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Lean Green(er) Snowmachines

Ski-Doo ups the ante

Published online: Mar 02, 2005 Feature

Ski-Doo is putting its own spin on being "lean and green" with its snowmachines for 2006.
You can hardly go anywhere in the snowmobile biz these days and not hear about the 2006 EPA emissions regulations. Without going into all the technical mumbo jumbo that goes along with the regulations, let's just say that Ski-Doo was already in a good position with regards to the looming federal regs for 2006. Now the Canadian snowmobile manufacturer is sitting pretty for the next several years (through 2010) as well, thanks to the introduction of more of its cleaner engines throughout its lineup.
But what Ski-Doo has to offer for 2006 is more than just engines, although those seem to be a pretty important part of a sled. Ski-Doo is introducing a new ski-the Pilot 5.7 (trail) and 6.9 (deep powder), Summits have gone on another diet (there's the lean part), there are some new X packages (Spring only) available, a Rev upgrade (new suspension and ride height) and a brand new model-the Freestyle-aimed at the boarder crowd, a.k.a. teens.
A discussion about what is available for 2006 and what direction Ski-Doo is going, just about has to begin with its engines. So here's a refresher course on just exactly what Ski-Doo offers in the way of EPA-friendly powerplants.
PowerTek (800 H.O.) This engine management system offers higher fuel economy, reduced emissions and a crisper throttle response. Debuting on the 2-Tec 800 SDI in 2003, this system utilizes a throttle position sensor, electronically-activated exhaust valves and a knock sensor. PowerTek works with the DPM carburetion management system and engine control module computer to increase performance and reliability by collecting a lot of data, processing it and adjusting the engine's performance accordingly. Data collected includes air temperature, barometric pressure/altitude, coolant temp, combustion chamber vibrations (knock), rpm, crank position and throttle position. Once all that data is input, the ignition timing is either advanced or retarded, fuel delivery is leaned out or enriched and the eRave exhaust valve timing is adjusted. And all that happens in a matter of seconds.
2-Tec SDI (600 H.O., 1000) We refer to the January, 2005 issue of SnoWest (page 28, "Cutting the Carbs") for an excellent explanation of Ski-Doo's semi-direct injection by our own Ryan Harris. He explains why this process, which uses two injectors per cylinder, is more fuel efficient and lowers emissions.
Ski-Doo offers one other EPA-friendly motor, the 4-Tec 1500, which is found in the Elite. All engines with PowerTek, as well as the 2-Tec SDI and 4-Tec four-strokes, exceed 2006-2010 EPA standards.
Ski-Doo still offers a fan engine, but, well, fans aren't exactly going to win any emissions awards.
The proverbial feather in its cap for Ski-Doo's powerplants is that the company has managed to produce cleaner burning engines while maintaining two-stroke performance. That means all Summits, besides the fan, are EPA compliant for years to come.
Ski-Doo again returns with four engine packages for its Summits in 2006-the 550F, 600, 800 and 1000. But the big news in the Summit lineup is the weight reduction. In-season models-the Adrenaline and Highmark-dropped 15 lbs. while the spring-only models-X and Highmark X-are 20 lbs. lighter. That obviously includes the hefty Summit 1000, available in-season or spring-only, depending on what options you want, like five fewer pounds on the spring-only version.
Referring to the weight reduction on the Summit 1000, Ski-Doo's Christian St-Onge, Ski-Doo product manager, said "We heard you loud and clear on the RT." To that we say, "Thanks for listening."

Shedding Pounds
Some of the weight saved on both the in-season and spring-only Summits is in the seat. The spring-only X and Highmark X get the racing seat while the Adrenaline and Highmark get a new RT mountain seat, which offers a new design and weighs 1.3 lbs. less than the 2005 seat. The RT chassis (1000) also benefits from a new cooling system, which saves 5-6 lbs. because the redesign uses less aluminum, thus reducing the volume of liquid needed to cool the engine. Other weight savings come from a lighter sway bar, a lighter track (every other track window  is clipped and the windows are larger), a different rear bumper/light design and fasteners or bushings that once were steel will now be aluminum.
Four pounds were saved with the new Pilot 6.7 ski (2 lbs. each ski). The number refers to the width of the ski in inches, just as it does on the trail version 5.7. Ironically, 5.7 is the weight of each trail ski, too. That, however, is not the case on the mountain version, which weigh less than 6.7 lbs. each. The Pilot skis replace the Precision dual runner skis and are designed for better performance in soft snow while giving a better bite in corners on the trails. We will appreciate the better bite as we were reminded of the Precision ski's lack of bite during a recent ride where we were riding groomed trails and we slid through many of the corners.
Again, St-Onge, said they listened to western riders about the Precision ski. He said, "We heard from western riders that the first thing they do is change the skis because they are hard to steer and push in the corners." The Pilot features a deep center keel and square carbides. An additional shorter keel and carbide is located on the outside of the ski, so in neutral snow conditions, the center keel helps control the steering but while cornering, the outer keel also gives some bite to provide better steering control. Because of this design, sleds require a different left and right ski. All Summits get the new Pilot ski.
Summits still feature the PowderMax track, which comes in a variety of lengths but is still 16 inches wide, except on the Summit Fan. Most models offer either 2 or 2.25-inch deep lugs but if you're hankerin' for a big-dog track, get the spring-only Highmark X with its 162x15x2.5-inch track. And then hang on.
We already told you about (SnoWest, February, 2005, page 14) the Summit 1000 with a 151-inch track, which was released in January. Really, there's just about any track length you could ask for. It boils down to what kind of riding you're going to do. Shorter tracks maneuver better in the trees (boondocking) and longer tracks are for point-and-shoot riding. The point is, Ski-Doo gives you the options.
Also new on the Summits Highmark, X and Highmark X (as well as select other Ski-Doos) for 2006 is the HPV roller secondary clutch, which debuted on the 2005 Mach Z. The new clutch was designed to provide better upshifting and backshifting for a crisper, smoother acceleration and higher top-end speed. This secondary is a roller-type with three large rollers fixed to the inner sheave, which helps eliminate free play in extreme backshifting situations. A double-helix cam (encapsulated roller) is designed to engage the RER in just two degrees of rotation.

Renegade X
One of the new Ski-Doo packages being offered for 2006 is the spring-only Renegade X. We've always been a big fan of the Renegade, one of the best hybrid sleds on the snow, but with this new package, it becomes even sweeter. In-season Renegades are offered with either the 600 or 800 but the spring-only comes with the 165-hp 1000 engine. This is one of the sleds we were able to throw a leg over on our media-only ride in January and this snowmachine really rocked on the trails. Warm temps and rain left the trail conditions where we were riding in pretty tough shape, but the Renegade X gobbled up anything we could throw at it. It's the hookup of the 136x1.25-inch track that was most impressive, especially out of the corners. The SC-4 rear suspension was working well that day, too. And this was where we could see how the new Pilot skis would perform. They were ideal that day and we're anxious to see how the deep powder version does.

Freestyle
Citing statistics which illustrate that the average age of snowmobilers continues to rise, Ski-Doo unveiled the wraps of its new Freestyle, aimed at the younger crowd and those new to the sport.
Some of the numbers Ski-Doo cited include:
 The average age of snowmobilers has increased by more than 6.5 years over the past eight years and is now 43.7 years.
 Only 9 percent of snowmobilers are under 24 while this age group represents 36 percent of the population.
At about 30 hp, the Freestyle sits between the Mini Z and MX Z Fan and could capture a segment of the market that might find this size of machine appealing. Ski-Doo said it really didn't design the Freestyle to be a trail riding machine, but rather a sled that the younger crowd can take in the backyard (if it's big enough) or into an open area, maybe create a small snocross track and just play.
Based on Ski-Doo's new RF platform, the Freestyle has a single-cylinder Rotax 300cc engine and should tip the scales at 370 lbs. dry. We had a chance to ride it-yes, adults can have fun on it, too-and played with it on a snocross track set up on a golf course and it was fun to tool around on.
The Freestyle is not going to burn up the snow by any stretch of the imagination but it will provide plenty o' fun when you climb aboard. Ski-Doo is trying to keep the cost down, too, to make it more appealing to those looking at snowmobiling, so the U.S. price should be less than $4,000 and in Canada less than $5,000. e