No question, for the 2017 model year it’s the new Ski-Doo fourth generation REV platform and second generation ETEC 850 that has garnered most of the new model buzz thus far. With Ski-Doo’s spring early order session ending in just days (April 13th) we thought we should give the new platform and engine another look. In total we had three opportunities to sample the new chassis and engine platform starting in late January at Ski-Doo’s testing facility in southern Quebec; again during the annual media Snow Shoot photography and evaluation session in West Yellowstone; and most recently right here in our own backyard. With the season winding down, we loaded up an early build MXZ-X 850 and headed to our familiar riding destination on Minnesota’s north shore. In our final go around for the season we were greeted with what we deem the best riding conditions of the three test rides. Temps were cold and the snow pack was set-up providing a better representation of conditions you’ll likely encounter next season. Here are five takeaways from that ride.
INSTANT ACCELERATION – There’s a lot of things that need to come together to create the kind of acceleration that makes you sit-up and take notice. We already knew the new 850 motor was a much quicker revving engine package compared to the old 800 Rotax. Now riding on set-up snow versus spring slop, it became even more evident. The big take away here is not so much the new REV-4 accelerates at a dramatically quicker clip than the MXZ of old, but rather how throttle control now allows you to control the overall attitude of the sled. Lifting the skis over trail bombs is now much easier and the overall lighter feel provided by this acceleration and improved weight transfer is just more fun to drive.
FRONT SUSPENSION SHOCKER – When Ski-Doo responded to Polaris Pro-Ride suspension with their r-Motion rear suspension, the ability of the rising rate skid to soak up nearly any trail anomaly with both comfort and control almost immediately exposed the front suspension of its short comings. The subsequent move to the RAS-2 front suspension was an improvement and enough to perform nearly equal to the rear. However the new RAS-3 front suspension, with an additional inch of travel and slightly revised geometry has finally done it. Our final ride was littered with long bombed out sections of trail that hadn’t seen a groomer in more than a week. This combined with cold temps forced the suspension to do all the work and not have ride characteristics become masked by soft snow conditions. Now the front not only keeps up with the rear…it out performs it.