2018 Ski-Doo Snowmobiles Unveiled!

Ski-Doo expands reach of 850 E-TEC engine and REV Gen4 chassis in its new model year lineup
2018 Ski-Doo Renegade Backcountry X 850 E-TEC snowmobile
Renegade Backcountry X is now available with the 850 E-TEC engine, REV Gen4 chassis and a bright blue color scheme that's similar to that of the 2017 Freeride.
You want more models? You got it! For 2018, Ski-Doo has spread its newest 850cc twin direct-injection E-TEC motor across all of its market segments and in dozens of trims. That means that the new-last-year Gen4 chassis also gets spread far and wide across over dozens and dozens of different units. Many backcountry boondockers were upset last year when the 850 was not in their choice sled options, but it is this year! The headlining sled is the new Backcountry X, and we got to ride this bad boy, much to our delight.
2018 Ski-Doo Summit X 175 850 E-TEC snowmobile
2018 Ski-Doo Summit X 175 850 E-TEC 
2018 Ski-Doo Renegade X-RS 850 E-TEC snowmobile
2018 Ski-Doo Renegade X-RS 850 E-TEC
Never to be outdone on the technological front, Ski-Doo also has a brand new starting system called SHOT in its Summit mountain sleds. Buh-bye, battery!

So sit back while we put the throttle down to give you a fast-paced look at what Ski-Doo has to offer for 2018 … something for just about everyone!

850 and Gen4 proliferation

We all knew this was going to happen, but not to this extent! New last year in a limited number of sleds was the narrow REV Gen4 chassis, with centered engine and pyramidal design as well as RAS 3 front suspension. By most accounts, the 850 E-TEC engine has more horsepower and more throttle response than the previous 800R motor, and it’s stronger than any other 800cc motor on the market (check out our own Real World Shootout results on pg. 14). This year, this power plant and chassis replaced EVERY single 800R motor in the Ski-Doo lineup, except in the 800 Expedition Extreme and the 800 Enduro. Basically, it’s a total takeover!

Last year, there was quite a bit of consternation from the high-performance crowd that the 850 was not available in the aggressive X-RS package, but this year Ski-Doo made sure that gap was plugged. Ski-Doo did make an X-RS shock package upgrade last year that was available as an accessory, but those shock kits sold out in spectacular fashion. Even BRP employees and we media folks couldn’t get our hands on one!

2018 Ski-Doo Renegade X-RS 850 E-TEC snowmobile
For 2018, Renegade X-RS comes in a lime and silver color combo.
Ski-Doo rack steering snowmobile
The RAS 3 front suspension of the Renegade X-RS features rack steering that allows for more precise handling, especially in deep snow.
2018 Ski-Doo Renegade Backcountry X 850 E-TEC snowmobile
2018 Ski-Doo Renegade Backcountry X 850 E-TEC
For 2018, though, the new 850 makes its way into both the 129-inch MXZ X-RS and the 137-inch Renegade X-RS. These both have flatter and wider running boards, and the width goes eight inches farther back on the boards than the standard REV Gen4 from 2017. This is for better movement, footing and stand-up riding through rough conditions, jumps, etc. Just like X-RS sleds from years past, this is pretty much a race sled, so it gets chassis reinforcements like running board supports and thicker tunnel attachments, including steel front pieces. Both the MXZ and Renegade X-RS have the aggressive two-inch-farther forward steering post, but they still have the adjustable riser that’s on the 2017 Gen4 trail sleds.

The rack steering on the X-RS is also very precise, and the KYB Pro 36 easy-adjust front shocks are a change from the Pro 40 series on previous models. The compression and rebound range on the quickly adjustable shocks is in a wider “sweet spot” than the Pro 40s for this application, and there is less pre-load. An additional inch of shock stroke means smoother running through big bumps for a wider variety of rider weights and riding styles.

All of the new 850 sleds, from the MXZ TNT and Blizzard models to the X-RS, get the RAS 3 front suspension that was new last year. Also, there are three track options for not only the 120-inch long X-RS models but also the 129-inch long MXZx and 137-inch long Renegade X sleds. The MXZx and X-RS have the option of a RipSaw with 1.25-inch lug, an Ice Ripper with 1.25-inch lug, or an Ice Cobra with 1.25-inch lug (all 15 inches wide). The Renegade X-RS gets a choice of a RipSaw 1.25, a RipSaw 1.5, or an Ice Cobra 1.6. The Renegade X does not have the RipSaw 1.5 choice, but it does have an Ice Ripper XT 1.25 as an option. Remember, these are X and X-RS sleds, so they’re only available in the spring buying program. Note: the spring-buy MXZx 600 E-TEC and MXZx 1200 4-TEC, as well as the X-RS Iron Dog 600 E-TEC, all have track options too.  

As mentioned earlier, the 850 is now in the throwback classic Blizzard trim as well. This 129-inch trail sled is a step up from the base TNT model, but its shocks and setup aren’t quite as aggressive as the X or X-RS models. It has a fixed riser and single Pitman arm steering.

2018 Ski-Doo Renegade Backcountry X 850 E-TEC snowmobile grab handle gauges
The 2018 Renegade Backcountry boasts a trail-friendly gauge and windshield, but the grab handle will appeal to hillclimbing enthusiasts.
2018 Ski-Doo Renegade Backcountry 850 E-TEC snowmobile
2018 Ski-Doo Renegade Backcountry 850 E-TEC
Backcountry and Freeride get upgraded
It wasn’t just the aggressive trail riding crowd that got new sleds from Ski-Doo for 2018; the on/off-trail boondockers got the 850 too! The top news is really the Renegade Backcountry, as it gets a new rear suspension. While cMotion is a more standard take on a skid, it does combine some aspects of the rMotion trail suspension and tMotion mountain suspension. Like last year’s model, this is a 146-inch machine, but the uncoupled cMotion skid in the new Backcountry has a slightly tipped up rear to the rails at four degrees. The cMotion has a new dual-rate spring on the front arm shock, and it has fixed arms, so it does not flex like the tMotion does. Ski-Doo claims that neither trail cornering nor off-trail performance are sacrificed with this 50/50 skid. There is a rising rate shock ratio and separate ratio for the spring, and the whole skid is lighter than the rMotion.

The Backcountry may seem more like a Freeride or Summit at first, but the aim was to make a truly 50/50 sled. It has the Pittman arm steering, but it also has the more forward racing-like steering post of the X-RS and Freeride. It combines the on-trail sway arm with an off-trail mountain spindle, an adjustable ski stance (38-40 in.), front RAS 3 hybrid suspension and new deep snow DS-2 mountain skis. “Trail” amenities include the toe holds, windshield, gauge and seat, but the grab handle, running boards and handlebar controls are typically mountain sled features.

There is no FlexEdge track option for the Backcountry X. Instead, consumers get to choose from three track options: a 15-inch-wide Cobra with 1.6 lugs, a 15-inch-wide Ice Cobra with 1.6 lugs and traction installed at the ends of the lugs, or a 16-inch-wide Powdermax with 2-inch lugs. We have a feeling that the 1.6-inch lugs with built-in traction will be the top seller here. Also, the Backcountry comes in the X spring buy model, the standard in-season model, and a 600 E-TEC version in the old XM 146-inch chassis.
2018 Ski-Doo Freeride 165 snowmobile
This year, the Freeride comes in an eye-catching black, white and green color combination.
2018 Ski-Doo Freeride 154 snowmobile
2018 Ski-Doo Freeride 154
As for the Freeride, aggressive off-trail riders now have more options as well. The 850 is in the 137-, 146-, 154- and new 165-inch models of this sled, but ALL lengths get the option of the SHOT starting system. These are the only 137- and 146-inch models you can get the SHOT in. Other changes include the 165-inch length with 3-inch lugs, and 3-inch lugs on the 154-incher.

Finally, there is a new 154-inch S-38 model available. Since the 154 and 165 Freeride are really true deep powder sleds with 36-38 inch adjustable ski stances, Ski-Doo made the S-38 – a 154 in a wider, more trail- and mogul-friendly version (38-40-inch adjustable stance). Sea level calibrations are available on all the Freeride models too, and the 137 (which still has the trail-focused rMotion rear suspension, not the tMotion mountain suspension) only comes in a sea level calibration.

A lot more models!
With the addition of track options, spring-buy sleds and so much more this year, the product folks at Ski-Doo tell us that that the number of actual available units has increased by nearly one-third over last year. For several years, Ski-Doo has been all about giving choices so people can (with the help of a good dealer or media rep) zero in on their perfect ride.

The Enduro line of Ski-Doo sleds stays in the older XS chassis and has four engine options, including the 600 and 800 E-TEC 2-stroke motors, and the 900 ACE and 1200 4-TEC 4-stroke motors. The full-season Renegade Adrenaline comes in either the REV Gen4 chassis with the 850 E-TEC 2-stroke, or the XS chassis with the 600 E-TEC or 900 ACE/1200 4-TEC motors. The Renegade Sport is still available in the XP or XS chassis with 600 ACE 4-stroke and 600 carb 2-stroke motors, respectively.

Ski-Doo’s 2-up and Touring segments were unchanged for 2018, except for the introduction of a new high-efficiency air radiator with fan for the Expedition LE and SE 4-strokers.
2018 Ski-Doo Freeride SCS wrap snowmobile
The 2018 Freeride continues to turn heads in a colorful SCS wrap option. The new 165-inch length should handle hard hits and jumps very well.
2018 Ski-Doo Freeride SHOT starting system snowmobile
Ski-Doo’s big technological achievement for 2018 is the new battery-free and silent SHOT starting system.
Mountain sleds get SHOT of adrenaline!
The 2017 Gen 4 850 Summit was incredible, and the 2018s are even better!

The SHOT starting system is possibly the most-talked-about new technology for Ski-Doo. No battery, no ring gear and no starter – how is that possible? Starting the new 850 E-TEC could not be easier. Just like pushing the button on your computer and hearing it start up, it is almost effortless and silent. That said, you do need to pull start it first and let it run for 20 seconds to two minutes, depending on how long the snowmobile has been off, but the whole system centers on the new Ultra Capacitor (I still think it should be called the Flux Capacitor). Once that is charged, you press a button similar to the standard Ski-Doo electric start button, and that fires the sled up by sending an electric charge to the magneto, basically turning it into an electric motor to turn the crankshaft.

This technology is totally unique to the E-TEC motor because of its ability to start with 1/3 of a rotation of the crankshaft. When we tested the system, the charge lasted nearly an hour after the snowmobile was shut off, even though Ski-Doo only claims 30-45 minutes. The engineers said you could probably get the sled to start up to 1.5 hours after shutting it off, but the probability goes down significantly after the first 45 minutes. We kept track of how many times during the day we stopped and started, and it was 43 times. That is 43 times of not having to pull on the rope! Not to mention when you are seriously stuck, it can be hard to get to the rope at times. With SHOT, however, restarting is simple and easy. We really appreciated this feature a lot by the end of a long day of testing out in the mountains of British Columbia. The weight savings compared to an electric start is also huge. The Ultra Capacitor only weighs two pounds, which is about 20 pounds lighter than an electric start system! This feature may not seem like a big deal at first, but after riding a sled all day, you’ll really appreciate it. The funny thing is, you would think your muscle memory would have you reaching for the pull start. However, that was not the case. We’ll take the path of less resistance!

We were sure that the 850 E-TEC engine would come in the Freeride and the 174 Summit for 2018, so that did not surprise us. But the new Ski-Doo lineup includes the Freeride in a 165-inch long 3-inch lug track. The Summit X also now also comes in a bigger 175-inch track (changing the pitch gained an extra inch). The tunnel is 5.25 inches longer on the 175 than the 165, so it’s not a huge difference in overall length.  The Summit SP and X model sleds in the 175-inch length pretty much go anywhere and everywhere. I was still wrapping my head around how much fun the 2017 850 Gen 4 165 was, and now there’s a 175-inch track that is only going to make it that much more capable.

Another cool feature is the LinQ removable snowflap. This is a great option for those “bad stucks” when you need to get some extra grip and the flap is an impediment.

The new Freeride is nimble and aggressive, but it’s still quick to respond to rider input, similar to its big brother Summit X.  Let’s not forget looks. The Freeride has been known for its bold colors, and this year it comes in an awesome black, white and green. Also new is the SCS wrap option for the Freeride models.  Personally, I am excited to see the new Freeride in a 165-inch length because of its ability to take hard hits and jumps. It’s a great addition to the lineup.

Finally, Ski-Doo made a small but significant change in lowering the Summit X riser block by one inch. That alone makes this sled more maneuverable. For many flatlanders that like to buy Summits for places like Northern Ontario, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan or many places in the Northeast and Quebec, the new X models have a sea level calibration available. We think that is a smart move! Also, the Summit Burton sled that was available last year has been axed for 2018.

Overall, our pre-season testing has showed that the mountain sleds handle incredibly well. In particular, the Freeride handles and sidehills much like the Summit SP and X, with very little rider input. Kudos, Ski-Doo – you really delivered again!

- Ryan Thompson, Western Editor
remote coupler block adjuster is available from the 2018 Ski-Doo accessories catalog, and it allows you to quickly adjust your transfer right from your handlebars! With the adjuster on the left-hand grip, you can make the block in back go from coupled to uncoupled and back again with just a twist of your hand. It works on the Gen4 chassis with rMotion rear suspension.

Also available for 2018 is an adjustable windshield that can be raised from medium height (19 inches) to high height (23 inches). This accessory will fit all REV Gen4 850s.

Check out the new driver-angled footrest platforms, too. They are grippy and offer a slightly different approach angle for your foot.

A quick note: the adjustable limiter strap that was available last year will again be available for all 2018 Summit and Freeride sleds. It is NOT available for the Backcountry or any other Renegade models or trail sleds.
2018 Ski-Doo MXZ X-RS 850 E-TEC
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