Warning – do not ride a Ski-Doo MXZ TNT 850 unless you are prepared to buy it. Seriously. It will make your current sled feel fat, old and ugly. Sorry, but it’s true. It’s that good of a trail sled, packed full of the latest technology from Ski-Doo and their premier engine maker from Austria, Rotax.
The MXZ TNT 850 is the in-season MX Z offering from Ski-Doo that comes with a shock package that doesn’t have all of the knobs and adjustments that the other MXZ models have, like the X-RX, X and Blizzard. This sled is calibrated for those riding groomed trails, seeking the very best comfort and control available in a sled that they don’t have to fiddle with. Better yet, you get the full power of the new 850 E-TEC and all of the benefits of the new Gen 4 REV platform, without the hassle of knobs. Just gas it and go riding. Check the oil tank every now and then, but it will last a long time.
The MX Z TNT comes with HPG Plus shocks front, center and rear, made by expert shock builder Kayaba. This is truly the biggest difference between the TNT and an MX Z X, but there is more. The X-package could have been ordered with an optional Adjustment Package that consists of the Quick Adjust System for the rMotion rear suspension, along with the adjustment knob on the Pilot TS skis that lets you raise or lower the carbide blade to your liking of how responsive of cornering you desire. Instead of having all the knobs front and rear, the MX Z TNT 850 comes with no knobs and is fitted with the familiar Pilot 5.7 skis which work better across a wider range of trail conditions, in our expert opinion. We find these skis to actually be a better match for loose snow or fresh snow, where the adjustable Pilot TS skis are designed more for hardpacked trails. We are perfectly fine with the all-around performance of the Pilot 5.7 skis on the TNT 850, as most of our riders prefer this ski.
The X-package also gets a forward-adjustable handlebar riser, something aggressive riders might value but many trail riders will never use. There is also a rack-style steering system on the X-package MX Z 850. You might not have heard much about this, but the Ski-Doo team decided to use different steering systems on the X-models to give these sleds a more premium positioning over the TNT (and Renegade Adrenaline) models which are fitted instead with a single pitman arm, resulting in slightly more bump steer than would be with the rack steering. This translates into vehicle tracking stability and predictability, at least in theory, but most riders never push their sleds to the point that they will notice a difference. Some might be able to feel the difference in full-stroke conditions as the sled will be more predictable and confident – especially in nose-landings, namely one ski types. Do you ride like that to need the extra feature and cost? Sometimes simpler is better!
Regardless of the steering system, the 4th Generation REV MXZ TNT gets a new RAS 3 front suspension with another inch of travel, afforded by the new die-cast front bulkhead that features a constant 22-degree caster angle compared to the variable 18-24 degree caster angle of the RAS 2 on the REV XS models. What you feel from this change is how the newest REV models have reduced bump feedback and track even straighter through the rough, regardless of the steering system. There is less back and forth in the handlebars as you are compressing the front suspension through the bumps.
One sweet thing is how the MXZ TNT 850 (and all TNT sleds) are now fitted with the longer 129” version of the rMotion rear suspension, making a good thing (no, great thing) even better. Better traction, better braking, better flotation, and even in the tightest corners you just can not really detect any difference at all in how quickly it handles and how sharply it responds. The tail is going to stay back there, not trying to pass you as abruptly as a 120” track would, so the stability and predictability is also enhanced. Seriously, with this kind of power under the hood you want the slightly longer track.
So if you are sitting there thinking you are stuck riding your old sled this winter because you didn’t ante up for an MX Z X-RS or X-package this past spring, do not despair. Get your butt down to your local Ski-Doo dealer and see if he was smart enough to order some of the MXZ TNT 850 E-TEC sleds. For trail riders, we could argue this is actually the better sled and a better value than the X-package. Only if you are the most extreme of riders who demands the adjustability offered by an X- or X-RS package will you be truly missing out. You might even prefer the TNT coloration to the wilder X-RS & X-packages. They all bring a new level of playfulness and responsiveness to snowmobiling, and do so with the very first snowmobile engine ever designed from the ground up to be a direct injection motor. Just wait ‘till you grab a handful of the 850. Who even needs a four-stroke with a 2-stroke that is this durable, this powerful, and has this much torque? Technology is a good thing, as found in the Ski-Doo MX Z TNT 850.
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