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2014 Real World Shootout

RELATED TOPICS: ARCTIC CAT | ENGINES | POLARIS | SKI-DOO | SNOWMOBILES | YAMAHA | 2014
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“No way!... Check the radar gun again.”

“Seriously?... Make sure those scales are zeroed out
and let’s weigh this one again.”

“Are you doing the math correctly? Maybe this gas pump is faulty.” Yep, pretty much every staff member here at AmSnow has said something similar to these laughable statements over the years as we have performed our Real World Shootout. But, it usually turns out that ‘it is, what it is’.

For a decade we have been doing numerous quantifiable tests on each crop of demo sleds we have in our fleet each winter. We report the Real World info just as we find it, with no bias, no preferential treatment to certain sleds, no buttering up of manufacturers and most of all, no outside interference. We know EXACTLY what is going on with our machines.

It is a big undertaking. Loyal readers know what it takes to do this test every year including trailering the whole fleet to an ‘undisclosed’ location in the heart of snowmobile country, weighing all the sleds individually full of fluids on our brand new digital Intercomp scales, setting up the Stalker radar/gps acceleration testing (kind of makes you feel like a state patrol officer for a bit), plus hours and hours of trail testing and mileage calculations. We also put well over 350 miles on every sled in our fleet (eight sleds total this year) before we even set up for testing so we know all our sleds have been broken in thoroughly and correctly. Other snow-media types just don’t take the time to do this type of legwork, or if they do they are too afraid to publish the results, but we do!

This year, conditions couldn’t have been better! An abundance of snow and early cold temps meant the trails, play areas, lakes, rivers, and just about anywhere you wanted to go were in prime condition. Folks like you all over the country were just as happy with the early snow and cold as we were! After 10 years of being at the Real World Shootout I know these were the best conditions yet. In addition to the trails and backcountry areas being in superior condition, our acceleration course was groomed to perfection (by the Clam Lake Forest Riders Snowmobile Club) and the course was smooth as butter. Check out the video online if you want a better look at what the snow was like. www.amsnow.com

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Put through the wringer
We put every trail sled the manufacturers let us get our hands on through the same wringer at our Real World Shootout. In addition, our Western Editor, Stephen Clark, does the same thing at the same time! While we are conducting our Real World Shootout here in the Midwest, Stephen and our head Mountain Test Rider, Josh Skinner, are conducting our Real World Powder Sled Eval out west (See p. 24) with our line-up of mountain demo sleds. And you guessed it, we are putting the mountain sleds through their own separate wringer in order to find out if they are everything we thought they were when we tested them in pre-production form.

Our first test is always our wet weight test. This is done basically with the sleds ‘straight out of the box’. We fill them with oil, fuel, coolant, etc. and this year weighed them before any traction or other accessories of any kind were put on the sleds. This is as close to a true wet weight as we could get! Our Intercomp scales are very accurate (www.intercomp-racing.com) and used in numerous other motorsports racing activities.
Every one of our sleds was then broken in per manufacturer instructions and also using manufacturer recommended oil and fluids. Before we do our acceleration and mileage testing we put the sleds through a multi-point inspection including track tensioning, hyfax and chain inspection, oil change if necessary (on 4-strokes), ski/carbide/stud checking, and at least a dozen more little checks.

Finally, we groom and mark off a ¼-mile test track on the lake with at least another ¼-mile shutdown area. We always make a ‘full pull’ past the ¼-mile mark to give sleds a chance to reach their true top speed. We also put each sled through the same warm-up procedure individually before giving each sled two chances to go down the acceleration test track to garner their best acceleration stats. We report the better of the two runs. Of our eight demo sleds at the Real World Shootout this year, four of them received traction packages from Stud Boy. These higher horsepower sleds included the Polaris 800 Indy SP, Ski-Doo X-RS 800, Arctic Cat ZR 7000 and Yamaha SR Viper.

After the acceleration testing we put five full fill-ups of fuel through the sleds and average the mileage in order to get an early season MPG number. We continue to keep track of all our sleds’ mileage throughout the year and in each Long Term test article in the fall we will tell you the overall average from the season-long testing.
 AMSNOW’S REAL WORLD ACCELERATION RUNS (SPEED & ELAPSED TIME)
Timed speed results Arctic Cat El Tigre 6000  Arctic Cat ZR 7000 Limited Polaris Indy 550   Polaris Indy 800 SP Ski-Doo Renegade Adrenaline 900 ACE  Ski-Doo MX Z X-RS 800 E-TEC  Yamaha SR Viper   Yamaha SR Viper LTX SE
 Top speed (mph) 87.94  88.09  73.19  97.59  79.89 99.37   87.06  90.85
 ¼-mile (sec.)  13.89  13.40  16.28  12.82  14.73  12.46  13.59  13.46
 ¼-mile (mph)  87.00  84.46  70.42  97.09  77.49  98.58  86.42  87.42
 1000 ft. (sec.)
 11.38  10.89  13.27  10.56  11.97  10.20  11.06  10.76
 1000 ft. (mph)  86.33  87.88  72.05  94.88  78.13  95.85 85.16   89.16
 660 ft. (sec.)  8.58  8.15  9.92  8.04  8.91  7.71  8.26  8.09
 660 ft. (mph)  79.24  80.61  66.49  87.98  72.19  89.60  78.67  83.36
 0-30 mph (sec.)  1.67  1.57  2.19  1.60  1.60  1.47  1.46  1.57
 0-60 mph (sec.)  4.38  3.65  7.13  3.76  4.99  3.30  3.86  3.68
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Put through the wringer
We put every trail sled the manufacturers let us get our hands on through the same wringer at our Real World Shootout. In addition, our Western Editor, Stephen Clark, does the same thing at the same time! While we are conducting our Real World Shootout here in the Midwest, Stephen and our head Mountain Test Rider, Josh Skinner, are conducting our Real World Powder Sled Eval out west (See p. 24) with our line-up of mountain demo sleds. And you guessed it, we are putting the mountain sleds through their own separate wringer in order to find out if they are everything we thought they were when we tested them in pre-production form.

Our first test is always our wet weight test. This is done basically with the sleds ‘straight out of the box’. We fill them with oil, fuel, coolant, etc. and this year weighed them before any traction or other accessories of any kind were put on the sleds. This is as close to a true wet weight as we could get! Our Intercomp scales are very accurate (www.intercomp-racing.com) and used in numerous other motorsports racing activities.

Every one of our sleds was then broken in per manufacturer instructions and also using manufacturer recommended oil and fluids. Before we do our acceleration and mileage testing we put the sleds through a multi-point inspection including track tensioning, hyfax and chain inspection, oil change if necessary (on 4-strokes), ski/carbide/stud checking, and at least a dozen more little checks.

Finally, we groom and mark off a ¼-mile test track on the lake with at least another ¼-mile shutdown area. We always make a ‘full pull’ past the ¼-mile mark to give sleds a chance to reach their true top speed. We also put each sled through the same warm-up procedure individually before giving each sled two chances to go down the acceleration test track to garner their best acceleration stats. We report the better of the two runs. Of our eight demo sleds at the Real World Shootout this year, four of them received traction packages from Stud Boy. These higher horsepower sleds included the Polaris 800 Indy SP, Ski-Doo X-RS 800, Arctic Cat ZR 7000 and Yamaha SR Viper.

After the acceleration testing we put five full fill-ups of fuel through the sleds and average the mileage in order to get an early season MPG number. We continue to keep track of all our sleds’ mileage throughout the year and in each Long Term test article in the fall we will tell you the overall average from the season-long testing.
 Sled Wet Weights &MPG
 SLED Wet weight/LBS.  MPG 
Arctic Cat ZR 7000 Limited  605  12.67
 Arctic Cat El Tigre 6000  509  NA*
 Ski-Doo XRS MXZ 800 E-TEC  569  12.52
 Ski-Doo Renegade 900 ACE  577 NA* 
 Polaris Indy 550  526 10.10
 Polaris Indy 800 SP  568  10.79
 Yamaha SR Viper  607  13.69
Yamaha SR Viper LTX  605                 13.05
Awe-inspiring 800s
This was the most anticipated battle of the Real World Shootout. Our Polaris 800 Indy SP versus the Ski-Doo X-RS 800. Now, we know these two sleds are aimed at a little bit different consumer, the X-RS being a big bump tamer and the Indy being a smooth trail ripper, but you will certainly see both these sleds on the trail a lot this winter so boasting at the pit-stops and watering-holes will be rampant!

Less than 1.5 miles per hour and .36 seconds separated these two big dogs, but at the end of the two runs the Ski-Doo X-RS 800 was the faster of the two and the fastest in our entire group of demo sleds. Recently at our New York Shootout the X-RS showed to be 155 hp on the dyno and the Indy was 145 hp so the Indy REALLY showed well considering the fewer horses under the hood. The Indy was the big winner in our New York Shootout (See Feb. 2014 issue) too, but after break-in and backing up two runs at our Real World Shootout, the X-RS took the cake. These two sleds are incredibly close in acceleration performance and within a pound of each other weight-wise before studding (See charts). Gone are the days when Ski-Doo could claim to be dozens of pounds lighter than any other trail sled because the 800 Indy (and Cat Sno Pro 800) have erased the gap in the 800 class. But the X-RS showed it is still an incredibly quick sled!

With a shorter 1-inch lugged track we were thinking that we might see the Indy show a little bit higher top speed, but there was just enough loose snow (even with having it groomed) that the larger 1.25-inch lugged track of the X-RS had a little less spin and a little more bite from the track. Our X-RS ran almost exactly the same top MPH that the one did at the New York Shootout, but it had a much quicker time and faster speed in the ¼-mile here at the Real World Shootout.

The X-RS also saw fairly low fuel mileage for an E-TEC at 12.52 mpg. We have seen 14-17mpg fairly regularly on several other 800 E-TECs in the past, but our last X-RS 800 E-TEC that we had back in model year 2012 showed 12.3 mpg at our Real World Shootout that year. So, this one is not out of the ordinary, necessarily. The 800 Indy garnered just 10.79 mpg, but with a slightly larger 11 gallon tank this 800 still had a solid range for an afternoon of spirited riding.

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Yamaha motor, Cat chassis, 3 sleds, Giddy-up!
Probably more important to many folks out there is how Arctic Cat’s ZR 7000 stacked up against Yamaha’s SR Viper. Both have the same Yamaha motor and Cat chassis, but (supposedly) with different mapping, different clutching, different windshields, different shocks and a few more discrepancies between them. Our Cat was a Sno Pro Limited version so it had the FOX Float 3 shocks versus the HPG coil-over rebuild able shocks on the Yamaha. The Sno Pro also had a shorter shield than the warmer, more trail focused Viper. Both had heated seats though! Yes!

It was a very interesting test session because looking at the numbers you can see that the Viper got the jump out of the gate through 30 mph and then the ZR 7000 roared back to reclaim the lead and ultimately the faster top speed and quicker ¼-mile time. However the SR Viper had the faster ¼-mile speed… these two were close competitors (as they should be) and barely more than 1 mph separated them. A top speed of 87.06 mph was recorded for the SR Viper and 88.09 mph for the Cat. Fuel consumption was a different deal as the Viper got the nod with 13.69 mpg to 12.67 mpg for the ZR 7000.

So is that the end of the Viper versus ZR 7000 story? Not quite! We thought we would throw a wrench into this otherwise civilized duel of two short-track 129-inch studded trail sleds and toss an unstudded 137-inch Yamaha Viper LTX SE in the mix… just for fun. The longer Viper LTX showed a better top speed than the ZR 7000 Sno Pro! Yep, the long-track was more than 2.7 mph faster with a top speed of 90.85 mph. The longer LTX was quicker time wise and faster speed wise all the way through 1,000-feet than both the short-track Viper and ZR 7000. The ZR was quicker in the ¼-mile, but only by .06 seconds!

The Viper LTX also got slightly better gas mileage than the ZR 7000 but worse than the short-track Viper, as the LTX showed 13.05 mpg. Oh, and the long-track weighed exactly the same as the short-track ZR 7000 and less than the shorter SR Viper. This was the icing on the cake and solidified how much this sled impressed many of us test riders.

The little sleds that could
Ok, to be honest none of these are ‘little sleds’ by any means. They are all full grown trail slicers, but compared to our 800 2-strokes and larger horsepower 4-strokes, these were the smaller horsepower sleds in our demo fleet.

The brand new Arctic Cat El Tigre 6000 was announced to the Cat faithful who were desperate to have another lightweight 2-stroke 600cc machine to buy this year. This sled did not disappoint in several categories. It was by far the lightest sled of any in our demo fleet at just over 500 pounds wet. This was even lighter than our 550 fan demo sled! It also posted a top speed faster than the short-track Yamaha Viper! The El Tigre showed 87.94 mph on top end which was .15 mph off the mark set by its larger brother the ZR 7000. Oh, and the El Tigre was not studded! Would that have changed things? It is quite possible!

Another impressive smaller horsepower sled in our demo fleet was the new Ski-Doo Renegade Adrenaline 900 ACE. This long-track 100 hp 4-stroke showed almost 80 mph as a top speed and was going 77.49 mph in the ¼-mile. The short-track version most likely would have done over 80 mph which makes this engine great for use in any fun trail machine. The 900’s wet weight of 577 pounds was interesting as this is a 4-stroke, but still light.

Finally, our little 550 Indy was no doubt the slower of the demo sleds, but still posted 73+mph as a top speed. If you have kids who are just getting a snowmobile certificate, or novice drivers, just need an extra sled for friends when they drop by, or you are a rental operator, going any more than 70+ mph in the ¼-mile is hardly necessary.

Great early ride impressions
“It is tough to beat.” That sentence was said over and over again as our group of test riders (from 30 years old to 70 years young) cycled through our demo fleet during our trail test riding. It was always uttered after each person got done riding the Ski-Doo X-RS 800. The ease of suspension adjustment, razor-sharp cornering, and amount of standard stock storage, top engine performance, little oil usage, and basically great handling in any trail conditions are all positives that each test rider took away from this machine. This was our top dog in the acceleration tests, but also the top dog as far as test rider evaluations were concerned.

The Polaris Indy 800 is soon to become our ‘project sled’ for the year and we recently installed a new Hayes TrailTrac controlled braking system. We’re also adding Hygear custom calibrated Axis trail shocks, added Curve skis, Stud Boy studs and several other accessories to take this machine to the next level. However, it doesn’t really need all that because it is a fantastic Midwest trail grinder right out of the box. This sled surprised everyone at the level of performance that a ‘value-focused’ 800cc machine could provide. Polaris is certainly on to something here! It handles the corners extremely well, the seating is comfortable, it is lightweight and reminded all of us of more traditional riding… with modern amenities and performance. With almost 800 miles on this sled already we have had zero issues and lots of smiles.

Arctic Cat’s orange ZR 7000 was by far the most eye-catching sled in our fleet this year and received a lot of attention on the trails. The heated seat was a test rider fave and this sled pulls like a freight train through 80 mph. On the trail the ZR is locked down in the corners and this is one of the most aggressive and positive cornering 4-strokes we have ever ridden. The Sno Pro package with the FOX Float 3 front shocks and 2-inch diameter rear shock eat up any trail bumps of just about any size. But this sled can tame a fast frozen river run as we found out on a couple tight twisty frozen river outings.

The Yamaha SR Viper was the sled everyone clamored for on the long railroad grades of Northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This sled is VERY comfortable at 75+ mph and the heated seat, large windshield, and soft suspension make it easy to cruise at speed. Yamaha’s Viper LTX SE was well-liked by our test crew and its longer length was hardly noticeable, even without a tipped up rail like former Yamaha crossover sleds. This one was fast, fun, and added the dimension of being a more capable off-trail performer. The more aggressive FOX Float shocks were certainly something that showed positively in our testing. These new shocks have changed at least a couple people’s opinions on air shocks versus coil-over shocks.

Arctic Cat’s El Tigre 6000 was the easiest sled to toss around and felt the lightest, because it was! Like we experienced in our pre-production testing, this new 600 dual-stage injection liquid twin is just as at home up in the air as it is carving up a corner. Big or small, short or tall riders instantly feel comfortable and fast on the 6000.
Ski-Doo’s Renegade Adrenaline 900 ACE is a remarkable smaller horsepower machine in that you hardly ever know that it is a smaller horsepower machine. The tractor-like pull of this 4-stroke will keep you on pace with any sleds in your group and off-trail that linear power and 137-inch track will get you through more powder than you anticipate. It is surprising how many more of our test riders like this sled in standard mode, rather than the all-out sport mode. We also noticed how much easier this sled is to back up in reverse because it has a reduction to allow smooth and slow engagement when going in reverse. Moving around the trailers, garage and gas stops were much easier with this one.

Finally, the Polaris Indy 550 fan was what it was. It’s a great little sled with surprising pep and plenty of value.

Early shortcomings
Both the X-RS and Indy 800 got worse gas mileage than we hoped, and the 800 Indy is truly not a ‘big bump’ sled by any means. However, we did not have ANY mechanical issues with our 800s to date. They are great 8s!
We noticed that the ZR 7000, SR Viper and Viper LTX all had the same quirky starting anomalies after they were warmed up and ridden for a while. If you would shut them off after 50 or so miles they would have a hard time starting again. We are currently waiting for official bulletins for a ‘real fix’ from the OEMs. Also, dialing in our SR Viper with its softer coil over shocks and harder to get to rear shock springs has been difficult. In certain conditions it works great, but we are hoping that future adjustments to several variables including handlebar positioning and suspension tweaking helps its tendency to push on corners in some snow conditions.

Our El Tigre 6000 ran flawlessly up until just after our acceleration tests when we started to have a code flash intermittently. The code was a knock sensor and would therefore put the sled in ‘limp’ mode. At the time of this writing the re-flash and diagnostics were being run on the El Tigre to get the true issue detected.

The Ski-Doo Renegade Adrenaline 900 ACE had a very finicky DESS key/post and gauge. We know this engine is also used in Sea Doo watercraft, but we have had these post issues before on sleds. Even good posts often chirp and beep if you don’t have the tether on exactly correctly, but ours was bad. After we switched that out our gauge had some funky issues and the display would often cut out or not read properly. You’ll see season-long mileage averages and more in the Long-Term tests of all these sleds in fall issues next season.

More on Mileage and other conclusions
This was the first time in many years that we did not have a sled break the 14mpg mark. Now, we did have more fresh snow and arguably faster trail speeds due to better conditions this year, but it is just an observation. Also the 900 ACE will be over the 15mpg mark judging on the ‘unofficial’ data we have collected so far. We will say that oil consumption on both the 800s and the El Tigre 6000 was impressive and that means that these new 2-strokes are running lean.

Guys and gals, fathers, mothers and even numerous grandpas! Not a sled was cursed by any of them and that’s not always true. The truth? Well, it is what
it is.
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Grip to Rip StudBoy provides Real World traction
AT THIS YEAR’S AmSnow Real World Shootout four of our demo sleds were equipped with traction products from Stud Boy including Power Point studs combined with Stud Boy’s 7.5-inch Shaper Bar carbides. Our Arctic Cat ZR 7000 Limited, Polaris Indy 800 SP, Ski-Doo MX Z X-RS E-TEC 800R and Yamaha SR Viper each received Stud Boy traction packages and the carbides.

Stud Boy supplied AmSnow with the recommended amount and length of “Power Point” carbide tipped studs and “Super Lite Pro” single or double backers. AmSnow studded the sleds ourselves going on Stud Boy’s guidelines for their ‘trail safety’ package, not the ‘aggressive’ package. The SR Viper, ZR 7000 and X-RS 800 all had a 1.25-inch track lug and called for 1.375-inch studs with .750 Pro Series backers. The Arctic Cat and Yamaha sleds came with matching 129-inch tracks and each took 90 studs with the double backers. The Ski-Doo was equipped with a shorter 120-inch track requiring 84 studs and for this we used single backers. The Polaris Indy 800 SP track measured 121 inches with a shorter 1-inch lug height and required 96 studs at 1.08-inch in length with .500 Pro Series double backers.

One note on installation, we had to install tunnel protectors on the Indy 800 SP and MX Z X-RS prior to putting studs on the track. The SR Viper and ZR 7000 came with tunnel protection.

We took all four sleds through their paces over several hundred miles with several different riders piloting each over those miles. We also tested in varying snow conditions, from extreme hard pack snow in sub-zero temps to softer trails near the freezing mark.

Regardless of the scenario, each rider had the same opinion. The combination of the Shaper Bar carbides, “Power Point” studs and the unique scoop shape of the “Super Lite Pro” backers gave our riders superior traction, turning and stopping ability in any snow conditions on the trail and lakes.
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Hayes Trail Trac Brake Kit
AS PART OF OUR PROJECT SLED this year, we recently equipped our Polaris Indy 800 SP with the new Trail Trac Brake Kit from Hayes. This kit can replace the stock brake on 2010-2014 Polaris Rush, Pro-R and Indy sleds.

Installation was quick and easy with plug-and-play wiring and bolt-on parts, and can be done without specialized tools. The kit includes ECU, toggle switch with face plate, wiring harness, pre-filled and bled brake system (with hydraulic control unit), wheel speed sensor, speed sensor cap and fasteners, and cable ties.

To begin the install, we removed the side panels, hood, belt and driven clutch. Next, loosen the track tension so the track hangs freely. This allows less tension on, and easy access to, replacing the speed sensor. You will also replace the brake caliper and master cylinder with a full new system. This is very easy being a pre-filled and fully bled system. Also included are a dash switch and wiring harness. Hayes supplies a great set of instructions with photos to help speed things along... we also had a Hayes supervisor to make sure we didn’t screw up!

Once we got out on the snow with the Trail Trac system, our test riders noticed a huge difference. The Trail Trac allowed the track to remain engaged while braking. This gave our riders the ability to approach corners more aggressively and have the capability to steer through turns while applying the brake. (Some riders commented that they could basically ‘ride the brake’ all the way through the corner AND steer, although that isn’t recommended)

The dash switch allows you to turn the system on and off. With the switch in the ‘off’ position, the sled slows like it would with a traditional brake system. However, we haven’t turned the Trail Trac off too often. We all enjoyed the confidence it allows to approach tight turns more aggressively and a higher comfort level knowing we could maneuver the sled through a sticky situation with ease. One of our rider’s called it the ‘oh crap corrector’. See the video on amsnow.com!
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