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Another great year for the manufacturers

Even snowmobilers who are open-minded to our sport, even those who are not snowmobilers, will agree to say that what is done presently in the development of snowmobiles is incredible.   In spite of the fact that the world production will hardly attain 160 000 units this season for the four great, we are lucky to have such a ratio in regards with the new technologies compared to other similar recreational vehicles.  When we take a look at our sport, like any other motorized sport, strictly in a « business » manner, nothing compares to the passionate point of view for whom the last phrase doesn’t make sense and we have to admit that’s a mystery.  Let’s stay« objective » if we can, this industry is relatively small compared to other similar vehicles and keeps stunning us year after year by its innovations, its dynamism and also the passion prompted by there adepts and volunteers.

2009 will not make exception to this rule, because the manufacturers present plenty of new stuff more exciting time after time.  However, we can note that some manufacturer’s strategy diverge to certain orientations, sometimes lead to many others.  A sure thing is that all the representatives that met during the 2009 SnoShoot last March in Grand-Lake, Colorado, convinced us that they really are serious in their intentions to make our sport last longer.  The snowmobilers in the« touring » class will be very pleased this season with the many exceptional new models proposed by the great four manufacturers.   They propose great power, comfort and luxury for everyone’s taste.  You only have to let your heart speak for you or your allegiance…Another tendency is concerning the utility snowmobile…  Many new models with a 20-inch track will be offered for those who are looking for a working machine and may also be used as a trail snowmobile.  Concerning mountains sleds, the tendency is always there and wants to offer THE best snowmobile that will be able to surpass all of the others in deep snow and ascension.  Of course, all manufacturers want to be the leader regarding Snow Cross competitions that obtained an important place in the marketing of our sport.  Finally, we tend to centralize the mass because of the industries standard, like the « normalization » of the snowmobiles categories that really help the clients to find what they are looking for.

But we still have elements that seem less convergent between the manufacturers: gas consumption, 2 or 4 strokes, weight, pollution emissions, more powerful engines, even the strategy versus the sale price of the vehicles.  Probably these are the points that may betray in part the different strategies used by the manufacturers. But here again, what we see today is not a guarantee of what we are going to see tomorrow… We’ve seen in the past certain manufacturer’s orientations changed dramatically in only one year.  Without having a crystal ball for the future, we can look for all of the manufacturers salient points that characterize each of them and  have capted particularly our attention during our trials last March,  at the 2009 SnowShoot.

How can we leave behind the new version of the Suzuki 4 strokes with 177hp, equipped with a turbo-compressor?   Offered on the chassis TwinSpar in a powerful snowmobile version or touring, this new engine group is especially spectacular in acceleration and high speed.     Also note the very well done adaptation of the chassis TwinSpar with the BearCat and with the 4 strokes engine developing 120hp or, the 2 strokes with 550hp.   For the nostalgics of the Firecats, Crossfire and specifically « R » models, they were meant for those who were still looking for something since the disappearance of the famous F7.  Note also the telescopic handlebars very practical on many models such as « M » series and « SnoPro ».  Faithful to its habits, Arctic-Cat presents graphics and bright colours on their vehicles, like the clothes that will please a lot of snowmobilers.  

In regards with Polaris, they would like to be the leader again on the market that made their success during the 80’s and the 90’s… The fastest snowmobile, the most manageable and above all, the best price-quality on the market.  Remarked last year by the arrival of the Shift series, this strategic position of the American manufacturer is reflecting this season on the price on nearly all their models versus the competition.  On 4 strokes side, we continue with a surprising 750cc turbo compressor that develops a powerful 140hp combined to an excellent training system:  to try in the Touring version.  For the tough ones, the line « Assault » takes the market for the extremes…  A little more than the Dragon that was not that delicate:  Smooth pilot, keep away!  For those who are searching for an unbeatable quality-price, an impressive performance and an exceptional manageability, the IQ600 is still one of the best snowmobiles in her category.  Mountain side, RMK models are still in demand this season for the powder snow amateurs…  We recorded impressive sales concerning this line in Canada and the US.   So, rumours are more and more stronger that big surprises come in for 2010 at Polaris. 

Once again this season, people at Ski-Doo are still concerned about novelty… Starting to believe that the new technologies cycle of the manufacturers became annual cycles.  Arrivals of the RevXR and RevXU chassis on many news models of the manufacturer.  Those chassis are direct evolutions of the RevXP that appeared last year.  Engine side, Ski-Doo decided to « settle » the question of 2 or 4 strokes by proposing 2 clean and powerful engines: the 600HO ETEC and the 1200 4TEC.   After a few years of industry questioning on the right engine strategy, BRP decided to take a new direction…Answer to the two great solitudes.  Developing respectively 120 and 130 hp, these two new engines reunited may answer to more than 75% of the market needs.  A fact to note, the slimming cure is still going on at Ski-Doo with a four strokes sled of less than 500 pounds, the MXZ-1200 TNT.  BRP innovates also on the utility side with the brand new Expedition with a 20 inch track, ultra-light like the Touring with the GTX line that owned variable air shocks.  Finally, we will appreciate a great improvement regarding the comfort on 2009 models with two corrections to the SC-5 (geometry and shocks) without forgetting a more soft mousse inside the seats.

On the Japanese manufacturer’s side, they adjusted themselves to the wild rhythm of the market with two important novelties for 2009.   First of all, we reintroduced the snowmobile tendency « super-hybrid » at a 144-inch with the XTX nitro like Polaris did with the 144 SwitchBack a few years ago.  But this time, we propose a rear suspension with a six degrees angle, just at the place where the runner of the 121- inch ends. This new configuration proposes many advantages like easier driving and less friction in trails, without forgetting the 144-inch track in snow powder. But the big announcement for long riders is definitively the arrival, really expected, of the Venture GT and TF equipped with DeltaBox II chassis and the new Genesis 120 direct injection engine.  Already on spring trials, the Sledmagazine team had the chance to enjoy the softness of this new engine and the potential of this model for the market.  Of course, the high quality of Yamaha’s fabrication and the model finish is still on the manufacturer’s tradition.  Faithful to their habits, Yamaha made a multitude of improvements on all of their models like the Phazer’s tunnel who is supposed to be less « sensitive » to the ice accumulations.

Everybody agrees to say that 2009 year will be another great year concerning new sleds.  Nothing to help future buyers to guide themselves in this large novelty market.  That’s why we propose to visit our new « 2009 Interactive guide » so that can help you make the right choice.  Even if we didn’t try all the models offered in 2009 (over 100), we tried a great selection of 35 models that were proposed to you and were really tested by our team.  With the technical index of the sleds and salient facts of our trials, you can ask your questions on our impressions to theses snowmobiles directly to our pilots.  We hope this concept will please you and help you in any way. 

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