We all dreamed of being able to try our dream snowmobile! For me, this snowmobile is the Ski-doo Freeride. I’m talking about the second generation of the BRP XM platform. I want to share with you today my experience with this snowmobile. We all sit in front of the screen like children waiting for the unveiling of new products every year. But what about keeping a used snowmobile and maintaining it?
Love at first sight
I remember this test ride on a beautiful sunny weekend in the winter of 2015. I finally had the opportunity to ride my dream snowmobile. The TY Moteurs group was testing snowmobiles in Baie-Saint-Paul in the beautiful tourist region of Charlevoix. The day was perfect, I arrived from my cottage driving my antique snowmobile. What better way to start this trial than by attracting attention? We had the chance to leave as a group from the village shopping center and ride along Trail 378 to the Richelieu relay.
As soon as I sat on the snowmobile, I was already in love. I had the chance to try out a 2015 Ski-Doo Freeride in the 146-inch version. The response of the engine, the power it and what to say about the suspension. I waited almost 3 years before I decided and went for 2014 in the 154-inch version.
Why a 154-inch Ski-Doo Freeride? I was looking for a performance hybrid snowmobile. You might say that the Backcountry is offered for this type of market but the aggressive character and its ability in deep snow dictated my choice.
The beauty of the Ski-Doo Freeride snowmobile is its RAS 2 suspension with 38-inch tables. Compared to the Summit which is 36 inches, it stands out on the trails like a Backcountry while keeping its off-piste abilities. I must admit that I am pleasantly surprised by the precision of trajectory that the DS-2 (Deep Snow) skis offer.
Are any changes in sight?
Having only had the chance to ride snowmobiles with the same front suspension configuration as the Ski-Doo Freeride, I was wondering about the real difference in riding with 36-inch tables. So, I decided for the 2022-2023 season to make this modification on my snowmobile. I can confirm that I observed a huge difference on the trails and even more so when I have a passenger with me. I also installed a reinforcement plate on Module S (front suspension module) to secure it in case of impact with rocks or stumps while riding off-trail. During my off-trail trips, I only have to access a cottage by snowmobile. So I added a high-resistance bumper to be able to tow my Pelican Trek Sport 68 utility sled. You can read my next article on the subject.
Ski-Doo’s reputation is built on the quality of engineering and assembly of its products. Such is the case with this snowmobile. Although the handlebars are high as they are adapted for off-trail conditions, the controls on the handlebars are functional and easy to use. I find that the cockpit is simple, and the dials are easy to read with the digital screen in the center.
The only drawback is that since the meter is in a flat position, snow accumulates easily so you often have to use gloves to clean it. Also, the seat is well padded despite being very small to facilitate standing maneuvers. It provides unparalleled comfort when you have to ride on the trail to access the off-trail sections.
Is it too much to order a Ski-Doo Freeride? It all depends on how you use it. I am aware that I don’t use my snowmobile’s suspension to its full potential. The KYB-PRO package offers an amalgam of adjustments to suit your riding and terrain. Whether it’s jumping, off-roading or trail performance, the KYB-PRO is there to perform.
The RAS 2 suspension in the 38–40-inch adjustable version offers a nice compromise of stability in order to face the curves. When we sit behind the wheel of the beast, we feel that the front is anchored to the ground. A simple movement of the bar and it reacts to the control effortlessly. Underneath the machine is the tMotion suspension. Equipped with KYB-Pro 40 shocks, the suspension offers a wide range of adjustments.
In the 154-inch version, the behavior in bumpy conditions is impressive. The length of the ground allows you to overhang on the top of each bump, which makes the passage of obstacles easier and more comfortable.
Among the accessories, the Quick-disconnect allows you to quickly attach and detach the stabilizer bar. This allows you to switch from a more rigid to more flexible behavior, making it easier to carve in the snow.
The PowderMax FlexEdge track is amazing. At over 7000 km on a 2.5″ track, the studs are showing their endurance. They have started to bend but they are still all there. Traction in deep snow is more than adequate, and it doesn’t stall on the trail, offering exhilarating acceleration.
Despite the length and height of the lugs, the Powdermax 2.5 FlexEdge track provides the necessary traction without extreme vibration. However, it’s when you find it off the trail that it really comes into its own. Combined with the DS-2 skis, the snowmobile performs without difficulty in deep snow conditions. Remember that this is an extreme derivative of the Ski-Doo Summit snowmobile, a proven off-trail vehicle.
With the arrival of two new platforms since the XM at Ski-Doo, I can compare and see that it is getting old. I must say that the wider running boards that adorn the Ski-Doo Freeride’s chassis handicap the passage in deep snow or on mountainsides. The narrower equivalent on the Summit or even the competition, think of the Polaris RMK, offers better behavior.
It tends to lean on them but they are not the only obstacle, the rather large fairings also accentuate this behavior. When passing through mountainsides, especially in Sidehill, the snowmobile tends to stall and slide on itself rather than maintain a linear trajectory. However, I can say that despite its age and the new features, it did not prevent me from accessing the same terrain as my Gen 4 colleagues.
I’ve been the owner for four years now and I’m still satisfied. Over the 5000 km I’ve ridden on and off the trail combined, the mechanics have delivered the goods without major problems. Although a bit extreme for my needs, if you are the kind of rider like me who shuffles it so that it passes, the Ski-Doo Freeride will meet your expectations. If I had to make the choice again, I would definitely make the same decision.
Learn more about this:
Continue reading our Ski-Doo reviews:
- Ski-Doo Renegade Enduro 900 ACE Turbo (130) 2023: Final Review
- Ski-Doo Pyra Helmet Review
- The Chassis that changed everything: the evolution of the Ski-Doo REV Platform