While chatting with Ski-Doo backcountry ambassador Tony Jenkins in late 2017 he had mentioned a new shock package from Fox that he had been testing in conjunction with Ski-Doo. The shocks would be sold as an accessory through Ski-doo dealers and be available for the REV G4 Summit machines. Tony made a call for us and soon we had a brand-new set of Fox 1.5 Zero QS3-R shocks for our 165” Summit. Ski-Doo has them listed as the “Ride System 2” in their accessory catalog.
The very first thing we liked about these shocks was that they were a spring shock instead of an air shock. Yes, the springs add a bit more weight but the plush initial feel we get from the spring is worth the small amount of weight difference over the air shocks. The shocks have a piggyback reservoir attached to a 1.5” Kashima coated body and come equipped with a 5/8 shaft which is larger than most factory supplied stock shocks, so they can take a serious amount of abuse. The Ski Shocks and front track shock have Fox Ice Scraper Technology (FIST), a 3-position compression adjuster as well as a 24-position rebound adjuster at the bottom of the shock while the rear track shock has Fox Ice Scraper Technology (FIST) and 3-position compression adjuster, but no rebound so it is a QS3 and not a QS3R like the other three.
It took one person about two hours to install all 4 shocks. We did not remove the rear skid to install the track shocks, but we did find using a ratchet strap to suck the front shock into position which helped align and install the front track shock bolts. The instructions did a great job of explaining how to check sag. After some quick measurements we found ours did require some adjustment on the ski shock preload but a few turns to the springs put us where we needed to be.
Our test riders ranged from beginner to experienced backcountry enthusiasts and from 180 – 215 pounds. We typically ride 5-10 miles of ungroomed trail to reach our riding areas, so we appreciate a shock that is stiff enough to handle the deep whoops and g-outs but plush enough to prevent the sharp hits one feels in the hands, feet and back. The real accomplishment is when we achieve this quality of ride while allowing the machine to be soft enough on the initial part of the stroke to reduce the effort required by the rider to initiate a side hill or carve around an object on firm snow.
And that is exactly what the team at FOX delivered. With the shocks set to the middle position on the compression setting and 13 clicks out on the rebound we felt like they had a good balance of plush initial feel while being progressive enough to keep from bottoming on the big hits. The rear did not kick or swap, even when we began to push the machine in the biggest bumps which is one of the more challenging characteristics to tune out. Granted, the Ski-Doo suspension design is awesome in this regard, but the shocks play a large role in it as well. Our final settings consisted of the front ski shocks in the softest positions, front track shock in the middle position and the rear track shock in the middle position or the hardest position depending on conditions. We did notice that the machine had less of a tendency to transfer rearward when we ran the (three-position) rear shock in the middle or hard position. When climbing steep slopes, we preferred the third and hardest position to help keep the machine from transferring too hard and standing up on the front end.
We rode from October to May and finished the season with over 800 miles on our Fox setup which made for a decent torture test. We covered about every snow condition including bottomless powder, spring slush, crusty layers and even a bit of mud and rocks and never experienced any issues. The front set (#860201710) goes for $1394.99 while the rear set (#860201711 for 146, 154 & 165”; #860201712 for 174 & 175”) runs $1194.99. While $2589.98 for the complete set of four shocks may hurt a bit when you open the wallet, the first time you take the sled up that whooped out trail getting to the play area and feel the difference you’ll be stoked and feel like you really got a deal. Take into consideration the high-end Kashima coating, and the larger shaft and the quality internal components and the value becomes more apparent. These are really high end shock absorbers using premium components and coatings, delivering a truly premium level of performance. They’re available at your local Ski-Doo dealer or visit https://www.ski-doo.com/ca/shop/Accessories/suspension_and_fox_shock_kit.html
By Dustin Pancheri – SnowTech Mountain