MYSTERY SLED: 2021 ARCTIC CAT RIOT X
We're calling the new RIOT X "crossover" this year's winner of the "Mysterious Sled" award! Why?
Last year's RIOT X, targeted at the buyer who was about 60-40 into powder riding versus trail riding, was an efficient crossover that could perform decently on the trails but really excelled in the deep stuff.
This year's RIOT X has targeted the 90-10 ratio of riders who ride 90-percent in the powder and only use their "crossover" to get from their staging area to the hills. To call this sled a crossover is like looking at an emu with its head stuck in the sand.
After riding it, you just can't deny this is a mountain sled with a short track and softer calibrated, more adjustable suspension.
It uses Cat's very powder-specific Alpha single rail skid and that feature alone sets it apart from the competition's crossover sleds.
Although our test team in West Yellowstone, Montana loved the RIOT X Alpha in the powder and the trees - and claimed it was absolutely incredible for handling due to its relatively short 146-inch track length and 2.6 paddles, they much preferred the true crossover RIOT with its dual rail suspension and shallower paddle, for trail use. It was pretty much agreed the dual rail, plain vanilla RIOT was the Polaris Assault's best competitor.
If you're comparing, the RIOT X falls more in line with the Polaris SKS - which also leans very heavily toward powder and vert use – no excuses made by Polaris.
Our best explanation to describe the function of the RIOT X Alpha is that it is extremely competent in fluff and can actually climb with some of the most aggressive pure mountain sleds - a lot due to its excellent 800 CTEC2 SDI twin.
This engine offers lightning-quick throttle response and makes the kind of power that deep snow use demands. The RIOT X will still, however, be a compromise on trails despite its excellent QS3 shocks and lighter spring setup.
There's really no problem here - except for the language used to describe a sled like the RIOT X. This sled in no way "crosses over" between trail and powder.
It's as boldly about deep snow riding as any all-out mountain sled and is designed to get you to that stuff where you can play all day, not to take for a 200 mile trail ride.
As long as you realize that fact, you will fall in love with this very competent short tracked mountain sled!
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