The 2016-17 season was a fantastic year for testing in the Snow Goer mountain camp. Snow fell early, stayed late and afforded a season dotted with diverse conditions and fun products to test.
In mid-season, a beastly bumper and skid plate combination arrived for our 2017 Ski-Doo Summit X 850 E-TEC 165. We were already thrilled with this machine in stock form, but a little extra glamour and protection from Straightline Performance in the form of its Rugged Series Front Bumper package seemed like a great addition.
The entire bumper and skid plate combination is constructed from 6061 aluminum to provide strength, while remaining lightweight. Compared to the stock bumper, the Rugged series offers increased protection from trees and rocks during off-trail riding, while keeping style and affordability paramount.
The overall shape and contour of the Rugged series intends to meld with modern snowmobiles. Available in seven different colors, the three pieces (main bumper, lower wing and skid plate) can be matched or mismatched to customize your ride exactly how you’d like. If the front bumper or skid plate should suffer an impact, the modularity of the system makes it easily rebuildable.
The well-packed box contained all required hardware and detailed instructions to install all three components. Our first impression was that the bumper was well built – the welds were high quality and the colored finish (ours was white) seemed made to last. Even the elongated ovals on the ends displayed a clever rubber end-cap to perfectly fill the cavity, further enhancing the sense that SPI pays attention to detail.
After removing the hood and pipe from the Summit 850 and identifying the attachment points of the uniquely designed bumper, a few holes needed to be drilled in the upper bulkhead, and another into the front belly plastic to attach the bumper to the sled. Connecting the lower wing to the main bumper started to bring the look together with a four-pack of nuts and bolts. The skid plate was another quick addition, which rounded-out the entire assembly.
Does it work? Absolutely. The exo-skeleton of the lateral side wings greatly improves how obstacles are deflected away from the sled’s plastic nosepan, and even displacing them out beyond the side panels if necessary during travel. The broad oval shape feels excellent just like the stock bumper when lifting the front of the sled straight up, but gripping locations when grabbing/tugging sideways on the bumper were interrupted by the lower wing mount, leaving hands contorted into an awkward hold position.
The skid plate was also an exciting addition to protect the lower undercarriage of the RAS 3 front suspension and the bulkhead system. With the skid plate installed – linking the front belly pan plastic to the bulkhead to cover the A-arm mount – the sled rode over obstructions very effectively. If creamy snow conditions are encountered and the rider plowed through a drift, how-ever, the rows of wings scooped snow like a mouth to carry around more snow than the stock bumper.
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