THREE SLEDS WE WONDER ABOUT
What are we wondering about? Well, the three sleds we're looking at are pretty good as is and we're trying to look down the telescope and figure out how they can be improved - and, if they can be - when?
The three we're looking at are: The present Ski-Doo G4 850 series, the 9000-series turbo Cats and Yamaha’s SideWinders.
We didn't list any Polaris models here because this year is the year of the all-new MATRYX. It's pretty obvious Polaris will start to evolve all of its models off this most recent platform and although it will likely take five or six years to get to completion, the company will whittle down the number of platforms it currently is using to either one (MATRYX) or two (AXYS & MATRYX).
However, looking five or six years down the road with the others is a more complex appraisal.
We'll start with the G4. There’s a lot of love for any Ski-doo built on this platform and the improvement over the former XS and XP chassis is pretty palpable.
This year Ski-Doo addressed some handling shortcomings by redesigning and widening the front end and modifying the rMotion skid to pretty much eradicate any doubts about Ski-Doo handling – at least on premium models.
We have to ask (it's what you want us to do), however, if this is enough to carry the fascination with Ski-Doo for many more years? In a nutshell, where does Ski-Doo go from here?
Other than the front end mods, the G4 is pretty much the same sled as it was last year – and the year before that. It's tough when your product is good enough that it's a challenge to improve it!
We think a direction Ski-Doo could be examining is a complete restyle of the plastic on the G4 chassis. Non-Dooers are pretty critical of how it looks and although that's a subjective opinion thing, a dramatic restyle would surely turn some heads.
The two turbos on our list are built in the same factory and, although the engineering teams are separate, there's a lot of tech info shared and decided on between the two.
Yamaha is easier to critique. We think the best thing Yamaha could do to assure sales success would be to make the SideWinder and the 9000 more distinctly different.
This certainly seems to be what hardcore Yamaha enthusiasts are saying - loudly. Basically they're calling for more Yamaha and less Cat. What shape that would take we're not sure, but Yamaha has some very good technology gathering dust on shelves in Hamamatsu. Why not use it?
Cat has a bigger responsibility since it would appear to be defining the direction of two companies – Arctic Cat and Yamaha.
We think the biggest direction Cat could be going in is the development of a completely new platform. Once again, there's nothing wrong with the ProCross chassis, it's just been unchanged for a lot of years. Whether a new platform would carry over to Yamaha is a very good question.
In fact, it could be one way of making the two companies model line-ups more distinctive. Cats on the new platform, Yamaha on the old one. Who knows?
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