Thirty days after launching its new Summit 850 Turbo on a mountain top in Idaho, Ski-Doo unveiled the rest of a super-exciting 2021 snowmobile lineup in the polar opposite environment Wednesday, Feb. 12 – showcasing new suspensions, a new engine, new high-tech gauge that include GPS mapping, a massive expansion of Gen4 chassis and more at a swanky resort in Cancun, Mexico.
On an 80 degree, humid night within a stone’s throw of the Gulf of Mexico, BRP CEO Jose Boisjoli and Sr. VP of Global Product Strategy Berndard Guy took to the stage before about 700 of their dealers and unveiled:
- New front and rear suspension geometry plus a new ski for the top-end trail riding crowd;
- An 85 hp liquid-cooled fuel-injected 600 two-stroke engine for utility and entry level;
- An expansion of the aforementioned 850 Turbo plus Expert package amenities for deep snow riders and;
- Gen4 chassis amenities throughout the lineup for 2021;
- A new gauge, new app, even belt-monitoring technology.
We got a chance to test drive some of the new products recently on a trip to Quebec. We’ll lay out what’s new below, and talk about what it all means in the field from first-hand experience.
New rMotionX, RAS X and Pilot X For The Trail
Owners of recent MXZ and Renegade models officially have a reason to step-up again, thanks to a new multi-dimensional package that seriously improves overall handling, and provides a bit more comfort, too, on spring-order X and X-RS machines.
Let’s start from the rear: The rMotion rear suspension has been glorified as the unrivaled king of ride quality since its introduction, but the front end handling of Ski-Doos hasn’t always matched up to other brands – exhibiting bump steer and some push that seemed to increase after the move to the Gen4 chassis.
To fix the problems, though, the biggest changes were made, oddly enough, to that much-ballyhooed rMotion.
Ski-Doo designers gave the new rMotion X skid frame a front arm that is 30mm longer and mounts 10mm higher on the rail; in back, the rear arm is also longer and laid out flatter, allowing for a longer shock to be utilized, which adds nearly an inch of travel and allows for new motion ratios.
Up front, new longer A-arms and new spindles on the RAS X ski suspension allows for a slightly wider ski stance and more stability. And, because of the weight transfer control that Ski-Doo gained with these new suspensions, they were able to add a new, more aggressive Pilot X skis.
This combination of three factors could immediately be felt on twisting trails. The front end of the sled stuck to the ground, allowing riders to groove through trails like never before on a modern Ski-Doo. We also felt confident chopping through bumps without making corrections and chasing the sled left-and-right.
The handling change we felt was definitive, but Ski-Doo also improved the overall ride quality of the rMotion with these moves, making the most bump-erasing factory skid even better.
Again, this package will be found on MXZ (850 and 600) and Renegade (850, 950 ACE Turbo) X-RS and X models.
All other Renegade and MXZ models are officially moved to the REV Gen4 chassis for the new year, but there’s more to the story at the bottom of their lineups.
New 600 EFI Engine
Each of the four factories seems increasingly interesting in developing good machines for entry-level riders, and Ski-Doo has a new answer that is mighty intriguing.
The company is dumping its 550 fan-cooled engine and 600 carb powerplant and replacing both with a new liquid-cooled, fuel-injected Rotax 600 engine purposely held down to about 85 hp. The powerplant, frankly, is rather uncomplicated and low-tech – you won’t find variable exhaust or E-TEC injection or other high-end features. It was built with a low pricepoint in mind, and also designed to be an easy to use and control engine.
We test rode one in Quebec, and Ski-Doo hit its targets – the MXZ Sport 600 we were riding was smooth running and efficient, fun like a two-stroke should be but not overly powerful. We were able to keep up with anybody on an 850 until the trails opened up and featured long straightaways. Frankly, with Ski-Doo having a smallish chassis layout, this might be very appealing to “tweener” or newby riders who otherwise are being targeted by Polaris Evos and Arctic Cat Blasts.
Beyond the trail riders, though, this engine will be found deep in Ski-Doo’s utility lineup, where Skandic, Expedition and Tundra owners will likely benefit.
REV Gen4 Expansion
Speaking on those Scandic and Tundra sort of people, another reason the new 600 was developed was because the old 550 fan and 600 carb engines didn’t fit in the narrow REV Gen4 engine bay – to move everything to a modern chassis, Ski-Doo either had to redesign those engines or replace them. The company did the latter.
So, in case you didn’t catch that – every single Ski-Doo snowmobile in 2021 will be in the REV Gen4 chassis – from the least expensive utility machines to the most high-end turbo charged mountain masher.
Summit And Freeride Upgrades
Ski-Doo blew the minds of mountain riders – including our own TJ Krob – when it unveiled a 2020.5 Summit with a turbocharged 850 twin that essentially compensates for altitude, keeping the engine performance at 165 hp all the way up to 8000 feet! You can read about that release here.
Taking that forward to 2021, the 850 E-TEC Turbo engine will be an option on X and X-with-Expert Package Summits and, plus 154- and 165-inch Freeride sleds.
What’s more: a lot of the benefits of the Expert package are working their way deeper into Ski-Doo’s deep snow category – including shorter tunnels, shorter snowflaps, lightweight spindles, smaller diameter handlebars, compact seats and more.
And, there’s one more high-tech trick up Ski-Doo’s sleeve: A new belt monitoring system first utilized on BRP’s Maverick side-by-side sport vehicles is finding its way onto turbocharged Summits and Freerides. It will send a message to your gauge and give an audible beep if belt temperatures are skyrocketing or if it otherwise is sending overload on the belt.
Finally, Ski-Doo also has a fancy new, 7.8-inch wide digital display gauge that is Bluetooth enable and had multiple functions – giving information about your vehicle, allowing you to play music or have helmet-to-helmet communication and, it can be tied into a new BRP Go! app that gives full GPS mapping, with turn-by-turn navigations and more.
Even if you don’t get a sled with the new gauge, though, you can still get the app for free for your smart phone.
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.