Where we ride, it seems we don’t see many Ski-Doos powered by the brand’s 1200 4-TEC Rotax four-stroke engine, but people who do have them absolutely love them. We’ve been told by Ski-Doo officials that they sell faster than hockey sticks and Tim Horton’s donuts in Ontario and Quebec, so we called a known dealer there to get his impressions.
“That’s my favorite motor – I’ve got thousands of kilometers on it,” said Kevin Bates, the sales manager at HB Cycle in Cameron, Ontario. “You picked a great sled to focus on.”
Ski-Doo introduced the 1200 4-TEC for model year 2009 – the same time the brand launched the first E-TEC engine. The clean-burning, high-tech 600 H.O. E-TEC stole the majority of the headlines that year and even earned Snow Goer Snowmobile of the Year honors, while the 1200 4-TEC slid under the radar. But for a subset of people who discovered it, the torquey 1170cc fuel-injected triple immediately gained a following and could soon be found in MXZ and GSX trail sleds, Renegade crossovers and GTX/Grand Touring 2-up machines.
When launched, Ski-Doo officials promised the engine would be efficient and durable, and according to Bates as well as Bobby Donahue of Donahue Sports Center in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, that has definitely been the case. The original owner’s manual calls for a valve adjustment at 12,500 miles, “but I think we’ve only done two of them the entire time we’ve been selling them,” Bates said, with Donahue claiming he hasn’t done any.
“We’ve got customers running around on them with over 25,000 kilometers [15,500 miles], and they just keep going,” Bates said. “They come in for oil changes and that’s about it.”
Bates said that valve covers could ooze a little oil if the gasket got hot, but Donahue said that he’s rarely seen that problem. “I think we’ve seen two out of the 250 or so that we’ve sold.” Otherwise the only weak link in the drivetrain was that the TRA IV clutches would whine and could wear out prematurely, Bates and Donahue both said. That problem was taken care of in 2013, when Ski-Doo added the five-arm eDrive clutches.
Also added in 2013 – and the reason we’re focusing on that year as our sweetheart to search for on the used sled market – was the rMotion rear suspension. The previous SC-5 skid was fine, but the rMotion is unrivaled for the way it eliminates energy from the trail and provides a smooth ride – particularly in common stutter bump conditions that rattle sleds without an rMotion.
The wide-shouldered REV-XR chassis in which the engine sat in that era – basically a REV-XP chassis with a wider engine bay to fit the four-stroke engine – has also aged very well, with no real weak points other than the tabs that held the hood in place, which could be snapped off if owners didn’t remove the hood correctly. As with all Ski-Doos of that era, the A-arm bushings could get sloppy in the front end – replacing them with Oilite bushings is an easy and efficient fix. Also keep an eye out for evidence of a tweaked flying nun module in the front end. The easiest way to spot a problem is if the front shock absorbers aren’t perfectly centered – front to back – within the A-arms; it’s an expensive repair.
Bates noted that, when taking one in on trade, his dealership checks the condition of the track – depending on the riding habits of the driver, the torque from the 130 hp four-stroke could be tough on the lugs. Otherwise, an MXZ with the 1200 4-TEC is a great choice.
“We’ve sold a sold a ton of them and still do – it’s a very, very popular engine,” Donahue said. “There are always those people who wish for a little more power, but they’ll sacrifice that for the dependability and smoothness of that engine.
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