With really deep snow we put our demo sleds through a thorough test of their deep snow abilities.
The Polaris 800 RMK Assault performed the best overall and between our testers was the unanimous pick as the best sled. It is rare that all our testers pick one machine as the favorite, but it explains how good this machine really is. Polaris has picked up Western market share with the Pro-RMK and Polaris tells us this is the best-selling sled in North America this season.
The Ski-Doo and Arctic Cat 800s are certainly nipping at the heels of the RMK, but fell just short in our testing. While we didn’t have a longer-tracked Ski-Doo Summit, the Ski-Doo Freeride 146 worked well in our test and was incredibly fun to ride. To be honest, its shorter track kept it from competing well with the Polaris.
Arctic Cat’s new ProClimb chassis works well in many conditions, but this first year machine has been plagued by a variety of assembly and reliability problems that have held it back. Once Cat works the bugs out of the M 800 ProClimb it will be a great machine. Cat’s Turbo HCR was the real surprise. All of our test riders complimented the M 1100 Turbo on it’s incredible power. Even as the heaviest machine in our test, its weight wasn’t too noticeable as the Turbo powered through deep snow well.
Yamaha’s Nytro with its add-on turbo offered good horsepower in a relatively light 4-stroke package, however our issues with its turbo and lack of early testing (due to poor snow) held back its performance. We feel it could challenge the M 1100 Turbo in a hillclimb, if working properly. We’ll give you our full-season eval next fall.
Overall the demo fleet worked incredibly well. Each sled has its own strengths and weaknesses, which we’ll elaborate on in long-term tests in future issues. The key to deciding between these sleds is picking the strengths that best match your riding style.
If big horsepower is what you’re looking for then a 4-stroke turbo is the way to go. For nimble technical handling the 2-strokes are much better. (See Olav Aaen’s 2- vs. 4-stroke story, p. 46.)
All the sled makers offer a tour of demo rides each Spring. We urge you to spend a day riding them yourself to see what fits your style best.
|Overall Tester Ratings|
| Polaris 800 RMK Assault
| Ski-Doo Freeride 146
| Arctic Cat M 800
| Arctic Cat M 1100 Turbo HCR
| Yamaha Nytro w/ Turbo