Crossing Over Ain’t Easy

Do you focus on the snow or the bumps?

July 2021 Feature

Perhaps one of the tougher decisions for aggressive terrain riders is whether to stay committed to the deep snow characteristics of a mountain sled or give in to the mogul-pounding benefits of a trail sled.

Do you go for better handling or better flotation? The differences may be subtle … but they are still different.

Last spring we spent a lot of time on the Riot X and really enjoyed how it was able to tame the mountain trails while still wandering out into the trees. We also spent some time on the ZR RR 8000 137 and realized how much fun rough trails can be when you’re aggressively riding a sled designed specifically for hitting big bumps.

The basic mechanics of the two sleds are the same. They are both powered by the 8000 Series C-Tec2 794cc engine that features an APV with tuned pipe and stainless-steel manifold and muffler exhaust system. This new power plant has new cylinders, pistons, combustion chamber, flywheel and fuel rail.

Both sleds are driven with the Team Rapid Response II primary and Team Rapid Reaction Boss secondary clutches.

But once the power is transferred through the clutches, subtle differences allow each of the two sleds to attach the terrain in slightly different directions.

Gearing Up

First is the difference in gearing. The Riot X uses a 19/50 gear ratio while the ZR RR uses a 22/48. Also, the Riot has a 96-pitch chain while the ZR has a 90-pitch (shorter) chain. Although both use a 9-tooth, 2.86 pitch track drive sprocket, the Riot has an exvoluted design while the ZR RR has an involuted design.

The most significant difference is the rear suspension—Alpha One vs Slide-Action. The Riot maintains its mountain roots with the monobeam rear that delivers improved deep-snow mobility. The Slide-Action rear on the ZR RR features a unique design where the front arm fits into a U-shaped slot that allows one-half inch of sliding movement to prevent the front arm from collapsing when the rear arm compresses. This makes the ZR RR much more predictable on the trail. 

Both sleds are equipped with Fox 1.5 Zero QS3 shocks … although the Riot X comes with coil-over where the ZR RR features Kashima shocks. The QS3 shocks are specifically designed for changing terrain. This allows you to quickly adjust your ride depending on the terrain and snow conditions. The ZR RR has 9-inch front travel and 13.5-inch rear travel. The Riot X has 8.5-inch front travel and 13-inch rear travel.

The Riot X uses the Power Claw 15x146x2.6-inch track while the ZR RR comes with the Backcountry 15x137x1.75-inch track. The Power Claw is better suited for loose snow conditions while the Backcountry is designed to hook up better on hardpack.

The front suspensions are also slightly different. The Riot X comes with the Arctic Mountain w/Fox 1.5 Zero QS3 Coil-over shocks while the ZR RR features Arctic Race II w/Fox 1.5 Zero QS3R Kashima shocks. With taller spindles and revised geometry, the ZR RR front end is much more aggressive in the corners. So it also comes with the 6-inch-wide Trail ski with an adjustable stance of 42-43 inches. 

The Arctic Mountain suspension on the Riot X is tailor-made for deep snow and provides predictable handling when you are counter-steering in steep terrain. The Riot X comes with the 7-inch-wide ProClimb ski with an adjustable stance from 39.5 inches to 41.5 inches.

The Riot X comes with 4.5-inch risers on the handlebars with a grab handle. It also features Arctic Cat’s Mountain seat and a 1-inch Mountain windshield (when you have to roll your sled out of holes, you don’t want to be fighting a windshield).

The ZR RR features a 5.5-inch rise for the handlebars and has Arctic Cat’s High Performance seat and a 5.5-inch Race windshield to offer a little more protection from the elements.

Both sleds have Deluxe Digital gauges and Electric Push-Button start. Both sleds also come with reinforced running boards for added rigidity to handle big air landings.

Finally, here are some other notable differences between the two snowmobiles:

The ZR RR has a 6-quart coolant system while the Riot X only has a 5-quart coolant system; The Riot X features the Arctic Mountain Drive System while the ZR RR comes with just the Arctic Drive System; the Riot has the lightweight caliper on the Stealth Hydraulic Master Cylinder brakes; the Riot X is 131 inch long while the ZR RR is 125 inches long.

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