Our MX Z Renegade was a pig; a guinea pig, that is.
Early last season, Snow Goer Editor Tim Erickson smacked a rock and folded up the Flying Nun. But the sled didn’t go to waste. Erickson used the crash and damage as the basis of an in-depth story to show how to replace the chassis component.
Once the sled was fixed, we hauled it to Bikeman Performance in Osceola, Wisconsin. We’ve been huge fans of the 800 H.O. PowerTEK engine — which is one of the best on snow — for its strong, smooth power and good economy, but we wanted the aftermarket shop to breathe even more life into the machine.
We didn’t go crazy with mods because we wanted to try out a real-world setup that would have near-stock reliability and run on pump gas. Besides, do trail riders really want to worry about where to find the next tank full of race fuel? We kept it real with a setup that required 92 octane fuel, a reasonable expectation.
BMP installed its billet head cover and high-compression aluminum domes, a Stealth Pipe, Full Velocity Lightweight Muffler, a Team Industries secondary clutch and custom clutch calibrations to match the setup.
Bikeman owner Erich Long said we could expect a noticeable gain in acceleration and throttle response from the head kit. The head cover provides more coolant capacity, a quicker throttle response and a 4 to 5 hp gain, he said. The BMP muffler weighs 7 pounds, about half of the stock part’s weight.
Even without the mods, we loved the engine. It pulls hard and smooth in stock form — smoother than the new Rotax 800R engine that replaced it for the 2008 model year. We mourn the refined PowerTEK’s passing even though the 800R has more horsepower from the same displacement.
As for handling, the Renegade models are longer versions of MX Zs with more track length and width on the ground. The sleds sacrifice little in cornering with the added push from the rear. We noticed more weight in the bumps compared to an MX Z, but cornering remained crisp.
Fun factor ranks high on the meter because of the Renegade’s versatility to conquer all the snow-covered terrain we threw at it. On trails the sled behaves much like the bump-loving MX Z in a 121-inch configuration. When passing an opportunity to venture off-trail, the 136-inch long by 16-inch wide PowderMax track, combined with the handlebar-mounted grab strap, made the Renegade a capable boondocker.
Like other REV chassis models, comfort is easy to find for most riders with the exception of the chest and head protection on the X model with its stubby, ineffective windshield. We missed the coldest days of the season while the sled was on the mend, but we know from experience on other Ski-Doo X models that warmer gloves are required on days when the mercury doesn’t escape the teens above zero F.
We increased the front shocks’ compression one click on the first ride and dialed in two more turns of spring to stiffen the front for our terrain — then came the rock that resulted in downtime for our ’Gade. As good as the suspension was on the sled, it didn’t suck up the impact from a big rock.
Sled: 2007 Ski-Doo MX Z Renegade 800 H.O. X
Modifications: Bikeman Performance pump gas billet head kit; BMP Stealth Pipe; BMP Full Velocity Lightweight Muffler; BMP Clutch Kit; Team Industries TSS-04 secondary clutch