Crossing Over

Is it a trail sled? Is it a mountain sled? These crossovers do it all!
2019 Ski-Doo Backcountry X-RS 850 146
2019 Ski-Doo Backcountry X-RS 850 146
What exactly is a 50/50 crossover sled?

Many variables make the four sleds in this comparison more or less compatible with trail or mountain riding. Track length, lug height, suspension, weight and skis all play a role. Conditions make a big difference too! Out West a “50/50” might be more 70/30 in hard spring snow.

Ultimately you need to look at the area you ride and ask yourself how much trail vs. off-trail riding you actually do. If you are riding off-trail, is it in the deep and steep? If so, a longer track and lug would be better suited. If you have to ride 30 miles of trail before any deeper snow riding, then a more trail oriented sled might be for you.
For this article we gave each sled we tested an “AmSnow Crossover Rating.” The first number is the percentage that we felt it was mountain capable and the second number was its trail capability.

A great car salesman told me once “you don’t want to buy a vehicle for what you do 5% of the time.” Does it ring true for you?

■ 2019 Backcountry X-RS 146
This was a really fun all around sled, a 70/30 crossover. The 2.0 Powdermax track had plenty of hook-up both off the trail and on the trail. The 850 E-TEC also has the power to put to the track and get you wherever you need to go quickly. Wheelies are great fun! The cMotion works great to give you both on and off trail control, and the big knobs on the KYB Pro shocks make it easy to adjust the suspension and ride to your liking whether you are railing hard through the turns or riding the deep powder.

The RS running boards let snow sift through them and help keep your feet planted. This is built for the aggressive rider and likes to be ridden that way. It is solid and rigid, but also nimble and compliant where you need it to be. Built on the Gen4 platform it is easy to turn and the skis hook up incredibly well, it feels stable with the 40.2-inch ski stance going down the trail. The narrower 38.4-inch off-trail ski stance makes it easy to boondock regardless of conditions. At only 471 pounds, it takes less rider input and is easier to fly through the air. The chassis, rails and suspension worked in harmony making for easy transitions on a drop or hit. This is a great crossover and hot color!
2019 Arctic Cat High Country XF M8000 141
2019 Arctic Cat High Country XF M8000 141
■ 2019 XF 8000 High Country Limited ES 141
The new XF High Country with the Power Claw Track and 2.25-inch lugs had no problem at all in the stutter of the trail or powering through turns with ease and then hooking up on the straightaways. The 141-inch track is more geared towards the trail side, but it is perfectly capable off trail too. The shorter track length kept up with longer track sleds in most of the POW, but there were times it had to follow in the track of a mountain sled, especially through the really deep stuff to get up some of the steeper climbs. For the most part though it had enough bite and certainly enough power to get up almost everything on its own.

This sled also comes in a 153-inch track length which I did get the chance to ride and it has no problem going everywhere. The 153 fits more in the category of 80/20 like the SKS.

The 141 is a true 50/50 with enough features to spend the whole day on the trail while still having the ability to get off the trail anywhere with confidence. The telescoping adjustable 4-inch mountain bar is a great feature and one that works great for people of all heights to feel comfortable. You can put it up for stand-up riding in the deep powder, when boondocking, or lower your position for tight fast trail riding.

The Fox 1.5 Zero QS3 shocks up front make for an incredibly comfortable ride and give you plenty of confidence regardless of what type of conditions you are riding in or on, and with an adjustable ski stance of 39.5 - 41.5 inches you have the stability you need. The ProClimb-7 G2 ski with single runner and carbide felt very aggressive in the turns. More than once I thought I was going to roll the sled because the skis wanted to turn hard but I did not adjust quickly enough. The skis worked really well in the ‘crud’ off trail and had no problem cutting through it. The front end seemed to dive a bit in soft snow, but overall did a good job staying on top.

The controls are right at your thumb tips on the left side and the all new push button start feature is much appreciated. Hand and thumb warmers with five settings worked really well and got hot fast on the highest setting. I love that Cat added a tether too; our broken record keeps on spinning, but it is a feature that needs to be on every sled.
2019 Yamaha Sidewinder B-TX LE 153
2019 Yamaha Sidewinder B-TX LE 153
■ 2019 Sidewinder B-TX 153
You can only describe fast so many times, but a sonic boom comes to mind when I think of the speed of the Yamaha Sidewinder B-TX. Or maybe when Superman flies around the earth so fast he slows down time. That is kind of how the 153 B-TX makes you feel.

This is more like an 80/20 crossover geared more to off-trail, but our trail riders love it too. With an engine capable of putting plenty of power to the track and a 2.25-inch lug, once the track hooks up it will go anywhere you point it. So just make sure you have a solid grip when you hammer down on the throttle otherwise you will be staring straight up at the doing one heck of a wheelie!

Down the trail, the Fox 1.5 Zero QS3 shocks have no problem giving a compliant ride, but this sled likes to pick the skis up! For those times you do touch down, the shocks absorb it all with ease. The 40-inch front end is wide enough, but sometimes in the trail we wanted a wider option. Especially on tall 4-stroke sled that can hit triple digits. Thankfully the Hayes brakes work incredibly well too!

Hills, valleys, rivers, lakes or oceans, you name it, it is ready to go through it. The BTX is an absolute riot to ride in the deep and steep. It will dive on you when you let off the throttle so be prepared, and it does have a tendency to push through the corners, but when you are back on the throttle the 998cc turbo makes this sled feel light and nimble. Make sure you have plenty of room to let the track hook up because it will launch you. The fun factor is off the charts here and riding the BTX is truly an experience every sledder should do at least once.
2019 Polaris SKS 850 146
2019 Polaris SKS 850 146
■ 2019 SKS 146
I loved the 2018 Polaris 800 SKS, and so when the new Patriot 850 got dropped into the SKS 146, I was more than happy to take it out for a rip. In a lot of ways, this 2019 is one of the best rides in the mountains. The Polaris SKS 146 with the series 5.2 track and 2.25-inch lug was an 80/20 crossover. It is built more with deep snow and mountains in mind. The rear IGX suspension is great for the bumps and whoops on the trail but also great off trail. It is incredibly smooth and compliant in varying conditions from the deep snow to taking it off drops and rollers.

I love the shorter 146 track, it makes it nimble and easy to maneuver off-trail in what is already an easy to maneuver chassis, combine that with the new 850 and it takes this sled to a whole new level of fun. You really feel the power of the new Patriot 850 when you are riding a shorter track sled. The power to track is stronger with less rotating mass to turn and the 2.25-inch lug has plenty of hook-up to propel that energy forward. Ski lift was not a problem.

The SKS is a prodigy of its Axys heritage for sure. And true to its mountain DNA it to has the instantaneous lift that Polaris mountain sleds are renowned for, and we love!

This is a sled I would never have problem riding, regardless of how bad or how stellar the snow conditions happened to be. The quick-adjust piggy-back Walker Evans shocks allow you to quickly adjust your ride from firm to soft for conditions.

This is absolutely a sled that you can charge down the trail too! The SKS takes the corners incredibly well even with a narrower front end of 39 inches, but especially with the ski stance widened out to its full 41 inches. The 39-inch stance gives you plenty of stability and it feels a lot like a 36-inch stance in many other chassis. It is incredibly nimble when pulling a side hill or boondocking through the trees. The Axys chassis naturally makes what would normally feel like a fairly wide front end feel narrower and more compliant giving you the best of both worlds, all of which you want in a crossover.
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