The Ski-Doo Freeride 137 E-TEC 800R is the head-turner in Ski-Doo’s 2014 lineup, thanks to its gray and bright green color scheme, but it also deserves attention for being such a fun snowmobile to ride in the backcountry.
The Freeride 137 feels small and maneuverable when riding off trail, and that’s partially due to its narrow ski stance that lets riders keep driving forward rather than backing out when they meet a pair of trees that are close together. Also, the narrow spread of the handlebar tricks the mind into thinking the sled is micro-sized while the hands hold on.
In addition to the unique graphics treatment, the Freeride 137 moved to the REV-XM body and received Pilot DS (Deep Snow) 2 skis, the flat-top REV-XM seat and rMotion skidframe for 2014. The machine is built on the special Ski-Doo RS race chassis that is reinforced to withstand extreme riders and extreme conditions. Running boards are wider, snow evacuation holes in the tunnel are larger and the extrusions along the tunnel edges are stronger. The 2014 Ski-Doo Freeride 137’s ski stance is adjustable from the standard 38-inch setting out to 40 inches from center to center.
For playing in the powder, the Freeride 137 lays over easily. Its 16- by 137-inch track floats and performs well in deep snow, but its 2.25-inch lugs on a (relatively) short track are prone to trench in light, fluffy snow. The skis have thin outer edges for better bite while sidehilling, and a shorter length behind the spindle was also designed to make counter-steering easier. When trail riding, the front end tends to push unless the driver lets off the throttle when coming into a corner to help the skis bite. There is hope, though, because adjusting the rear suspension’s coupler blocks puts more weight on the skis and makes a major improvement in handling.The whole package comes together at 483 pounds, Ski-Doo claims.
Ski-Doo’s best shocks have been hung all the way around the 2014 Freeride 137: front shocks are KYB Pro 40 R Easy-Adjust with external compression and rebound adjustment, rear shocks are KYB Pro 40 Easy-Adjust with adjustable compression damping. Riding over whooped-out single track is also inviting as the sled maintains a neutral, lightweight feel over bumps. The Freeride 137’s rMotion skidframe provides a good defense against rough conditions, and with the longer rails and track it’s even better than short-track Ski-Doo MX Z models because it skims over more of the closely spaced bumps rather than falling between them.
Power delivery from the E-TEC 800R is smooth and predictable, but with a lot of force that quickly gets the sled moving. Throttle response is immediate and the machine reacts instantly to the driver’s push on the throttle lever. This engine is the benchmark for excellent run quality.
As crossover models become more specialized, buyers need to make an honest assessment of where and how they will ride their snowmobile. The 2014 Ski-Doo Freeride 137 ($13,549) is built for aggressive, off-trail riders. With just a 137-inch track, this machine isn’t designed for mountain riders, but instead for low-elevation backcountry experts of the Michigan U.P., Maine, Quebec, Minnesota, Ontario and parts of Alaska. Riders who insist on riding a Freeride 137 in the West should wait for wet, late-season snow because feet of cold-weather fluff will swallow its “short” track.