Hats off to the folks in Valcourt! The engineers, planners, products managers, and many more folks at Ski-Doo did not have to bring the kitchen sink for model year 2023, but they did. The manufacturer who is already on top just relentlessly keeps pushing forward with cool new announcements.
For this year the list includes a new Gen5 chassis in the trail and mountain segments, a new ¾-sized sled that is a much better step-up machine than those they have toyed with in the past, the comeback of a true smaller youth sled, tons of awesome new tech from lighting to shocks to clutching to cooling to screens, proliferation of the turbo line, and a lot more. Not to mention all the interesting items to talk about on the Scandinavian Lynx line-up of BRP manufactured snow machines.
It is a great time to be a snowmobiler and a Ski-Doo enthusiast!
Gen5 is Here!
Ski-Doo has put out a new chassis at a blistering pace compared with the competition, and the newest Gen5 Rev chassis is now available. If people are keeping track that is a new chassis roughly every 5 years since the initial Rev came out in 2003. The first Rev revolutionized snowmobiles to become more rider-forward and less like sitting on your old college futon all day trying to hold up 20-pound weights in front of you. The XP was the next great advancement and quite a big step up, especially in the suspension and ride. Then came the XS/XM chassis which some argue was not that great of a leap forward in comparison, but the Gen4 was by all means another huge jump in technology. Now we have the Gen5 and initial rides have proved positive, even if the unique looking design has already raised eyebrows with online warriors.
So where can I get the Gen5? Well, it is only being offered in the trail models and the mountain models. That means that MXZ/Renegade, and Summit/Freeride sleds can all be had in the new trimmings. The Backcountry crossovers, Expedition, Grand Touring, Skandic, and Tundra (touring and utility) sleds will not be available with the new chassis. If you are someone who keeps track of new model roll-outs, and we do, this is not the first time Ski-Doo (and other manufacturers) have picked the trail and mountain sled segments to be the ‘first year chassis’ machines. It’s not a bad strategy, but of course there will be plenty of folks especially in the crossover/Backcountry department who will be disappointed. No worries though, we’re sure it’s coming, and Ski-Doo brought out so many new things this year that there is no lack of options.
The first thing you notice on the new Summit mountain machines is the sculpted panels, and the headlights. The machine is up to 16 pounds lighter (depending on the exact model) and 3-inches narrower. That makes as narrow as 34-inches (Expert and Neo only) as far as ski stance goes, and that tight width allows for easy side-hills and you can scoot through plenty of close trees and obstacles. All the bodywork is also packed in tighter around the powerplant and there are narrower boards. From a rider stand-point this means less ‘paneling out’ on side-hills and more room to move around. The new LED headlights on the Summit are without a lens, so it looks quite unique, and give incredible length and width as far as available visibility. The trail Gen5 sleds have the same lights, but with a lens. There are 4 LED modules in these lights, and Ski-Doo says they are three times brighter, with more than 4800 lumens… the bottom line is you can see farther, and with better clarity at night. It is interesting that on the Summit sleds on low-beam only one of the two sides of lights comes on.
We would say the main ‘test bed’ is the mountain segment. Many of the newest tech and advancements in the Gen5 chassis show up here. In addition to the aforementioned bodywork and narrowing there are new Pilot DS4 skis with new keel and design. Plus a lightweight tunnel with a new cooling/radiator and thinner material with a 4 pound lighter Powdermax X 3-inch Flexedge track underneath as well. More new tech includes the quick-removal drive shaft and the panels are unique and even narrower on the Summit (1-inch narrower on throttle side, 2-inches on brake side). The rear suspension also gets some upgrades as well as the tMotion X, with a new longer front arm and location for the rear arm you can really pick the skis up at just the flick of the throttle. The tMotion X is also 3 pounds lighter and provides greater suspension travel. The spare belt holder is now behind the seat, and there is a big flat-facing glove-friendly console (easier to see standing up) with a new storage area (glove box) in front of the console as well. There’s even a new adjustable brake lever (tool-less adjustability on Summit Expert and Freeride) and an improved adjustable limiter strap system on the new Expert!
The Summits (and Freeride is in the new chassis) have so much new on them that it is difficult to mention everything in just an overview. However, the 34-inch super narrow ski-stance is the tightest in the industry on the Expert (36-inches on sleds like the Freeride) and the enclosed CVT system, with separate panel for ease of belt change, is the only one of its kind. It pulls much more cold air, and one of the reasons the spare belt is now behind the seat is because this new system is so compact. The quick-removal driveshaft also means no longer having to open the chaincase to remove the drive-axle. Track changes should be much easier!
A couple more big changes to all Gen5 sleds include a new quieter, efficient, and better cooling CVT system with a new clutch cover, plus a new 4th engine mount for vibration and better CVT alignment for belt life. Ski-Doo says there is a 20% improvement on CVT alignment/variation. This is on both the Summit and trail sleds. The cold air intake (on the panel) is also part of the changes with a new cold air duct and acoustic paneling inside. The exhaust side also gets similar acoustic paneling inside. There’s a cool new oil fill system as well! Did we mention you can still get the turboed 850 2-stroke motor? Yes, and it has been revised to give even more power to 10,000 feet at roughly 180 hp.
As far as new suspension components go, the trail sleds (including the new in-season Blizzard, which is basically an X-RS but in season) get new KYB Pro Ea-3 shocks. Similar to the Fox QS3 shocks on many other sleds from different OEMs these KYB shocks have 3-positions for compression adjustment. It takes the guesswork out of things for the vast majority of riders who believe they really need to be snocross racers, when they are actually just semi-aggressive trail riders. Even former racers, like many of our test riders, enjoy the ease of use without giving up any capacity. Speaking of the new Blizzard, this 129-inch trail sled replaces the TNT and X packages and is available all season. The MXZ X-RS is still an option for spring buyers too and has a 1.5 Ripsaw track standard, taller 90mm fixed handlebars, and the big 10.25-inch touchscreen display as an option (note, this screen is huge and has a ton of vehicle monitoring GPS, Bluetooth, apps, etc.). Trail Gen5 sleds get a new handlebar control module too. Plus there are bigger KYB Pro 40R EA-3 (3-position adj.) shocks and rail reinforcements on the X-RS. The Gen5 trail options breakdown as 5 sleds, the Renegade X-RS, Renegade X, Renegade Adrenaline, MXZ X-RS and Blizzard.
And the Ski-Doo kids rejoice!
As if there wasn’t enough new from Ski-Doo, the all new MXZ and Summit Neo sleds are going to make a lot of kids and young teenagers very happy next winter. I even ordered one for my son from my local friends at Robs Performance! These are mid-sized machines (3/4 the overall dimension of a regular trail/mountain sled) that won’t break the bank. Riding them is easy, fun, and predictable. The other 3 OEMs already were playing in this market segment with the Blast, Venom, and EVO so it made sense for Ski-Doo to have an offering as well.
In testing, these sleds were extremely capable, and plenty of fun for adults. They would make for a great sled for new riders or even to have as a second sled for friends to ride. The front end is very stable, and not tippy on the trail. This is important because younger riders need to be given confidence and many of the smaller powered sleds in this category in the past were not as predictable as these. In the trails the MXZ Neo and Neo+ are the options and the off-trail options are the Summit Neo and Summit Neo+.
A Rotax 600cc EFI motor puts out 40 hp in the standard Neo and 55 hp in the Neo+. All the sleds have smaller seats, narrower and smaller diameter bars that are lower, a different throttle lever, and a low ride height. The MXZ is a 120 x 14 x 1.0 inch Cobra track or a 120 x 15 x 1.25 Ripsaw on the Plus. The Summit is a 146 x 14 x 1.6 inch flex-edge or a 146 x 15 x 1.75 Hurricane track. You get full size Pilot 5.7 or Pilot DS2 skis and either a 39 or 34 inch ski stance depending on MXZ or Summit choices. The rear suspension is a single-shock design and with the Plus version you get KYB HPG front shocks. The Plus also comes with handguards, and a mountain grab bar on the Summit.
The best thing about these sleds is that they come in at under $7,000 US / $8,000 CA and it is only $800 more for the Plus versions. That is extremely affordable for a new sled, with warranty, of any kind! Let alone something that is truly capable for young riders to use worry-free for many years. Even while testing at altitude the MXZ Neo+ saw just over 60mph on the speedo, so at sea level you will be able to keep up with almost any sled in the group.
But wait, there’s more!
You would think Ski-Doo was done by now, but if you were upset that the Mach Z is not available then stay calm. The launch mode is available in the Renegade X and X-RS with the 900 ACE Turbo R models. These are still in the Gen4 wider 4-stroke bodies, but speed demons will be happier with more choices.
Even the Skandic and Expedition received new options. There is a new Expedition LE, Skandic LE, and Skandic SE. These new sleds get options of either a 20 or 24-inch wide track (yes, 24-inches wide) plus Ice-cobra track options and several other upgrades.
Finally, Ski-Doo brought back sleds for the youngest of riders! There is now a 120 and 200 MXZ and these are basically the same sleds that are offered from Yamaha and Cat, but with different windshields and hoods. Still, it is great to see OEMs collaborating so that every tiny brand enthusiast can be like their moms and dads.
Lynx puts another paw forward!
If you happened to be under a rock for the last year and a half, BRP’s Scandinavian brand of snowmobiles is available here in North America now. This is the second year that Lynx has been sold in the US and Canada and they have plenty to talk about for 2023.
The Rave aggressive big bump trail sled and the Boondocker off-trail sled in several lengths were both available last year. For 2023 the lineup morphed as well. The Rave is pretty much unchanged and has a 137 x 16 x 1.5 inch ice-ripper track, 850 E-tec motor, and new rail reinforcements, but basically the same. The big news is the addition of the Xterrain crossover sled and the Shredder deep snow mountain sleds.
Let’s start with the Xterrain which comes in two trims the RE, and the Brutal. The RE is a 146 x 16 x 2.0 length track and has either choice of the 850 motor or the 900 Ace Turbo R motor. It has the Lynx PPS3 rear suspension which is made for transfer and bumps. Lynx dubs it has a ‘high mileage’ trip type sled, but that’s not really what most people will use it for. More of a beefy crossover, the 2-iunch lug gives you lots of off-trail capability and the high quality KYB 46 HLCR Kashima coated shocks are pretty much the best of the best. This is a machine originally made for insane off-trail races like the Iron Dog, or Caines Quest. With an uncoupled long travel suspension you really need to ride this thing in pretty gnarly conditions to get all it was made for out of it. Notable Xterrain features include a 5.5 inch riser and mountain grab bar, Blade XC on-off trail skis, a wide 42.2 inch stance, reinforced rails and tough Explorer front and rear bumpers.
The Xterrain Brutal is again more off-trail focused. It has a ‘utility-type’ 20 x 154 x 2.4 inch track on it and Blade DS+ skis. You can literally go anywhere with this massive pawprint in the snow! On trail she REALLY hooks up too so be mindful when grabbing a handful, of throttle. Most wide-tracks have a manual gearbox, and there is not one on this sled. It is easy to use, but not for the faint of heart to ride. The rails are tipped for better trail riding handling, and KYB 46 Kashima coated shocks in back and KYB 36 shocks in front make it just as tough in the big bumps as aforementioned Lynx sleds. It has a narrower ski stance too of just 39-inches. The Brutal gets the 850 motor with an air radiator and fan to keep it cool. Remember, this is a 20-inch wide sled.
Last, but definitely not least, is the Shredder line of deep snow sleds from Lynx. There are 2 levels to choose from, the DS or the RE. Both are in the new ‘Radien’ chassis which is basically the Gen5 Ski-Doo Summit Expert chassis, so almost everything mentioned earlier will apply here, with a few little changes. You will notice slight design differences like the LED lights (there are 3 on the Shredder versus 2 on the Summit), and Blade DS skis, and PPS2 DS+ rear suspension, but all the slimmer body panels, running boards, 10.25-inch display adjustable brake lever, and more are basically the same. The DS comes in 15 x 154 x 2.5 (and 3.0) lug tracks, plus a 165 x 3.0 track. The 2.5 is set for sea level as well. Between the Radien design and PPS2 new suspension this sled is 20 pounds lighter than a similar Boondocker from last year. Engine options are the 850 and 850 turbo.
The Shredder RE is the main focus of the deep snow line of Lynx sleds. You get the PPS2 DS+ rear suspension again with KYB 46 Kashima coated shocks and an HLCR one in the rear. The Front shocks are the new KYB 36 CR Kashima coated 3-position compression adjustable shock. Two track options are available, a 146 x 15 x 2.5 or a 154 x 15 x 3.0 inch. Like most of the Lynx sleds there are things like rail reinforcements, but this has a narrower 36-inch ski stance to get you even more maneuverability. Like the DS it comes with either an 850 or 850 Turbo motor.
850 E-Tec Turbo R Changes
There are a multitude of changes on the newest 850 2-stroke turbo from BRP. A short list includes an updated cylinder head with more plug cooling, injectors, CVT and chain reinforcements, new airbox and ECU, more boost from sea level up with 1.5 to 6.5 psi, and more. Will we see more sea level boosted 2-strokes in other forms from Ski-Doo in the future? Magic 8 ball says, very likely. In short, it’s a beast, but ya gotta keep up with the Jones’s (I.E. Polaris).
Full Summit lineup in the Gen5 Chassis
If you are wondering about all the sleds available in the deep snow segment from Ski-Doo, here is a quick snapshot. You can get the standard Summit SP and more loaded Edge in season, and the Summit X, Summit X with Expert package, and the Freeride during the spring-only buying period.