Ok, unless you have been living under a rock the past couple of years you are not likely to be surprised by the fact that the Crossover segment in booming. This trend isn’t surprising as more and more riders decide to venture off trail or look to broaden their riding experience by exploring those side trails and forest roads or even take the occasional trip to the steeper locations in the Snowbelt.
We’ve seen the OEMs take different approaches to their Crossover offerings. Some start with their mountain sleds and tweak them to be more trail friendly while others take the trail offering and bump it towards off trail use. For Ski-Doo, the later seems to be the approach and the results manifest in the Renegade lineup are nothing short of terrific.
It would appear that this is sort of how the discussion at Ski-Doo R&D went… “Let’s start with the new REV-XS body, take the best things the MXz has to offer, put the crazy smooth rMotion rear end under it with a longer track and make that our Crossover sled. Bet that will work”. Yup, it does. Over the past couple of years we have seen some pretty big advances in suspensions on the stock sleds. One of our long term demo sleds from last year had the rMotion suspension on it and we are believers in that suspension. An argument can be made that it is the best rear suspension available on the market currently. What we do know is that when you pair it with the XS chassis, new Pilot 5.7 skis and a longer track you end up with a Renegade that very likely could be the new standard in trail riding. Yes, it’s that good.
Now, if you were one of the lucky (or smart) ones to have strolled in to your local Doo dealer in the spring and laid down your money on an X model… well you win the prize this year. For spring order Ski-Doo offered the Renegade in the X package and one of the best things about this is that you get the running board adjustment for spring and dampening adjustment and after riding our sled with this feature I can tell you that “tolerating” a bad section of trail is no longer necessary. Just stop for a few seconds, tweak the adjustments and then head on down the trail with a big smile on your face.
The XS body work is more than just eye candy. It really does make a different in how the sled feels and performs. Straight out performance is improved in off trail or deeper snow conditions. You’ll notice it in how the sled will pull over and hold on one ski when carving better. As a rider, you’ll notice the change in body work that comes with the XS platform allows the cockpit to feel roomier. We noticed that the new seat and body work allows you to shift your weight around much easier when trail riding, you don’t feel locked in to one position. And the result is that you can get the sled to respond to rider input much better by just shifting your weight and riding position around a bit.
For those of you who are just now getting around to deciding to buy a sled you’ll either have to find some poor guy who can’t pick up his X or you’ll have to opt for one of the non-X models, either the Renegade Adrenaline or Sport. Not bad options, you get the above mentioned butter smooth rMotion suspension and your choice of any of the motors. But you won’t be able to get the REV-XS platform. Not a huge liability, the Rev has been a great sled for several years and that continues in the Adrenaline and Sport models. And you also won’t get the running board adjustment option for the rMotion.
But don’t let us scare you off, the Renegades in the non-X packages are still crazy good. Ski-Doo is offering the 4-TEC 4-stroke, a motor we spent a whole year last year with that is a terrific option for the Crossover segment, the 600 and 800 E-TEC 2 strokes that proved once again last year that they are dead nuts reliable, and in the Sport you can get either the 550 fanner or the ACE 4-Stroke.
Motor preference is just that, a preference. The motors offered by Ski-Doo all are proven performers with great reliability. The 4-stroke has impressed us. As mentioned earlier, we have this motor in one of our long term test mules. On trips last year to northern Minnesota and Voyagers NP the Renegade with the 4-TEC was superb. Fuel economy is terrific and the low end pull makes playing off trail really fun. The 600 E-TEC may very well make gas from what we have experienced. The fuel economy on that motor is amazing. The 800 E-TEC proved last year that it is likely the most powerful 800 2-stroke available. Whether it is or isn’t, it shares good fuel economy with its little brother and in our 2013 test rides we noticed it seemed to be smoother running than the 2012 offering.
If you haven’t been on one of the ACE equipped Doos you really ought to. No, it’s not an arm stretching power house, but it will surprise you with how well it works. The 550 has more go on the top end, but the ACE is very likely the perfect match for the Renegade Sport if you are looking for a cabin/utility sled combination that will get you around off trail with ease.
Yes, there is a reason why the Crossover market is booming. And Ski-Doo understands that reason and has brought it’s A game to the field. We are hard pressed to find anything that we think needs to be improved on the Renegade. Ski preference might be the only place, but the Pilot 5.7s are good skis, they might benefit from a little more carbide, depending on how you setup the rMotion rear suspension. You’ll be tickled with the Renegade if you find yourself on one this year.