Review: 2008 Ski-Doo REV XP Summit
No shortage of hype around this new chassis
Apr. 01, 2007
Going into Snow Shoot 2008, there was no shortage of hype surrounding Ski-Doo’s new REV-XP chassis. The XP chassis is basically a whole new snowmobile that BRP has been working on since the release of the successful REV platform in 03.
Aside from using the same 800 twin engine from the old REV, all other components have been redesigned. Apparently the engineers at BRP were tasked with designing the lightest, best-handling, and most-powerful snowmobile in the industry.
As we started the machines and began preparing to the leave the staging area of Snow Shoot with four new Summit REVs, our first impression was that the riding position had been made even more aggressive than that of the old REV. The rider now sits much further forward and the new aluminum handlebars sit high and forward for a riding position similar to most MX bikes. The chassis also moves the riders' legs forward and inline with the handlebars.
Heading out onto the rough trails left by a week of journalists bombing the prototype sleds back and forth, all our test riders began to notice the engine vibration through the tunnel and handlebars. The vibration was so bad it made your hands and feet tingle. According to Ski-Doo engineers the vibration is caused by the pre-production motor mounts used on the prototype machines we were riding, and they assured us production units will have substantial improvement.
Aside from the vibration and although the new riding position and steering took a little getting used to, the sled did feel very light and responsive. The power from the 800 twin engine was plentiful but the power band was so smooth that it was deceivingly fast and almost unexciting.
Everything about this machine screams lightweight - from the punched track to the lightweight riser block. It is clear that BRP has shaved every last possible ounce off of this machine to bring it down to 439lbs, leaving the other manufacturers with a roughly 50lb weight disadvantage on their mountain sleds. But although weight is a huge issue for many mountain riders , time will tell if the durability will suffer due to the weight savings.
Ski-Doo has relocated the brake so that it sits next to the left footwell and although the guard does a good job of protecting the riders feet from the disc the brake caliper does stick out slightly. The new brake location caused a few complaints with our test riders who would hit their toes on the hard edges of the brake caliper.
The tall, narrow, and firm seat sits the rider high on the sled and allows for easy transitions between sitting down and standing up riding positions.
A twin gauge cluster keeps the rider informed of speed and rpms with two analogue gauges that are split by a digital display that displays a number of different read outs including altitude on the X models.
Flat aluminum handlebars with hooks now come standard on all Summit models providing good height and width. The controls function well and aside from a couple of accidental reverse engagements all our test riders complimented the ergonomics of the switches, throttle, and brake lever.
BRP’s lightweight mantra continued to the track, two all new Camoplast Challenger Lite’s come in 146 and 154 inch lengths. This new length is due to the new 2.86” pitch used, similar to the old REV they are 16” wide. Unfortunately the snow conditions at Grand Lake hindered us from giving the track a thorough evaluation, but on the crusty snow we experienced both the 146 and 154 tracks performed well on the trail and when climbing.
We really liked the extra inch of width over an additional foot of track length that the other manufacturers use because of their 15” tracks. Our test riders favored the shorter lengths because they made the sleds much easier to handle in a variety of conditions and make the overall length of the machine shorter.
As stated earlier, the Rotax 800R engine in the new Summits remains basically unchanged from the 07 machine. Putting out a little over 150hp it still does an awesome job of powering the machine up every hill we could find. Considering the whole industry has shifted to EFI on their machines we were a little surprised that the Rotax 800 engine remained carbureted. Not that it really made much difference to our riding experience. Our only fault would be that the throttle was a little stiff to operate due to the flatside carbs.
The R&D staff at Ski-Doo will surely be working overtime throughout the summer to fix all the little problems on the prototypes so that the production sleds are flawless. The two most-talked about numbers in mountain snowmobiling - horsepower and weight - are aiming for class-leading on these machines and the sales numbers will surely reflect this if they get it all right.
So if you live near any steep mountains covered with copious amounts of snow, you should expect to see these stealth-looking machines making some very impressive highmarks.
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