It’s rare that we get on the snow in early November but this year we did and found late December conditions with a bit of a base and 4 foot of snow pack in the upper elevations. Instead of just going out for a break-in road ride we were able to perform a more realistic first impression of the production 2018 Freeride 850. We rode around 40 miles and put just a hair under 2 hours on the engine.
The conditions varied from hard pack trail, looser rough trail, and on up to four feet of dry bottomless powder. The first thing that we played with was the SHOT starter system. We only pulled the rope one time on the entire ride and that was when we unloaded the machine from the trailer. This system is the best of both worlds: The convenience of electric start with lighter weight of a pull start only system. With snow conditions deep and fluffy we were able to get stuck several times. Digging a machine out at 9000 feet can wear a rider out quick. It may sound lazy but being out of breath and then having to yank a pull rope takes a bunch of effort. Not the case with SHOT. It’s our new best friend – push-button starting without the 20 pound weight penalty.
The freeride is supplied with KYB piggyback shocks that feature compression and rebound adjustment. We rode these shocks last spring on the prototype and fell in love with them. They are plush yet progressive and do a great job a keeping the sled planted and in control. They offer enough adjustment to cover just about any size of rider, speed or condition. The production suspension was exactly like what we rode last spring: predictable, stable and confidence inspiring. It’s progressive enough to handle the fast G-outs and hard sharp hits yet soft enough to offer a great ride down a slower trail. This is the best stock mountain suspension we have ever ridden each rider wanted this sled when the terrain became rough. Trail riders have the X-RS models and mountain riders have the Freeride models, both offering the very finest in ride quality from Ski-Doo.
This machine still has about 82% break-in and thanks to the handy gauge we get a break-in update every time we start it which is nice. RPM was consistent even though we rode from around 6500-9000 feet and in several different snow conditions. With the ski’s in the narrow position the machine is quite easy to initiate a side hill so we will move the ski’s to the wider position to see how it responds. We also want to play with shock settings to see how it effects handling. Stay tuned for updates.