Hugo Lorquet’s 2018 Snow Shoot experience

by : Hugo Lorquet
Read all articles from Hugo Lorquet
Publish on : 2017-04-20

Another snowmobile season is over and at the same time, the 2018 new models arrive. Again this year, I had the chance to test the new products offered by the four major manufacturers for 2018. Before landing in Montana and testing the snowmobiles, we had received the media kits many days earlier and I already had a good idea about the 2018 new machines. There were only few hours left before finally testing for real what we had seen on paper.

Most of the models, even if unchanged, are always available on the site to be tested, but automatically, I am attracted by the new products. I remember that on our first day at the Snow Shoot, I have been looking for the new models like the Ski-Doo MXZ and Renegade X-RS 850, the Polaris 600 Switchback XCR and Titan, the Arctic Cat ZR 8000 Sno Pro and the redesigned Yamaha Apex. I was like a child waiting for Santa Claus!!! Here are some new models.

2018 Ski-Doo Renegade X-RS 850

2018 Ski-Doo MXZ X-RS 850

2018 Polaris 600 Switchback XCR

2018 Arctic Cat ZR 8000 Sno Pro ES with new body panels and new 800cc engine

2018 Yamaha Apex LE 50th

New Yamaha Reactive Suspension System of the 2018 Apex that connects both front shocks

2018 Polaris 800 Titan XC 155

2018 Polaris 800 Titan XC 155. According to Polaris, the Titan is the extreme crossover snowmobile that puts an end to compromise. I would even add “with fierce attitude

The amount of snow in West Yellowstone is remarkable this year, compared with last year. From the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport in Bozeman, it is hard to see if we are going to have good conditions for our tests. As we leave aboard a SUV, we see grass with some melting snow. Not very interesting. But, the more we ascend, the more snow appears. We reach about 1 981 m / 6 500 ft, compared with the 1,5 m / 5 ft over sea level in my beautiful native region of Montérégie. So, we have been able to test the mountain snowmobiles in wonderful powder snow, unlike the hard bottom of last year. 


We never know what to expect when we leave the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport. Snow or no snow on the test site.

On the road to West Yellowstone, we could already see that conditions would be incredible.

Finally, enough snow to have a great time

Besides the mountain category, attented the Snow Shoot to test touring, utility, trail, hybrid and extreme performance snowmobiles. Before rushing on all these machines, we must first attend the technical presentation offered by each manufacturer. For each new model, they explain each characteristic of the new chassis and its advantage compared with its previous edition. Even the improvements brought to an existing model are explained in detail.


Arctic Cat technical presentation

2018 Arctic Cat snowmobile lineup ready to be tested

Once the technical part is over, we can test the bolids right the day after. These tests will be ran over 4 days made of 2 parts each, a.m. and p.m. So, 8 periods are available to test small groups of about 7 snowmobiles. Each year, / must choose some models and ideally, this choice is made by type of segment in order to avoid testing mountain snowmobiles with long bridge and narrow ski stance with trail performance snowmobiles or entry-level machines like the SnoScoot… For example, on the afternoon of March 4, we tested alternatively a group of performance snowmobiles made for bumpy trails like the Ski-Doo X-RS, the Arctic Cat ZR 8000, the Polaris XCR and the Yamaha R-TX. So, it is easier for us, test pilots, to compare what the manufacturers have to offer.

More precisely, the utility snowmobiles will be used, among others, in working mode at low speed and in off-trail riding. The 2-up touring snowmobiles will be tested in touring mode, … 2-up. Snowmobiles made for tough trails will be tested in sections with bumps of 0,6-0,9 m / 2-3 ft to put the suspensions to the test.

Utility snowmobiles – Yamaha VK Professional II and Arctic Cat Bearcat 7000 XT GS 154

2-up touring snowmobile – New 2018 Yamaha SRVenture DX

2-up touring snowmobiles – New 2018 Yamaha SRVenture DX and the good old RS Venture TF

Front end of the Yamaha SRVenture DX and RS Venture TF, showing the wind protection of each machine for its passenger

The Polaris 600 Switchback XCR in action on a trail far from being perfect…

Finally, are totally devoted to their readers. We thoroughly tested all these snowmobiles to inform you correctly about the 2018 innovations. We filled out technical sheets during long hours, we took notes on the machines performance in their natural environment like trail, mountain, touring, performance, entry-level, etc… We tested some models against others to determine the number 1. Some models have been undressed. We even proceeded to weighing tests on some units. All this has been scientifically achieved… No time for fun! ?

2018 will be another tough year for consumers. Not because of a lack of choices, but rather for the very wide range of models, all excellent, offered by the four manufacturers. Also, the choice of models between segments is very large. We cannot talk only about trail or off-trail snowmobiles anymore. We can now choose between a 50/50 snowmobile more designed for trail and a 50/50 snowmobile more designed for off-trail.

Extreme suspension test between two 2018 new snowmobiles, the Ski-Doo Renegade Backcountry X and the Arctic Cat ZR 200

2018 Polaris Titan 800 - undressed weighing test – precision level of +/- 45,4 kg/100 lb

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