rotor. With the focus being more of trail riding than stand-up bump crushing the Indy has no running board reinforcements, but the 800 RUSH PRO-R is $1,200 more than the 800 Indy SP (and the RUSH is $1,800 more when we compare the 600s).

For the vast majority of trail riders who are buying sleds to go out and ride groomed trails, this is a more functional and more logical machine. The combination of the Pro-Ride chassis with the variable caster front suspension and canted a-arms goes through the bumps with ease and predictability. Then we give it a coupled rear suspension with a great shock package and we have an excellent sled that brings back the fun to riding.

What really surprised us was how well this machine worked for us during spring testing. This was a standout and a staff favorite. From the clutching and the gearing to the precision handling and light steering to the flat cornering and predictability, the 800 Indy SP was clearly the result of some serious calibration efforts on the part of Polaris. They had put serious time into making this sled work as good as they possibly could, and it showed. Every single one of our test riders reacted the same way in that the 800 Indy SP was as close to a perfect calibration as we have experienced from Polaris in many years. You can hop on this sled and you are the boss, you are the master. It does what you want it to, it responds to your every wish and command.

We also has a similar reaction last year to the 600 Indy SP, which is still an outstanding machine, but the 800 was every bit as good. While Polaris had struggled years ago with the running quality of their 800, the latest versions now deliver excellent running quality and performance. Granted, they are not going to be giving you the 160 HP of the Arctic Cat or Ski-Doo 800s, so if you want the most powerful 800 the Indy isn’t going to be it, but that isn’t going to matter to all of the Polaris riders who wanted an Indy package with more power than the 125 HP 600 engine was giving them. The Polaris 800 should be right about 150 HP, and in the lightweight Indy it pulls hard and has excellent top end as well, so nobody should be complaining.

The 2014 Polaris 800 Indy 800 is right on the money and the overall calibration of the entire vehicle is something that Polaris knows all too well. If you’re an X-package or Sno Pro kind of rider then stay with the RUSH, but if trails are what you ride, look no further. Seriously, if you are a Polaris trail rider go buy an Indy, either the 600 or the 800. Priced at $10,599 it is a full $1,200 less than a 800 RUSH Pro R, and the 600 Indy SP goes for only $8,999 making it the true standout.

From the September 2014 issue of SnowTech Magazine. To see all the great articles from SnowTech you have to be a subscriber to the magazine. Subscribe here - and have SnowTech delivered to your door.


2014 Ski-Doo MX Z TNT 800R E-TEC

Mention “MX Z TNT” and most snowmobilers would think of the lightest sleds on the planet. It was the first year MX Z TNT with the 500 SS engine package (actually a carbed 600) that broke the 400-pound barrier, coming in at 399 pounds, and the next year the MX Z TNT 1200 4-stroke that broke the 500-pound barrier for 4-stroke sleds, yet another amazing accomplishment.

Fast forward to 2104 and say “MX Z TNT” and we need to get specific. Ski-Doo only sells their X-package sleds during the spring, so if you wanted one of those sleds you had to order one on or before April 16th. Past that point in time if you want an MX Z you can get either the TNT or Sport package. And where there used to be only one MX Z TNT, for 2014 there are two body style variations and four engine sizes; the refined REV-XR body style houses the four-stroke 1200, and the new REV-XS body style houses the 800R E-TEC engine, the 600 H.O. E-TEC two-stroke engine and the new-for-2014 ACE 900 four-stroke.


The best part of all of this is the fact that ALL versions of the MX Z TNT get the rMotion rear suspension. SnowTech test riders have logged thousands of miles on this new suspension and can verify it is the real deal and worth every bloody cent. No kidding, it is the best rear suspension ever offered and broadens the performance envelope of ride comfort and bump capability to new limits never before experienced. It rides smooth and supple through small bumps yet swallows the big bumps with ease and composure. Most suspensions have to be readjusted for one type of riding or the other, but the rMotion has such a broad performance window that once you set it for your weight you can pretty much leave it and ride it, and it works. It has no equal, there is no other suspension that is capable of doing what the rMotion does.

The most important message here is that the X-package sleds were spring-only offerings, so if you want Ski-Doo’s latest and greatest platform and power package your best option right now is the 2014 MX Z TNT 800R E-TEC.

On the outside it might look like new plastic wrapped around the proven REV-XP platform, but there is more to it. One of the changes is found in the foot stirrup and running board support area, where the foot stirrup rear drop tube has been moved forward by 8 inches. This now allows a rider who is standing on the running board edges to place his foot up to 8 inches more forward keeping his body weight closer to the center of vehicle mass. This allows him to have much easier control and leverage over the vehicle.


The toe stop itself is in the identical position compared to the REV-XP, placing the riders foot directly at the front drive axle. The front drive axle is the “center of mass” on a snowmobile and adjusting body weight from this leverage point determines the ease of vehicle control.

The running board edges are now taller and three times stiffer, being 36% stronger overall than the XP. The edge is serrated to better grip your boots.

Along with the new body work we get new dual air intakes, placed alongside the headlights in a high vertical position to minimize snow build-up and airflow restriction. The new intake design has a sound deadener that significantly reduces engine noise to the driver. There is a pop-off valve on the airbox with a softer spring, so if and when the intakes do become restricted the valve opens and lets the engine to continue to breathe.

For servicing, the entire hood and headlight assembly lifts up and off of the sled with only four screws to remove, along with some wiring to unplug for the gauges and headlights and disconnecting the air intake tube, along with a pressure vent tube. This allows for very quick disassembly and reassembly along with easy access to the engine and all underhood components.

All of the underhood systems have been developed for cleaner fit and finish. All coolant hoses, wire looms, fuel hoses, lubrication systems and ventilation hoses have been routed with maximum attention to detail for the best routing possible. All retaining brackets have defined securing locations for the hoses and wire looms for best placement possible.

The REV-XS cooling system has also been redesigned with fewer parts doing multiple tasks as there is a new coolant tank, mounting bracket and hoses. A new purge collector helps to draw trapped air from the cooling system and vent it to the coolant tank. This change improves cooling system efficiency and helps to prevent hot spots in the combustion chamber.

Down by the battery there is a new starter solenoid with simplified and cleaner wire harness routing for improved reliability and lighter weight. The new starter solenoid features improved internal contacts and is completely sealed, now 25% lighter and using a new mounting bracket.

When you sit on the TNT, perhaps what you notice first compared to an X-package sled is how the bar risers are slightly lower – 115mm riser vs. 130 mm riser. But past that, there is little functional difference other than the exact suspension calibration. The TNT does not have the rebound adjustability on the front shocks and it does not have the KYB PRO 36 with the easy adjust knob in the rear, nor does it have the Quick Adjust option on the rMotion. Instead we find the capable HPG Plus shocks all around with no knobs or damping adjustments.

The TNT also gets a new updated analog/digital gauge in the dash and a new left hand throttle block with new warmer controls that toggle up and down instead of left and right, now giving you five levels of hand and thumbwarmer control, displayed in the new gauge. 2014 also brings us a larger 15” windshield and side deflectors for added rider protection, replacing the lower windshield and handguards of last season.

Being a REV-XS, you get all of the goodness of the new platform. Most evident is the fresh, modern styling of the XS with improved rider protection and ergonomics. The biggest differences come from your ability to get even farther forward and lean even more into the turns thanks to the sculpted body panels. Add to this the industry-benchmark rMotion rear suspension that soaks up the bumps, big and small, and you will be blown away by how this sled becomes an extension of your body and mind. It does what you want it to, and it goes where you want it to. And while the other sled makers talk about ride and handling, you need to ride an MX Z TNT to truly experience the best ride and handling currently available. This sled makes you a better rider in your ability to go through the bumps and carve through the turns. If you know how the REV-XP works, after a ride on the new REV-XS you will be shocked at the improvement from the rMotion and sculpted body panels. More than talk, this sled walks the walk.

The heated glove box up above the gauge is neat, stash an extra pair of gloves or goggles and keep them warm and ready. The new LinQ cargo system is yet another example of refinement, a single lever and your gear bag or gas can is locked into place, or released and ready to remove. Smart, smart design. The manner in which the accessories mount, how tight they fit, it all screams quality. There’s even a GPS system that mounts right into the dash, a factory option that integrates right into your sled. Welcome to the new REV-XS.

The 2014 Ski-Doo MX Z TNT 800R E-TEC engine is known for its electric-like running quality, with right about 160 HP and stunning fuel economy. The other sled makers can only dream about engines like this because they don’t have one. Ski-Doo has been building direct injection sleds for six years now.

The MX Z TNT 800R E-TEC is waiting for you in Ski-Doo dealers all across North America, priced at $12,149.

From the September 2014 issue of SnowTech Magazine. To see all the great articles from SnowTech you have to be a subscriber to the magazine. Subscribe here - and have SnowTech delivered to your door.


2014 Arctic Cat ZR 6000 El Tigre

The Return of the El Tigre

For the past few years Arctic Cat has been offering their 4-stroke 1100cc as their entry into the 125 HP class. The logic was so many people were buying the 800cc two-stroke, and with the EPA regulations the 4-strokes were a great way to meet the requirements as well. And we all should recognize the benefit of a 4-stroke engine when it comes to long-term reliability and reduced warranty issues.
But in the back of our minds, we all missed the 600cc two-stroke from Arctic Cat. The 600cc two-stroke market had been the “bread and butter” of the snowmobile industry for many years, and while Polaris and Ski-Doo still carried the banner Arctic Cat was quiet. No longer.


The other curious thing we have going for 2014 is the re-badging of the Arctic Cat performance sleds. Gone is the F-designation, so there are no more F6 or F8 sleds, or more recently F 1100 or F 800 names. Gone. We are now back to the tried and true, the fast and familiar ZR name for Arctic Cat performance sleds. But wait; not only are the 2014 performance short track sleds called “ZR” there is yet another twist – a ZR El Tigre featuring a brand-spanking new 600cc two stroke engine!
The ZR 6000 El Tigre (offered with or without electric start) is going to be a limited model for 2014, most likely due to the all-new 600cc C-TEC2 engine. This engine is the first snowmobile engine designed engineered and produced by Arctic Cat, featuring clean engine technology like Dual-Stage Injection, open-window pistons, electronic oil metering and more. The C-TEC2 600 reflects the decades of engine design knowledge from the same Arctic Cat engineers who created the laydown engine, Exhaust Pipe Temperature Sensor and batteryless EFI.
“Every component of the C-TEC2 600 was designed and sourced by Arctic Cat,” said Donn Eide, Snowmobile Engine Design Manager at Arctic Cat. “It is a cleansheet design incorporating new and existing technology pioneered by our team of engineers.”
The C-TEC2 600 delivers 123 horsepower and will be produced at the Arctic Cat Engine facility in St. Cloud, Minnesota. It features the convenience of pushbutton engine reverse and incorporates ideas proven in the Sno Pro 600 race engine, including the crankshaft design and crank wheel construction. Using Finite Element Analysis, the C-TEC2 600 engine is 8.5 lbs. lighter than the former 600 Suzuki 2-stroke engine used in Arctic Cat snowmobiles. And like other Arctic Cat fuel injection systems, the C-TEC2 600 is a batteryless EFI system with Arctic Power Valves and an Exhaust Pipe Temperature Sensor for consistent performance and stable operating RPM levels.
These limited edition El Tigre models are in effect Sno Pro calibration sleds featuring the third-year ultra-stout ProCross chassis hosting the ARS front suspension and the FastTrack Slide-Action rear suspension (with revised front-arm geometry) for a combination that effortlessly carves corners and swallows bumps.

El Tigre

The Arctic Race Suspension (ARS) combines tall lightweight ski spindles and widely spaced A-arms for the greatest torsion rigidity and strength. The lower A-arms mount to the chassis in a 30-degree angle from the chassis centerline, with optimal caster/camber angles to improve comfort and cornering traction while reducing bump/steer. The one-piece spindle construction with ball-joints eliminates the added weight and stiction of spindle-in-housing designs. The tall spindles are now lighter by nearly 1 pound for 2014. These have become an identifying feature of the new ProCross platform, making these sleds look very different. The one-piece forged spindles are this tall to reduce forces/loads into the spindle, and to allow a longer distance between the upper and lower A-arms for added chassis strength. Maximizing the distance between their mounts on the bulkhead makes the front end very strong and capable, and it shows when you put this chassis through the rough as it maintains its composure and remains very predictable and controllable.
The El Tigre Sno Pro also gets new FOX FLOAT 3 shocks up front. These next-generation air shocks still feature an “air spring” instead of the familiar metal coil spring to provide preload and spring rate, but now have an improved air valve access for easier pressure adjustments.
In the rear we find the ever-evolving FastTrack Slide-Action rear suspension. This design features a unique fastened Tri-Hub rear axle assembly that’s lighter and more durable than two separate wheels. The Slide-Action design with coupling is also unique because the front arm features a U-shaped slot that fits over a fixed shaft (that’s attached through the tunnel) to allow a half-inch of sliding movement. Unlike all other coupled suspensions, this “non-fixed-front-arm-location” doesn’t force the front arm to collapse whenever the rear compresses with coupling. The result is the full benefit of rear coupling – controlled (or eliminated) ski lift during acceleration – yet with complete use of the front arm travel at all times.
Revised front-arm mounting geometry includes raising the arm-mounting position on the rail as well as relocating the arm-mounting position on the tunnel rearward. The new geometry improves small bump compliance, reduces track tension through the full range of compression and reduces ski lift during acceleration.
Delivering the power to the 15 x 129 x 1.25-in. Ripsaw II track is the Arctic Drive System (ADS) with Torque Control Link – a plate connecting the PTO side of the engine to the bearing housing of the jackshaft which maintains consistent center-to-center distance and proper alignment. The result is improved and consistent performance and quicker acceleration. The use of self-aligning bearings along with chain /gears and the jackshaft design allows the use of the new TCL system, and is light and easy to change gearing. The ADS also features a longer center-to-center distance and the brake rotor remains on the driveshaft. There’s also a new race-version master cylinder on the RMC hydraulic brake for enhanced braking. A new driven clutch sheave has larger cooling fins to reduce drive belt temperatures for improved performance and durability
With a cockpit aimed at high performance, the ZR 6000 El Tigre utilizes a newly-shaped seat with increased foam. This new seat foam shape should improve the comfort and ergonomics. The seat foam height has increased across the entire seat, with 1.2” (31 mm) of additional foam at the back and increasing to 1.7” (43 mm) of additional foam at the front. The result is more foam for increased comfort and an overall flatter seat, but more importantly this will raise your hips in relationship to your knees which makes standing or lifting your butt up off the seat far easier. We also get a reshaped side panel on the seat for improved comfort while cornering and standing.
The El Tigre also gets the new Deluxe Digital Gauge that features two operator-configurable displays for speed, rpm, clock, odometer, hours, coolant temperature, exhaust temperature, intake air temperature, voltage and fuel level.
A limited number of ZR 6000 El Tigre models will be available for 2014, including the ES model with electric start. These are the only models with the new 600cc C-TEC2 engine for 2014. The 2014 ZR 6000 El Tigre retails for $11,199, and the ZR 600 El Tigre with electric start sells for $11,599.

From the September 2014 issue of SnowTech Magazine. To see all the great articles from SnowTech you have to be a subscriber to the magazine. Subscribe here - and have SnowTech delivered to your door.



Heading in a Radically New Direction

Feast your eyes upon the all-new 2014 Yamaha SR Viper. Powered by the Yamaha 1049cc “Nytro” engine fitted with Yamaha primary and secondary clutches, this new sled has so much new and different going on that it might take a few moments for it all to sink in. The Nytro engine, the three-cylinder rip-snorting arm-stretching 4-stroke that is arguably the single best engine in the business, has been dropped into a new chassis that will give you the ride quality and handling capability that we have all been lusting for with this world-class engine package. Careful what you wish for, because it is right here, right now.


This new (for Yamaha) platform is being called the SRV Chassis, featuring a two-piece, tipped-tunnel that puts the rider into the ‘attack’ position. It is tapered 15 inches at the top (seat base) to the wide floor boards. This facilitates a narrow seat for ease of movement without sacrificing track width, clearance and stability. The Pyramidal upper frame design adds strength without weight. The upper frame consists of several geometrically triangulated spars, and forged steel housing brackets ties the frame spars together. The front shocks mount directly to the leading spar at angles designed to transfer the trail force into the strongest part of the chassis.

Up front we find 30-degree A-arm mounts. Force is transferred into the chassis at a 30 degree angle from the centerline. The swept-back attachment points affect the sled’s approach angle, preventing it from diving directly into holes or ruts. Optimized mount points spread the load more evenly into the frame reducing flex. Tall, lightweight forged spindles create a wide a-arm layout, all for added strength. The tall length allows for the wide A-arm spacing to reduce stress and chassis flex. The steel bulkhead sub-frame provides rigid mounting points for the shocks and A-arms and reduces flexing for more accurate shock calibrations.

Another departure from what we are familiar with on Yamaha four-strokes is how the rear-exiting exhaust is gone. Instead we now find a forward, or centralized muffler location, up in front of the chaincase on the right side, just like most sleds have. The engine is tilted back in the chassis so the exhaust ports are located just above the jackshaft, with the stainless steel header pipe and main pipe still cooled by snow. This mounting location will reduce the weight of ice build-up and better centralizes the mass. This new arrangement actually helps to center almost 60% of the sled’s mass, a huge factor in how this new sled handles and feels as you ride it. We also find large running board cut-outs that clear out snow to allow easy foot movement on the running boards, another welcome feature.


Yet another great improvement is the extended fuel range with the 40 liter (10.6 gallon fuel tank). Limited fuel range was such an issue with the FX Nytro models and its small fuel tank, but that problem has now been solved as well. There’s also a quick-disconnect seat that can removed in a matter of seconds, giving us fast access to the rear-mounted battery. The battery tray is molded right into the gas tank to reduce vibration and reduce overall weight. This new seat design is heated for rider comfort, and has a tall, thick saddle for excellent ride comfort and versatile ergonomics.

In the rear we find a Comfort-tuned with a 15 x 129 x 1.25” Rip Saw II track (2.86 pitch) wrapped around it. This track is excellent for trail riders as it helps to keep the skis on the ground during cornering, allowing a slight amount of side slip instead of biting and causing quick inside ski lift. Overall this track delivers a balance of traction on both hard packed and loose snow conditions and delivers excellent durability and top speed capability.

The Dual Shock SR 129 rear suspension rear suspension is a torsion spring design with a set of comfort-tuned HPG shocks (we believe they are Fox or ACT shocks, but Yamaha is simply calling them aluminum HPG shocks). This is a coupled rear suspension but with a “floating” front-arm pivot that doesn’t force the front arm to collapse immediately when the rear arm couples to it. This helps to control (or eliminate) ski lift during acceleration and maintains full front arm travel for reducing bottoming.

Up front we also find a set of comfort-tuned HPG front shocks with coil springs. Again, we believe these are ACT or Fox shocks but Yamaha is using the HPG designation in their descriptions. They have lightweight aluminum bodies and are rebuildable with internal floating pistons and tunable pyramid valve-stacks that resist fading and provide consistent performance.

Another major difference between the SR Viper and the FX Nytro is the rider protection. Instead of a narrow, sculpted body that provides little wind deflection we now get a wide body with excellent rider protection, along with a truly functional and stylish mid-height windshield.
Another standard feature aimed at pleasing the trail riders this sled is designed for is the large behind-the-seat cargo bag. Where the FX Nytro had zero storage capacity, this new cargo bag is a convenient way to carry extra gloves, goggles and trail snacks and is both secure while riding and easily removable at the end of the day.

By now you might have realized this new sled has a lot of features that look familiar, and you would be correct. Yamaha and Arctic Cat have a “mutual supply agreement” where Yamaha supplies the engines and Arctic Cat supplies the chassis and assembly. This is an Arctic Cat ProCross chassis design, as the SR Viper is being built at the Arctic Cat factory in Thief River Falls, Minnesota for Yamaha, and to Yamaha specifications and quality control standards. This is no easy feat. What started out as an Arctic Cat chassis has been scrutinized and reviewed and changes have been made, make no mistake.

It is not accurate for us to tell you this is just an Arctic Cat with a Yamaha engine and clutches, as there is far more going on here. This is where it started, but has progressed far past that point. On the first pass, Yamaha came back with no less than 72 items they wanted changed to make this sled a Yamaha. Things like fit and finish items of the side panels were changed. The seats were not up to Yamaha’s liking, so we now have seats that fit better and are easier removable with latch on the back and a stronger seat base. In the chaincase we find a Borg Warner 13-wide chain with machined gears, not stamped gears and a smaller chain. We also find a manual chain tensioner, not an auto-adjust chain tensioner, so you will want to be adjusting the chain tension after the first 500 miles. This set-up is more to Yamaha’s liking and standards.

Yes, Arctic Cat now offers sleds in their line-up that also feature the same Yamaha engine, but there are now many differences between them. The calibrations started out very similar, but the SR Viper has Yamaha clutches so the clutching and responsiveness will be different. The skis are different, the side panels are different, the windshields are different, the snow flaps are different, so there are differences from ski tip to snow flap.

What about the engine? This is a Yamaha FX Nytro engine, but past that it is different. In this chassis it has a new intake and exhaust, so that means a new ECU and new programming. We’re told it now makes a couple more HP, and is perfectly happy with 87-octane fuel. It for sure sounds different than the FX Nytro, but it still pulls like crazy. Power and performance is not an issue in this conversion. This engine is still like a hammer, it just doesn’t break.

For the Yamaha trail riders looking for the engine of the FX Nytro but with world-class ride and handling, look no further. The SR Viper is going to be the comfort-tuned option with the 129” track length and will be a trail-rider’s delight. It is available at Yamaha dealers for $12,149.

From the September 2014 issue of SnowTech Magazine. To see all the great articles from SnowTech you have to be a subscriber to the magazine. Subscribe here - and have SnowTech delivered to your door.


Drive Belt Life Improvement Products for Arctic Cat Procross/Proclimb

One of the issues owners of the latest platform from Arctic Cat have been chasing is that of drive belt durability. Since its introduction in 2012, the Arctic Cat Procross & Proclimb sleds have been tough on drive belts. Arctic Cat has taken several steps in an attempt to provide greater drive belt durability, with changes to their secondary clutches and changes to the drive belt compound and construction, but the longevity is still not what many owners would like.

Now add to the issue the added power of turbo kits and other modifications, and drive belt durability becomes even more of an issue. This is what the performance tuners at Evolution Powersports were faced with. They were selling the performance kits for these sleds, and riders were having issues with the drive belt durability. To them, it didn’t matter if the bone-stock sleds were also having issues, they needed to do something about it themselves and for their own customer’s satisfaction.

Evolution’s take on the drive belt durability issue is this – they tried many of the other products out on the market and found that none of these things made more than a so-so improvement in the drive belt life. Looking into the root cause of the issue, they believe it is a matter of certain sleds having materials that are substantially out of specification. When the out of specification items stack up, you have a belt blower.


For example, Evolution tested 10 different Arctic Cat motor mounts and the durometer values varied from 30 to 62. The jackshafts were the same – some were properly heat treated, and some were not up to specification. The consistency of the parts and pieces just isn’t there.

Lastly, some believe that in a rubber belt CVT system you cannot have a 100% solid connection between the clutches because the drive belts have very poor tolerance to shock load. In other words, when the clutches lose control of the drive belt and then grab it again, a decoupled engine will have a small amount of deflection to absorb some of the force rather than the drive belt absorbing 100% of it. Undoubtedly belts are weakened each time this happens with a solid connection.

Based on these observations, Evolution Powersports performed testing and has developed several stages of “Belt Life Improvement Products” that deal with these issues.

The first is their TCL elimination bracket. The purpose of this product is to decouple the engine from the jackshaft and go back to a more traditional engine/jackshaft layout. EVO has found that the stock wobble bearings along with soft jack shafts that deflect considerably when under load coupled with excessive engine movement are the primary causes of clutch misalignment and therefore poor belt life. With the TCL elimination bracket, EVO is supplying a traditional straight roller bearing. They are able to do this because the jackshaft is now fixed and aligned with the chain case jack shaft bearing. Once the movement is taken out of the PTO side, the top gear in the chain case will now stay in alignment with the bottom gear and chain. Chain & gear life are vastly improved once this movement is eliminated. You will notice that on the new SR Viper and 7000 series, Arctic Cat has completely abandoned the TCL and has set up their engine/jackshaft like this.

This product was tested all last year alongside control sleds to verify the improvements. By the end of the year, EVO had over 10 times the belt life that they had in the beginning, seeing well over 1000 miles per drive belt.

These kits are being sold in 3 stages:

Stage 1

Consists of the Turbie/EVO TCL elimination bracket and replacement PTO side quality SKF roller bearing


Stage 2

Is the above items with the Turbie/EVO supplemental Engine Braces with same durometer except solid instead of gear shaped motor mounts. The engine braces & motor mounts allow the engine to be held in securely without the concern of the heat exchanger tabs breaking off – the stock aluminum tabs on the heat exchanger are removed. The engine braces mount to the tunnel with rivets and bolts and have doublers in key areas for strength. The motor mounts have adjustable sleeves included in the kit and allow adjustment of both X&Y plane parallelism between the primary and secondary clutches. This also allows customers to dial in the required “positive offset parallelism” at rest so when the engine is being pulled backwards under load, the clutches will be parallel. For those who wish to keep their TCL in place, this allows needed adjustment to properly align the clutches.


Stage 3

Is the items in Stages 1&2 along with EVO’s new 300M jackshaft. This shaft has been strengthened in key areas. The 300M Alloy Steel resists bending and will do a far better job of keeping the secondary aligned with the primary. This shaft will allow the use of the stock 1100T gears (with reverse) and stock chain or EVO’s HD Link Belt chain. EVO has found that once the movement and angle changes of the top gear with respect to the rest of the gears & chain is eliminated (along with installing a manual chain tensioner) the gear & chain problems largely disappear.


The installation of this kit requires all of the skills necessary for removing the stock jackshaft and stock engine brace as well as pressing the bearings off and on the jackshaft. The stock brace will need to have the bearing pocket removed in order to allow fitment of the new TCL Elimination Bracket. This can be accomplished with a Sawzall and a bench grinder. Detailed instructions are supplied for those who have the capability to do this job.

For those who do not have the skills to do the complete job, you can send your existing TCL bracket to EVO for modification and your jackshaft for bearing removal and installation. The charge to do the cutting and grinding of your shaft as well as the pressing of the bearings is $100.00.

For more information or to have your sled upgraded contact Evolution Powersports in Stillwater, Minnesota at 970-680-3861 (evopowersports.com)

This article was originally from the December 2014 print edition of SnowTech Magazine. Subscribe to SnowTech Magazine and have all five issues per year delivered right to your door!


Project Build – Arctic Cat RXf 800

With Chris Olin – Rox Speed FX

rox action 1

“What the heck is an RXf?” you’re asking yourself. Is it a Yamaha in Cat clothing? Is it an Arctic Cat with an identity crisis? XF or F? Or is it something that does not exist but could be something we would like to see? A missing link perhaps…..Hmmm. When we set out to build this project we wanted to build the ultimate flatlander cross over. The Arctic Cat Pro-Cross chassis is widely considered to be one of the best platforms for trail riding on the market and there is no question on the performance of this two lunged monster. This thing rips even before we started on this build!

The word Crossover is the buzz word in our sport and our society right now. Everything from SUV’s to motorcycles and GPS units combine what we love about one thing with the functionality of another thing. Everyone is looking for the magic potion that will be all things to all people. In fact the cross over automobile has been around since the early 1900’s. The invention of the Dual Cowl Phaeton body carriage was an attempt to improve the carriage by giving its riders the option of sitting inside the cowl (interior) or outside in the free air in effect crossing a convertible with a closed body car. Who can forget the Ford Ranchero (1957-1979) or Chevy El Comino (1959-1987). I can remember growing up as kid riding in the very back of my parent’s station wagon facing the cars behind us in a bit of embarrassment. Who thought crossing a bus with a car and then adding fake wood paneling was cool, Not! “But it’s so practical!” Now cross over wagons/SUV’s are the hot tickets and the buzz word in the automotive industry. What goes around always seems to come around again at some point! But, back to the purpose of this article.

We started with a 2012 Arctic Cat F800 SnoPro platform. We, like others, love the looks of the new chassis and we love the performance of the Cat on the trails, but we thought…what would it be like if we built a Cat that targeted the flatland riders. All of the other manufacturers were building a 136”/137” model except Cat. The XF tends to lean on the side of the mountain man vs. the flatlander in characteristics. Light bulb moment!

So we started out by contacting Bruce at Camoplast about acquiring a 136” track for our project. We selected the Camoplast Back Country 2.52 x 1.75” x 136” track. We wanted something that had the ability to truly cross over from trail to powder, the goal being the ultimate of both worlds. We decided to stay with the 2.52” pitch instead of making the jump over to the 2.86” pitch of the 2013 models. If you want to add a 2.86 x 136”/137” kit to your 2013 F800 the part number is 9126C and you will actually save 12% in weight over what we have done. The part number for our build is 9142C and fits the 2.52” pitch on the 2012 platform.


The next call was to Tony Vruwink over at Tracks USA to develop the extensions we would need to turn our 128” to a 136”. After some discussion about the purpose and plan of our build the group over at Tracks got to work. They designed, fabricated and shipped out a prototype set of 136” extensions in short order. The service and speed at which they worked with us is to be commended. We love working with good people! Tracks USA makes a wide variety of extensions for all four of the manufactures so give them a call or take a look at their website for more information.


Our next step in the build was to figure out how to give ourselves more bite in the britches so to speak. Horsepower! Who better to call than Speedwerx! They have been playing in the performance field for 18 years and worked with us way back in 2005 when we built our “CrossFire 8” project in the Jan/Feb 2006 issue of SnowTech. Jeremy recommended the Frogz Skin kit, Speedwerx stage 1 kit and adjustable pipe to help us get power to the ground in low and high elevation conditions. The kit includes pipe and Y-Pipe that adds about 9-10 hp over stock and is 5 lbs lighter. The muffler is 11 lbs lighter than stock and is actually quieter by 4-6db at 4000-5000 rpm. Now what’s really cool is Speedwerx has a system by which the rider can get max performance by having two stingers, one for low elevation 0-5000 and one for 5000+. If you’re a flatlander that runs out to the “Big snow” a few times every winter take a look at this system.


“If you’re going to modify the exit you have to modify the entry” so we gave Joe a call over at Boyesen. He sent us a set of Boyesen Rage cage Reeds for the big 800HO that gave us around 3-5 hp over stock. The biggest impact here is bottom end response and quicker acceleration. Improving air flow requires improving fuel flow especially when we are talking about mods and elevation. Enter Dynojet! Dynojet is the expert in the field of fuel mapping controllers. The Power Commander V connects into the factory harness and allows you to change the fuel maps based on the elevations you are riding. Speedwerx has the 800 twin maps dialed in for three elevation categories – 0-5000’, 5000-9000’ and 9000’and above. They can be downloaded off from the website via computer.

Power is no good unless it gets to the track. Along with the Speedwerx stage 1 kit we changed out the stock helix, secondary spring and weights for the Speedwerx Hypershift clutch kit. Jeremy of Speedwerx states “The high elevation set-up is designed to maintain rpm and reduce belt temps. Currently we are seeing 800 + miles on a stock 084 belt while mountain riding out west. Our low elevation set-up increases throttle response, acceleration, offers better back shift, adds 5 mph to the top speed, and longer belt life compared to the stock set-up.” We can say “yes it does!”

Next in the proverbial line of mechanics is gearing. Due to the added track length we decided to change the 21/38 stock gearing of the 2012 F800. We ended up running 21/48 which is based off from the XF’s 22/48 gearing. We are not looking for hyper lake running speed, but quick hit trail pop while still being able to jump off into the powder with our 1.75” x 136” Backcountry track. Plus, the gearing is much better for our belt life which we like.

On the list of changes was to update the tunnel to the new flat tunnel design used on the 2013 models. The added strength of the design as well as the elimination of the space for snowpack and slush build up was something we wanted on this build. Arctic Cat sells this kit through their dealer network so if you own a 2012 you can make this mod fairly easily. We customized the tail section of ours by fabricating an aluminum extension plate at the end of the new tunnel. That way our shiny new snow flap can clear the additional length we gained in the 136” track.


If you have kept up with SnowTech you may have seen some mention of the Custom Axis kit for the 2012 F&XF Hygear has developed with Custom Axis. We decided to reach out to the Hygear boys and give these shocks a try on our build. We went with the Custom Axis DA/DR Piggybacks in front. These shocks are light and compression and rebound adjustable. The skid kit for the F800 uses a Custom Axis DSC/DR center and DA/NS rear shock.


The dual rate spring on the center shock is set up for rider weight, and provides a soft initial rate for stutter bump compliance along with a stiffer rate for bottoming control. The dual speed compression adjuster on this shock allows the rider to fine tune bottoming resistance, as well as cornering, small bump feel, and overall vehicle dynamics. The rebound adjuster on the rear shock helps dial in ride comfort. These things look amazing on the sled and meet the objective we set out for on this build.


A must have for the Procross/Proclimb chassis is a Racewerx front bumper and skid kit. This thing is rock solid and provides the best protection from giving these rigs unwanted nose jobs. Protecting the intercooler and air intake is vital when you are off trail in no man’s land and the skid plate is just plain insurance! Another cool addition from Racewerx is a product they call a Rapid Block. It allows you to quick adjust the coupling block in the skid to 6 different positions without a tool. The adjuster allows you to go from max transfer to max ski pressure simply by turning the dial so to speak. Knee pads are a welcome addition as well from Racewerx. These are low profile but provide enough pad and grip without getting in the way. Doug has also come out with a nifty seat knob you can manage with your gloves on if you need to access your battery or under seat storage.


We knew by adding a 1.75” lug and added track length we would affect the steering similar to what happens when adding studs. So we gave Adam a call over at Starting Line Products to inquire about the performance of the SLP “Straight line tracking” ski verses the SLP “Powder Pro” ski in regards to the Pro chassis. Adam stated that they would recommend the SLP Powder pro ski. He states, “The Powder Pro Skis give a more planted feel in the front end and create enough bite to rail through the corners. Because of their unique design they also provide unparalleled handling in loose or powder snow, which is exactly where the XF and M-Chassis models need improvement. They also work extremely well on the F-Chassis whether riding on trails that are groomed or loose and torn-up.” If you have followed our builds of the past you will notice these are one of our favorite mods. The skis are aggressive, but they do not wear you out. The last thing you want is to feel like you have been wrestling steers all day in the pasture.


Now for the Rox Contributions to this build. The 2012 F800 came stock with a 4.5” stock riser which is a little short for our taste. Rox is known for our patented height adjustable and pivoting risers. New for this year is a T-style solid series of risers that range from 1” to 10.5” in height. They are billet aluminum and made in the USA. We chose the Rox BR 6.5” for this build. They are robust and have that custom look of high end quality Rox Speed FX is known for. A very cool addition was custom orange anodized Rox Edge Grippers. They add gription and strength without cutting apart your running boards. Rox has also redesigned the Flex-Tec hand guards for the 2012/2013 season. They are now made of 100% water proof materials and have a new 3D raised rubberized logo plate. They have a factory finished look and all the functionality you depend on in cold, harsh or rowdy conditions. Something new for Rox is what we call the remote switch kit. It allows the rider to move the left hand control module that holds the hand warmer switches to the center of the bar which eliminates the possibility of bumping them while riding. If you are a stand up rider you know what I am talking about.


Now to wrap it all up…yes, Pun intended. We have done something we have not done before and we are pumped with the outcome. A 100% matte finish wrap from Blown Concepts. Sweet job Robb! She’s a real looker, as the old timers used to say.


In conclusion this project was a blast! The RXf Rox! Our cameraman who is used to riding mountain sleds took off down the trail and returned with “Holy**** that thing is fast!” There is nothing like running a trail or ditch with a capable sled! Feeling the sled suck up the bumps as the trail flies by is amazing. Being able to jump off and enjoy an untouched lake, field or hillside only adds to the fun. We feel we totally achieved or goal of building the ultimate flatland Cross Over Cat!

All of the companies we worked with are top notch and can be trusted to provide you with value for your hard earned dollars. Arctic Cat did a great job with the new platform in my opinion. I like a company that embraces change and pushes the envelope. At the end of the day, the goal is to put a smile on your face and enjoy the adventure. God Bless and good riding!

“Oh give me land lots of land under starry skies above don’t fence me in
Let me ride through the wide open country that I love don’t fence me in
Let me be by myself in the evening breeze
Listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees
Send me out forever but I ask you please don’t fence me in.
Just turn me loose let me straddle my sled underneath the blue bird skies.”

~Robert Fletcher/Cole Porter

Contact List

Skis – Starting Line Products / 208-529-0244 / www.startinglineproducts.com

Motor/frogzskin/PC V – Speedwerx / 651-982-0600 / www.speedwerx.com

Shocks – HYGEAR Suspension / 607-533-7434 / www.hygearsuspension.com

Skid Extension – Tracks USA / 320-382-6128 / www.tracksUSA.com

Track – Camoplast / www.camoplastsolideal.com/snowmobile

Bumper/kneepads/Rapid block / Race Werx / 612-396-7011 / www.racewerxinc.com

Wrap – Blown Concepts / 612-767-7645 / www.blownconcepts.com

Reeds – Boyesen / 800-441-1177 / www.boyesen.com

Ergonomics – Rox Speed FX Inc. / 218-326-1794 / www.roxspeedfx.com


2014 Ski-Doo

Ski-Doo sells more snowmobiles than anyone else, and that lead is growing. Over the past year they have increased their market share in all segments, especially in the mountains. Their warranty costs have decreased and customer satisfaction has increased. Where do they go next? How about enhancing the riding experience; making snowmobiling “easier”.

It was just last year that Ski-Doo introduced us to their next generation REV-XS and REV-XM platforms. These new REV variants were only offered on a limited number of sleds, so for 2014 it is logical to see most of the remaining REV-XP models being converted over to their latest designs. That means sleds like the MX Z X-RS and GSX (2-strokes) are now on the REV-XS platform, and the Freeride models are on the REV-XM platform. Four-stroke 1200 models remain in the REV-XR body style, but we get a new ACE 900 engine that does fit into the REV-XS body style.


The Rotax ACE 900 engine with intelligent Throttle Control (iTe) technology is the next member of the Advanced Combustion Efficiency (ACE) family of four-stroke engines. A triple-cylinder variant of the mileage king ACE 600 engine, the new ACE 900 claims up to 23.3 miles per gallon while producing 90 horsepower. It is essentially another piston and cylinder added to the ACE 600, giving us the 900cc displacement.

This new ACE is clean, as it meets the National Park Service Best Available Technology (BAT) requirements. It is operated with the industry’s first electronic throttle-by-wire technology – intelligent Throttle Control (iTC). iTC technology provides three driving modes: Sport (quick acceleration/response), Standard, and ECO (improved fuel economy/more relaxed response). A rocker switch on the left dash lets the driver select the mode, and the electronics do the rest.

iTC also provides the industry’s first Learning Key: an alternate tether cord limits top speed and acceleration. Dad can ride the sled and go have fun, then hand the learning key to a younger rider who is electronically limited to help keep them from going too fast, so it’s like having two, or three sleds, in one. Or four. This one is going to be VERY popular.
The bulk of Ski-Doo riders will be happy to see the expansion of the REV-XS and the world-class rMotion suspension to so many more models. In the Summit series, the REV-XM platform has been expanded to many more models along with the capable tMotion rear suspension and FlexEdge track technology.

We also find a new track drive system (on the Grand Touring LE with the ACE 900) for 2014 in the SilentDrive System, where BRP engineers took a fresh look at the drive system to significantly reduce noise, vibration and harshness. Silent Drive uses advanced 16-tooth internal drivers, longer rails and a unique track design to reduce the drive system noise and vibration, up to 70% versus a regular sled.


When you first hop on a 2014 Ski-Doo, one of the first things you will notice is the new left-hand handlebar control assembly that is simpler and more intuitive to operate. Instead of having the buttons rocker left and right, they now rocker up and down. Each and every new feature is aimed at enhancing the experience to make snowmobiling easier.

Ski-Doo’s flagship MX Z X-RS bump sleds make the conversion over to the REV-XS platform for 2014. Only offered to Spring buyers, this is the same chassis with reinforcements as found on the 600RS race sled for the ultimate in strength. Offered in your choice of E-TEC engines, the 800R or 600 H.O. The steering post comes in the forward position for aggressive riding.

The Spring-only MX Z X-package models remain one of the best sellers because of their capability and adjustability. Fitted with the Quick Adjust option for the rMotion suspension, riders can quickly dial the spring preload or shock valving to exacting settings for the most capable suspension available. Smooth through the chatter and able to take on the big bumps, this is an outstanding suspension package. Also offered in the REV-XR platform with the 1200 4-TEC engine package, a wolf in sheep’s clothing if you prefer a four-stroke. Go for the Quick Adjust option, it’s worth it.

If you haven’t had the chance to ride a sled with the rMotion, you need to try one. Most suspensions can be set to work good in a particular condition, but the beauty of the rMorion is how it works so well across a wider range of conditions. Now instead of being limited to a small number of models, Ski-Doo has expanded it to many more models for 2014. All of the in-season MX Z TNT models get it. All Renegades (except the Sport) get it. And all of the GSX models get it; and if you want the best of the best, the GSX SE has rMotion AND the ACS air control shock. If ride quality is your single most important criteria, here is the best.

Ski-Doo has been making big gains in the mountain segment, and this will continue for 2014 as ALL Summit models, even the Sport, get the pivoting tMotion rear suspension and FlexEdge track technology. These features make mountain riding easier, even for the less experienced, as the sled is more responsive to the rider’s inputs and desires.

Ski-Doo is leading the engine wars as well. They are all at, or near, the top in terms of power, fuel and oil economy, with excellent running quality and lower noise emissions. Short tracks, long tracks, two-strokes, four-strokes, work, play and everything in-between, they’ve got it all.

This article was from the Spring 2013 issue of SnowTech – published in March 2013

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2014 Polaris

Polaris has really gotten their act together the past few years. Back when the RUSH first came out in 2010, it seemed as if that exact model was rushed to market (funny, huh). But since that time they have taken the Pro-Ride platform to new heights in their popular RMK series, expanded their progressive rate rear suspension to their Switchback series, and most recently added the popular Indy models back into their line-up. The Indy sleds feature the front end chassis & construction of the RUSH with a more traditional tunnel and coupled rear suspension design, something Polaris remains very good at.

So for 2014, it makes perfect sense for them to give us more Indy-based models to choose from. Gone for 2014 are the base RUSH models, as their Indy brothers are duplicates in the line-up. The only RUSH models left are the Pro-R 800 and Pro-R 600, the good ones with the Walker Evans clicker shocks.

Which brings us to the Polaris Indy. The Polaris Indy, one of the most legendary names in the history of snowmobiling, made its return to the Polaris lineup in 2013. For 2014, the popular 600 Indy and 600 Indy SP return with new seats and they’re joined by several new INDY models.

If the 600 Indy was so popular, why not offer an 800 Indy? Sure enough, 2014 brings us the 800 Indy SP, for riders who like to carve the trails with stronger acceleration. Also available during SnowCheck Select for Spring buyers there’s an 800 Indy SP LE (and 600 Indy SP LE) with special paint and graphics, multi-colored seats and equipment options; your choice of three windshields, storage bag options and electric start.

In an interesting twist, Polaris is coming with several 144” track length versions of the Indy series. The 600 Indy Voyager 144 and 550 Indy Voyager 144 are described as “light utility” models that are well-suited for work and for off-trail riding”. The INDY Voyager models are going to be extremely capable off-trail sleds with their 144” tracks, high-flotation Gripper skis and narrow, adjustable RMK front suspension. These new models also provide a smooth, comfortable ride, so they’re right at home on the trails, but they’re also well-suited for work with their large, durable rear cargo rack. The 600 Indy Voyager 144 is going to see some sales in the lake effect snow belts, where the added flotation of the 144” track and the fuel economy of the 600 twin is going to be preferred over the less-capable in the deep (but more capable in the rough) Switchback 600 models.

A variant of this is the new 550 Indy Adventure 144, an extremely versatile model with the innovative Adventure Cargo System and Lock & Ride Convertible Passenger Seat. It is an Adventure model, but with a traditional tunnel. Yet another variant is the 550 Indy LXT 144, a touring model with a full complement of comfort features for high mileage riders. There’s also a stripped down version called the 550 Indy 144, and of course a short track 550 Indy 121.

While we expected to see more Indys, we simply did not see all of these new models coming. So many new 550 fan-cooled models (four different 550 Indys with a 144” track?) is somewhat of a surprise, but Polaris must be selling enough 550s fans to make it worth the exercise. They are a lower-powered and lower-priced option, and while not appealing to the typical performance rider they likely have appeal to the broader world-wide market that Polaris is eyeing with lust and desire.

Two new models that we’re happy to see are the full-season 800 Switchback Adventure and the new 600 Switchback Assault. The 800 Switchback Adventure was offered last year as a spring-only model, but due to popular demand makes its return as an in-season offering. It has the versatile Adventure Cargo System that lets a rider install or remove saddlebags in seconds without tools. The cargo rack can also hold the new accessory Lock & Ride Convertible Passenger Seat, which converts the sled into a 2-up machine in just seconds.

The new 600 Switchback Assault 144 joins the 800 Switchback Assault 144 in giving riders the confidence to take on any terrain, anywhere. It is extremely nimble and well-equipped to dominate on tight, rough terrain and when landing from jumps and drops. We’ve seen a number of Switchback Assault models being used as Crossover sleds in a wide variety of conditions, so we’re confident the new 600 version will also be very popular as well.

In the heart of the Polaris line-up for 2014 there are no major changes to the Rush Pro-R, the RMK models or the Switchback models from last season. In fact, these sleds are working very well right now. Polaris seems to have gotten the drive axle issue taken care of on their RMK belt drive, citing supplier and tolerance issues. There are no new engines or significant engine changes for 2014, as the 550 fan, 600 CFI and 800 CFI are now working well for Polaris. They’re going for lightweight more so than peak power with the 800, and in the light Pro-Ride chassis it does work very well. The 600 CFI is a stellar engine, with good power and excellent economy, fuel and oil. Four-strokes? There remains a single Turbo IQ LXT four-stroke in the Polaris line-up for 2014, which now works quite well. Actually, Polaris now has their entire line-up working quite well.

This article was from the Spring 2013 issue of SnowTech – published in March 2013

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