NOTE: This is a brief rundown of the 2018 Ski-Doo model lineup. Subscribers can view the full report, including more photos and our early riding impressions, by logging in below. You can also find it all in the Spring Issue of
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For 2018, Ski-Doo has spread its newest 850cc twin direct-injection E-TEC motor across all of its market segments and in dozens of trims. That means that the new-last-year Gen4 chassis also gets spread far and wide over many units.
The headlining sled is the new Backcountry X, and we got to ride this bad boy, much to our delight!
Also, Ski-Doo has a brand new starting system, called SHOT, for its Summit mountain sleds. Buh-bye battery!
Ski-Doo has something for just about everyone in model year 2018!
850 and Gen4 proliferation
New last year in a limited number of sleds was the REV Gen4 narrow chassis with centered engine and pyramidal design with RAS 3 front suspension. The 850 E-TEC engine has more horsepower and more throttle response than the previous 800R motor, and it has replaced EVERY single 800R motor in the Ski-Doo lineup, except in the 800 Expedition Extreme and the 800 Enduro.
The new 850 makes its way into both the 129-inch MXZ X-RS and the 137-inch Renegade X-RS for 2018. These both have flatter and wider running boards, and the width goes eight inches farther back on the boards than the standard REV Gen4 from 2017. This is for better movement, footing and stand-up riding through rough conditions, jumps, etc. Both the MXZ and Renegade X-RS have the aggressive two-inch-farther forward steering post too, but both still have the adjustable riser that the 2017 Gen4 trail sleds received.
New KYB Pro 36 easy-adjust front shocks are a change from the Pro 40 series on previous models. The compression and rebound range on the quickly adjustable shocks is in a wider "sweet spot" than the Pro 40s for this application, and there is less pre-load. An additional inch of shock stroke means smoother running through big bumps for a wider variety of rider weights and riding styles.
All of the new 850 sleds, from the MXZ TNT and Blizzard models to the X-RS, get the new-last-year RAS 3 front suspension. Also, there are three track options for not only the 120-inch long X-RS models, but also the 129-inch long MXZx and 137-inch long Renegade X sleds.
Backcountry and Freeride get upgraded
The top news is really the Renegade Backcountry, as it gets a new cMotion rear suspension, a more standard take on a skid that combines some aspects of the rMotion trail suspension and tMotion mountain suspension. Like last year’s model, this is a 146-inch machine, but the uncoupled cMotion skid in the new Backcountry has a slightly tipped up rear to the rails at four degrees. The cMotion has a new dual-rate spring on the front arm shock, and it has fixed arms, so it doesn't flex like the tMotion does. The aim was to make a truly 50/50 sled. It has the more forward, racing-like steering post of the X-RS and Freeride. It combines the on-trail sway arm with an off-trail mountain spindle with adjustable ski stance (38-40 in.) on the front RAS 3 hybrid suspension, and it boasts new deep snow DS-2 mountain skis.
There is no FlexEdge track option for the Backcountry X. Instead, the consumer gets to choose from three track options: a 15-inch-wide Cobra with 1.6-inch lugs, a 15-inch-wide Ice Cobra with 1.6-inch lugs and traction installed at the ends of the lugs, or a 16-inch-wide Powdermax with 2-inch lugs.
As for the Freeride, the 850 is in the 137-, 146-, 154- and 165-inch models, but ALL lengths get the option of the SHOT starting system. These are the only 137- and 146-inch models you can get the SHOT in. Other changes include the 165-inch length with 3-inch lugs, and the 3-inch lugs on the 154-incher. Finally, there is a new 154 S-38 model available with a wider (38-40 in.) adjustable ski stance (the 154-inch and 165-inch lengths get 36-38-inch adjustable ski stances).
A lot more models!
While we are not a fan of making decisions even harder and convoluting or muddying segments and lineups, we are fans of giving choices to people who can (with the help of a good dealer or media rep) zero in on their perfect ride. That is the direction Ski-Doo has taken for several years now, and for better or worse, it is still the market leader … so I guess it's doing a lot right!
A remote coupler block adjuster is available for 2018, allowing a rider to quickly adjust the transfer right from the handlebars. The adjuster on the left-hand grip changes the block in back from coupled to uncoupled and back with just a twist of your hand. Also available for 2018 is an adjustable windshield that can be adjusted four inches, from medium height (19 in.) to high height (23 in.). Check out the new driver-angled footrest platforms from Ski-Doo accessories as well!
RIDER IMPRESSION: Mountain snowmobiles and SHOT
Possibly the most talked about new technology for Ski-Doo is the SHOT starting system. There’s no battery, no ring gear and no starter, but you do need to pull-start the sled first and let it run for 20 seconds to 2 minutes, depending on how long the snowmobile has been off. The whole system centers on the new Ultra Capacitor. Once that is charged, you press a button similar to the standard Ski-Doo electric start buttons, and it fires up the sled by sending an electric charge to the magneto, basically turning it into an electric motor to turn the crankshaft.
This technology can only be used on, and it totally unique to, the E-TEC motor because of that motor’s ability to start in a 1/3 of a rotation of the crankshaft. We kept track of how many times during the day we stopped and started, and it was 43 times. When you are in a serious stuck position, sometimes it is hard to get to the rope, but with SHOT, restarting is simple and easy. The weight savings is huge compared to an electric start. The Ultra Capacitor weighs only 2 pounds, which is about 20 pounds lighter than an electric start system!
The new Ski-Doo lineup includes the Freeride in a 165-inch-long, 3-inch lug track. The Summit X also now also comes in a bigger 175-inch track (gained an extra inch by changing the pitch). The tunnel is 5.25 inches longer on the 175 than the 165, not a huge difference in overall length. Another cool feature is the LINQ removable snowflap. This is a great option for those “bad stucks” when you need to get some extra grip. The Summit SP and X model sleds in the 175-inch length pretty much go anywhere and everywhere.
The Freeride has been known for its bold colors, and it comes in an awesome black, white and green scheme this year. Also new is the SCS wrap option for the Freeride models. Personally, I am excited to see the new Freeride in a 165-inch length because of its ability to take hard hits and jumps.
Finally, a great small movement was to lower the Summit X riser block by one inch. That alone makes this sled more maneuverable. Super tall risers are NOT cool!
Kudos, Ski-Doo – you really delivered again! - Ryan Thompson, Western Editor