The boys and girls in Valcourt call the new brilliant hue found on the 2019 Backcountry XRS, Ultimate Red Lava; we call it damn sexy. And once you get past the bold color, you’ll quickly discover why this go anywhere buggy has us salivating, in anticipation for the winter season to commence.
Ski-Doo had already scored a crossover hit with their Backcountry entries over the past few seasons, especially last winter when the scooter made its debut in the GEN4 platform. Our resident mountain goat Tyler Swarm had one under his tutelage for the season, and the combination proved to be formidable. While only spinning the smallish 146” Cobra track with 1.6” paddles, Swarm was absolutely smitten with the sled’s deep snow capabilities, often times hanging with sleds with more track, and in the process, out-maneuvering them in tree littered hillsides.
Back home in the flats, the Backcountry proved to be just as adept on the trails. All the changes employed into the GEN4 are here, along with the big bore power of the 850 with second-generation E-TEC fuel management. The key changes are found within the new rear suspension, dubbed the cMotion. Supporting a 146-inch track, the cMotion combines the best attributes of the trail designed rMotion, and blends them with the deep snow goodness of the tMotion, for what Ski-Doo is calling a true 50/50 crossover buggy. The skid employs a motion ratio similar to the bump absorbing “r” and also features tipped-rails, giving the longer skid a short track feel on the hard pack.
No question, last year’s Backcountry X was a stout buggy. It was good enough and versatile enough to be dubbed one of our favorite 2018 sleds, and arguably the best all-around snowmobile, period. Yet, despite all this goodness, we and many Ski-Doo faithful wanted more…and that’s what the Backcountry XRS delivers.
As you might expect, the XRS brings with it race bred toughness and suspension technology to put the Backcountry into a new category of crossover. Featuring race-tested chassis reinforcements, wider running boards, and best-available KYB PRO 36 fully-adjustable shocks, complete with rebound control up front, and larger KYB PRO 40 compression adjustable units to the rear. All four bump controllers tout Easy Adjust controls, making it easier to tune with slightly frozen paws.
Available as a spring-order only snowmobile, the brilliant red Ski-Doo could be optioned with either a 2-inch PowderMax track or the 1.6-inch Ice Cobra track, the same rubber Tyler was cutting loose in Idaho last winter. While the track is excellent on-trail with its embedded carbide studs, the taller cupped lugs delivered exceptional off-trail grip, making this track option the ideal choice for Midwest and Eastern Snowbelt riders, looking for a best of both worlds alternative. In addition, the lightweight, battery-less SHOT starting technology could also be added to the spring option sheet, making the Backcountry XRS the first “trail” sled to employ this technology.
We already loved the GEN4 Backcountry, it was truly a do-it-all weapon for riders across the Snowbelt, from trail to powder. Now, with the addition of top-shelf XRS shock technology, aggressive rider ergonomics, and enhanced chassis toughness, this go to buggy has been given the added juice of knock-out caliber race goodness, making it our go-to Ski-Doo this winter.
The cMotion rear suspension is a blend of rough trail bump compliance found in the rMotion, and the off-trail mobility of the tMotion. Ski-Doo feels they have found the ideal blend for a true 50-50 snowmobile.
Along with the improved ergonomics and open footwell design of the GEN4 REV platform, the XRS Backcountry features wider, reinforced running boards. This gives the buggy plenty of room for footwork when standing up and hammering drifted lips.
Along with a choice of two track options, the spring order XRS also gave riders a chance at factory installed SHOT starting technology, the first time it has been offered in a “trail” buggy since its inception, and likely not the last.
Hesitant at first of the off-trail capability of the Backcountry X, due to its rather short 146-inch track length, our Idaho stunt driver Tyler Swarm, who doubles has a lumberjack in the off-season, was quickly praising the highly maneuverable sled for its “Shocking deep snow capabilities.” You can expect more of the same from all Backcountry buggies this winter.