This season, thanks to the collaboration of our partner Les Motoneiges Géro, I was able to test the Ski-Doo 2021 Renegade X-RS 850 E-TEC. This test was very significant for me, because this model has the most important new features of 2021 for the trail, such as the new RAS X and rMotion X suspensions, in addition to the new Pilot X skis. In fact, it was a much anticipated return to 2-strokes with the 850 E-TEC engine. In my pre-season conversations with industry colleagues, we were unanimous that this model is one of the most technologically advanced. So everything was in place for a memorable test ride with high expectations.
The Renegade X-RS is at the top of Ski-Doo's performance snowmobiles
The Rotax 850 E-TEC engine is simply a marvel of technology. Introduced to the Ski-Doo lineup for the 2017 season, it is still the benchmark at BRP for 2-stroke engine power to this day. It's a smooth, extremely powerful engine with incredible acceleration. During my long-term test ride, I really appreciated the overall performance characteristics, but I was also impressed by the low oil and gas consumption. On a normal ride with friends, the 850 E-TEC does not consume significantly more than a snowmobile with a 4-stroke engine of comparable power. Oil consumption is also very reasonable, which is impressive considering all the power produced. In fact, one of the things I like about the E-TEC technology is the very low smoke production, which is quite a contrast to older 2-stroke engine technologies. The 850 E-TEC also starts up very easily at a quick turn. In addition to all these advantages, what makes a big difference in the riding experience is its light weight. Compared to the same model with a 4-stroke engine, the 850 E-TEC weighs 36 pounds less, which is significant when it comes to riding, especially over bumps.
The Rotax 850 E-TEC engine is remarkably powerful and produces minimal smoke.
Suspension and skis
The big innovation at Ski-Doo for 2021 in the trail snowmobile lineup is undoubtedly the introduction of the new RAS X and rMotion X suspensions. With these new suspensions, Ski-Doo has succeeded in surpassing what was considered to be among the best references in the industry in terms of comfort and performance. The intention was also to create a suspension designed specifically to optimize the performance of the REV Gen4 platform. With a few geometry changes, Ski-Doo engineers were able to make these suspensions even more comfortable and efficient. A very important point to note is the change in the snowmobile's behavior. It now rides much flatter than in the past, which means that the skis no longer tend to lift during a very aggressive turn, which significantly improves the sporty capabilities and agility of this model. In addition, the RAS X has more travel, which is a clear advantage in very bumpy trails. Don't forget that the X-RS version of the Ski-Doo range has the best and most powerful shocks. It is equipped with KYB PRO 36 shocks up front and KYB PR 40 shocks in the center and rear. These shocks are adjustable in compression very quickly.
With the increased performance of the new RAS X and rMotion X suspensions, Ski-Doo engineers also had to design an all-new ski, the Pilot X. This ski is much more aggressive than the Pilot 5.7 and has the ability to offer a ride that doesn't dart around. The only time during the season that I experienced this situation was on a very cold morning on a very hard trail surface. In all other conditions, the Pilot X ski works wonderfully and is proving to be an impressive new feature for 2021.
The new suspensions are Ski-Doo's new benchmark for comfort and performance
The REV Gen4 platform introduced at Ski-Doo for the 2017 season is still fun to ride in 2021. What I like most about this platform is its advanced ergonomics, which allows the rider to move easily on the snowmobile thanks to the presence of the Ergo-Step panels, the beveled tunnel and the narrow seat. Despite the narrow width of the snowmobile, it offers excellent protection against the wind. For the X-RS version, I recommend the addition of a low windshield identical to the X model. This feature doesn't change the ultra-sporty personality of the X-RS, but it does offer much better protection against the elements, all season long. The Renegade X-RS with 137" tunnel also offers two LinQ attachment base positions, which is also a definite advantage when bringing a lot of gear with you.
L’ergonomie avancée du GEN 4 permet une conduite ultra sportive
As an exclusive spring model, the Renegade X-RS is offered with three track choices. For our long term test, we decided to order it with an ICE Ripper XT track with 1.5 inch lugs. This was the first season that I tested a 1.5" lugged track on a snowmobile and I must say that I loved it. This track offers more traction in all conditions while reducing braking distance. Obviously this track has a lot more inertia than a 1.25 inch track, but the loss of top speed performance does not outweigh the benefits of the extra traction. The ICE Ripper XT also has the advantage of having lugs that are pre-molded into the track, offering more performance and safety on icy surfaces. For me, this type of track is a must for the trails of southern Quebec.
The 1.5 inch ICE RIPPER XT track offers more traction and safety on the trail
This season, I was able to try out the 7.2-inch digital multifunction gauge that comes standard with this model. It has all the necessary functions for driving the vehicle, such as fuel level information, tachometer, speed and engine temperature. In addition to being easy to use, the information is easily visible both day and night.
Of all the accessories I was able to try this season, the one I liked the most was the brand new E LinQ system. This one allows you to combine the cords of the DESS key and the heated visor into a single cord. Not only is this accessory super convenient, but it forces the driver to attach the cord to their coat for added safety. The second accessory I really liked was the LED auxiliary light. Although the 2021 situation didn't allow me to ride in the evening, this light allows the snowmobiler to be much more visible on the trails, even during the day, especially when there is a lot of snow in the air. With the heavy traffic we experienced on the trail all winter, it is obvious that for me this is a must. The other accessory I recommend on all Ski-Doo snowmobiles is the snow scraper. When the snow is scarce or the conditions are icy, they are appreciated for both cooling the engine and lubricating the slides. Finally, the general integration of accessories with the snowmobile, especially with the LinQ system, is also remarkable and definitely the reference in the industry.
The integration of accessories with the snowmobile improves the overall snowmobile riding experience
What I liked the most about it
The Renegade X-RS 850 E-TEC 2021 was an exceptional snowmobile, in fact, the best Ski-Doo snowmobile I have ever ridden. The addition of the new RAS X and rMotion X suspensions, along with the Pilot X skis, have significantly improved the comfort and performance of this model. It's so nice to be able to attack a turn in a sporty way while keeping the inside ski on the ground. The 850 E-TEC engine is also a marvel of technology, with incredible power and cleanliness of operation. Oil and fuel consumption is more than reasonable. The reduced weight of this configuration also enhances the riding experience, especially on very rough trails. The 1.5 inch ICE Ripper track is also a great value for this model, with superior traction in all conditions. Throughout the season, I felt like I had a racing snowmobile ready to take on any trail condition. It's a particularly satisfying feeling when you're out riding.
Our test rider and the Renegade X-RS 850 E-TEC in long term test
What needs to be improved
Quite frankly, you'd have to rack your brains pretty hard to find any significant flaws with this model. However, I can provide one point of improvement and one suggestion. Many snowmobilers opt for the addition of auxiliary lights to improve visibility when riding on the trail, especially at night. In order to ensure proper coordination of the type of lights, I believe that the basic light beams should be modified by adding LED bulbs. This could significantly improve the basic lighting of these models.
The second item is a suggestion to me. The Pilot X skis work very well, but like any model without adjustable rails, it is sometimes difficult to get a perfect fit. In the case of the X-RS version, I think it would be a good idea to add the "adjustments" package to the spring order in order to get the Pilot TX skis with adjustable rails. This is because, when you drive an X-RS, you want to have the maximum adjustment and performance. This configuration would allow for maximum control at all times.
As I read this final review, it is obvious that I really enjoyed my long term test drive and not a little. It is with a lot of nostalgia that I saw the end of the season coming and that we returned our long term test vehicle. By the way, I would like to thank again our partner, Les Motoneiges Géro, BRP dealer in St-Jean-de-Matha in Lanaudière, for the loan of the Renegade X-RS 850 E-TEC for the whole 2021 season. I invite you to visit them in store for all your needs in Ski-Doo, Lynx and Can-Am off-road products.
I also invite you to watch our final review of this test.
I wish you all a great summer and I look forward to seeing you on the trails next winter..