Compromise or best of two worlds?
by DOOTalk staffers
In 2001, BRP was the first sled manufacturer to offer a true hybrid snowmobile, the Summit Renegade, for on/off trail riding. The idea was that mid-western trail riders would like the ability to trailer their sleds out west for mountain riding vacations. The first Renegades were capable deep snow machines that were also at home on the trails. As the popularity of the Renegade grew, it was moved to the MXZ model line as a feature package. Trail riders learned to appreciate the handling characteristics of the longer track along with the bump bridging ability it provided. Finally, in 2010, BRP figured the Renegade was no longer a side-kick to the Summits or MXZs and moved the Renegade to its own model. Promoting the Gade to its own model has allowed BRP to better focus the sled's features and calibrations towards its intended buyer.
BRP believes the vast majority of Renegade owners use their machines as long-track trail sleds but also like the flexibility to go off-trail for occasional deep snow fun. Based on this, the majority of the 2010 Renegades came with 137x15x1.25 inch tracks. The move to the 15 inch track was based on a "need for speed". The 15 inch track provides a 5 MPH top end advantage compared to the 16 inch track as well as sharper corning. It also sprays less snow outside the tunnel during normal trail riding.
We thought the 137x15 inch track was spot on for our type of riding, mostly trails in New York State, with occasional powder playing in fields. We seem to be in the minority of Renegade riders however. For 2011, BRP is going back to the 16 inch track on the Renegade Adrenaline based on consumer input. Their research has indicated that floatation is more important than terminal speed for Renegade owners. Our own DOOTalk Poll supports this notion as well with only 14% of Renegade owners stating they purchased their Gade primarily for better on-trail riding.
Ski-Doo has set the benchmark for performance and handling with the XP platform. So, is it worth possibly compromising improved handling for the benefits of the longer track? Turns out to be a moot point. Our Renegade was an improved trail sled in most conditions (compared to shorty for bigger riders), had exceptional top end speed and cornered like an MXZ. For riders pushing 200 lbs or more, we don't believe you give up any handling benefits of the shorty XP. In fact, some of our "bigger" testers believed the Renegade actually was less nervous and had better in-air balance as compared to the MXZ. Smaller riders certainly feel the longer track more and likely will feel more push in corners. But, much of that can be minimized with proper set-up and suspension adjustments. The Gade is not quite as accepting to rider input as an MXZ, however what you give up in "flickability" is gained back in additional feeling of stability--especially at high speeds. In 2009, some Renegade owners reported the steering was a "bit heavy". BRP addressed this in 2010 by changing the steering ratio which eliminated the heavy feel and improved handling.
We had the opportunity to ride the 2010 Renegade Adrenaline along side its big brother, the Summit, in 2-3 feet of powder in northern Quebec. The 15 inch wide tracked Renegade is definitely not a mountain machine, but it actually performed ok in the deep snow--as long as you picked your path and let the big boys bust trail through the deepest of snow.
We chose the Adrenaline as our test sled for several reasons. First, we wanted a great bump sled for the famous stutter bumps found on New York trails. The Adrenaline gave us HPG Plus shocks up front (versus Motion Control), a 1.25 inch RipSaw track and aluminum handlebars with hooks for more control. Most importantly, the Adrenaline package gave us the one option that we really wanted--the 600 H.O. E-TEC powerplant with electric start.
Last year we were almost convinced that the future of snowmobiling had 4 stroke stamped on it--the 1200 4-TEC made us believers. Spending the winter on the E-TEC has us thinking that Direct Injection 2 strokes may be hard to push off the top of the hill. Our 600 E-TEC performed flawlessly. It started instantly from temps ranging from 0F to 40F. The motor is smooth, you give up nothing in power compared to other 600's--and you don't smell ANY smoke. Fuel economy ranged from 15MPG on the first tank to upwards of 20MPG once broken in. Sounds like a 4 stroke without the weight penalty doesn't it? Lightweight 2 strokes offer less rider fatigue and we found we could ride our 600 H.O. E-TEC longer and harder than the 1200 4-TEC TNT--at least on rough trails and bump filled railroad beds.
BRP claims the 600 H.O. E-TEC uses half the oil compared to comparable 2 strokes and we found this to be true. Add in a three year sparkplug, built in summerization programming, and RER and you'll find the E-TEC is hard to beat.
Like many that have logged serious miles on "cold" XP machines, we welcomed the improved wind protection offered by the windscreen on the 2010 Gade. Compared to riding TNTs, it definitely is a warmer ride--but we'll admit, it doesn't look nearly as fast standing still.
We have to get nit-picky to find things we didn't like about our Renegade. Although the rear storage compartment was a welcomed addition, it let in snow which negated some of its usefulness. We also would have preferred the premium gauge cluster on our Adrenaline with the added digital read out. The analog speedo that reads up to 200 for kilometers makes for an inadequate MPH gauge.
What you get when buying a 2010 Renagade Adrenaline 600 H.O. E-TEC is one of the best trail sleds for bigger riders on the planet. You do get the best of both worlds in combining the benefits of the longer track without giving up the precise handling of the MXZ. Over 83% DOOTalk Renegade owners state that they like their Gade so much they will not go back to the short track. The Renegade allows you to venture off-trail for occasional fun and the 600 H.O. E-TEC is silky smooth, provides plenty of power for the vast majority of riders and is easy on your wallet when it comes to gas and oil. We could go on telling you the merits of this machine, but talk is cheap. We liked the 2010 Renegade Adrenaline powered by the 600 H.O. E-TEC so much--we are buying one to add to our fleet for personal use. It's that good!