So far in this young snowmobile season, I’ve ridden both of our Ski-Doo long-term test sleds, and each of them is equipped with the new Pilot TS skis. For the uninitiated, the Pilot Tunable Ski allows riders to adjust the depth of the blade to affect handling.
The Pilot TS ski’s wear bar is unlike any runner used on a production snowmobile – in fact, it’s actually a blade. Turning the adjuster knob mounted in front of the spindle counter-clockwise pulls the blade up and into the ski saddle for less-aggressive handling, and turning the knob clockwise extends the blade for more traction, similar to a rudder on a boat.
I’ve found the Pilot TS ski to be a useful feature for dialing the handling of each of the sleds – a 2016 Renegade Enduro 800R E-TEC and 2016 MX Z X 600 H.O. E-TEC – to match the conditions I’ve faced. This past weekend with the MX Z, for example, we rode a mix of groomed trails that were fairly well set-up. For those conditions on Friday, I pulled the blades into the skis most of the way because the moderately firm snow surface provided good grip for the narrow blades.
My group mixed it up on Saturday as our ride included some groomed trails, but most of our day was spent on ungroomed trails and forest service roads that hadn’t seen much sled traffic to pack the snow. The day started with a 25-mile jaunt up the trail that had been groomed overnight, but the somewhat sugary snow hadn’t set-up very well. I gave each of the knobs a few turns to extend the blades at each of our first couple of trailside breaks, and each time I could feel better handling. While my friends were dealing with loose handling from their sleds, the Pilot TS skis had me enjoying more-positive steering. At one point I had the blades adjusted to about 90 percent out while driving over and through the loose snow – more than 10 inches of untouched snow in some sections of those secluded roads.
I checked the MX Z’s ski blades before I loaded it in the trailer and saw that, unfortunately, a 1-inch chunk of carbide was missing from the left ski after Snow Goer Sales Director Mark Rosacker had taken the sled for a 25-mile ride last Tuesday. Now after the New Year’s Day holiday weekend that tacked another 275 miles on the odometer, the condition of the MX Z’s blades hasn’t changed: the edges are sharp and wear is even from the leading edges to the tails. We’ll need to keep a close eye on the damaged blade, though, so we don’t end up running on the host blade.
A few days earlier when I had the Enduro out for a ride that was mostly confined to a packed trail, the early season conditions had me crossing at least a dozen spots where water was gently flowing across the trail that created a few deep ruts. A good coat of frozen mud collected on the front end of my Ski-Doo after splashing through the mix of water and ice, but it didn’t cause any Pilot TS components to bind or malfunction, which could have otherwise affected the ability to make adjustments. The Enduro’s blades are in pristine condition after 140 miles.