If you are going into this coming year’s snowmobile racing season expecting revolutionary new equipment from the manufacturers, well, you might want to take a couple deep breathes and call us in the morning. If, however, you want slightly quicker sleds that handle a bit better than last year’s race machines, there’s interesting news coming from Polaris and Ski-Doo.
Plus, we think some of the changes coming to Ski-Doo’s race sled could end up on future trail sleds.
Ski-Doo unveiled its 2013 MX Zx 600 RS race sled first, on Friday, September 7 – the eve of Haydays. It’s most notable update comes in the front suspension, where a new upper A-arm with a taller spindle, spacer insert and revised ball joint should create less bump-steer and easier turn-in, according to Ski-Doo Race Coordinator Tom Lawrence.
We first spotted the design of this front suspension on some Pro Open Ski-Doo sleds last winter, first on the Schuering Speed Sport sleds at the ISOC Canterbury Snocross and then on both the Schuering and Warnert Racing race sleds at the Eagle River Derby, where the teams were running varying sizes of spacers to lift the upper A-arm and create the effect of a taller spindle. Lawrence confirmed variations of the system were tested throughout the season.
Visually, the changes to Ski-Doo’s front end create a large gap between the A-arms and make it look somewhat similar to what Arctic Cat has been using on its race sled for several years – and what that brand introduced on its consumer sleds with the Arctic Race Suspension for 2012.
Other notable changes include revised suspension calibrations, some chassis strengthening and some tweaks inside the powerplant (including stronger pistons, some new carbon fiber VForce3 reeds and a freer-flowing exhaust system) plus some gearing and clutch calibration changes that Ski-Doo says will be felt throughout the powerband.
Polaris saved its unveiling until September 8, with its big changes coming in the powerplant. With its new cylinder head and cylinders, Polaris is pledging its 2013 600 IQ Race Sled will feature “increased horsepower across the entire RPM range,” according to Race Program Leader Matt Prusak (who, for the record, is not related to this magazine’s editor, despite the unusual, shared surname).
“Polaris racers will experience crisper throttle response, improved holeshots and stronger performance all the way across the powerband,” he said. “There’s a significant increase in power over the 2012 race sled.”
The 600 IQ Race Sled will also feature more adjustable Walker Evans shocks, a new track that is a quarter-inch wider and has revised lug profiles, new brake pads and a slightly lower handlebar riser.
Both Polaris and Ski-Doo mentioned that their sled revisions were aimed at both snocross and cross-country racing performance – a testament to the rising influence of cross-country racing in the manufacturers’ racing departments.
The biggest question for consumers might be this: Will any of these alterations make their way onto each brand’s consumer sleds in the future? The biggest possibility to us is the revised front suspension on the Ski-Doo. Bump steer is one of the few problems with trail-oriented MX Zs. If this new geometry works so well on the track, we’d love to try it on the trail.