The First Ever X-RS Spec Renegade!
For 2015 Ski-Doo’s flagship MX Z X-RS bump sled suspension package makes the jump to the crossover class with the introduction of the first-ever Renegade X-RS models. Only offered to Spring buyers, this beefed-up Renegade offers the same reinforcements and shares many features with the MX Z X-RS race sled to easily handle bumps and jumps, including KYB PRO 40 shocks and key reinforcements for the ultimate in strength.
Extreme crossover riders now have their ideal sled, with this Racing Special version. Ski-Doo has sold an incredible number of renegade X sleds the past few years, and the X-RS version offers all of these riders a significant upgrade option.
SnowTech test riders have made it perfectly clear how much we like our Renegade X sleds each year, and while we have ridden many X-RS sleds here and there we have never had one in our own test fleet. So when we caught wind of the new renegade X-RS, while we were most interested, we had some reservations. Would it be too much like a race sled, as in as hard as a brick? Most race sleds are sprung and valved so firm that they trade off almost all ride quality going down a groomed trail to gain the ability to jump and crash though bumps without bottoming and damaging parts. But we went back to our testing of the 2014 MX Z X-RS sleds and remembered how well they worked for us, and could be dialed down almost to the point of an MX Z TNT-like calibration. Would the new Renegade X-RS give us the same adjustability? Would we be able to ride one for more than a couple of hours to really know, beyond a shadow of a doubt?
Luckily for us, Ski-Doo smartly leverages their relationship with us and sends us their next-year models in pre-production form for us to ride for as many miles as we can squeeze in before the snow melts. We’ve been doing this for a very long time, and have far greater confidence in reporting on a new model when we can run it through the paces for a couple thousand miles over a couple of weeks, not just a couple hundred miles in a single day. So when we heard a 2015 Renegade X-RS was headed our way, we knew what to do. Ride the skis off of it. Literally.
The day was Monday, March 10th. A brand new 2015 (prototype) Ski-Doo Renegade X-RS 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. No, correction. We went there, helmet in hand, and rode it away from there that very day.
The very next day we rode it for 184 miles. The next day was 144 miles. The next day was 274 miles. We had to head home for the weekend, but when we got back the quest continued. 161 miles the next day, 214 the next, 212 the next, then 253, 265, and on and on into April. In less than a month we were able to log 1,872 miles on the Renegade X-RS, so we’re more than ready to share our initial observations and reactions on this beast.
Being a BRIGHT orange and yellow sled, it is likely it could be seen from the International Space Station. The younger riders really 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. Everyone KNEW it was a new sled and wanted to know how we got one. They all wanted to know how it was working, what we liked about it, and of course if they could ride it (just for a little ways, please?)
Our main focus (of course) was 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.
We had always felt since the rMotion rear suspension came out that we were starting to over-drive the front end of the Ski-Doo sleds. The new rear worked so well that the front end needed to be tweaked to keep up. When the going got really rough this became more noticeable. With the RAS 2 we no longer get this feeling. Now, 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 wasn’t the first thing that we really 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.
For most riders what makes this sled so special is how this is the first time we could get an X-RS chassis and suspension package in the 137” Renegade track length. The X-RS 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 X-RS 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 X-RS calibration. The range of adjustability is amazing. We believed this to be a critical item for whether current Renegade X owners would really want to take a chance on this new model, but truly believe they will not be disappointed.
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 X-RS-type rider, but for the loose or fresh snow conditions (like what we typically have in the U.P. of Michigan) it is not the best track option. It is likely going to be very durable, more so than the Cobra for example, but for each set of conditions you will find an ideal track. Being this is a “race-bred” machine the 1.5” Ripsaw fits the image and should give years of durable service. Since we had a Renegade Backcountry X fitted with a 1.6” Cobra we could easily feel the difference between the two, but the Cobra does show significant lug wear in just under 4,000 miles. Just like with tires, a softer lug track will wear faster.
The yellow-orange coloration of our X-RS was bright and horny-looking, but it is more difficult to keep clean where your legs and knees contact the side panels (cleaning the panels was actually not that bad using a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser). That is why Ski-Doo offers this sled in black for 2015, which is what we have on order for this coming season. Yet we do have to admit that the bright yellow and orange did start to grow on us after a while. We jokingly called it “The Clown”, as most every one of our test sleds will earn a nickname, and this one looked so much like Ronald McDonald that the name stuck.
Perhaps the biggest complaint from our test riders was with the seat. The X-RS-style seat is noticeably firmer and taller in the crowned, or raised, center section, again a good match for the X-RS-style rider. Our test riders 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 for more aggressive riders). And for longer rides, we installed a taller windshield like we do on all of our sleds. Of course we did.
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. Not sure on this one, but after so many thousands of miles on REV-XPs and now REV-XS sleds, one notices even the slightest differences like this.
And that part about riding the skis off this sled back in the beginning? We wore the left hand yellow ski right down to the plastic, the entire wear bar was gone one day when we got back. When you are over a hundred miles from home and you notice the wear bar is about gone, you figure it can wait until you get back. By the time we did get back, it was too late. We always have spare skis on hand for each of our test sleds (lessons learned over the years of late-season testing) but out left hand spare was a black one, so the Clown ran for a while with one yellow ski and one black one. Kind of looked cool that way, some guys even thought it came that way. Funny thing was, before we wore the right one off we wore the left one down to nothing a second time. On these Ski-Doos you can’t swap the skis from side to side to even out the wear like you can on most other sleds, so riding road sides for a while here and there will catch up with you in the spring.
Bottom line, the 2015 Renegade X-RS 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 very good sleds 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 X-RS. 600 E-TEC or 800 E-TEC really doesn’t matter, figure 125 HP from the 600 and around 160 for the 800. The 600 runs smoother and its drive clutch parts will last longer. The 600 is also easier on gas and oil, but the 800 pulls harder and will top out higher. We tend to go by rider weight and experience; a lighter riders has a hard time getting an 800 to hook up, so anyone under 200 pounds we tend to steer towards a 600. Bigger heavier riders can get more traction and can better utilize the torque of the 800. And an 800 can get going faster in a shorter period of time, so the more experienced riders are better equipped to stay out of trouble with this kind of a rocketship under their tail. Bottom line, they’re both good. This winter we will be riding a BLACK Renegade X-RS 800R, that’s our choice. It will get a taller windshield, lose the handguards, get a gas can and gear bag on the rear of the tunnel, maybe even get a different seat. We can hardly wait.
From the September 2014 Issue of SnowTech Magazine (Aug 2014)
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