Over the past couple of seasons, the mountain segment-particularly the 800 class-has settled into a pecking order of sorts with the Polaris 800 Pro RMK on top. That's verified by the fact that the 800 Pro RMK is not only No. 1 in sales in the West but in the entire snowbelt.
Ski-Doo has long been in the hunt for the No. 1 spot but as of late hasn't been able to knock Polaris out of the top spot.
With the introduction of an all new mountain platform designed for better and easier boondocking, Ski-Doo will make a serious charge for the top-a prized and profitable spot in the western market, which is the hottest segment in snowmobiling right now.
To make that charge, Ski-Doo redesigned its Summit to include some innovative and game-changing features.
The new Rev XM platform tops the list of interesting and exciting changes from Ski-Doo for 2013. The Rev XM has a host of traits that should improve the deep snow boondocking and technical riding abilities of the Summit. For example, the new tMotion rear suspension has a unique pivoting/twisting capability where the rear skid flexes laterally in the tunnel, allowing the sled to pull up easier regardless whether it's tight, technical terrain or you're negotiating a difficult sidehill or just want to lay it down in a powder-filled meadow.
Three Key Changes
There are three things at work here. First is a split front arm. That sounds like it might not be a good thing to split an arm but this is a small split that allows a certain amount of flex when the sled is rocked up on its side. The split is offset from the center of the arm.
Second is a ball joint at the hinge between the rear arm and drop link which allows for four degrees of rotation. This ball joint will "flex" two degrees in each direction when you pull the sled up on its side.
Third is the FlexEdge track. When Ski-Doo first introduced the 16-inch wide track, the purpose was a bigger footprint on the snow and thus more flotation. The Summits still have a 16-inch wide track but now the outside two inches on each side of the track flex, reducing the effort to pull the sled up on its side. The fiberglass reinforcing rods that go across the track are now 12 inches long (compared to the previous length of spanning the track), allowing the two outside inches on each side to flex as you pull the sled up.
We admit, one of the first things that raced through our mind as we were trying to digest the new tMotion, which has no shared parts with the 2012 rear suspension, is how does all this flexing will handle while going down a trail, not that trail riding is a big issue but sometimes you do need to ride trails to get to the backcountry. The way it was explained to us is that it takes a certain amount of load to make these various parts flex. The idea of the split, ball joint and FlexEdge track is to make it easier to transition to the balance point of the sled. Most likely, you're not trying to get to the Summit's balance point while you're running trails.
Another important part of the equation is the ability to move your foot farther forward on the outer roll edge of the running boards. On the Rev XP chassis, introduced back in 2008, there is a plastic piece on the front of the running board that sits on the roll edge, creating an enclosure of sorts at the front. That has been removed, now allowing the rider to stand eight inches farther forward on the outer roll edge. This means the rider can get closer to the center of gravity on the Summit, which will help in technical riding. The rider will now be almost parallel with the steering post. It seems like a small change but it can make a lot of difference.
Redesigned Running Boards
While we're talking about the running boards, a big improvement has been made here, too, as snow evacuation just got a lot easier with the newly designed boards. There is an amazing 87 percent more surface opening to allow the snow to fall through easier. Ski-Doo has also designed the running boards with taller extrusions on the edges which are three times stronger than the Rev XP extrusion.
In another interesting twist, Ski-Doo has designed the top of the ski spindle/A-arm with a boot grip. We've all seen a rider or two, in an effort to get all the leverage he can while hanging off the side of the sled, put a leg on the spindle while the other leg is on the running board. The Rev XM gives the rider some traction now with the boot grip.
To make sure the sled isn't getting hung up on snow while you're trying to sidehill or even just go through deep powder, Ski-Doo has also redesigned the side panels on the Rev XM platform. Instead of the square edges of the Rev XP panels, the XM has rounded front and bottom edges, which should slide over snow easier. The side panels are also a one-piece design made of polypropylene.
One more point about the tMotion rear suspension. It has a more rising-rate motion ratio, similar to the SC-5M-2 found on the Freeride sled, adding capacity and comfort.
The Rev XM platform is found on the Summit X and in-season Summit SP sleds with the E-Tec 800R engine. The Summit 600 and Freeride will return with in the Rev XP chassis.
Here are some other highlights from the 2013 Summit lineup.
Rev XM Seat - The Summit seat just got shorter and easier to move around when jumping from side to side. The seat is a half-inch shorter height-wise and slopes downward from the rear of the seat to the front. The seat is also shorter length-wise by six inches. There is still a storage compartment at the rear of the seat, big enough (.8 gallons) for a water bottle, gloves or goggles.
Pilot DS2 Skis - We really never were big fans of Ski-Doo's Pilot DS skis. Those have been replaced with the Pilot DS2, which have a deeper keel while the back of the ski is now flat rather than tipped up like the DS. Ski-Doo claims the new flat back will help cure the Summit of wanting to creep up a hill when you're sidehilling. Some riders complained that when riding the Summit equipped with the DS skis, the sled has a tendency to want to go up hill rather than go straight across if that's the direction they wanted-or needed-to go. We're anxious to see if the DS2 fixes that. Ski-Doo also claims that with the back of the ski flat that it actually works as a lever to keep the ski tips down. The ski length remains the same. The new ski spindle is 7mm farther forward-the caster is the same-which moves the ski back so there is more tail behind the spindle.
The ski keel is also 10mm (.39 inches) deeper, which makes it more aggressive on- and off-trail. We're told you wouldn't want to throw a set of DS2 skis on a 2012 Summit because they're too aggressive for that sled.
Rev XM Handlebars, Handlebar Controls - You can now adjust the steering post position on the Summit. Two positions are available to fit a sledder's riding style: forward and back, a difference of two inches. The 2012 Freeride came with the handlebars in the forward position while the '12 Summits came with the bars in the rearward position. Select model year 2013 Summits and Freerides will come stock with the bars in the forward position. It takes 45 minutes to an hour to change the bars to the rearward position. Sledders will also notice Ski-Doo has done away with the little orange button that used to activate the RER. The orange button has been replaced with a much sleeker looking left hand control on the left hand side of the handlebars, which activates the RER when pressed. The hand and throttle warmer switches are relocated out-of-the-way on the console.
Rigid Mountain Strap - The new grab handle is more rigid and replaces the floppy mountain strap you find on present day Summits. Thank you Ski-Doo for making that change. No more fishing for the mountain strap when you're trying to negotiate a sidehill or technical terrain.
Flat Gauge - The gauge cluster on the Rev XM console is mounted nearly flat for easy reading while stand up riding. It's still tough to see while you're sitting, though, but much easier while standing. Between the gauge and the windshield is a new covered storage compartment (1 gallon), which is warmed by ambient heat from the engine compartment. You know what that means: a heated goggle storage spot.
Those are just some of the highlights of the new Rev XM on the Summits. Whereas the Rev XP was the platform for Ski-Doo mountain and trail sleds, BRP has made a push to make the chassis more specific to the type of riding the sled is designed for. As one Ski-Doo official said, "You can't just take the chassis and spread it like peanut butter across the product line." The new platform for the MX Z lineup is the XS.
So, for 2013, here is what Ski-Doo brings to the mountain. The spring-only Summit X comes in three track lengths, 146, 154 or 163 inch, and E-Tec 800R engine, along with an upgraded shock package. The in-season Summit XP, also available with a 146-, 154- or 163-inch track comes with either the E-Tech 800R or E-Tec 600 H.O. engine. Also back for 2013 is the Summit Sport (Rev XP platform) with either a PowerTEK 800R or 600 carb powerplant. This will perk a few folks ears up: the Summit Sport with the PowerTEK engine comes with a MSRP of $8,999. There hasn't been a mountain 800 available for the price in quite a while.
The Freeride, which was moved into its own segment last year, is now available in season rather than as a spring-only model as has been the case since it was first introduced. This model returns essentially unchanged from last year.
One more thing worth noting in news from Ski-Doo. The company is partnering with Carl Kuster and his CKMP to offer a new riding school in British Columbia. BRP is providing 8 Ski-Doo Summits to CKMP with six model year 2013 sleds arriving in late February so folks can get a chance to take one for a ride. BRP will be offering a one-day experience to some lucky riders. Stayed tuned to Ski-Doo's website www.ski-doo.com for details.