Santa Needs a New Sled, Baby

Published on Thu, 10/27/2016 - 5:20pm

What's new in snowmobiles for MY2017

  "New engines" seems to be the theme for 2017, with exciting announcements by both Ski-Doo and Yamaha on all-new mills.

Ski-Doo starts things off with their high-powered Rotax 850 E-TEC II engine package offered in three different series: MX Z, Renegade, and Summit. Offering refinements to the key features of the first-generation E-TEC, the E-TEC II delivers 165 hp with 106 ft-lbs of torque, promising instantaneous throttle response while still being easy to control. New booster injectors also help speed things up, giving a 30-percent quicker response. In addition to the all-new engine, the MX Z, Renegade, and Summit model series also feature Ski-Doo's new Gen 4 REV platform and chassis, specifically designed to pair with the new Rotax 850 E-TEC, giving the rider a powerful, responsive, and agile sled.

Next up is Yamaha and their all-new Genesis 998 turbocharged three-cylinder engine, found in Yamaha's Sidewinder models as well as Arctic Cat's 9000-series for 2017. The turbine's nickel alloy body can withstand higher operating temperatures, while the turbo's ceramic bearings support a lightweight Inconel super-alloy turbine blade assembly, resulting in reduced turbo lag. Other highlights of the Genesis 998 turbo engine include a Yamaha-developed Mitsubishi ECU, forged pistons, a unique piston cooling system, triple throttle bodies for a smoother turbo response, and a cast three-into-one exhaust manifold to offer the shortest path available to the turbine, also helping to reduce turbo lag.

Polaris isn't resting on their laurels, either. The industry is abuzz over the 2017 Polaris Switchback Assault, with some snowmobile journalists opining that it may be the best 50-50 crossover sled available—ever. For 2017, the Switchback Assault is built on Polaris' AXYS platform with their new 144˝ IGX progressive-rate rear suspension. Tipped-up rails and dialed-in suspension keep you planted in corners and on groomed trails, while the 144˝ IGX suspension offers plenty of floatation off trail.

Arctic Cat's big news for the new model year also centers around the new Yamaha Genesis power plant found in their 2017 9000-series sleds. Reviewers are raving about the lack of traditional turbo lag, using words like lag-free, smooth, and even quiet—no mean feat for a snowmobile, and a turbocharged one at that. Performance is, in a word, breathtaking. Other big news is all-new bodywork for the 9000 series, giving better airflow under the hood along with tool-free removal the the hood and side panels for quick and easy access to regular maintenance chores.

And Now For Something Completely Different

Under Polaris' umbrella of brands is Timbersled. While not a snowmobile per se (and why not—Polaris is already a well-respected snowmobile brand), Timbersled offers kits consisting of a front ski along with a rear track system to bolt on to your existing dirt bike. While the various models are considered "universal" fit, model-specific fit kits make sure installation is a a good fit for your specific motorcycle. If you dig dirt bikes, and have a warm garage and a free afternoon, your bike should be ready for the snow in about three hours (although Timbersled recommends dealer installation).