The crystal ball in our offices is fickle. Unlike some industry media folks, we don’t claim to know it all. We are not always right, and we also can’t predict the future … but it sure is fun to talk about it! With the inside track on a lot of things, we do have a few more insights compared to the average snowmobile future-teller. Still, at the end of the day, we are all just making educated hypotheses.
Over the next few weeks, AmSnow editors will be attending the OEMs' Sneak Peek events, where they'll be finding out what cool new stuff the "Big Four" have on tap for snowmobilers this year. Taken from the pages of our February 2017 issue, here are our predictions for model year 2018:
Will Arctic Cat finally figure out its SVX snow bike vehicle for model year 2018?
Will we FINALLY get the new 800 C-TEC engine? The Cat PR folks told us back in March that it wasn’t quite ready for 2017, so we assume this MUST be coming for 2018. We hope it’s across all market segments. We also assume Cat will finally figure out the SVX snow bike vehicle (it has raced in snow bike events such as the Duluth ISOC where it got 2nd place). But will there be a limited build actually available at dealerships (or at least ready to order in a spring-buy promotion)? Will the last remnants of the 565cc 2-stroke fan motor in the Bearcat lineup finally disappear? We think that motor has a limited time span due to EPA credits for emissions standards across the full line of Cat sleds. This might be the last year, as the 700cc EFI twin 4-stroke motor fills that power level. Is there a joint chassis development effort going on between Cat and Yamaha? Either way, Cat is due to replace the ProCross chassis, as it is more than half a decade old now. It will either be in 2018 or 2019.
Polaris had more 550 fan 2-stroke models in its MY2017 lineup than any other OEM. These included the Indy LXT (above). When will Polaris eliminate this particular engine altogether, and what will replace it?
While some aggressive riders would love to see a new consumer RR version of the new Polaris race sled, we don’t think that is going to happen. It would be cool to see the race sled’s new steering post and narrower bodywork make it onto a consumer sled, though. That rear racing suspension must be working better in the rough stuff and more durable than the exposed Rush rear suspension. We think we might see more of that 600R suspension. Polaris also has more 550 fan 2-stroke models in its lineup than any other OEM. When do those 550cc models go away? What does Polaris replace them with? There is still no 4-stroke motor in Polaris’ lineup, and we think they will need it and probably introduce something soon. Timbersled snow bikes will also be a HUGE focal point for Polaris in 2018. We are guessing they will have a more “trail-focused” or “Midwest” version with a different ski or suspension setup for 2018. We were wrong last year when we thought there might be a new 600 motor for Polaris, but after a decade-plus of similar 600cc technology, we have to believe Polaris is ready for the next iteration.
Ski-Doo could give its new 850 motor an added boost by offering an MPI gas turbo kit option.
Is the 850 enough to compete with the big 4-stroke turbo from Yamaha and Cat? Will the HP wars get even hotter with a newly designed 4-stroke turbo Mach Z from Ski-Doo? We have been wrong so many times on this one that we don’t even want to talk about it anymore, but it would be VERY interesting. Also interesting to note: MPI (the company that made “factory-approved” turbo kits for Yamaha for several years) now makes a super easy-to-install pump gas turbo kit for the new 850 motor. We reported on this earlier this year, but might there be a similar deal being made with Ski-Doo? With MPI turbo installed, the 850 motor would likely be on par with the power of the Yamaha/Cat 4-stroke turbo sleds … not to mention more lightweight.
Last year was big for Yamaha with the Sidewinder sleds. What's in store for the OEM's 50-year anniversary in 2018?
Please let there be a new “Yamaha only” chassis this year! I think we echo all of the Yamaha faithful when we say that. Certainly, last year was big for Yamaha with the Sidewinder sleds (see photo above), but 2018 marks 50 years for Yamaha in the snowmo-biz. We have to believe that something just as big is in store for the new model year. Maybe (like we alluded to earlier) there is a joint project for a true chassis build going on between Cat and Yamaha. Granted, the 998cc turbo 4-stroke in the ProCross/SRV chassis was a joint project, but we are talking bigger than that. Maybe we will see that VK 540 motor in something other than the old VK utility chassis this year. We've got a side bet going in the office that there's a new version of a Sno-Scoot on the way too!
In mid-February, we'll begin revealing what's new for model year 2018. Stay tuned to www.AmSnow.com for more details, and subscribe to American Snowmobiler to get the full report in our Spring 2017 issue!