Last March, the 2011 Snow Shoot was hold, one of the most expected events in the snowmobile world, where the manufacturers present their models for the next season. So, it is in the outstanding scenery of the West Yellowstone Park, in Montana, that my colleagues and I were able to test the brand new models offered for 2011. We tested for you about 50 different models in order to give you our best knowledge and thus, guide you in your next buy. Many times, some models made us smile inside our helmet. Even if many gave us pure joy, 4 models succeeded in impressing me. So, here are my 2011 crushes that gave me special heartbeat.
At Yamaha’s this year again, my choice was the Apex. After a few years of improving the Deltabox II chassis, I thought it had reached its maximum exploitation. Last February, Yamaha announced the Deltabox III that I was anxiously expecting. At first sight, I was disappointed by the looks; I was awaiting a complete makeover. I could not expect that under the same cab, a mass of novelties were hidden. Yamaha people worked hard, a wonderful technology explosion from the engine to the chassis, the addition of a valve to control the exhaust gaz that improves the internal combustion, a power steering system, a 128 in track that improves smoothness in small bumps and traction in accelerations. I was expecting the same riding position than on the Nytro, but it was not so. Nevertheless, Yamaha has greatly improved the space for the rider’s legs and reviewed the seat configuration, which pleases me a lot.
On trail, a few seconds are enough to appreciate the power of this 4-cylinder strong engine; the accelerations are perfect and make you forget the mass. It goes without saying that a lightweight effect is remarkable. The handling is very precise with the EPS system that we must learn to master, because overturning is easy. After a few kilometers, I completely forgot about it. The new skis are quite aggressive on snow but there was some disturbing darting on iced surface. The new gauges are easy to read and to use. The rider’s position has been redesigned; so my back stays straight and my upper body is closer to the handlebar. This helps to negociate sharp bends. Moreover, the footboards are deeper so getting on and stand-up riding are facilitated. The SE edition is equipped with air adjustable shocks that seem to do a good job with their wide range of adjustments. However, they seemed a little too rigid if we refer to the manufacturer’s adjustment chart. It is sure that I greatly appreciated my first trial on the Deltabox III.
In short, my first disappointment has been quickly vanished once riding. Life remembered me once again that you cannot judge a book by its cover. Even if at far it looks like the 2010 edition, you must not get fooled; a closer look and you see it is really a 2011 model.
For a second consecutive year, it is at Arctic Cat’s that I had the biggest problem for chosing. Here, the performance fans have what they look for with the powerful turbo. However, my choice went to the powerful two-cylinder 800 cc engine that develops over 160 HP. The F8 Sno Pro on a Twin Spar chassis introduced in 2007, really pleased me. A true Sno Pro aggressive design with the Cat head, lets us believe that the beast is about to charge. Well, trust me, when the beast goes wild, this Cat has guts, a powerful coupling at low and midrange speed just like accelerations for the 2-stroke engines. When we take control and that we take time to analyze all the possible adjustments, it is easy to see that the IRP system of the Cat is without a doubt the one on the market that offers the largest range of adjustments for the pilot. Each pilot has his own style; even the most demanding ones will find their preferences. On trails, the F8 has a perfect and precise handling; there was no darting and this, on the various snow surfaces we tested. It is a pleasure to ride on sinuous trails. The Slide-Action suspension operates very well; I even have been surprised by the smoothness of the Sno Pro edition in small bumps. It goes without saying that its strenght is in most bumpy trails. Moreover, the air shocks have a wider range of adjustments, which is a huge advantage. For 2011, the manufacturer brings back the 1.25 Ripsaw track. I have to note that the small storage space and the finishing quality of the aesthetic parts have disappointed me a little.
Are you a fan of 2-stroke engines with big cylinders along with a surprising comfort ? Do you enjoy a sporty riding ? So here is my favorite Cat for 2011.
In 2011, the Canadian manufacturer offers us two new engines that reaches everyone. First, there is the new 4-stroke 600 cc engine that promises low fuel consumption records while offering a new model as first of the lineup. The second engine is nothing else but the new king at BRP’s; the E-TEC 800R will be the main issue in the performance category (lien article E-TEC). BRP announces 10 % more power than its predecessor. It will be available on most models equipped with a XP chassis.
This year again, my favorite package at BRP’s was the TNT edition because I think it is very well adapted for trail pilots. It offers a windshield that is efficient against wind (even if lateral deflectors would be an appreciable plus), a rear storage trunk, an eye-catching design and a 1 in Ripsaw track. The advanced position of the pilot on the XP chassis gives an incredible lightweight feeling because of the mass centralization. This makes it easier to change directions quickly in sinuous trails. The handling is precise in turns; however, a disturbing darting occurred in straight line. The suspension with aluminium HPG Plus shocks makes a better job than I expected. This suspension is for trail pilots who prefer the sporty riding and remains very efficient in ripples. This beast heart made mine beat : a smoothness almost without any vibration at low speed, which is rare for a big cylinder, and yet with almost no fume. The sled is propulsed by a powerful E-TEC 800R, one of the most nervous production engines. The accelerations are frank and give a high coupling at every speed.
Even if it is the MX Z basic model, you must not underestimate it. The TNT edition has much to offer.
The Rush effect can be experienced not only on trails. A «rush» also happened in the offices at Roseau, Minnesota. Last year at Grant Lake, Colorado, Polaris announced their new strategy, the new more dynamic vision of the enterprise along with an updated marketing on Internet, and it seems to be fruitful. The manufacturer has the firm intention to regain his 1st world place and it is obvious on the terrain. Thus, the engineers listened much more to our comments and participated to our trials. For 2011, many elements of the lineup have been rebuilt : wider Pro-Ride chassis, 18 kg less for the RMK, a major improvement of the Pro-Ride suspension, the arrival of the Rush LX and the Pro-R, a range of bright colours and retro models available at spring time. The big two-cylinder 800 cc also got new cylinders, new pistons and a new cylinder head and this, in order to improve the fiability and performance.
This year, my choice is a mixing between the Pro-Ride chassis and a more conventional platform : the 800 Switchback Assault 144, available in orange or matte silver. The Assault has a high-rise handlebar, an aluminium bumper, foot stirrups and of course, Walker Evans shocks. On trail, the riding position is the best at Polaris’s, I think, with a narrow tank that makes it easy to balance sidely and that gives more room for the legs. Wide and deep running boards make the advanced stand-up riding easier. The Switchback has all the advantages of the front handling of the Pro-Ride without the ski lift problem related to the rear Pro-Ride suspension, since the rear is equipped with the new 144 tipped suspension. Under the cab, the 2-stroke 800 cc engine develops a very good torque at low speed and a surprising explosion for a 144 in. track of 1.352 profile. The Switchback is an excellent compromise for those who like to leave the beaten paths and have great pleasure on trail.