By Karin Gelschus
The 2011 snowmobile introductions were fairly quiet this year compared to years past. There are some new sleds available, but most of the changes to the new model year sleds were upgrades to existing snowmobiles.
There is a lot of anticipation, however, for the 2012 models as the new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations will go into effect for that model year, which is expected to drive many unit changes.
Arctic Cat introduced four new sleds for 2011 and made a few upgrades to some existing models.
The manufacturer revealed a new special edition dual-purpose utility/touring Bearcat Z1 XT. Arctic Cat says the Bearcat Z1 XT Limited combines the body-saving ride of the Twin Spar Chassis with the Z1 four-stroke engine, but with touring features, including a third seat, a rear storage bag, engine heater, heated driver seat, premium gauge and extra-tall windshield.
Another sled the OEM debuted was the new F8 EXT. The snowmobile features an extended 144-inch Cobra track, IRP adjustable handlebars and seat as well as a standard electric start and push-button engine reverse.
Also new to the Arctic family is the Z1 Turbo Sno Pro Limited and the Z1 Sno Pro. The later sled features Fox FLOAT 2 ski shocks, a flyscreen windshield and a more aggressive 15- by 128- by 1.25-inch track.
A few other snowmobile upgrades include the M8 HCR with a 162-inch rear tunnel extension, added protection to the rear coolant hoses, rear wheel stiffener spacer and a tether cord replaces the key switch. The Bearcat 570 and Bearcat 570 XT received an electric start, rear passenger seat/footrests, rear fiberglass overload springs and a 20 by 154 by 1.38-inch Ripsaw track.
Building on last year’s success of the Rush, Polaris introduced the new 800/600 Rush PRO-R and 800/600 Rush.
Refinements to the Pro-Ride Rear Suspension for 2011 include a revised rail profile for greater top speed, a new rear crank for reduced weight and an updated front torque arm for improved stud clearance.
For deep snow, Polaris released the all-new 800 Pro-RMK 163/155 models.
Built on the Pro-Ride Deep Snow Chassis, their weight has been reduced. The OEM also released its all-new 800 Switchback Assault 144, which combines the Rush’s front end and 800 Cleanfire engine with hybrid elements of the RMK platform in the rear.
Lastly, the brand new 600 Rush LX has a combination of suspension performance, luxury features and cargo capacity for touring adventures.
For riding gear and accessories, Polaris has teamed up with a number of companies to expand its apparel line, including FXR, Oakley and ToBe.
There’s limited production for the new Rotax E-TEC 800R engine, says Ski-Doo, so ordering during the spring promotion is essential.
Ski-Doo also released the Rotax ACE 600 four-stroke engine, which is the first in a family of Advanced Combustion Efficiency (ACE) four-stroke engines for BRP products. This engine is targeted to fuel-conscious riders and minimal maintenance.
The company also expanded the Expedition line. BRP now offers three feature packages for trail-touring riders who also want to capably explore off-trail: SE, LE and Sport.
To satisfy riders who ride off-trail in deeper snow but aren’t in the mountains, the Tundra Xtreme model combines deep snow flotation of the Tundra model, power of the Rotax 600 H.O. E-TEC engine and 2.25-inch lug PowderMax track.
Ski-Doo downsized its MX Z line as the Adrenaline and TNT configurations merged into a TNT package, leaving two in-season packages: Sport and TNT. The TNT package includes a redesigned windshield and HPG Plus shocks.
Other new features for Ski-Doo include the S-36 handing package for Summit sleds, Summit Freeride package and non-ported PowderMax tracks.
New for 2011, Yamaha released a new Apex that features electronic power steering (EPS), which is new to snowmobiling. The EPS lightens steering, dampens feedback that comes through the handlebars and improves handling. Yamaha also added a high-tech, variable exhaust system to the machines.
The machines with the new features include the Apex, Apex SE and Apex XTX models.
The rest of Yamaha’s lineup remains largely the same as last year’s models.