Sunday truly was a fun day for part of Team Snow Goer, as we put the first miles on a couple of new snowmobiles, plus tried out some of our new gear and a new trailer for this season. And the best part? Unlike last year’s initial shake-out ride, we made it home without any pending repairs – no hidden logs were found under the fresh snow cover this year.
That said, there definitely were “early-season riding conditions” prevalent in the area just south of Lake Mille Lacs in Central Minnesota, where we took the season’s first ride. The ditches were full and there was actually pretty good snow on the trails – and the local clubs had been out grooming in some areas. Swamps were rough, though, thanks to a less-than-ideal freeze before the season’s first big snowstorm came. Several inches of fresh snow fell in the area again this morning, after our return, so overall conditions are bound to improve, though some swamps might be a bit of a problem well into the season in some areas.
With on our adventure were a 2020 Ski-Doo MXZ TNT 600R E-TEC and a 2020 Ski-Doo Renegade X 850 E-TEC, which received their first miles of the season and fared very well overall. We also tried out a new jacket from FXR Racing and put the first miles on a Floe two-place enclosed trailer. All in the line of duty, of course.
The New 2020 Ski-Doos
The Renegade X ran strong throughout our ride. Our machine came with the Total Adjustment Package, meaning we had the dial-adjusts on the running board for the rear spring and rear shock, plus the runner-depth-adjustable Pilot TS skis. Based on previous experience, we placed the rear spring at position 1.5 and the rear clicker 7 positions out from full soft and headed out on the trail.
First impressions were great from the 850 engine. While the new 7.2-inch wide horizontal gauge told us we still had 99 percent of our break-in mode to do when we started, it seemed to be in mid-season form – reacting quickly, providing stout power and running absolutely foolproof.
Given the conditions in which we were riding, we didn’t push it real hard, varying our engine rpm as a rider should during initial break-in and being careful through the swamps, but the sled reacted well overall. The track seemed to be overwhelming the skis a little bit in some sections so we’ve got some suspension adjusting to do, but the chassis allowed us to move around at will and guide the sled where we wanted it to go.
In its initial 66 miles (again, in break-in mode), we utilized 4.89 gallon of 91 Octane fuel, for an acceptable 13.5 mpg.
The engine in the MXZ TNT, meanwhile, was good but not quite as great as the Renegade on its maiden voyage. After about its first 20 miles a sudden hesitation showed up and the 600R didn’t want to maintain a consistent RPM. We slowed it to a halt, let it idle for a bit and then re-engaged in the ride, and it ran perfectly the rest of the day. We have no idea what the problem was, but we’ll be keeping a close eye on it.
The TNT handled great – whether it was the shorter track, the different skis or just the suspension settings we had, we were able to groove through turns better on the TNT than the Renegade. The only problem experienced was one that’s inherent in the TNT package: The fixed-position handlebar. On the REV Gen4 chassis, we feel it’s vital that a rider is able to push the handlebar forward to be able to utilize the ErgoStep sidepanels, and we could do that on the Renegade X. Not the TNT however.
The mighty 600 easily zoomed past 90 mph (on a closed course, with a professional rider of course!) when we had the opportunity to push it. It used 4.70 gallons in its initial 66 miles, putting it at 14.04 mpg on its first break-in ride.
FXR Helium Pro-X
Sunday also seemed like a great day to break out some new gear, so the FXR Helium Pro X Jacket found its way into our gear bag. It comes with a zip-off hood, which was promptly removed but likely will use on non-snowmobiling days.
The thing that makes the Helium Pro-X truly unique is its Omni-Stretch polyester shell material. It’s amazing how much stretch is in that material, and how that added to the comfort when moving around inside the jacket.
We started the ride with the Thermal Dry lined in place, but given the 30 degree temperatures I found myself heating up in a hurry. I opened the vents part way under each arm, and that helped feed some cooling air to my torso. After one particularly long and rough swamp run, though, my blood was inching toward its boiling point so I pulled over, removed the liner and rode the rest of the day with the jacket as a shell. That adaptability is huge for me – I tend to run rather warm.
As has been the case with me in the past, the size large from FXR was perfect for me, whereas I typically wear a size XL from other brands. The fit was a tiny bit snug when I was wearing my TekVest and had the liner in place, but the stretchiness of the material made the fit very comforting. Due to the relative warmth of the day, I didn’t utilize the fully insulated FXR bibs I got this year to match my Helium Pro-X jacket, but instead opted for a two-year-old Mission X set I had around, and it matched up well.
Each of these sleds and the FXR gear will be featured more extensively in future issues of Snow Goer magazine.
Editor’s Note: This review was originally published in the October 2020 issue of Snow Goer. Every issue of Snow Goer magazine includes in-depth sled reports and comparisons, aftermarket gear and accessories reviews, riding destination articles, do-it-yourself repair information, snowmobile technology and more! Subscribe to Snow Goer now to receive issues delivered to your door or your computer for a low cost.