Now that snow and cold has arrived and trails are getting established, Snow Goer staffers are putting the first miles on the fleet of 2017 demo sleds. Editor/Publisher John Prusak wrote about three machines he rode last week, and I posted a story yesterday about our 2017 Yamaha Sidewinder L-TX SE. One of the Ski-Doos we’ll ride all winter is a 2017 Renegade Adrenaline 850 that’s based on the all-new REV Gen4 chassis. We rode prototypes and pre-production machines last winter and spring, but here are some impressions of a production-based machine after recently taking our demo sled for a ride.
Run quality of the new Rotax 850 E-TEC in our 2017 Ski-Doo Renegade Adrenaline has been downright excellent, right from the get-go. From clutch engagement to wide-open throttle, the engine instantly responds to every command from the driver’s thumb. And when running down the trail the engine always sounds clean and crisp, and I’ve never heard or felt a stumble or grumble – except while idling, which can be attributed to engine’s E-TEC fuel system operating in break-in mode. The powertrain is really smooth and powerful, and it makes the sled remarkably fun to drive.
Whether for a 120-, 129- or 137-inch skidframe being pulled by a 600 H.O. or 800R powerplant, I’ve always set rMotion coupler blocks on the No. 2 setting because it’s historically provided the best traction balance between the skis and track and it’s offered the best weight-transfer control. But for this 137-inch 850, setting No. 2 allows too much rear weight transfer, so there’s too much ski lift on acceleration. I’m planning to run the Renegade again this weekend, so I will adjust the blocks and see how that affects the machine. With a new chassis and powerplant, it sometimes takes a while to get the set-up dialed in, and this is one of those things that needs some attention.
Ride quality from the rMotion rear suspension is comfortable and capable, anticipated traits since nothing has changed back there for 2017. The new RAS 3 front end also feels the same as earlier Ski-Doos, though the company claims there’s another inch of travel compared to the RAS 2 front found on most REV-XS machines since model year 2015. Ride quality is good and handling is excellent (especially on smooth trails), but choppy corners cause the handlebar to become more active within the driver’s hands as the chassis suffers from bump steer. For the record, REV Gen4-based MX Z X and Renegade X snowmobiles benefit from a new rack steering set-up that makes the front suspension more stable and predictable through rough conditions.
Ergonomics are significantly different than those of the REV-XS platform. I like the REV Gen4 platform’s slightly higher seating position because it makes me feel more prepared to respond to trail irregularities, not to mention it keeps my body in a more comfortable position that makes it easier to control the machine. Plus the sight lines seem better. The two-step Ergo-Step side panels make it easier to influence the machine’s line through turns.
One side note I realized when studding the Renegade’s track last week: Sleds typically have to be put on dollies or a cart to move them around the Snow Goer shop, but a person can simply grab one of the bumpers and roll the sled across a concrete floor. That’s all I had to do to position the Renegade under the ceiling-mounted winch at the SG shop. And this was with the belt on the clutches! Late-model Ski-Doos generally roll pretty easily, but the REV Gen4 Renegade seems even smoother.