With the wildly popular introduction of the Gen 4 REV models and the 850 E-TEC for 2017, it only makes sense that for 2018 Ski-Doo would maintain their momentum, and accelerate even harder.
The 2017 introduction of Gen 4 850s was rather limited, as the new platform and engine technology was only found in select models – MX Z X & TNT short tracks, Renegade X and Renegade Adrenaline crossovers, with Summit X and Summit SPs in the mountains. This left a whole bunch of 800R E-TEC models in the REV-XS platform for 2017, and as we had hoped for, these models are all being upgraded to the Gen 4 platform with the 850 E-TEC for 2018.
In the mountain segment, the 175” track length models are now Gen 4s, in both Summit X (spring-only) and Summit Adrenaline (in-season). The in-season Summit SP 146 is also a Gen 4 model as well, giving both spring and in-season Summit buyers plenty of track lengths and feature packages to choose from.
Perhaps even more exciting is to find the Freeride models all taken to the next level, as each and every one of them is now a Gen 4 850. The 137” Freeride remains an rMotion version, with the others having a tMotion rear suspension. But there’s more – a brand new Freeride 165” model for 2018, and a new Freeride 154 S-38 in addition to the popular Freeride 154”.
What’s up with that? The 137, 146 and 154 S-38 have a wider 38” ski stance. The 154 & 165 get the narrower 35.7” ski stance for greater agility and responsiveness, making them easier to roll up for deep snow prowess. Each model delivers a premium shock package and chassis reinforcements compared to their Summit brothers, giving us a beefed-up package with unique toughness.
If there was a sled Ski-Doo riders really wanted in the Gen 4 platform last year, it was the XRS – both the MX Z XRS and the Renegade XRS. Yes, Ski-Doo did offer an XRS shock package to help bridge the gap, but now for 2018 we get our wishes fulfilled with the introduction of the Gen 4 Renegade XRS and MX Z XRS. As expected, we get the chassis reinforcements, fully adjustable shocks, larger running boards, and a more aggressive steering position – just what the doctor ordered.
Now we’re going to bend your mind. More accurately, we’re going to bend your rails. Crossover riding is getting bigger and bigger as riders realize the wider range of conditions these sleds excel at, giving them the ability to master everything they might encounter – groomed trails, deep snow, off-trail forest roads, cross country riding, and even some mild mountain riding. So grab your socks, because Ski-Doo is rolling up their sleeves and taking another stab at delivering an even better crossover sled with their all-new Backcountry & Backcountry X models. Yes, they are now Gen 4 850s in the 146” track length, but with a twist – a new cMotion rear suspension. Not a tMotion, not an rMotion, but a blend of the character of each. Here we find tipped up rails for more responsive handling on packed trails, yet it is an un-coupled rear arm for nice transfer and lift in the off-trail environment. The geometry and motion ratio is similar to the tMotion, but the arms are rigid like the rMotion and do not pivot like they do on a tMotion. Add to this full-width track rods, so this is NOT a Flex Edge track, for added stability.
What riders found with the Backcountry 146” REV-XS models the past two years was that they were far more of a Summit with a shorter track and lower lugs, where they wanted more of a Renegade with a longer track and better flotation. What’s the difference? The on-trail stability. The previous Backcountry sleds were too agile with the Flex Edge track and pivoting tMotion rear suspension. Going back to a standard track and making the front and rear arms rigid gives us back a whole lot more stability. A dual rate center spring also lets the front arm settle in more, adding to the front end manners.
Another key feature is the adjustable front end width. At 38” the sled is still quite agile, better suited if you do more off trail than on trail riding. If you prefer more stability and more of a 50/50 character, you can pull the ski bolts and swap the spacers around for a 40” ski stance, adding to the stability and on-trail manners. Does it work as good on the trail as a Renegade 137”? Not quite, this is an un-coupled rail. Does it work as good as a Summit 146” off-trail? Not quite, the standard lug height is 1.6” but you can get an optional 2” PowderMax track. The key here is it will work far better in deep snow than a Renegade 137”, and it will work far better on-trail than a Summit 146”. Instead of being an expert ride in one place or the other, it bridges the gap and gives us a really good sled across a wider set of conditions. For all of the riders who have been buying a mountain sled to ride at low elevation, most every one of them would be better suited with a sled like the Backcountry if they do any amount of trail riding. For the guys looking for the elusive 50/50 crossover sled, this one is getting closer and closer to that Holy Grail.
Are we done yet? Nope, we saved the best for last. Time for a SHOT. We all like the convenience of electric start, but hate the added weight. Between the battery and the starter motor and the ring gear it adds up to over 20 pounds of fat. Ick. How much money do we spend to get rid of 20 pounds on a mountain sled? A lot. So what if we told you of a way to have your push-button electric start, but it will only add two pounds. Crazy, huh? Time for a SHOT.
A new option for 2018 Summit and Freeride models is the new SHOT starter system. Gone is the battery, starter motor and ring gear. Instead we have a pack of ultra-capacitors, which amount to a short-term high-current battery pack. Our starter motor is now the engine magneto and the flywheel, effectively serving as an electric motor. The trick is we have to pull-start the engine the first time of the day, after which the running engine will charge the capacitor pack. From that point on, when you go to start the sled you push the RER button and it almost magically fires up – near silent, it just starts. The capacitor pack holds a decent charge for an hour or so, so you might find the need to yank on the rope after an extended period of having the sled off, but the E-TEC starts so easily this is a non-issue. Since the typical mountain riders start their sled multiple times each day while riding, this system takes away the weight penalty of right about 20 pounds. We call it “brilliant simplicity”. And it is only found on Ski-Doo mountain sleds for 2018. It is really cool.
Look for our “First Ride” report on the 2018 Summit X and Freeride in the Spring issue of SnowTech! (Early March)