2014 Ski-Doo XM Summit SP Review
It's an XM Summit and All Mountain Business
Story by Matt Allred, Photography by Matt Allred, Oct 22, 2013
Ski-Doo and its XM chassis 800 Summit is a feather light snowmobile through the handlebars and is jam packed with the essential tools to dismantle and decommission a mountain.
This past season we’ve discussed several XM chassis Ski-Doo snowmobiles, the Summit X and the XM RS Freeride. Within these topics and in this season, we wove in the REV XP chassis Summit Sport with 800R P-Tek (PowerTek).
We conclude our Summit features with the XM Summit SP, the Summit that is all XM – tMotion rear suspension and FlexEdge track – but minus some XM wizardry. This is the XM Summit in-season model that we all can purchase – post-Spring buy.
The SP Summit 800 often is overlooked by the mountain snowmobile buying public because it is not an “X.” To that we say, “Whaaa?” Don’t overlook the SP. This is by no means a less-than XM Summit. The SP will bust through powder and climb any mountain a Summit X can. Furthermore, riding an SP Summit should is not an indication you’ve ratcheted down your feverish mountain boondocking. Nobody will laugh at you for unzipping a mountain on an SP; in fact, you may gain some notable respect. Repeat after me…“Its an XM.”
The XM Summit SP’s heart and lungs is the quiet and big stick carrying 800R E-Tec motor. This dependable motor has, with a sneaky and stealthy attitude, moved Ski-Doo to head classman.
COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2014 Polaris 800 Pro-RMK
Underneath the motor is a dual A-arm front end with high-pressure gas (HPG) shocks. Ski-stance adjusts from 35.7-37.4-in. with vertical travel at 8.0 in. The front suspension comes coupled to a swaybar. But, with Ski-Doo’s ingenuity, the swaybar is a Quick Disconnect system. If you want to amplify the Summit SP’s roll into a mountain then take two seconds to disconnect the swaybar and have at it.
Giving the XM Summit SP its go-forward motion and flotation is the tMotion rear suspension. If you do not understand what this is, let us quickly quote Ski-Doo as a means to summarize it: “The tMotion flexes laterally, reducing the effort to initiate a roll, due to a ball joint at the center hinge between the rear arm and drop link and split flat-tube front arms.”
Vertical travel for the tMotion is 14 in. for the SP tracking on a 146 in. track, 15 in. for the 154, and 16 in. for the 163. Controlling bump impact is a pair of HPG shocks.
Circling the tMotion is Ski-Doo’s PowderMax 2 track with FlexEdge technology. For you potential XM Summit SP purchasers, this means the 16 in. track has flexible edges. Molded into the track, from the center out at a length of 12 in., are fiberglass reinforcing rods; and with the center 12 in. reinforced, the track’s outer two-inches, which are not reinforced, flex ever so slightly up (to match the hill’s slope angle). This allows the track’s flexed up edges to flex up when a sidehill roll is initiated. Lug height for the PowderMax 2 track is 2.5 in.; the track is a non-ported design.
As hinted earlier, the SP comes in three track lengths, 146, 154 and 163. When you consider the Summit uses a 16 in. wide track, its footprint is larger than those mountain snowmobiles that use 15 in. tracks. This means the Summit SP 146 floats much like a 150-something with a 15 in. wide track, the 154 like a 160-something and the 163 near that of a 170-incher. Given this knowledge, you’ll understand the Summit SP’s pounds-per-square-inches of weight on the track is small as compared to those mountain snowmobiles that rely on narrower tracks.
The REV XM platform, which replaces the REV XP (except for the Summit Sport), is a rigid chassis for mountain riding, the stiffer – and lighter – the better. With the advent of the stiff XM chassis, the tMotion rear suspension and FlexEdge track are allowed to roll center-right and center-left at their full potential.
Also, the REV XM’s runningboards do not flex down when stomped on by an aggressive rider as they move from one runningboard to the other. The runningboards have wide and spacious snow-dump holes that prevent ice and snow-buildup.
The REV XM Summit SP cockpit has a peer-up instrument pod, just like the Summit X, that delivers easy communication when riding in a standup position. Behind the instrument cluster is a glove box, which is just large enough for an extra pair of gloves or goggles. The multi-function gauge reports engine vitals, speed, altitude, current time and temperature.
A low-profile lightweight seat includes rear storage. The seat’s material is tactile – it keeps a rider fairly locked down when in a seated position.
The Summit SP slides on Ski-Doo’s Pilot DS 2 skis. This ski, an all-around and general purpose mountain ski, is suited for backcountry riding and it complements the tMotion rear suspension and FlexEdge track in powder riding.
Missing from the SP are the Summit X handlebars. The X’s curved handlebars fit nicely and are ergonomically correct for mountain riding. Although the SP’s handlebars are not as sweet looking as the X’s, the bars are functional and do allow the driver to leverage the snowmobile around with ease. This is not a nit or complaint, just know the SP has its own bars. Like all Summits, the SP has a center-mounted strap on the bars for an extra leverage point.
For you riders looking for extra knowledge, the Summit’s steering post does not swing the handlebars flat like that of a Cat M Sno Pro or RMK Pro, but the swing is very close to flat. If you are happy with the bars’ rotation, then let it be. If not, you can mess with its adjustments to arrive at your happy place. In our experience, the factory position is the optimum.
Here is one more FYI from riding the XM with the Quick Disconnect swaybar; try the XM Summit SP with it connected and not, and learn the snowmobile’s vast adjustments. With that, make adjustments to the front shocks’ pre-load settings. By increasing or decreasing pressure, and unlocking or locking down the swaybar, you have an infinite adjustment range to dial in the XM, with its tMotion and FlexEdge PowderMax 2 tracks, to maddening steep-n-deep situations.
COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2014 Ski-Doo Summit X
Riding the SP is not much different than riding the X, as they are much the same – mechanically. At first I preferred the handlebars on the SP over that of the X, but as time and experience on the X surpassed my time on an SP, I came to favor the X’s bars. But, I can adapt.
On the other hand, riding the XM Summit SP is a “wholelotta funner” than riding the REV XP Summit Sport. Meaning, the XM chassis Summit has spoiled us. Oh, we are not letting the air out of the Summit Sport; we are simply fans of sweet-handling technology.
One must understand the SP’s purpose is to deliver the XM Summit experience without compromise and without high cost. The powerful and economical 800R E-Tec motor, coupled with the SP’s lower price, makes it an attractive way to be a “Summiteer” on an XM Summit, regardless of track length.
For model year 2013, we chose the XM Summit X 154 as one of our editor’s choice mountain sleds – tying with the Polaris RMK Pro 155 with Quick Drive. This year, the new XM RS Freeride 146 and 154 came out on top as our editor’s choice mountain sleds (once again a tie). Given that, we find the XM Summit, FlexEdge PowderMax 2 technology, S-36 Handling Package, tMotion technology and nice engineering around the cockpit, such as opened up toe holds, make this chassis and motor, a sure and easy choice.
What does this all mean then? Riding an XM Summit SP is riding one of the best chassis mountain snowmobiles in the West. So what if the SP does not have X or Freeride across its hood, go buy it, have fun, and knock your buddies around.
|2014 Ski-Doo Summit Sport 800R Specs|
|Engine||Rotax PowerTEK 799.5cc; liquid-cooled, twin; two-stroke with twin 40mm Mikuni carbs|
|Drive||Ski-Doo TRA VII driven, QRS secondary|
|Front Suspension||Ski-Doo dual A-arm with Motion Control shocks; 8-inches of travel|
|Rear Suspension||tMotion with Motion Control and HPG Plus gas shock; rear travel up to 15-inches|
|Width||42.6 - 44.3 in|
|Ski Stance||Adjustable: 35.7 to 37.4 in|
|Track||16 x 154 x 2.25 PowderMax II Flexedge track|
|Brake||Brembo racing brake|
|Weight||455 lbs (claimed)|
|Fuel Capacity||10.6 US Gal (Premium unleaded recommended)|
|Features||Standard: analog gauge; REV-XP X seat with storage; pushbutton electronic reverse; mountain strap|
Optional: key start; storage bags; rack; tank pads; optional windshield sizes; LinQ mounting system for accessories