It was hard to take it out of the barn without getting stopped trailside to engage in a conversation about it. We had dozens of people who wanted to line up against it on a frozen lake. On one of our first rides of the season, our Mach Z rider was chased down after passing its twin. The Illinois resident on the other 2005 Ski-Doo Mach Z wanted to rub elbows.

By the end of the season, we had spent 1,352 miles aboard our Mach Z. We became well acquainted with its behavior, its strengths and weaknesses, its attitude and its effect on other people.

It came with the 2-TEC 995cc SDI two-stroke twin, which was the main source of all the attention. The engine pulled hard and we experienced some finger fatigue while holding on, but we expected our mighty 1000 twin to pull stronger. We question if our desire for more power was caused by its smooth delivery. The power delivery was linear without a notchy hit.

On Ski-Doo’s recommendation, we changed the factory drive clutch clicker setting from its stock No. 6 position down to position No. 2 after our first few rides. This helped it pull harder, but we wonder if this increase in aggression nurtured the Mach’s appetite for drive belts.

We weren’t surprised that an engine with this much power and torque would munch the occasional belt. We had one belt failure last season when the original belt delaminated. We were surprised in the checkout lane at the dealership, as replacement belts were about $150.

After installing the spare, and seeking a new one in its place, we learned that one dealer in northern Minnesota refused to stock the belts after having customers stonewall him for charging too much — apparently he thought not having any and leaving customers stranded was the lesser evil.

Even if that dealer wanted to stock the Mach Z belts, he might not have been able to get them regularly. We experienced “out-of-stock” and “backordered” comments from other dealers. While we don’t feel that one wrecked belt during the season means they were problematic, the belt supply problem might speak of owners having issues with belt durability.

Spark plugs were another sad story. We could have filled the 2005 Ski-Doo Mach Z’s large trunk with junk BR9ECS plugs, and those plugs are about $10 each. It was frustrating to change expensive plugs so often on a machine that had the latest in two-stroke ignition and fuel delivery, especially because the plugs were hard to reach under the hood. Ski-Doo issued an update last winter to run hotter BR8ECS plugs. BRP addressed plug fouling with its 2006 model by going to a tried-and-true CDI ignition, among other changes.

Aside from the expensive belts and the pesky spark plug issues, we had few quibbles with the Mach Z’s engine. We loved its rumble, and loved forcing fuel through the injectors when we had the space and visibility to do so. We hardly hit a laketop without lining it up against something. Few machines could run with it, but that didn’t stop us from making one power modification. We added a BoonDocker nitrous system.

The handling was terrific. It was one of the most predictable machines in our fleet last year and, while steering it through the various trails it encountered, the 2005 Ski-Doo Mach Z did few things out of order. The machine had a good balance of handling and traction. We expected the 1-inch lugs to lose grip easier, but the track had adequate traction.

We added 168 studs to the track to make better use of the horsepower. We measured 170.3 hp on a dyno. The studs were especially helpful for more effective braking from the speeds the Mach Z reached.

The stock Precision skis were not our first choice, but they performed better than those same skis on a REV chassis. But we swapped out the skis with a set of USI Railers later in the season for better steering.

The suspension was one of our disappointments. Factory calibrations were too soft for even our lighter riders, and only so much could be done with the spring settings before we dialed in too much rebound. For a high-buck sled like the 2005 Ski-Doo Mach Z, it should have come with better shocks. BRP obviously heard this from its dealers and other owners as well, hence the “X” package Mach Z for 2006 that includes significant suspension upgrades.

The RT chassis was accommodating. Even on long, 300-mile days we didn’t feel worn out from fighting heavy handling, something we’ve been trained to expect with a muscle sled. It got high marks for its comfortable ride position, and only in the rough terrain could we tell we were riding a heavy sled.

There are a few things we wished BRP had done differently with its 2005 Mach Z. The running board traction was inadequate for today’s standards, and warmer controls were small and could be bumped easily, which changed the setting at unwanted times. We hope BRP will come out with a new instrument package as well — the current design is dated and difficult to use.

Our staff loved the 2005 Ski-Doo Mach Z. It had a great blend of muscle, rider comfort and handling that we enjoyed all season. Its minor (but costly) first year mechanical gremlins and the desire for a better suspension option seem to have been addressed for 2006. We just wonder if after a year on the snow, new owners will get the same attention we did with our 2005.

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