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Stretching the Limits: The Newest, Biggest Mountain Sleds on the Market

The newest, biggest mountain sleds on the market
2018 Ski-Doo Summit X 175
Summit X 175 - This one rides like it is a lot shorter. This is a great benefit of the Gen 4 chassis. Agility is high!
With sleds getting longer and longer, soon you will need a CDL to drive one! Seriously, the lengths of the new long track sleds are pushing 12 feet!

You really gain an appreciation for how long that is when you are doing a re-entry on a new 2018 Ski-Doo Summit 175 (11.8 Feet long) and look over your shoulder at your landing and realize it is a long ways down. Riders like Jay Mentaberry make it look too easy.

■ The difference really long tracks make

The powerhouse long tracks (160 to 170-inch tracks) can pretty much go anywhere, without as much maneuvering as it takes on the 150-class tracks. The difference is, long tracks really shine on a deep powder day and take less braap to move through the deep, steep trees than shorter track counterparts. If you really want something that will eat deep powder for breakfast, and allow you to work your way slowly and effortlessly through deep snow and steep forested side hills, then the longer track sleds are the route you want to go.

You really notice how long the sled feels once you get past that 155 length. Long sleds are not as easy to turn; there is more mass and weight to throw around. Many would also argue that you lose power when you go to a longer track-length since there is more rotating mass. We did not notice a difference in power on the trail or flats, the only place we really noticed the difference was on really steep long pulls, the combination of snow, gravity and rotating mass made the RPMs drop off ever so slightly, but by that point we were thinking: “What the hell am I doing up here?!”
2018 Ski-Doo Summit X 175
■ Ski-Doo 850 175 Summit X with 3-inch lug
Last season we demoed the Gen 4 165 850 Summit X, and in comparison to the other 160-class length tracks we tested, it felt more like a 150-class length track. Similarly, we found that to be the case with the new 2018 175 Summit. Although it is much longer, it rode and felt more like its little brother, the 165. It actually felt shorter than its 174-inch predecessor.

The only time you really noticed the length was when getting to the top of a steep hill with a drift where the front end was in the air, then you could tell the track was still climbing behind you. This sled refused to sink in deep snow. The thing to remember here folks is that the 175 is not only the longest stock track on the market, it by far has the largest foot print! With a 16-inch wide track, it has an overall foot print of 2800 square inches vs. the 15x174 Polaris, which has an overall footprint of 2610 square inches; that’s almost the difference of a 2018 AmSnow Calendar!

However, because the overall length of the track is 175 inches, only half of that is on the snow at any given time, so the foot print difference between the 15x174 and the 16x174 is about seven more inches of track on the snow! While to some that may not sound like much, it definitely makes a difference. The 850 has plenty of HP to get you up anything. Don’t be surprised to make it to the top of a deep, steep, long pull your first try!

There were so many times this past year when we thought for sure this sled was going to be stuck or not make it out of a deep ravine or up a steep pull, only to have it surprise us. You find yourself thinking: “Is this sled really still climbing?”

Long tracks do have a tendency to push more in turns but the only time we are riding mountain sleds where we even care about that is on the trail getting to our riding zones. After that, no one cares about push in trail turns. However, with how easy it is to turn a Ski-Doo, even on the trail it is not an issue.

The new SHOT start system is just something you have to try for yourself. It is hard to fully appreciate how awesome it is until you use it all day. Truly amazing and one of our “Best New Tech” awards of 2018!
2018 Polaris Axys Pro RMK 800 174
AXYS Pro RMK 174 with test rider Colton Thompson slaying the deep POW with ease. This sled is like a life jacket keeping you afloat on deep snow days!
■ Polaris Axys Pro RMK 800 174 with 3-inch lug
The Polaris Pro RMK 800 174 is a climber! Even with a smaller footprint than its counterparts it shoots up chutes no problemo. With a stiffer track, steep side-hilling was easier to do in conditions that caused other sleds to wash out. With its narrow body, paneling-out was not an issue. The Axys platform in conjunction with the longer track works extremely well in all conditions. The sled jumps up on top of the snow very fast and levels out, so you are never left fighting the side-to-side wobble that sometimes comes from a sled standing on its tail at take-off.

We found the 174 RMK easy to navigate the tight trees and sidehills, and stay on edge. Finding the sweet spot is not hard. A standard mountain width sled is 36 inches up front, this one is 39 inches. But the Axys with its raised chassis rides like it still has a 36-inch front end. We do however recommend unhooking the sway bar. It takes a minute or two to get used to, but once you have ridden in the mountains without it you really appreciate how much more maneuverable the sled is.

Polaris has done their homework with the 800 174. The clutch feel is spot-on and extremely responsive. The 800 HO has no problem turning a longer track and puts plenty of horses to the drive shaft. We had no belt issues, or overheating. Oil consumption seemed about on par for what it was in 2016 and 17, which was not bad, considering the way we ride.

I am excited to see what Polaris has in store for 2019, because it has been two years since the big upgrade to the Axys chassis for the mountain sleds. Plus several years since a big engine overhaul, so my guess is that we will see something soon from Polaris to answer Ski-Doo’s 850.
2018 Arctic Cat Mountain Cat 8000 162
Mountain Cat 8000 162 demonstrated finesse with tester Lonnie Thompson. The narrower body and better clutch engagement at low and mid range on this made it a riot in the trees on a deep powder day ... or any day for that matter!
■ Arctic Cat Mountain Cat 800 162 with 3-inch lug
The longest sled in the fleet for Arctic Cat is the 162 and the new 2018 Mountain Cat is extremely responsive on the bottom end and mid-range. For mountain riders, the bottom and mid ranges are where we do most of our riding. It makes all the difference in the world to have good clutch engagement when you need it most, and for us that is in the deep, steep trees and when side-hilling.

This sled has great response, and is noticeably lighter and more nimble. Rider stance is further forward and the sled is 10% narrower now, so paneling-out on a steep sidehill is a non-issue. The new C-TEC2 800 2-stroke engine built in St. Cloud, Minn. is more reliable, efficient and precise compared to its Suzuki predecessor, putting fluids right where they are needed most. The C-TEC2 consumes less oil with its Optimized Oil Injection and Electric Oil Pump. The DSI (Dual Stage Injection) injects the fuel directly into the combustion chamber on top at lower RPMs and also into the crankcase at higher RPMs. All of this translates into a more powerful and literally well-oiled machine.

This sled is much improved, even over the MY17. We actually had both (MY 17 and 18) and hopping between the two was a big difference. We enjoyed the 17 Cat, so the 18 was fantastic! The combination of the new engine, redesigned plastics and forward stance gives this sled a whole new feel, and it is a whole new crisp, fast ride.

The Fox QSL shock (standard on the Mountain Cat) in the rear suspension has three settings, soft, medium and a new lock-out feature that works for long hard pulls to keep the sled grounded. The front end definitely wants to stay down when the shock is set to lock-out, just don’t forget to change it when you get back to the trail, you will feel every bump course through your body if you don’t, believe me. Worst case scenario if you forget and take a really hard hit on lock-out, it will collapse to save the sled from damage.

This was the surprise sled of 2018, and it deserves the hype. Time will tell for sure as more people ride it and realize what I did. Cat fans, if you were waiting for a great new sled, then wait no longer!!
2018 Yamaha Sidewinder M-TX 162
Yamaha Sidewinder 162 - The red rocket of our western demo fleet. This thing made 2-stroke fans into 4-stroke fans.
■ Yamaha Sidewinder Turbo M-TX 162 with 3-inch lug
Yes, it is a 4-stroke and is therefore going to be a slightly heavier sled, but having ridden 2-strokes for over 40 years, it is much easier to ride than you would think. In fact, there were many times that the Sidewinder was the sled to break-trail to locations we could not go otherwise. The triple throttle bodies give this sled instant response from the turbo, and despite critiques saying you can’t ride it in the trees or boondock on it, I am here to tell you unequivocally that you can.

With its narrow 36-inch front end and gobs of power, it throttles through anything. We actually noticed that it had so much power to track, that it created its own lift, so even in situations where you would normally think you were stuck, with a little pin and wiggle you could feel it lift up and out. Not only is it a power house, it is very comfortable to ride. It feels very stable underfoot, in fact people assume it has a 39-inch front end because it feels more planted.

The responsiveness is amazing. I can talk about it until I am blue in the face (pun intended) but ultimately the naysayers need to ride this sled so they can see what they have been dissing and missing.

The Sidewinder shines in deep powder, and constantly seems to be begging for more. Basically, the fun factor is off the charts with this monster. It was our sled of choice in 2017 right behind the Ski-Doo 850 and that is saying a lot considering how awesome all of the sleds were!

It looks like 2018 is the year to buy the sled you have been waiting for. All of the OEMs have strong lineups and all these sleds will be more than enough to get you where you want to go. Make sure you charge the GoPro batteries to record your most entertaining moments.
stat box 2018 Long-Track Mountain Snowmobiles
2018 Test Rider Impressions

KEVIN THOMPSON

174 Polaris Pro RMK
– It will go through and up almost everything. A great sled and a lot of fun to ride. It comes up on edge really easy and feels the tallest of all of the sleds when riding it. The stiffer track has less tendency to wash out and really bites in the harder snow. It maneuvers through deep powder extremely well and rides really comfortably.

175 Ski-Doo - This is a REALLY BLUE sled but I like it. It was as plush as getting into my ‘96 Caddy, and the ride down the trail was smooth. It even turned in the corners and I did not get that push you get on most longer sleds. In the deep powder it was amazing, this sled floats on the snow and the throttle response was impeccable. It felt like I was on a shorter track sled, it handled like a 165. The open running boards worked well with no snow build up. The 175 is easy to pull on its side and hold a steep side hill with no wash. It was amazing to see how slow one could go and maintain forward movement in the deep snow. The SHOT starting system is a must and works fantastically. The 3-inch lug track does everything you would expect and then some. Jay Mentaberry actuall hucked it and did reentries on it like it was a short track sled. He sidehilled and turned up some inclines that seemed almost inverted, with ease.

162 Mountain Cat
- Big improvement over last year, smooth power out of the C-TEC2 engine, smooth ride with the fox floats. Easy to adjust the shocks and have them respond. Much easier to side-hill and be able to hold a line. I could feel a difference in the weight over last year. The Ascender platform felt narrower, but I did have an issue with my boot getting stuck in the foot hold.

162 Yamaha Sidewinder - An eye opener! I have never been a fan of 4-strokes, but this sled makes you grin from ear to ear as you crack the throttle and feel that constant steady hard pull. This sled is a blast to ride but you will know you have rode hard by the end of the day. With the power of the 998cc turbo you can go just about anywhere on this machine. It side-hills with ease under power and I would recommend you ride one of these sleds if you are not a 4-stroke fan just to see the other side of the fence. It could use more storage, but this factory turbo rips.
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