It’s already time for me to deliver my end-of-season thoughts about the Ski-Doo Summit X 154. With the new Gen5 platform, we have a lot to cover!
I want to start with the look. Even though I really liked the light gray theme early in the season, it got old pretty quickly. A few followers on our social media platforms weren’t big fans either. I think the worst part was when I parked the Summit X beside my personal Backcountry Sport; they looked way too similar for someone who doesn’t know snowmobiles very well.
The New Gen5 Platform
There are many new features on the new Gen5 platform. Some are great, some are not so great. Let’s dive deep into those.
Feeling Behind the Handlebars
If you have the chance to step back and forth between a Gen4 and Gen5 snowmobile, you immediately notice how narrower the new chassis is. The front panels themselves are quite a bit narrower, but I’d say you notice it most when you stand on the running board, which is now about 3 inches narrower.
I’ve discussed the cockpit’s ergonomics in my mid-season review, but I’d like to address a specific issue I encountered with the reverse siren. Approximately half of the time, the “beep” is significantly muted, making it barely audible, particularly when wearing a helmet.
There was also an instance where I mistakenly thought I had shifted back into forward mode and inadvertently applied a considerable amount of throttle. Things could have gotten messy.
Summit X 154 Riding Experience
In my opinion, the most significant change to the Gen5 platform is the effort (or lack thereof) required to initiate a maneuver in the deep snow. The higher gravity center alongside the new geometry of the platform really makes it easy to get one ski and stay this way for a way longer period than on Gen 4. This is true when we are in a neutral position or are completely standing on one side of the running boards.
In a neutral position, most of the time, the simple fact of moving our feet on the running boards and slightly counter-steering is enough for simpler maneuvers. It’s actually so easy that when you do not do it and turn in shallow snow, the snowmobile tends to dive in the opposite direction we’re heading. I believe this is caused by the higher gravity center I talked about above, but I would also love to try out the snowmobile with DS4 skis instead of the DS3 to see if I notice an improvement on that front.
Let’s Talk About the New Tmotion X
The aspect that drastically changed thanks to the new tMotion X rear suspension is the sidehill. Gen4 used to be fairly easy to set in a sidehill position, but the difficulty was to remain on the line we were trying to achieve. Gen5 changes the game. Not only is it even easier to get to the sidehill position, but the predictability is insanely good, though changing course is just as easy.
Another really good improvement (again, thanks to the tMotion X) is that when accelerating on the side of the hill, the snowmobile doesn’t want to go up as much as it did on Gen4. It’s very easy to control the angle of attack by moving the opposite foot on the running board.
That tMotion X also makes wheelies even easier, and maybe a little too much. For the first time in a long time, I didn’t loosen the limiter strap because I actually didn’t need to; the snowmobile was very responsive and playful!
A New Perspective: Building Confidence and Skills in Tree Riding with Gen5
I want to touch on tree while riding, even though I am anything but good at it. My riding buddy Pierre-Olivier really likes us to get outside of our comfort zone, which often means heading into the trees. I’m excited to report that the Gen5 platform made it easier on my nerves by giving me a touch of confidence while riding in the trees.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t magically become a pro rider in any shape or form, but I was able to advance slowly in the woods and use the proper techniques to get stuck as little as possible. Things like the ease of handling and the low-profile seat allowing me to jump on either side of the snowmobile as desired really helped as well.
A More Complete Lineup for the Gen5 Mountain Platform in 2024
At the time of writing this article, Ski-Doo revealed Gen5 600R Summits for the model year 2024, and I am extremely happy they’re bringing them back after a year of having only 850 (turbo and non-turbo) only Summits for 2023.
Gen5 alongside a 600R E-TEC engine on either the 146-inch or 154-inch configurations is such an interesting package for beginners. It also makes the lineup more complete for all levels of backcountry riders.
I noticed a few issues with the build quality of a few components on our snowmobile. First of all, if you follow a few people having Gen5 mountain snowmobiles this season, you already know that the air filters near the knee rest area are as easy as they get to smash. We’ve been lucky enough not to break one (so far anyway), but you can definitely notice how flimsy they are.
There are a few other things we’ve noticed that don’t feel “Ski-Doo level” quality. Looking into the right footrest, we can see a few exposed wires coming through. Furthermore, I’ve been fighting with the securing strap of one of the side panels all season long, as it would get untied all the time.
Pricey Pitfalls: Unraveling Issues with the Snowmobile’s Front Bumper and Quality
To add to it, we noticed a less-than-expected quality around the bumpers. We noticed that when we’re using them to pull the snowmobile to get it unstuck, the front bumper is flexing. I think it’s really too bad to note that quality for such an important component on a snowmobile of this caliber… and price tag.
As mentioned in my mid-year review, one of my biggest gripes is around the newly redesigned glovebox. It seems to have seals to prevent snow from breaking in, but they aren’t working. Instead of storing an extra pair of gloves and goggles, I ended up only being able to store my saw, and it got all rusty by the end of the season.
Also, even if it was properly sealed, note that storing goggles and gloves inside of it is quite the Tetris challenge. You’ll definitely want to spend a bit more on a tunnel storage bag and a backpack.
As mentioned in our mid-season review, we’ve noticed ice buildup in the back of the tunnel. This has been an issue pretty much in every ride we’ve done throughout the season. On some occasions, we’ve also noticed buildup around the chain case.
Let’s Take A Step Back… Who Is A Summit X For?
After discussing this with some colleagues, we realized that a lot of people blindly snow-check big, powerful snowmobiles when less over-the-top machines would fit them better. The best example is the number of people ordering a Summit X 154 with the Expert package… with the 850 Turbo while we’re at it. Snowmobiles like these are intended for experts, not meant to make someone magically become one.
That’s exactly where snowmobiles like the Summit X come into play. They are insanely fun and capable, and capable and could save some money compared to a flagship snowmobile. Furthermore, it would probably be better suited for them and help them grow their backcountry skillset. Let’s not forget what a great package the X is. I think this package would fit the needs of the vast majority of backcountry riders.
Ski-Doo Summit X 154: To Sum It Up
2023 was huge for the Ski-Doo Mountain lineup. Their platform went through a major overhaul, and the driving experience has been massively improved. Whether it’s the ease of getting on a single ski, the long-awaited predictability in the side-hill department, or how effortless it is to zig-zag in the backcountry, we can all agree Ski-Doo nailed it out of the park in terms of backcountry riding.
Unfortunately, this seems to come with the price of reduced quality around some of the parts of the snowmobile and a degraded driving experience in shallow snow. But shallow snow isn’t a term the Summit knows!
Overall, it was still a conclusive trial. I still think the Ski-Doo Summit X 154 2023 is an excellent choice for most intermediate-to-experienced backcountry riders.
I’d like to especially thank Ski-Doo for allowing us to try that snowmobile throughout the season!
Other Ski-Doo Reviews here:
- The Ski-Doo Renegade X-RS 2024: A Test That Fulfilled My Riding Experience!
- Test drive of my dream Snowmobile: Ski-Doo Freeride
- Ski-Doo Renegade Enduro 900 ACE Turbo (130) 2023