Snow Shoot 2015 : Mathieu Lavoie best picks

This year, I had the chance of my life to attend the Snow Shoot.  This is the famous event for medias where the snowmobile manufacturers allow us to try out their new models so that we can write to our readers about their novelties.  Also, my mission was to find the real gem for each manufacturer and to report my comments in the following paragraphs. 

Even if it does not look like it, this mission was not so easy.  Effectively, our team must test 60 to 70 snowmobiles in 4 days.

Enough talk, let’s see which 2015 snowmobiles made my hearth beat the fastest. 

Arctic Cat
The greatest news at Arctic Cat’s this year is the return of the Pantera.  I think it is very cool and snowmobile buyers will agree, I am sure !  But, this is not my type of snowmobile.  What is more interesting for me, is the XF and M lineups that introduce the 6000 C-TEC2 and Yamaha engines.

Snowmobile Arctic Cat Pantera Limited 2015
Arctic Cat Pantera Limited 2015

The 6000 C-TEC2 is an excellent addition to the Arctic Cat Mountain lineup.  This will bring a more entry-level machine that should attract the novice mountain riders.  This engine is also appropriate for more aggressive snowmobiles like the ZR.  It is one of the reasons why the RR, El Tigre and, back this year, the Tucker Hibbert RR are equipped with this engine.

Snowmobile Arctic Cat XF 9000 Sno Pro 2015
Arctic Cat XF 9000 Sno Pro 2015

Despite all these additions at Arctic Cat’s, I must say that my hearth beat accelerated in front of a crossover machine, the XF 9000 Sno Pro.  The 1100 cc turbo engine combined with the proven ProCross chassis provides an excellent performance for 2015.  This snowmobile is an excellent mix of power / control on trail.

Polaris

This year, Polaris models have been revamped with the new Axys chassis.  Completely redesigned, lighter and made at 93 % with new parts, the Minnesota manufacturer had a lot to prove.  Even if Polaris people had warned us, I had some doubts about their saying :  «You will be surprised right at the first turn you will take on the Axys chassis.» 

Riding a woman's snowmobile

I must say that I was totally wrong !  Once acquainted with the Axys (which did not take very long), I was able to take each turn faster, with more precision and without any concern about  oversteering.

Polaris offers the Rush and Switchback models in the new Axys chassis with the Pro-S and Pro-X packages.  Let’s remember that the Pro-S is made for the average snowmobiler who wants an incredible precision on trail.  The Pro-X offers a much harder suspension designed for very bumpy trails. 

Well, enough talk !  Which model is my 2015 Polaris favorite ?  It is the 800 Switchback Pro-S.  Effectively, despite the 137 in. track, its riding precision is really outstanding on trail.  Also, this track allows a better absorption of stutter bumps on trails and we can even ride off trail for a while without too much fear.

Snowmobile Polaris 800 Switchback Pro-S 2015
Polaris 800 Switchback Pro-S 2015 

Even if the 800 Switchback Pro-S is my favorite, I would like to talk about a Polaris innovation that is somewhat forgotten due to the introduction of the Axys platform :  the extension of the Indy lineup, including the 550 Indy Voyageur 155.  This sled will meet the expectations of cottage owners who must ride off trails.  With a 155 in. track and impressive 9,5 in. wide skis (that are surprisingly efficient on trail), this is a very interesting machine for the Québec market.

Snowmobile Indy Voyageur 155 2015
Indy Voyageur 155 2015

Ski-Doo

This is where it was the most difficult for me to choose my favorite.  I hesitated a long time between two completely different models :  the MXZ X-RS and the Summit X 163 with T3 package.

Even if most of the time I am not a trail snowmobiler, I must say that the MXZ X-RS gave me incredible feelings on trails.  I just adored its aggressivity, the power of its 800 E-TEC engine, the rMotion rear suspension and the new RAS2 front suspension package that brings a new geometry with dual A-Arms and improves its handling.

2023 Yamaha Sidewinder SRX LE

Snowmobile Ski-Doo MX Z X-RS 2015
Ski-Doo MX Z X-RS 2015

Spectacular event in the Mountain segment !  After many rumors about it, Ski-Doo offers for 2015 a new track lenght for the Summit X :  the 174 in.  track.  At first, I had some doubts about its usefulness.  Then, I had the chance to test this snowmobile in mountain and I understood the addition of such a length in mountain.  Is this sled made for riding in the Province of Québec ?  I don’t think so.  In the Province of Québec, a 163 in.  track is quite long enough for most of our off trail experiences.   

My purpose is not to denigrate this new Ski-Doo model when I say that this lenght of track is not made for the Province of Québec, far from it !  I think that this model is designed for pilots who ride in Western Canadian and American mountains where snow is much more abundant than in Québec.  In those deeper snow conditions, we can do things with a 174 in. that we could not have imagined doing a few years ago.  Also, the T3 package includes a PowderMax 3 track (3 in.  studs), Pilot DS 3 skis, RAS 2 front suspension, the REV-XM chassis and the proven tMotion rear suspension.

Snowmobile Ski-Doo Summit 800 T3 163po 2015
Ski-Doo Summit 800 T3 163po 2015

For the above-mentioned reasons, my Ski-Doo favorite is the Summit X 163 with T3 package.  This track length seems to be the best compromise for our Québec snow conditions and the addition of the T3 package makes all the difference.  Efforts are much more reduced, giving the feeling that the snowmobile is very light.

Yamaha

Like many others, I have been very interested by the additions to the Yamaha SR Viper lineup.  Effectively, we all agree that Yamaha Mountain sleds needed to be renewed and it has been done for 2015.  The 2nd year of the partnership between the Japanese manufacturer and Arctic Cat brings the Yamaha SR Viper M-TX in 153 and 162 in.

Civility on the trail still has its place!

For the first two days of my tests, I thought that my Yamaha favorite would be the SR Viper M-TX 162 LE.  At the Snow Shoot, the Yamaha LE editions were equipped with turbocharged engine that will be an optional feature next season.

The addition of a turbo engine brings quite a character to this snowmobile and makes it a little lighter.  Despite its 162 in. track, the snowmobile did not oversteer in curves and the acceleration was excellent when exiting turns.

Snowmobile Yamaha SR Viper R-TX LE 2015
Yamaha SR Viper R-TX LE 2015

However, my Yamaha surprise happened during my trials on snowmobiles made for bumps :  the SR Viper R-TX LE.  I can’t find other words :  I totally underestimated this snowmobile when I entered into bumps.  Each time, the sled proved its capability.  No need to talk about the power of the engine that we all know so well.  With its power, its precision on trail, its aggressiveness in bumps and its feeling of lightness, the Yamaha SR Viper R-TX LE completely seduced me !