Reporting on AD Boivin's model lineup for 2007 is a bittersweet experience for us. Sweet because now the Snow Hawk is available with the Rotax 800 H.O. and bitter because we haven't had a chance to ride it yet.
A year ago we did get the chance to ride the Snow Hawk-AD Boivin's 600cc H.O. model, but that model is history and we can only imagine how the 800 H.O. makes the Snow Hawk that much more fun to ride. It would be an improvement akin to when Quebec-based AD Boivin made the switch from the fan model it first introduced as a Snow Hawk to the 600 H.O.
The Top Gun 800 H.O. is now the biggest bird in the Snow Hawk flock, which also includes the Hawk Jr. X 120 and the Hawk Jr. 60.
According to AD Boivin, the reason for pumping up the biggest Snow Hawk was to appeal more to the off-trail riders. When we rode the 600 version, we did both on- and off-trail riding and felt that there was good power for where we rode. Now, though, we can only imagine how the sled would have handled the couple of feet of powder we played in on the 600.
We didn't get the chance to ride the 800 this last spring because all the snowmobile manufacturers decided to have their annual photo shoot event-where we ride, test and photograph the new models-in the Midwest. SnoWest Magazine opted out of the event due to the fact we didn't think we could adequately test the mountain sleds in Michigan. That meant we missed out on riding the Snow Hawk as well.
The new Top Gun 800 H.O. version tips the scales at 410 lbs., where, just like a conventional snowmobile, much of the weight is on the nose of the machine because of the engine's weight. Still, that's a pretty decent power-to-weight ratio with the 800 cranking out 140 hp. AD Boivin likens its Snow Hawks to a "fusion of a motorcycle, watercraft and snowmobile. The Snow Hawk rides like a road motorbike on trails, like an enduro motorbike off trails and like a watercraft in powder snow."
We did get the chance, as we mentioned, to ride the Snow Hawk in powder and while it looks like it would plow through snow because of the design of the front of the machine-with its single ski and all-it does do a fairly decent job of staying on top due to the extremely wide ski. We would be curious to know how it performs in really deep snow, like three plus feet. In a conventional machine you have the width and length of the track to help provide a wide footprint, thus keeping you on top. The specially made Camoplast track on the Snow Hawk 800 is 12 inches wide, 136 inches long and has 2.25-inch "crampons." The 136-incher is a change from what AD Boivin was planning in the spring, when it said the track would be 128 inches. The edges of the track are rounded to help make sharper turns.
The rear suspension is AD Boivin's own Expert Xtreme, which we feel gives this machine a great ride in the bumps. AD Boivin uses Kayaba shocks in its suspension. The front features a Paioli fork and certainly does offer lots of clearance, at least compared to a conventional machine.
Also new for this season is the Hawk Jr. X 120. Barely weighing 100 lbs., the Hawk Jr. really appeals to the younger rider who is too small or light to handle the bigger Snow Hawk. AD Boivin claims the Hawk Jr. can be ridden on- and off-trail, just like its older sibling the 800. And, as an added bonus, AD Boivin offers a small wheel kit, which replaces the front ski, so that machine can be ridden when the snow melts. The 120 offers up about 14 hp.
Then, for the even younger crowd, there is the Hawk Jr. 60, which is aimed at kids 5-10 years old. It weighs 85 lbs. and has a six-inch wide track that is 90 inches long. It too can be modified with a wheel kit if your kid wants to ride it in the summer.