It could be just as well that the Acadians moved to the Mississippi Delta and became the “cajuns” because there’s a “Big Easy” in Quebec and in Louisiana. One is New Orleans, the other is the Ski-Doo GSX 600 H.O. SDI Limited from Valcourt.
And in the spirit of Mardi Gras, there’s a lot to celebrate in the decadence of the GSX, as well as a more serious nature that comes with Ash Wednesday.
Drive this machine down Bourbon Street and get the stares and cat calls. Open the hood, flash the single pipe and get the beads.
But is this the lifestyle of the GSX? Not really. It’s more the machine who will enjoy the idea of fishing all day in the bayou to eat a rich, sauce-laden meal at night.
And so goes the GSX: take it on a long ride during the day, over varied terrain and trail, and tuck it in at night while you savor a juicy prime rib. Let the good times roll.
The Ski-Doo GSX 600 SDI H.O. Limited ranks as one of the easiest, most straight-forward, enjoyable machines of 2008. It makes for effortless, worry-free snowmobiling. Just don’t confuse the word “easy” with “simplistic” or “basic.”
Even though it’s something that a beginner could quickly learn, it’s not an entry-level machine. It has a sophisticated blend of comfort, handling and performance for a newcomer all the way up to a serious trail rider.
In terms of premium features, the most indulgent is the REV-XP chassis. Ski-Doo could have just limited this radical platform to the performance machines, but the GSX was also a beneficiary.
This means a couple of important new features that a GSX driver will appreciate as much, if not more, than the MX Z driver.
First is the weight loss. Every machine that switched to the REV-XP chassis put up big weight-loss numbers, and this machine is no exception.
Year-over-year, it lost 39 pounds, which makes for a machine with a very light touch. It responds especially well to driver input — whatever effort you’re used to making to get a sled to turn/tweak/correct, cut it in half. The sharp turning radius will make the tightest circle you’ve even seen on a sled. It’s also easy to lift, which is a real back-saver.
But could it be too much weight? Maybe. Understanding the amount of driver input needed will take some time. Also, it seems to get tossed around more in the bumps than its predecessor. It could be a function of the weight, or that of suspension setup. We had ours set rather stiff for our ride. A softer setup could modulate its erratic twitches. Still, the chassis benefits outweigh the tracking issues.
Another super REV-XP benefit is the seating position. The body positioning is less aggressive than the REV, and long-haul drivers will like the extra legroom the most. Feet tuck into the footwells at an angle that stretches out the legs a bit more. It’s still not a full leg stretch of yore, but it will make for more comfortable trips.
The new gauges are a new luxury for the machine. It has just about every function necessary for a trip except a GPS (which we expect is on tap in the near future). The functions include the requisite speed and tach, but also notes the fastest speed, fastest rpm, actual and average fuel consumption, average speed and altitude. A compass feature is an option. The gauges stay illuminated for a brief period after the machine is shut down, too, so it’s not always necessary to fire it up just to get a stat.
The mirrors, which are always nice on a long-distance cruiser, really missed the mark. They’re attached to the windshield and vibrate like crazy even though they’re attached to a rigid spot on the windshield. We accepted (begrudgingly) that there was no good mirror placement for the REV chassis, and this is the first warning sign that there may not be a good location on the REV XP, either.
The Straight And Narrow
One place the GSX really plays it straight is in styling. The angular look is a part of the REV-XP package and may not appeal to the touring rider, as it gives it a sporty, performance look.
The red may look good in a party dress, but not quite conservative enough for Sunday attire. Styling is a personal choice, though, and buyers will either like it, accept it or hate it. There’s enough other beauty to overcome any style misgivings.
Ski-Doo also went conservative in its 600 H.O. SDI engine. This engine has proven its ability and durability since its introduction in the 2004 model year, and is the choice engine in Ski-Doo’s lineup. Not only does it have proven, strong performance, but it’s also the most fuel efficient two-stroke on the market. It’s responsive, reliable and we can’t find a reason not to like it.
Ski-Doo’s not taking chances with its shock package, either. The suspensions may be new in the REV XP chassis, but it’s ol’ reliable in the shock department with steel-bodied HPGs everywhere but the rear track arm, which takes an HPG-VR. The VR means “variable rate” and it automatically compensates as the suspension moves through its travel arc.
The GSX also remembers that it’s a touring machine, and offers more-than-ample storage space. The seat has a storage compartment, and then there’s the standard, custom-made rear rack bag for even more stuff, whether it’s overnight gear or lunch.
GSX 600 H.O. SDI Limited
Engine: Rotax 594cc twin
Front suspension: REV-XP with HPG shocks and 9 inches of travel
Rear suspension: SC-5 with an HPG front shock and HPG-VR rear track shock and 16 inches of travel
Track: 15- x 120- x 1-inch Camoplast Rip Saw XP track
Skis: 5.7 composite
From 2007 to 2008:
• Built on the new REV-XP chassis, rather than the REV chassis
• The 800R PowerTEK engine is now an option
• Suspensions are upgraded to the REV-XP in front and the SC-5 in the rear
• The REV-XP requires a new track called the Rip Saw XP
• The weight, year over year, dropped 39 pounds
• It has a new gauge cluster with fun features such as top speed and average fuel consumption
• The standard rack bag is re-designed to fit the new chassis
• The 2008 model increased in price by $200