2011 Snowmobiles Offer Some Unique Innovations
by Scott A. Sumner
It was fun to visit the 4 snowmobile dealers in Thunder Bay and talk about the new lines from Ski Doo, Arctic Cat, Yamaha and Polaris. Each manufacturer has something interesting to offer the snowmobile audience each year.
Exciting for Ski Doo in 2011 is their brand new 600 ACE 4 stroke engine which will set a new mark for snowmobile mileage capability. “The 600 ACE is a brand new engine that stands for advanced combustion engine. It is basically designed for maximum fuel efficiency and decent horsepower. The sled will get 29 miles per gallon and 550 kilometers on a tank of gas,” smiles Ryan Campbell, Sales Representative at Gordon’s Trailer Sales. The 23 year old is selling Ski Doo snowmobiles and graduated recently from Confederation College
in the Business Marketing program. “New as well, is the 800 ETEC engine which puts out 163 HP with much better oil efficiency than last years 800 motor.”
The MXZ series at Ski Doo has 4 models including the XRS, a race sled version, the X package, a spring order only with custom decals and a better suspension shock, the TNT version which is the standard and the Sport, more of an economy model. All these sleds have a 121 inch track.
The Ski Doo Renegade has a longer track at 137 inches and makes it good for 70% off trail and 30% on trail riding. It is a crossover sled and becoming one of the best sellers. “The local conditions mean we have less trails so many go with on/off trail machines like the
Renegade,” said Ryan Campbell. “The Summit is for mountain riding and powder with 146 inch, 154 inch and 163 inch tracks. We sell a few Summits each year but many more Renegades.”
The Ski Doo GSX is essentially an MXZ with more options and features for touring such as mirrors and air suspension on one model. The Grand Touring is a base model two up machine. The Expedition is the Grand Touring with more options. Also at Ski Doo is the Skandic and Tundra lineup which is probably the most popular sled from Ski Doo in the
Thunder Bay area. They call them mechanical snowshoes complete with narrow ski stances says Campbell. “I like getting out snowmobiling and going where you can’t go with any
other machine. Trucks and ATV’s can only go so far but snowmobiles will go almost anywhere. I like the speed as well for example, with our new 800 ETEC which is just a ridiculous feeling. You must have safety and performance in mind when you ride the new 800 ETEC. We rode a prototype 800 ETEC last spring and it was amazing on the lake, it was so fast,” said Campbell. “Our Ski Doo Open House has been good. We have had many people out seeing the new 600 ACE engine.”
Arctic Cat in 2011 is really refining their line up and getting ready for a big 2012 model year. “Arctic Cat is basically keeping it the same, cleaning things up a bit and working on colours. The SNOPRO 600 is nice this year with the new Fox Float 2 next generation shocks, a lowered windshield and the adjustable seat is good,” said Dustin Krezonski, Sales Representative at Smith's RV. “The EXT 800 is in the Twin Spar chassis but with a long track as a cross over. The market is really moving that way. Many people want that little bit longer track, say 136 or 141inch, to go fishing and breaking trail.”
“Arctic Cat has refined their sleds and next year will be the 50th year anniversary season. I’m sure they will have some spectacular new sleds next year. They made everything really well this year and there could be a new sled release in January of the 2011 from them,” said
Krezonski. “The Sno Pro 500 is back and pretty much the same as last year except for the decals. The first two sleds I sold this year were Sno Pro 500s and we have guys waiting for 2011 versions already. The year looks good so far and it is really busy. I like snowmobiling. It
is a fun sport and good to get out, enjoy yourself and be out with friends.” In the summer Dustin is a drag rail car racer with his own dragster with 2000 HP.
For 2011 new at Yamaha is the Yamaha's Apex which has added power steering, something unique in the industry. Power Steering has been in ATV’s since 2007. Yamaha's has been the first to bring out power steering in ATV’s and now in snowmobiles. “It is the same principal as in ATV’s. It will give you a little better responsive steering and less arm fatigue at the lower speed especially. Yamaha is a leader in technology. The power steering is an electric power steering with no fluids to worry about. Many of the cars now are using electric power steering and moving away from hydraulic.” said Mike Sawatsky, Sales Representative with North Country Sports in Thunder Bay. The Yamaha Phazer sled returns as 500 ccs and is popular with young to mid 40’s people according to Randy Betz of North Country Cycle &Sports. “It is a 4 stroke with good mileage and a little quieter, good for the environment and has been popular. It is reasonably priced and a well balanced machine and fairly light for a 4 stroke. It is quite versatile for different riding conditions,” says Randy Betz.
Other Yamaha models include the Nytro which is a higher performance sled with the 1050cc engine. The Venture is a good sled for ice fishing people due to its comfort. The Bravo is big seller for North Country with 20 to 30 a year in sales of the model. They go up north and are a simple sled to maintain.
New at Polaris for 2011 is the introduction of the Pro Ride chassis from the RUSH into more models as well as an 800 RUSH version. “The 2011 Polaris LXT 550 Canadian version replaces the Trail Touring from 2010. The sled is in the IQ chassis now and they have made some new improvements for front suspension with a dual A arm versus trailing system. The rear suspension is similar with a better rack on the back. The ice fishermen like these sleds,” said Cory Hayward who works in sales at J&J Sports.
“ The sled is very affordable, accommodates two people and can be trail and off trail ridden at a good price of around $8500.” The RUSH was a big innovation last year for Polaris. “The potential of the RUSH is great and if set up well can accommodate many different riders’ wants and needs. It is cutting edge technology, as they have used aircraft technology like a bonded frame and a true progressive rear suspension that sort of came from the motocross area. It is a really good performer. This year, they have added the 800 engine in the RUSH as well,” said Hayward. “The Pro Ride chassis on the RUSH has been added to the RMK mountain sled line up and the Switchback 144 extended track. The chassis is bonded with glue like utilized in aircraft and some cars. It means no flex and a solid unit like a unibody. It is very reactive to rider input and allows them to use fewer rivets which means less weight and is better in the end. It will be more predictable and your ride will improve.”
“Last season was an average season and we hope for early and lots of snow. It gets people interested in buying new sleds.” said Cory Hayward.