Last week we featured the area of Nevis, Minnesota, in our Go Ride e-newsletter, which can be subscribed to for free and covers both Minnesota and Wisconsin – offering tips on areas to search for good riding conditions for each upcoming weekend, forecasts and snowmobiling-related area events.
Always looking to practice what we preach, members of our team began the week by trailering to exactly there, riding around the areas of Nevis, Akeley and Walker. Despite the below-zero degree temperatures Mother Nature sent our way, the trails themselves were in great condition – and with local clubs operating on a weekly grooming schedule throughout the area, conditions should only improve as more snow arrives throughout the season. Although faced with frigid temperatures, our new gear for the long season ahead provided by Castle X and Arctiva kept us warm throughout our ride aboard a 2020 Yamaha SRViper, 2020 Ski-Doo MXZ TNT 600R and 2020 Polaris 850 Indy XCR.
Throughout a course of groomed trails (much of which was winding, forest conditions), the Heartland Trail and the occasional ditch-banging, we tallied a cold 85 miles through two separate spirited night rides, on which temperatures near reached above 0 degrees – that’s right, not once. Of course, the sleds didn’t seem to mind.
“[The Polaris] has a very serious midrange pull, it feels like a performance machine, similar to the Ski-Doo,” said one test rider. “However, I found the Polaris is not as comfortable, has poor wind protection and the driveline is noisy. The 850 engine has a great top-end pull, but seems to have a sour spot until about half throttle where the engine feels unconfident and soggy. The Ski-Doo does not carry those attributes and feels confident through all power phases.”
The Yamaha rode extremely plush and comfortable, with a heated seat offering a bonus luxury (and also well sculpted for leaning into corners). However, the ski-push on corners is evident. During bumpy sections it stays straight and in control. The suspension did bottom-out a few times, but more time for suspension adjustments could cure this issue. “Definitely the sled you buy for all day cruises and high mile rides,” noted one test rider.
The Ski-Doo perhaps stole the show. “This 600 engine pulls like an 800! Comfortable and conforming to rider input, and steering the skis changes direction faster than anything I’ve ridden,” noted one test rider, with the only complaint being the gauge cluster seemed difficult to read while riding, and was not very eye catching.
During our rides we were able to stop at the Iron Horse Bar & Grill in Nevis for a late dinner – of course, we were welcomed heartily as we warmed our gear at the provided table for snowmobilers and caught a break from the cold.
In total we put on 85 miles, with the Yamaha using 6.5 gallons, and the Ski-Doo 5 gallons under nearly identical trips (with the Polaris undetermined). Unfortunately, due to unseasonably warm conditions so far this season, straight-line testing on lake tops was deemed unsafe at this point.
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.