More Power with Added Refinement and Capability
By Jerry Mathews – SnowTech Mountain
The biggest news from the Ski-Doo camp for 2023 is the release of their new Deep Snow Gen 5 platform. This latest rendition features a narrow hood, belly pan side panel and tunnel design, two new tracks, a higher horsepower turbo engine, highly refined rear suspension, LED lighting and so much more. We’ve had the opportunity to ride these new Summit models several times now and here are our opinions and observations.
Summit X with Expert Package
The Gen 5 Summit X with Expert Package is designed to be more stable when on edge in tough snow conditions and highly technical terrain. It takes more commitment to get it to roll up on edge, but once in a sidehill position, it is easy to keep it there. Track wash out is nearly gone. This configuration is precise and effective even in tough (hard, tracked up) snow conditions on aggressive sidehills. The downside is the effort that it takes to get it on edge and navigate those off camber situations you encounter. This sled takes more commitment and energy to ride, but for the energetic snowmobiler who wants a super precise combination (essentially a high intermediate to expert class rider) this is the sled for you.
Now let’s talk more about the technology that makes the Summit X with Expert Package work. It gets a new track without “Flex Edge” technology. You heard us right, the track rods have been extended the full width of the track. This track is still a full 16 inches wide. The lugs on the track have also been changed so that their edges are right out to the edge of the track. This gives more traction, effectively utilizing the full 16 inch width of the track. Eliminating the “Flex Edge” gives the track more bite in hard, tracked up snow conditions eliminating the tendency to wash out (skate downhill).
Complimenting the track is a new rear suspension. And the big news for the Expert Package is it has a fixed rear suspension arm. You got it, tMotion as we have known it, is gone on the Expert Package. However, they are calling this new rear suspension tMotion XT. This suspension is specific to the Summit X with Expert Package. No other model gets the fixed rear arm.
Other rear suspension changes include a longer front arm, longer shock, repositioned rear arm upper mount and a flat rail profile. All Summit models get these changes. These changes allow for roughly one inch more suspension travel. They also provide more stability in making the sled launch and propel forward rather than up. Ride quality is excellent, we would say they continue to have the best-in-class rear suspension ride quality.
The front end of the Summit X with Expert package is 34 inches wide (adjustable from 33.7” to 35.4”). It utilizes a new DS4 ski that has a deeper keel and more ski in front of the spindle than previous (only the Summit X with Expert Package gets the new DS4 ski). The new DS4 ski is said to help provide less wash out, but we need more time on it to say for sure. What we can say is the new rear suspension stabilizes the front end making the 34 inch width the width of choice for the riding conditions we have been in so far.
The chassis is a full three inches narrower where the running board meets the belly pan. This compliments the narrow 34 inch ski stance and keeps the belly pan and side panels from lifting the ski out of the snow in extreme sidehill conditions (also known as “Panning Out”). The narrow chassis and stance is a very welcome change as it allows us to get more aggressive in the backcountry with lean angles and the like. Essentially, the wider running board and belly pan are no longer in the way leading to less stucks and more fun.
The Gen 5 Summit X with Expert package is said to be about 8 pounds lighter than the Gen 4. This is a welcome treat, but with all the other changes to the sled, the weight difference is difficult to feel and say specifically that it is lighter.
The Summit X is easy to ride and exhibits a good compromise between sled stability and required effort to perform a certain maneuver. Everyone from a beginner to a high intermediate and even some expert riders will love this sled. The Summit X is a joy to ride. Allowing you to carve and play to your heart’s content, it becomes like an extension of your body. With the new Gen 5 platform, the Summit X definitely became easier to ride in most conditions. It requires less energy to do most tasks providing an awesome riding experience that can last all day. If you are a recreational rider who likes to get into technical terrain and is always searching for and riding in deep snow, the Summit X is for you. It is not as precise as the Expert package, but it doesn’t take as much energy either.
The Summit X also gets a new track. It is still 16 inches wide but with “Flex Edge”. However, the edge of the track lugs extend to the far edges of the track which provides more traction (full 16 inch width traction).
The pivoting tMotion rear suspension, as we have previously known it, is still maintained in the Summit X. However, the new rear suspension gets the longer front arm, longer shock, repositioned rear arm upper mount and flat rail profile. These rear suspension changes may seem subtle, but they are key to making this sled work especially with the 34 inch front end width. Essentially, the rear suspension changes added stability to the sled that allowed a narrower front end to be added. We feel like the 2023 Summit X with the 34 inch front end is more stable and predictable than the 2022 Summit X with 36 inch front end. In this sense, the Summit X demonstrates how a machine is truly the sum of all the components and systems working together in balance. That could be the key word here, balanced. This is one of the most well balanced sleds there is. Most riders will find this to be the sled of choice, and will be ecstatic with how it performs and responds. We were!
The Summit X is said to be about 10 pounds lighter. Riding it, you will swear it is much more than that. This is due to the Gen 5 chassis changes with all of the refinements that came with it.
The Summit Freeride continues the tradition of being the best suited for the extreme conditions where suspension performance is paramount as it gets the premium adjustable KYB piggyback shocks it is known for and maintains a 36 inch front end width. It also gets the new rear suspension changes and the new “Flex Edge” track. The 36 inch front end on this model combined with the new rear suspension changes makes the FreeRide feel more planted than FreeRide models of the past. If you are always running the rough terrain or hucking it off of the biggest jumps you can find, the FreeRide is built to withstand this punishment and is the right model for you.
Ski-Doo didn’t use the new Gen5 platform only on their high-end models, it is found across the board and that includes the capable Summit Edge as well. The Summit Edge is a value-packed option that will work extremely well for almost everyone and is a stable machine as it also gets the 36 inch front end. Again, due to its rear suspension changes, it is more planted and stable than the previous Summit Edge. It is said to be 16 pounds lighter. If you are looking for a good all around sled that is very predictable yet capable, the Summit Edge is a great choice for you.
2023 Summit Technology
850 Turbo R Engine
For 2023, Ski-Doo is upping the horsepower on the 850 turbo models to 180 horsepower. And, they did not just increase it on top end. The increase in power is very noticeable from midrange on up. The power curve is much broader than before making this engine package a hoot to ride. All 850 turbo models for 2023 will be the Turbo R configuration.
Several detail changes have been implemented to achieve the 15 horse increase in power. New injectors provide the added fuel flow required; air flow is also greater with the Gen5 airbox; there is a new ECU; turbocharger boost pressure has been increased and now ranges from 1.5 to 6.5 psi for an average increase of 1.5 to 2.0 psi over the previous 165 hp version. CVT components have been reinforced to better handle the added power delivery, along with a stronger reinforced chain in the chaincase.
Ski-Doo engineers also improved the cooling of the head around the spark plug area. This allowed them to use the same heat range plug that their naturally aspirated 850s use. The intake tube between the turbo and the air box as well as the throttle body intake boots are stronger to withstand the additional boost pressure. The drive clutch spider has been reinforced and the secondary rollers are stronger. The ECU is recalibrated to allow the additional boost pressure and the clutches are recalibrated with different weights and spring to harness this power.
The new 850 Turbo R engine is so clean that Ski-Doo receives EPA credit for every one of these engines they deliver.
Gen 5 Summit Chassis Features
* The new Gen 5 Summit truly is mountain specific. It boasts new LED lighting, a much narrower chassis with no windshield. The chassis is a full three inches narrower than the Gen 4 where the running board meets the bellypan. It is also 8 to 16 pounds lighter depending on the model.
* The bulkhead and front suspension remain the same as the Gen 4, but the sidepanels and hood are all new for a narrower, more compact platform. Engineers went as far as integrating the clutch cover into the left hand side panel to minimize width. In doing so, the spare belt had to be relocated to the rear of the tank where the battery would have been on early Gen 4 Summits with electric start. We are told that the clutch cover/side panel now acts more effectively as an air pump bringing cold air into the clutches and exhausting the hot air out to make the clutches run cooler and more efficient.
* The sled has a new oil bottle that is narrower and more compact.
* The engine is mounted using four engine mounts on Gen 5 models where the Gen 4 only used three. This is said to improve engine stability to transfer more power through the clutches and drivetrain to the ground.
* The hood is all new. The air intake in the hood is flat on top of the hood and can be cleaned easily by wiping a glove across it from a standing position. The sled has a new coolant bottle which is accessed through an access panel in the hood. A glove box has been added back into the hood for a small amount of storage there.
* The running boards are narrowed up from about the mid board to the belly pan junction. The rear bracket that ties the running boards to the tunnel has been re-designed for less snow build up. The boards are even more open than before to allow the snow to evacuate rather than build up.
*The Gen 5 chassis has a lighter top tunnel piece (thinner material) and utilizes less coolant volume.
*Ski-Doo is introducing two new tracks for 2023 deep snow sleds. The 3” Flex Edge is lighter weight and the lugs extend to the full width of the track for improved traction. A similar track is on the Summit X with Expert Package that has Flex Edge eliminated with full width track rods.
* A new 10 ¼” optional color display will be available during Spring Guarantee. This attractive gauge is easy to read and offers multiple display modes. It can be paired to media via Bluetooth allowing you to listen to music, monitor your phone or utilize the BRP GO app.
* The drive shaft now features a “quick change” feature with a coupler between the drive shaft and the bottom gear inside the chaincase. This allows you to disassemble the brake side and simply slide the drive shaft out of the coupler to change or service a track. The chaincase no longer has to be opened up or drained to do this task as the drive shaft simply slides out of the coupler that is the link between the shaft and gear inside.
* The rear suspension rear upper mount position has been changed to allow a quick disconnect of the rear upper arm. This makes removing the rear suspension for service, repair or modification much easier.
* The rear suspension has been changed and about one inch more travel has been added. The changes are a longer front arm (20 mm), longer rear shock (13 mm), relocated front arm lower mount position (22 mm back) and relocated rear arm upper mount position (30 mm back). These changes add stability to the chassis allowing the 34 inch width front end to be used without compromise. They also result in the chassis launching more forward than up which improves performance and these changes provide an additional inch of suspension travel.
As you can see, Ski-Doo engineers have been very busy since the release of their Gen 4 Summit back in 2017. With the Gen 5 platform they have stepped up the game again. These sleds really are incredible to ride. We encourage you to get into your local dealer early to order the sled you want. With the supply chain issues (caused by both component and labor shortages) and delivery delays that have been happening this year that are expected to continue, the earlier you get in the better chance they have to fulfill your order in a timely manner. As before, we suggest not letting your current sled go until you have the new one in your garage or trailer, just to be safe. It should be worth more in December than it is in April as well.
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