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Thinking About Snowmobiles And Snowmobiling

By Andy Swanson

Leaves are falling, the bugs are gone and harvest is well underway. It’s also time to start setting up snowmobile trails, and that, among other things, has me thinking about riding snowmobiles.

This past Friday I made my annual trek from Minnesota to work the Snow Goer booth at the Snowmobile USA show in Milwaukee, and that five-hour drive across Wisconsin, gave my mind quality time to think about the upcoming snowmobile season.

My buddies and I have several interesting rides in the works and, as always, I’m looking forward to riding our fleet of demo sled, which will include a 2017 Ski-Doo MX Z X 850 E-TEC – the Snow Goer Snowmobile of the Year. Here are three reasons why I’m excited to ride that new Doo, a model we rode in pre-production form in Quebec, Montana and Minnesota last spring.

2017 Ski-Doo MX Z X 850

Try not to smile while riding a 2017 Ski-Doo MX Z X 850.

1. 850 E-TEC engine – There’s a lot to like about the new MX Z X, but the powerful engine is a major reason the sled is fun to drive. Throttle response felt quick and crisp, and with the power transferring through the new pDrive clutch, it was easy and fun to “braaap” off of moguls or lighten the skis over a series of stutter bumps. It was hard to resist cracking the throttle on that fiery and fun powertrain.

2. Ergo-Step side panels – The REV Gen4’s console represents the latest concept in snowmobile ergonomics. Ergo-Step side panels are a two-step design that lets riders scoot farther forward so they can play a more influential role in vehicle handling and control. The set-up felt natural so the driver’s knee easily flowed into the pocket, but for riders who enjoy a less-active driving style, REV Gen4-based snowmobiles also handled well without the driver sliding into the Ergo-Step area.

3. RAS 3 suspension with rack steering – Ski-Doo REV models have always handled well, but in rough conditions they suffer bump steer. The RAS 2 front suspension system that was unveiled on many 2015 Ski-Doo models alleviated some of the twitchy behavior, but there still was room for improvement. REV Gen4-based models have the new RAS 3 suspension, but what’s most important is the rack steering system that’s exclusive to MX Z X and Renegade X models based on the new chassis. The new system made the chassis feel tighter than the preceding REV-X chassis, and we felt much less jarring and impact from the bumps. This made the machine easier to control and less tiresome to ride.

It’s a busy time in the snowmobile business. Two weeks ago while gathering information for our January 2017 issue of Snow Goer magazine, the mantra was nearly the same from every shop I contacted: Company owners and employees were putting in long hours and working hard to meet production goals while also gearing up to attend snowmobile shows from Washington to New York. In the Snow Goer office, we’ve been putting together magazines while also traveling to – and hosting – some of those shows. Snow Goer produces the Big East Powersports Show in Syracuse, New York, and the Rocky Mountain Snowmobile Expo in Denver.

What are you doing to get amped up for the snowmobile season?

snowmobile trail set-up

It’s snowmobile trail set-up season!

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