We’ve all got a friend that does every DIY project perfectly the first time, who knows the right way to fillet a fish or scare the hiccups out of an old sled. These folks make challenges look easy, which is what Ski-Doo has done for 2014.
First, it has expanded the reach of its unique technology to more of its lineup, meaning more sleds in its XS and XM chassis, plus more sleds with rMotion and tMotion.
But most significant, its engineers have developed a new ACE 900 4-stroke that generates 90 horses. Yet, even telling you that, we’ve just pulled the cover off the tip of this high-tech iceberg.
The revvy 3-cylinder ACE 900 also delivers three industry firsts:
• intelligent Throttle Control (iTC).
• A Learning Key to help inexperienced riders.
• Electronic throttle-by-wire.
There’s a lot of Wow factor here, but a lot of practicality too, plus an aim to give sled buyers a more purposeful multi-purpose sled.
While I know you hot rods are gonna get a little squimish waiting for all the high-perf updates and upgrades, the ACE 900, based off Ski-Doo’s efficient 60-horse ACE 600 released a few years back, is the star this year.
Why? Well, even with a max power of about 90 horses (we figure able to hit 80+ mph), the 900 will get 23.3 mpg. We’ve tested the 600 at 28.5 mpg in a full season, so believe Ski-Doo’s claim legit.
That will make it extremely efficient to run. Plus it is dropped into the REV-XP chassis for a variety of models so it’ll be a good handler on the trails.
But the tech goodies here are interesting and will likely create a whole new market demand. Ski-Doo officials say one of their goals was to create a multi-purpose sled that could not only keep mom or dad happy on the trail, but be a sled they could train children and coax along less experienced friends. This could be a big boon to the snowmobiling world all around, if their reasoning holds true.
First, the iTC is a system much like we’ve seen on a variety of cars in the past five or six years. It allows you to dial in the performance YOU want via three modes controlled by a green switch on the dash. The modes are Sport (full performance with quick acceleration), Standard and ECO (aimed at being fuel efficient, with more relaxed acceleration). You’ll see a light telling you which of the three levels you’re using, up on the gauge pod.
In essence, adjusting the iTC limits how much the throttle butterfly is opened and how quickly. The less open the butterfly the less power. So, if you’re out for a spirited run with friends, you can click it into sport mode. You’ll start with 200 more rpm at idle to pre-charge the plenum for quick acceleration. You’ll have slight engine braking to help you slow in the corners.
If you’re taking a run with a less aggressive crowd, drop back to standard, where acceleration is normal and gas mileage is good. There’s zero engine braking in this mode.
Or if you’re riding with the family, less experienced riders, etc., flip the switch to ECO and get great gas mileage. The system actively cuts fuel consumption in this mode and limits your top speed to about 45 mph (70 km).
Next up, the Learning Key, a green tether vs. the usual black tether you also receive, is a Digitally Encoded Security System (D.E.S.S.) that limits the sled’s top speed and acceleration. Ski-Doo adapted this from its Sea-Doo watercraft lineup and sees this as perfect for training youngsters or novices to ride and handle a full-size snowmobile.
You can have your dealer program the Learning Key to top the sled’s speed at 25 or 45 mph. Have two kids and need two Learning Keys? They’ll be about $50.
Or you can train your youngster at 25 mph and then when he or she is ready, the dealer will reprogram your key up to 45 (70 km). Sounds easy!
Ski-Doo says its sleds with the ACE 900 will fit well into rental fleets too, as the rental firms can adjust the top speed of their units to suit the experience levels of their riders.
Lastly, say goodbye to your throttle cable.
Ski-Doo offers the first-ever electronic throttle-by-wire, so there will be no throttle cable on the 900-equiped sleds. This comes from the automotive world too, where many vehicles use the electronic throttle now. This allows the iTC to work and gives the sled more responsive acceleration with an extremely light push of the lever. Without electronic throttle-by-wire Ski-Doo would not have been able to give the ACE its iTC or Learning Key.
What models will be available with the ACE 900 and all its goodies?
For 2014 look for the ACE 900 in the MXZ TNT, which also features the rMotion rear suspension, the Renegade Adrenaline, the GSX LE, the Grand Touring LE and the Expedition Sport.
Oh, and the ACE 900 qualifies for use in Yellowstone National Park, plus Ski-Doo notes it’s quieter at idle than the ACE 600, previously the quietest machine available.
More of a good thing
The new ACE isn’t the only thing up Ski-Doo’s sleeve for 2014, it moves more of its trail-oriented models to the XS chassis, including its wild child, the top-of-the-line X-RS. Also look for the MXZ TNT, Renegade Adrenaline, Renegade Backcountry, GSX LE and Expedition Sport models in the XS chassis introduced last year and featuring restyled exterior panels that provide better wind protection, and look newer and more refined.
A 137-inch rMotion suspension expands the longer rMotion into several additional sleds, including the GSX SE and LE along with the Grand Touring SE and LE models.
In the off-trail and mountain segments Ski-Doo puts more of its machines into the XM chassis that debuted last year with new body styling and offering Ski-Doo’s exclusive tMotion suspension that makes sidehilling easier. The Freeride 154 and 146 models will now be using the XM platform, including tMotion and the FlexEdge track that allows the track’s outer edges to flex up, again giving these long-tracks increased traction with better contact on the snow.
The Summit SP and Sport models also get the tMotion rear suspension and FlexEdge track. However, the Freeride 137, with its shorter 137-inch track will use the rMotion suspension in back because Ski-Doo says its buyers spend just a bit more time on trails than off. The rMotion is Ski-Doo’s best trail suspension.
Easy on the ears
For cruisers and us more “mature” riders who enjoy putting on the miles, but aren’t looking to break land-speed records on outings or to launch ourselves into orbit, Ski-Doo offers SilentDrive, another new bit of technology.
The SilentDrive System cuts vibration to riders by more than 70% and quiets the drive system by 65% too. The aim, Ski-Doo engineers say, is to create a more enjoyable, refined ride for snowmobilers, especially important to the long-distance rider. Ski-Doo’s SilenTrack technology introduced in 2010 cut sound by reshaping the track’s interior surface. This drive system uses new track drivers that are round and feature 16 small lugs vs. 8 previously. These work as an internal drive system and cuts the load put on each lug, cutting sound and vibration.
Ski-Doo says this system, which works with its new SilenTrack 2 track, will reduce ice and snow buildup on the drivers to make them more efficient. Ski-Doo will feature the new technology on its Grand Touring LE model, which also features the new ACE 900 and rMotion 137 rear suspension with its idler wheels moved forward 1.4 inches. This should be a real primo sled for serious mileage freaks. And we’ll hope to see SilentDrive on future models.
Many sleds also see a variety of other improvements and refinements, starting with:
• Redesigned handlebar controls for all models in the XS platform. This is a new control pod for the left handlebar. Its aim is to be more intuitive with the thumb and hand warmer switches vertical, with high heat being up and low being down. Below those and tucked in so it will not be accidentally hit is the RER (electronic reverse button). In addition, sleds with Ski-Doo’s premium function gauge will find the control’s buttons are backlit and include additional mode and set buttons. E-TEC equipped models will have an LCD display showing the percent of engine break-in completed. The display disappears once the break-in is complete.
• Redesigned windshields for the XS sleds, featuring a larger indent before the shields flair to the sides. These provide more wind protection without being dramatically larger. They come in 6-, 15- and 18-inch heights. These are available as accessories for prior XS models.
• Last year’s eDrive2 drive pulley for its 4-stroke engines worked well and Ski-Doo expands its use to all models equipped with its 4-TEC and ACE engines, including the new 900.
• An expansion of the LinQ accessory line to give sleds more storage. A saddlebag system is new for 2014. Last year storage bags and a fuel caddy were available. In a little contest among snowmobiling journalists, a couple managed to take off the seat back, bags and fuel caddy and replace them on the sled in about 13 seconds. It’s that easy, but we wouldn’t encourage you to try breaking any records!
Beyond the addition of the ACE 900 and the other changes mentioned, Ski-Doo’s lineup remains similar to last year’s, but with a few upgrades and visual changes.
In the MXZ lineup you’ll notice the premium X-RS model now will have matte black on the hood/panels and be in the XS chassis, but otherwise remains in the traditional yellow and black color scheme. It retains the KYB Pro 40 racing shocks, Pilot 5.7R skis and reinforced chassis. X-RS also gets the premium handlebar controls and updated gauge pod.
The X models will be available with 600 and 800 E-TEC engines or the 1200 4-TEC and get the premium handlebar controls, except the 4-TEC model. The X-RS and X models are spring-buy only sleds and come with rMotion suspensions, with Quick Adjust being an option.
All TNT models will now have electric start. Ski-Doo tells us 88% of TNT buyers were ordering their sleds that way already. The TNT is available with the new ACE 900 too. TNTs also get the updated gauge pod, new handlebar controls and bigger 15-inch (38.1 cm) windshield with hand deflectors. In addition to the ACE, TNTs are available with the 600 or 800 E-TEC and 1200 4-TEC engines and rMotion is standard in back with HPG Plus shocks up front.
The Sport model remains unchanged and is still available with the ACE 600, 600 carbed motor and 550 fan. Electric start is standard with the ACE and optional for the other engines.
There are 95 new accessories for the MXZ lineup, adding to the 150 Ski-Doo offered last season. Overall Ski-Doo has really ramped up its accessory lineup the last several years, now including a load of bags and LinQ system accessories, plus some of the most colorful wraps in the industry.
This long-track (137 inches) crossover sled category continues to be the fastest growing segment in the market as it offers riders more versatility and allows snowmobilers to go off trail with more ease and confidence. Most Renegade models are aimed primarily at on-trail riding, but the Backcountry is targeted mostly at off-trail action.
The Renegade X models are spring-buy machines again and come with either 800 or 600 E-TEC engines, or the 1200 4-TEC. The E-TEC models come with the new premium handlebar controls. The X model with E-TEC engines comes in black with satin (matte black) hood and console, or in a brighter white/black/red scheme.
The Renegade Adrenaline models move to the XS platform with 600 and 800 E-TEC engines and the ACE 900 available. All come with rMotion, HPG Plus shocks and Pilot 5.7 skis and electric start is now standard. These also get the taller 15-inch windshield, new engine-warmed glove storage box under the windshield. New handlebar controls, plus new LED taillight and snow flap.
Renegade Sport, with either its ACE 600 or 550 fan, adds the lightweight, more reliable eDrive pulley. It’s still black with yellow trim.
Backcountry X adds Pilot DS 2 single-keel skis that help in sidehilling, important here as this one is aimed at the off-trail powder riding crowd. These are narrow, thin skis with a flat tail to aid counter-steering. The new premium handlebar controls also are added for 2014 and color choices are the same as the Renegade X, black with satin or white/black/red.
The in-season Backcountry moves to the XS platform, adds the Pilot DS 2 skis and electric start. But there are other upgrades, including use of the body panel insert and stirrup from the Summit XM mountain sled, which adds 8 inches of foot room on the running boards so it’s easier to move around on the boards when riding deep snow.
Backcountry also gets the taller windshield, new handlebar controls and the glove box under the windshield.
The rMotion suspension is on all GSX models for 2014, while the top-level SE gets a new LinQ cargo system and large cargo bag to make the sled versatile. Engine choices remain the 600 and 800 E-TEC, plus 1200 4-TEC 4-stroke.
The LE offers the new ACE 900 and 600 E-TEC in the XS platform and 1200 4-TEC in the XR chassis. Standard are a new LED taillight and snow flap in XS-based models, along with the glove box. All models get the updated gauge pod, premium bar controls and 15-inch windshield with mirrors. The new LinQ cargo system and cargo bag come on the LE models too.
Grand Touring lineup
Three models continue for the two-up touring category, the SE, LE and Sport. rMotion moves into the SE and LE platforms and the 4-TEC is standard in the top of the line SE. The LE offers 4-TEC, ACE 900 and the 600 E-TEC. In addition to landing the new 900, the LE gets the new SilentDrive system mentioned earlier, cutting sound levels and vibration. The Sport continues unchanged with the ACE 600 engine.
The SE is a spring-order only model while the LE is a full-season work and 2-up sled with a monster 154-inch x 20-inch track. Both are available with either the 600 E-TEC or 1200 4-TEC motors and remain unchanged from 2013. But the Sport receives the new XS body style, Pilot DS 2 skis, the glove box, new handlebar controls, LED taillight, snow flap and the new ACE 900 engine with all its features. An ACE 600 and 550 fan also remain available this year.
The lightweight Tundra is back with little changing. For 2014 the Xtreme model adds Pilot DS 2 skis and a rigid grab strap, while the LE adds the skis and the newer eDrive pulley on its 550 fan model. The ACE 600 also is available in the LE while the 600 E-TEC still powers the Tundra Xtreme. The Sport model adds the skis and the eDrive pulley on its fan version.
Skandic work sleds continue with the SWT and WT models, both getting the eDrive pulley on models with the ACE 600. The SWT model also adds more foot space (1 ¾-inches/45mm deeper and 1 in./26mm wider) for more comfortable riding.
IT WAS 20 YEARS ago that Ski-Doo launched its first Summit, specifically designed for mountain riders and the 2014 models build on last year’s much improved and updated Summit in the XM chassis, with tMotion rear suspension and FlexEdge track. Freeride models get much of that this year, plus some eye-popping visuals.
There are three primary mountain models this year, the Summit X spring-buy model with 800 E-TEC engine, the Summit SP for regular season buyers, now offering either the 800 or 600 E-TEC motor, plus the Sport model, aimed at value buyers and offering either the older PowerTEK 800R that creates 151 horses, or the basic 600cc carbed motor.
The X model remains basically the same as in 2013, but adds an updated premium gauge and is available in a black/red (painted hood and console) or black on black paint scheme. The X comes in 163-, 154- or 146-inch track lengths and have HPG Plus shocks up front.
The big news for the SP is the addition of the 600 E-TEC motor as an option, plus it gets a new black and orange paint job, or the popular black on black. The Sport adds the tMotion rear suspension and Pilot DS 2 skis.
Ski-Doo’s more extreme Freeride mountain mashers get the works this year, adding the tMotion suspension and FlexEdge track in the Freeride 154 and 146 models and the rMotion to the 137 version. All are dropped into the XM RS (race sled) platform with its reinforcements and wider running boards and big snow evacuation holes.
All Freerides get Pilot DS 2 skids and a redesigned structural member up front provides more boot space under the body panels so riders can move forward a monster 8 inches further than on previous models. Freerides also receive a new XM seat that’s narrow in front and low so you can get up and over it easily when maneuvering in tight places. There also is the new glove box, handlebar controls, gauges and updated tapered aluminum handlebar with a rigid strap.
What will catch your eye though is its cool storm trooper white and gray paint scheme with startling manta green skis and trim. (See photo at left.) This one will stand out in any crowd. Electric start and graphic wraps are spring incentive items.