A new, high-tech four-stroke engine, expansion of winning REV-XS and REV-XM platforms as well as more sleds with the rMotion and tMotion rear suspension are the highlights of a broad new 2014 Ski-Doo snowmobile lineup unveiled tonight by the snowmobile market share leader.
The new engine is an ACE 900 – similar to the ACE 600 released a couple of years ago, except with an additional cylinder bolted to the end and with 90 horsepower vs. the 600’s 60 ponies. The engine also features some high-tech gadgetry, including a throttle-by-wire drive system and selectable drive modes.
Meanwhile, GSX and Grand Touring models benefit from rMotion ride quality while Freeride and more Summit sleds get REV-XS and tMotion upgrades.
We got a sneak preview test ride on sled featuring the 900 ACE that we’ll share with you.
The high-tech new 900
With the new ACE engine, Rotax engineers and designers flexed their brain muscles, all while keeping fuel efficiency at the forefront. Plus, with throttle-by-wire technology and multiple driving modes, this new engine has features you won’t find anywhere else in the snowmobile market.
The new four-stroke Rotax 900 Advanced Combustion Efficiency (ACE) engine is an inline 899cc triple that is rather square (74mm bore, 69.7mm stroke) and features four valves per cylinder, dual overhead cams and fuel injection through a single 46mm throttle body. It makes 90 horsepower, but it creates 77 percent more torque and 50 percent more horsepower than the ACE 600 while using only 18 percent more fuel, Ski-Doo says. And that fuel efficiency can get real impressive if the driver uses one of the three modes offered through the driveline.
To explain those modes, first we need to cover Ski-Doo’s “intelligent Throttle Control” (iTC) technology. Throttle-by-wire or electronic throttle control systems are common in automotive applications, but it was first introduced to offroaders in BRP’s Commander UTV models. The system replaces the typical cable that mechanically connects the sled’s thumb throttle to the throttle body and instead relies on an electronic signal sent from the throttle lever to the electronic control unit (ECU). The ECU then controls the fuel, air and spark delivery – and the timing and amount of those inputs can be programmed by smart engineers based on a wider variety of criteria.
Utilizing this technology, engine designers were able to make the ACE 900 have a dramatic split personality that made sleds equipped with this engine very interesting to test drive on our recent trip to Ski-Doo’s secret test facility.
There are three regular modes, called Sport, Standard and ECO, which can be selected utilizing a dash-mounted switch. In the Sport mode, the 900 ACE engine uses all of its torque and feels strong and almost jumpy. A punch on the throttle rocks the driver’s head back as the sled lurches forward, and it also allowed us to pick up the skis on a bumpy course and play with the sled much more easily. In the Standard mode, the sled isn’t quite as reactive, delivering more subtle reactions to throttle inputs and generally being easier to control. In the ECO mode, the sled takes off slower than the Standard mode and plateaus at 44 mph. In this mode, the sled gets its best economy (up to 23 mpg, Ski-Doo said) but frankly it’s not very fun to ride. That mode or using the new “learners key” green tether cord may be best used by younger riders or other snowmobiling. The “learning key” tether can be pre-programmed by a dealer to have a top speed of either 44 mph or 25 mph when it’s in place.
REV-XS & rMotion expansion
For 2014, the rMotion skid that was introduced for 2012 and the REV-XS chassis platform introduced for 2013 will both run much deeper in Ski-Doo’s lineup, meaning these upgrades aren’t just reserved for the folks buying the more expensive, aggressive new snowmobiles.
Beyond that, all REV-XS chassis snowmobiles get a new left side control block, featuring vertical hand and thumb warmer switches with more settings and more intuitive controls, plus a larger, more protected button for the starter and RER push-button reverse system.
The REV-XS upgrades come to more MX Z, Renegade, GSX and Tround Touring customers for 2014. New features to these models included stylish overlapping body panels, improved wind protection, reshaped body panels that improve ergonomics, stiffer running boards and a better, two-screen gauge.
In addition, all GSX and SE and LE Grand Touring customers can also benefit rMotion skid, featuring the most energy-absorbing design we’ve ever experienced. The Freeride 137 also gets the rMotion for 2014, but it has REV-XM bodywork.
Silent Drive System
As snowmobile engines have become quieter, more snowmobilers are starting to hear – and be bothered by – the other various noises coming from their rides, including the howl of the rotating track. Ski-Doo takes a big swing at much of that racket for 2014 with its SilentDrive System on its Grand Touring LE.
The big rotating track, and things that it touches, are the prime focus. It starts with an introvert drive shaft that has more teeth (now 16), and a track interior that is more rigid and has more small lugs for that driveshaft to drive. To further address noise and vibration, Ski-Doo made the suspension rails 2 inches longer and flatter at the front to cancel the noise of the track flexing between the drivers and the front rail tips. Finally, the idler wheels were shifted 1.4 inches forward to get rid of track slap when the suspension compresses.
Total it up, and Ski-Doo officials say there is a 65 percent (or 5 decibel) reduction in track noise and 70 percent less vibration. Combine that with the smooth purr of the new ACE 900 ACE, and you’ve got a stealth cruiser for snow-covered trails.
REV-XM tMotion Expansion
The REV-XM platform, tMotion rear suspension and FlexEdge track that were introduced on popular Summit models last year goes deeper into the longtrack mountain lineup for 2014, to the Summit SP 600 E-TEC plus the 146- and 154-inch versions of the Freeride models. The Summit Sport models (800 PowerTEK and 600 carb) get the tMotion and track upgrades but stay in the REV-XP bodywork for 2014, while the Freeride with the 137-inch track gets the REV-XM upgrades, except with the rMotion rear suspension and a normal track.
The track and rear suspension combination is impressive, allowing Summit models that previously could be a handful when sidehilling or carving to more easily get up on an edge and stay there. The XM chassis upgrades include a smaller seat that’s easier to move around, a full 8 inches more forward foot room, huge cutouts in the running boards, a tapered aluminum handlebar, a storage box in front of the handlebars and body panels with more rounded edges facing the driver.
Within the Summit and Freeride families, Pilot DS 2 single keel skis also reach deeper into the lineup.
For a more complete look at the 2014 Ski-Doo snowmobiles, look for the Spring issue of Snow Goer magazine, which mails to subscribers in early March and hits newsstands at the end of the March.