It’s been said that people don’t really know each other until they live together. Co-habitation reveals whether a person is grumpy in the morning, how loudly he snores at night and whether she’ll put dirty dishes in the dishwasher or just stack them in the sink. You could say this theory about coupling applies to snowmobiles, too.
Using a full season to get more acquainted with the behavior of the 900 ACE engine that was in our 2015 Ski-Doo GSX LE demo sled proved that, as performance-minded snowmobilers, we could enjoy the heck out of that sled even though it was fitted with the iTC throttle-by-wire system.
In reviews about snowmobiles powered by the 900 ACE engine, we’ve written that, thanks to the cable-less throttle system, the engine doesn’t instantly react to a driver’s input. The lag that occurs between jamming the lever and actually feeling the acceleration sometimes makes it difficult for driver and machine to stay in sync, especially through rough conditions and tight and twisty trails where drivers are constantly on and off the throttle. But during a multi-day trail ride last winter behind the handlebar of our iTC-equipped GSX, we were able to groove with the machine.
That 400-mile trip had us riding on rural trails through the woods and swamps of far-Northern Minnesota where there are few interruptions caused by road crossings and towns. And because those flowing trails had mostly good visibility through the hilly and curvy landscape, we could carry steady, swift speeds. Most of the miles were driven with the iTC set in Standard mode, but we occasionally switched to Sport mode that causes more abrupt acceleration and deceleration.
Smooth throttle inputs let us feel the strong pull from the roughly 90 hp, three-cylinder engine – especially when easing (not stabbing) the lever to the bar to accelerate from about the 50 mph mark. We came to appreciate this power package after sustained driving let us get accustomed to the characteristics, and a friend who spent a full day driving the GSX during the trip commented that it was the most-fun four-stroke-powered snowmobile he’d ever driven.
Early in the season before we installed a set of aftermarket skis, we drilled holes on the outer edge of the GSX’s stock skis so they could hold an extra wear bar to protect the bottom the skis. Ski-Doo is good about covering the minute details, so it’s surprising that these holes aren’t pre-marked. This is a modification we’ve made to most of our Ski-Doo demos of the past half-dozen years, and it’s important to “measure twice, and cut once” when doing it.
As is always the case for the Ski-Doo rMotion skidframe, every person who rode on top of it was impressed by its ride quality. Other high praise for the Ski-Doo GSX LE 900 ACE was for its excellent fuel mileage and its preference to burn cheap fuel. We also liked the GSX LE’s bright red color scheme, subdued graphics and overall classy styling.
We didn’t have any heartfelt conversations with our GSX LE demo about future plans before we gave it back to Ski-Doo, but quality trail time with it last winter revealed that there is true appeal to the Rotax 900 ACE engine with iTC – even for performance-minded trail riders. The industrial sounding powerplant doesn’t have a performance exhaust note, but it makes up for it with efficient, usable torque that’s fun on flowing trails where quick, mash-it-to-the-bar throttle inputs aren’t necessary or beneficial.
2015 Ski-Doo GSX LE 900 ACE
Modifications: C&A Pro TRX skis
Miles ridden: 710
Weight: 583 pounds, trail ready with full gas tank, spare belt and an extra wear bar on each ski
Average MPG: 19.74
87: Fewer required octanes equates to more cash in the driver’s pocket at the end of a ride.
PEAK: W-O-T pulls showed the 900 ACE will run with 600cc two-strokes.
SLY: The GSX moved relatively silently through the woods, thanks to the quiet and efficient engine.