February 5, 2006

A Review Of The Ski-Doo Freestyle




After picking up a new sled, we are all excited to test it on the snow—when there is snow, which is iffy in the earlier stages of November. How long it sits in the living room, however, depends on snow and how tolerant your wife is (in my case, mother). I, however, never had time to do that, because it snowed the next morning.
The Ski-Doo Freestyle is built with younger people as the target market. The 370-pound sled is new in the Ski-Doo line-up for 2006, along with many a big sled and has almost all the goodies that the 600s and 800s have except for high price parts and the weight. So, why choose the Freestyle when you can get an MX Z 380 with more power and a better suspension for just a little more money?
First, the Freestyle is 40 lbs. lighter. Second is price. The Freestyle is $3,995 while the MX Z is $5,049. Third, the Freestyle has a narrower ski stance, which is good for boondocking and playing in the powder. Finally, the Freestyle is smaller in overall size, which makes it easier for smaller people to ride.
Now I must admit, I have ridden bigger sleds, such as Summit 600s, Polaris 500s, Polaris 700s, Polaris 800s and an M7. Due to me being only 78 lbs. and 12 years old, those sleds are still a little big for me. No, power was not an issue, but weight was. Last year the mainstay of my infantry was a 1980 Ski-Doo Elan—great for weight but not, however, for power. The Freestyle is a big upgrade for me.
The Freestyle is a machine in its own class—just like the Summit 8—only for younger people, such as me. The Freestyle is worked top to bottom; the top has a cool black hood, the middle has a good grunted motor and the RF chassis and the bottom has the SC-4 skid. Also, if you pop the hood, you can see the works: Rotax 300 single, hydraulically operated disc brake and light exhaust.
The offset engine is a minor detail. This morning’s five inches of snow was not “deep and endless powder” as I was hoping, but there was enough to ride happily. I thought I would notice the offset engine, for I could counter-steer it easier to the left than to the right. But I had that problem last season on an Elan, so I’m guessing it’s not the machine, but me.
The motor has its grunt, even at 10,000 feet elevation, or at least on five inches of snow. How that short track carries out orders in the deep stuff remains a mystery—for now. How it jumps—well it is a given that it can jump better than an Elan. Also, the engine is equipped Rotax electronic reverse (RER), which makes getting out of tight situations much easier.
All and all it is a very good machine, fair sized—bigger than the Elan, yet smaller than the Revs. It is 90 lbs. heavier than an Elan, 60 lbs. lighter than the Summit Fan and 103 lbs. lighter than the 800 144-inch. If I think it is fun now with just five inches of snow and no stunts, I can’t imagine how fun it’ll be with two feet of snow.
I consider the highmarks of the Freestyle to be very light for all the features. RER is very fast and very handy. The RF chassis is very fun to play on, easier to counter-steer than my Elan. The SC-4 rear skid is very effective and the turning radius is small. The shocks match the windshield and graphics, along with idler wheels. Hydraulic disc brake is very responsive. It has more response for smaller people than the all-out machines.
On the downside, the spare spark plugs are hard to get to. Ski-Doo decreases the lug height and increases the ski stance? Where’s the 16-inch PowderMax track? You call a 268cc engine a 300? It’s littered with warning stickers. No reed valves of DESS?
The testing of the Freestyle will continue on the next snowfall. As for me, I will be waiting for “the big one,” but right now the snow is melting and I need to hit it one more time. 

(ED—We asked Forrest to give us an update, just before our deadline, to see if he had the chance to get the Freestyle out on the snow some more. Here is what he wrote.)

I got to ride?the Freestyle?a little more in the deeper (18 inches)?snow last weekend, a cool place to ride up to about 12,500 feet on the Continental Divide.?I think the machine does not like to go fast, compared to my Dad’s new 800, but it gets the job done. In a good pocket of powder, I had a chance to lean, squeeze and let ‘er rip and it did very well. Only got stuck on one hill that even a 600 got stuck on.? Sidehills very well—with a mountain strap.?Light enough for me to lay over well and I’m only 78 lbs. I even got the sled off the ground a few times—don’t worry, nothing too glorious yet.?My dad rode it and had some fun too—took him uphill in the powder nicely.






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