I am one lucky boy, I know that, but when I got the call from Anne-Sophie at Ski-Doo saying the 2014 Ski-Doo Freeride would be dropped off to me to test, I was SUPERPUMPED! I have been working with the fine people at Ski-Doo for four years and every step of the way has been pure pleasure induced fun! From learning new stuff to working with engineers, testers, other back-country experts, and the marketing team, every day has been absolutely awesome! I would also like to thank my local dealer Greater Vancouver PowerSports as they have backed me for 6 years! Also the other rad dealers in my area, Steve from No Limits Motorsports, and Al Bush from Valley Chainsaw in Pemberton, all of them have been very helpful towards me! I thank all of them for that!
After the 2014 Sleds were released Greater Vancouver Powersports could open my secret crate and they built it in record time for me since I was eager to get it on the snow. They also took photos every step of the way and everyone on their facebook was going nuts, so exciting. It went from the crate to my trailer in just a few hours…..
First of all the Freeride is the best looking sled that has ever been produced by any manufacture, it is truly a wicked looking sled! It is made for those who pound the trail on the way to the back-country and then spend their day riding non-stop powder, big drops and tight trees! Even though I am not a jumper, I was able to put the Freeride through it’s paces and also get it into the hands of many different riders who could give their feedback!
To break the sled in I wasted no time in taking it to Brohm Ridge, which had recently got over 150cm’s in the last 4 days! The pow was light and plentiful and the Freeride loved every minute of it’s break-in miles!!!
Since I don’t jump big I really am a Summit rider and this years XM is the best yet with awesome power, easy handling with it’s narrow 36 inch front end, the XM seems to just get up and go in the deepest snow! It can also handle big drops as many of the other Ski-Doo riders like Rob Alford and Ashley Chaffin can attest to! I love the Summit XM and the real question would be for me is the Freeride a better sled for me or not?
The Freeride for 2014 gets T-motion, Flex Edge Track, Open Running Boards and the 8 inches further forward from the Summit XM. It then goes a bit further with wider running boards, beefed up tunnel and front end and awesome KYB piggyback shocks. Also a very cool low windshield and wild paint scheme that screams, look at me!!
The Freeride is also heavier, about 30 pounds which is not what most riders want but is something people will put up with if the sleds works and of course bigger shocks and a beefed up sled is not going to be lighter! Again the real question most are going to ask is the weight penalty worth it.
The thing I was most worried about was the front end, as on the Freeride the front end is wider than the Summit XM by 2 inches, the Summit XM is 36 or 38 and the Freeride is 38 or 40! Previous to 2013 I have always ridden my XP Summits at 38 and loved them, however once I got the 2013 Summit XM and tried the front end a 36 there was no going back. In fact on a recent trip to Wyoming the dealer who lent me a new Summit Rev XM had the front end at 38 and I hated it, as I was use to my 36 inch at home, so I switched it and was in my Happy Place again!
Well that was the biggest thing I noticed when I hit the snow, is that the Freeride felt harder to initiate a side hill than my summit xm as well as carve. Even after only riding it for 2 hours and then jumping back to a Summit XM, the first time I carve the Summit I put it on its side since it was so easy! Now I am not saying the Freeride does not sidehill and carve easy, as it does, however not as easy as the Summit! So if you have never ridden a Summit XM, you won’t know what I am talking about, and will find the Freeride handle like a dream compared to 2011-2013 Freerides. But if you have an XM and got to a Freeride you will notice that it is more effort!
I also found that the Freeride was a little more heavy feeling than the Summit. On down turns and upturns the Summit XM just pops up and rips, The freeride does these things easy too but the snap is a little less, for sure this is due to the weight increase…
I took the sled to Julie-Ann Chapman’s She Shreds Women’s clinic and all the women loved it, they found the sled way easier to ride than their 2004-2012 SKi-Doo sleds that they all had. And they also found the 2013 Summit XM even easier, but most of them preferred the Freeride due to the look and overall appeal!
So in closing, are you a Summit XM Rider or a Freeride Rider? Each individual will have to look at their own riding skill set, as well as where they live and what conditions they most ride in. I see the Freeride super popular in Easter Canada where they hit the trails hard, get lots of Powder, and love big hits! Those in the mountains who go big and are tough on stuff will love the Freeride also for the suspension and burliness as well as the look and style this sled has. For me I prefer the Summit XM over this bad boy cousin….or maybe I might have to have one of each! Time to make a few calls!
Whatever Ski-Doo Mountain Sled you choose, get your order in early as there is sure to be a rush for the best mountain sled ever produced and the deal below sweetens the pot even more! Happy Riding! dave