Snow Shoot 2012 brought us some of the best snow ever, some of the most incredible sleds ever and what has become one of my favorite locations for mountain riding. With that being said, let’s get started with all of the highlights you have been waiting for. The first area that I would like to touch on is the location of Snow Shoot and that was West Yellowstone, Montana.
If you are looking for the perfect place to go with your buddies and get deep into some incredible mountain riding or just some awesome trail riding with your family then here is the place you have been looking for. The town has tons of places to stay and great places to eat. When winter comes to West Yellowstone they roll out the red snowmobile carpet. One of the most snowmobile friendly towns you will find.
Now let’s get to the sleds. First I will start with the Yamaha’s and for that I would like to direct your attention to the Turbo and Super charged Nitro MTX’s. Let me just say I have never pulled a hill with this kind of speed. It felt like the skis were 3 feet off the ground all the way to the top. They still offer me somewhat of a challenge in most areas but you can’t get away from the incredible power climbing hills. The RS Vector and the RS Venture lines received the Electric Power Steering for 2012 and I was very impressed with both of them on the trails. The RS Venture GT is very comfortable and now very easy steering is a huge bonus. If you are wondering if it’s worth upgrading your sled, “Yes”. The Apex’s haven’t changed much but they are still very dependable, they sound great and very fast.
For their 50th Anniversary Arctic Cat brings us a complete new Chassis. My first thought was it looks pretty cool. After going through the tech session and hearing how this chassis was born, I was very impressed. Arctic Cat has really appeared to have done their homework and I feel they are heading in the right direction. The short track models for me were not dialed in. I’m sure it won’t take them long to get them right. However the front ends felt so light in the corners that it made them a challenge. The longer tracked models handled very well all through the trails. The F1100 turbo with the longer track was the real shining star on the trails. That motor and that new chassis are perfect for each other. The F1100 Turbo feels much lighter, faster and more nimble in the trails. For you mountain guys wondering is it going to work? Guess what it works very well. Once again they feel lighter, faster and just plain works so much better. For me the 1100 Turbo felt a little heavy in the deep snow but it has tons of power climbing a hill. They will need a little refining but overall the seating position, the cool new chain case, the lighter weight and the whole package is very exciting. Great job Arctic Cat.
Ski-Doo has had a great sled for years now with the XP chassis and then adding the E-TEC motors and let’s not forget my favorite, the 1200 4-TEC really made them a pretty good package. The missing link has been the rear suspension. The small stutter bumps are the ones that come to my mind. For 2012 that all changed. The rMotion completes the package. Now you are wondering does it work. For me it’s one of the best rear suspensions for next year. One of the key features is how easy it is to adjust. You can really fine tune it to your needs. Ski-Doo has really hit it out of the park with their rMotion suspension.
There was another surprise for me and that was the MX Z X-RS. The last couple years I have had people ask me if they should buy this model. My answer has always been yes if you are a snow cross racer. For the trails, not so good. For 2012 I am telling you something different. With the rMotion suspension and the KYB pro 40 adjustable shocks up front this sled rocks in the trails. It’s not stiff as a board and it looks very cool. Don’t be afraid of this model it was my favorite Ski-Doo while aggressive trail riding.
Well let’s finish this off with Polaris. “Wow” what a year Polaris has had. I thought Polaris was in big trouble after the 2010 model year. Then came the 2011 800cc motors and they worked very well and were smoking fast. Well guess what, It gets more refined and spot on dialed in for 2012. I’m not really a short track guy but I have to say the sled for me that I couldn’t get enough of was the 800 Rush Pro-R LE. This sled was spot on in every way. It has huge power, corners like a Nascar, Has the very best seating position of any sled, feels so comfortable like you have owned it for years and the best overall fun factor of any sled I rode. However all those moving parts in that rear suspension still worry me long term. When it comes to the 800 Switchback Pro-R, Once again incredible sled. Over the bumps it gets even smoother. The 136″ track really handles well through the corners and does a great job bridging the bumps. The 800 Switchback Assault 144 is another incredible sled in the trails or off the trails. We have had this model for testing all season and have had nothing but great things to report. When it comes to the mountains Polaris is the Rocky Mountain King. Once again you feel like you have owned the sled for years. The Pro RMK 800’s have huge power everywhere. The motor is spot on. The chassis feels great no matter what you are doing, side hilling, climbing, trail riding, carving or picking your way through the trees. For me, I would lose the Pro Taper bars and get the controls back up where they belong.
One of the incredible benefits we have of attending Snow Shoot is being able to ride all four manufactures new snowmobiles on the same day in the same conditions. Doing this year after year has given us the ability to evaluate these sleds very quickly and have a great time doing it. Hopefully this can help our readers make some good decisions when buying their next snowmobile.