Snow Shoot 2011 brought me to a place that I have never been, West Yellowstone, Montana. I was very impressed with the town and how much they cater to the snowmobiles. Their trail system and groomers were some of the best I have seen. The manufactures stepped up their game for 2011 so buckle up and let’s get to the highlights of this great line-up.
Yamaha steps up with the very first electric power steering. My first thought riding it was somewhat unnerving in the corners because the steering felt so light that I thought the skis were not even on the snow.
After the second or third corner it was very clear that the skis were planted and the new Apex was railing around the corners. You really feel the benefit of the electric power steering at slow speeds. Your arms will love it. They also have a new power valve exhaust called EXUP. They tell us better midrange and it delivers. The 128″ track feels better than the 121″ but the 144″ with the tipped up rails feels the best and most stable at high speeds. The new Apex really seems to have more attitude with a little better hole shot, a much improved midrange, and as for the top end, it felt about the same for me. I guess we will have to line one up with our Attak for that result.
The other big stand out for me was the RS Vector LTX GT. The fuel injection really bumps up the fun factor on this model in the trails. Corner to corner is pure excitement. This might be the most under looked sled on the market. One big thing that I would like to see on the new Apex and the Vectors is taller handle bars and a taller seat. They did raise the Apex seat up a little but it’s still not enough. The fit in finish still appears to be top notch on all the 2011 Yamaha’s.
Arctic Cat didn’t make too many changes for 2011 other than just enhance their already great line up. The F8 Sno Pro is still my favorite for Arctic Cat. The tall comfortable seat and the smooth rear suspension over the bumps is the best in the industry. One very nice addition to their lineup is a F8 EXT with a 144″ track. This sled felt great on and off the trails.
I really like the longer track for bridging the bumps and a nice stable ride at high speeds. One worthy note that most people might not guess is how incredible the Z1 Turbo Sno Pro is over three foot moguls. This sled out shined every sled we tested in the mogul section. You could take the bumps faster and it was more stable than other manufactures. What a great surprise from a heavy sled.
If you are a mountain guy or gal, there is some pretty big news. In the past the M-Series sleds gave me trouble on the trails. I never felt in control. Well let me tell you, they changed the valving in the shocks and it’s day and night different. The new M-Series rocks down the trail in total comfort – great job Arctic Cat. You might want to upgrade your shocks or just spring order a new one. The Crossfires haven’t changed much and for me they just seem old school. They are fast but that’s about it. In closing for Arctic Cat I just want to say again how incredible the adjustable seat and the rear suspension is on the F8 Sno Pro in the bumps. They really have this sled spot on for comfort.
Ski-Doo has added two new motors to their lineup. First is the E-Tec 800R. I was very impressed with the easy throttle and the huge power. Corner to corner, this sled is dialed in and will not disappoint you. It feels great out of the hole, the midrange is very impressive, and the top end will blow you away. The chassis is still the top dog when it comes to cornering and tight twisty trails. The seating position is still one of the best in the industry.
Next is the Rotax 600 Ace 4 stroke. It has 60HP and claims 29MPG. After riding this sled I found it to be a great fit for an older couple that might want to see the sights in peace and quiet. You can hardly hear it run.
Another great fit would be the rental fleet. The power delivery is very slow and feels somewhat under powered for the experienced rider. The 1200 4 TEC didn’t change for 2011 and still remains my favorite Ski-Doo. I just plain love everything about the 4-TEC 1200 Renegade.
For the mountains there are some refinements to the ski stance, skis and a few other things that did improve this model from last year but for me, I still struggle in the deep snow. I just don’t feel very comfortable on the Summits. Ski-Doo just plain fits me perfect on the trails. Everybody that orders one will be very happy with the power and smoothness from the new E-TEC 800R. If you like to tweak and the stiff throttle doesn’t bother you then you will be happy to see that the 800R Power T.E.K. is still available.
Polaris has made a huge come back for 2011. Their new 800cc motor is dialed in to perfection. We spent some time on the trails with some of the engineers from Polaris and had the opportunity to ask the tuff questions about this new motor. After spending some time on the new 800 Assault Switchback it was clear that Polaris has this motor dialed in with huge power. The midrange is where I feel it shines the best. This sled has a great seating position and it feels very stable and comfortable in every situation. It was my favorite sled in the Polaris line up. The Rush has been refined and feels much better in the trails for 2011. Everything seems to work together very well. I’m still not a huge fan of all the moving parts in the rear suspension and the looks of it but Polaris did a nice job dialing it in and it just works well.
The new light weight RMK’S are incredible in every way. The motor has insane power in the deep snow. They lost over 40 LBS on the RMK’S and it shows from the minute you hit the steep and deep. It doesn’t matter what kind of situation you put this sled in, this sled feels stable, predictable and very comfortable. I think Polaris will take back huge market share in the mountains. Another worthy note is the retro package. “It looks smok’n hot and I want one.”
That was just some of the highlights that stood out for me at the 2011 Snow Shoot. I hope there were a few answers somewhere in there to help you feel better about your snow check purchase. One more note, the 800cc class is as tight as I have ever seen. Head-to-head they are all very close.