2009 Mountain Snowmobiles Ride Impressions

We rode a selection of the mountain machines at Snowshoot in Grand Lake, Colorado, at 8,000 ft.

Nov. 17, 2008 By Stephen Clark
[Editor's Note: First Run April 2008, immediately after SnowShoot in Grand Lake CO. Now these models are available at your local dealer, and it's time to SHOP!]

yamaha snowmobile review

Our test riders favored the Ski-Doo Summit machines in both 600 and 800 engine sizes over all the other sleds we rode. The riding position seemed a bit too aggressive for us when we first rode the '08 sleds but after a season spending some time on the XP chassis we feel much more comfortable with how it handles. The weight is definitely the strongest attribute of the XP chassis and although there are small things that bugged us like the brake and chaincase hitting our feet and the stiff throttle cable, overall these sleds are tough to beat. The reliability is also a concern but Ski-Doo stated that many of these problems have been addressed on the '09 models. Time will tell on this one.

snowmobile ride impression review

Second place would is a tie between the Arctic Cat Ms and Polaris RM’s. It really depends on the engine. In the 800 class, we preferred the Cat, but we rode the Sno-Pro version whereas the RMK was favored more in the 600 class. Like Ski-Doo the weight of the new Arctic Cat’s is very appealing. We had maybe a little too much fun on the RMK 700 but were a little disappointed with Assault.

The Assault just wouldn’t turn on the trail or in the powder, we think it was probably a problem with the set-up of the rear suspension that wasn’t putting enough pressure on the skis. 2009 snowmobilesTurning is a pretty big problem to overlook but otherwise the sled worked well, we especially liked the suspension and engine. The track on the Assault is very aggressive and will work best in spring snow but tends to trench in the deep powder. If we were purchasing an Assault we would be looking for an alternative track that was more versatile in a different snow conditions.

Aside from the Assault, the Arctic Cat M sleds are the only machines in the mountain class that don’t come with a swaybar. Obviously it can be removed from all these sleds but comparing stock-to-stock the Cats are much easier to sidehill and get up on one ski. You could sidehill forever on these sleds.

The Yamaha four-stroke sleds are not quite up to the level of their two-stroke competition but every year they get closer. The drawback to the Yamahas are their weight disadvantage and although this is a major consideration for many mountain riders the Yamaha sleds do have the edge over their competition in other areas. The build quality and reliability is far superior from everything else and the smooth, almost maintenance-free engines are a big positive. Another thing that really struck us especially on the Apex is how well the controls are laid out and the finish of the whole sled. In our opinion though, if you want to ride aggressively in the steep and deep on Yamaha mountain sleds you will need to add boost to make them overcome their weight.

ski doo snowmobile review


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