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Greg du Vermont

The experiences of Snow Shoot 2012

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Apologies for the blackout on continued details of my Yellowstone trip. Many QR's have emailed and I have tried to be helpful and accomidating. I have been very busy preparing pieces of what will become articles in the April and October (buyers guide) Sports Motorises magazine. Powersports magazine in english as the sign said on our lane of sleds to be ridden. Sorry for the copy and paste but I wanted to share more about the event and these pieces of articles were already written, in my computer and quicker/easier to post. Thanks for all the interest. I will be following up with other posts related to each of the manufacturers.

The experience of Snow Shoot 2012

Our names are Benoit LHeureux and Greg Gilbert and we are not recognized writers or high technical authorities on the sport of snowmobiling. We are passionate snowmobilers just like you who found themselves in the extraordinary circumstance of being invited to attend, on behalf of the readers of magazine Sports Motorises, Snow Shoot 2012 held in beautiful West Yellowstone Montana.

The Snow Shoot event is an annual event organized by the 4 manufacturers to officially unveil information, details and the snowmobiles of their coming year offerings to the snowmobile publication media from across the Country as well as internationally. The event is held at the West Yellowstone airport which is closed during the winter and used for winter tire testing and the Snow Shoot event. Each of the manufactures has a large construction trailer used as on office/classroom base of operations as well as support structures used to keep each of their sleds maintained and prepared all arranged in a large staging area.

Upon our initial arrival at the site on day 1, we found ourselves surrounded by experienced writers of the highest caliber as well several self proclaimed experts. Our mission from the very beginning was to represent real snowmobilers, report to real snowmobilers and to give you the real snowmobiler a sense of what we experienced at this event.

Snow Shoot begins with 1 day of closed door technical presentations by each of the manufacturers, where representatives highlight their coming year innovations and improvements and members of the media are able to ask questions.

The following 4 days is where the real fun begins, ride, ride, ride. Through an organized system the various magazines are given reserved full access to 2012 models for personal testing, review and photo, wherever and however they wish. From performance models, to trail, touring, mountain and utility models, they were all there and ready to ride. These are not closed course, supervised tours, they are full access rides throughout any of the areas spectacular trail system and unlimited off trail opportunities. We found that many of this areas trails were quite Quebec like in there quality and natural beauty. The terrain conditions for complete ride/evaluations included fresh snow, perfectly groomed, wide and fast, twists and turns, long whoops, short trail chop, mountain top climbs and a section of intentionally huge and nasty bumps to experience extreme suspension capability. All of the conditions which could be found in real world riding could be found.

Back to the riding…….they said ride, so we rode, logging more miles than anyone in attendance. 802 miles each on 31 different 2012 models in our 4 days of evaluations. When you add in the time to take photos, conduct interviews, grab a quick lunch and to gas each of the sleds used, we were indeed busy snowmobilers in paradise. The gas attendants reported that the test sleds were using approximately 700 gallons of fuel per day and we definitely used more than our fair share. The riding surrounding the Yellowstone national park took us to sites and locations of incredible beauty which we found to be almost spiritual in their impact to our senses. From fresh falling snow to bright sunshine and azure blue skies, the experience was incredible, we thank Sports Motorises and Capital assurance for making this adventure possible and making a commitment to providing the readers of Sports Motorises current and relevant content. In the coming pages we invite you to read more about the key innovations, improvements and information revealed at Snow Shoot 2012. The October issue of Sports Motorises will include complete buyers guide information as well as more on the sleds and riding immpressions of Snow Shoot 2012.

Edited by Greg du Vermont

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Polaris enters the 2012 model year, confident with their direction, positive results and market acceptance of current chassis and suspension formats. For 2012 Polaris offers minor product refinements, the expansion of their model lineup to better meet the needs and desires of present and future customers and a custom Spring only program that is extensive and sure to please.

The refinements come in the form of minor adjustments to their proven IFS with the goal of promoting flatter handling characteristics with easier steering.

The model expansions come from additions to Polaris’ proven RMK and Switchback lines.

The 136”Switchback models feature the same front and rear skid design and dimension as the Rush with the center section being 7” longer.

A significant new model introduction for 2012 is found in the Switchback Adventure which features an integrated, versatile and very functional “quick connect” luggage and rack system with hard side compartment s and removable travel bags. The unique system also includes a substantial aluminum center cargo rack area with an optional “quick connect” hard case also available. The Adventure includes a higher windshield and side mounted wind deflectors to keep the rider comfortable. Handling characteristics were nimble, with easy steering input and stable front end which absorbs the bumps without complaint or any significant disruption to positive control. The power of the 600cc engine was spirited even at 9,000’+, and it was a blast to ride. This sled is only offered with the 600cc engine and should be a real hit with the mild mannered longer distance touring crowd.

Pro R model’s all have premium Walker Evans shocks up front with both compression and rebound clicker adjustments.

Base Rush and Switchback models have the Walker Evans needle front shocks with compression clicker adjustment only.

The special Pro R LE models will be available as snow check orders only.

A wide array of spring order only models, graphics packages, option selections and bonuses offerings are too numerous to list and can be explored in greater detail on the Polaris web site.

While the Rush and Switchback lines cover the performance trail category with their 600 and 800 engines the comfort touring division is handled by the turbo IQ LX and LXT models. Mild mannered and plush these sleds are comfortable and stable with plenty of turbo power.

RMK mountain sleds come in a 155” and a massive 163” version. Polaris representative Scott Taylor stated that Polaris was #2 in mountain sled sales, I did not know that.

While their models are more prevalent in the Western regions of the US than in Quebec, Polaris remains a formidable option in the performance and touring markets.

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What can be said about the company that started the 4 stroke revolution 10 years ago. Yamaha’s reputation of reliability is undeniable and impressive. For those who count themselves among the significant number of Yamaha faithful there is no acceptable alternative to the sweet exhaust note, seating position, smooth power and handling characteristics of a Yamaha.

Yamahas aggressive marketing of non current model s and conservative new product production decisions resulted in a 12% increase in 2011 sales and very low non current and current dealer inventories across the country. These conditions should keep both the dealer network and resale market strong.

Yamahas market share and sales affirms the manufacturers belief that they remain well positioned to satisfy the wants and needs of a wide range of present and future users.

After Yamaha’s revolutionary and highly successful launch of its’ electronic power steering (eps) system in its’ Apex models, the company moves into 2012 by spreading the joys and benefits of eps throughout it’s Vector and Venture models. The feel is great and the benefits are real, I predict that the innovation of eps will continue to spread across the snowmobile industry as widely as Yamahas 4 stroke influence has.

Snow shoot 2012 was the 1st time that I had the opportunity to experience the feel of eps and it is truly incredible. We rode Apex and Vector models with eps in the following conditions, fresh 3” of snow on a mountain trail groomed to perfection the night before, rutted firm and frozen trails, warm day mashed potato conditions and firm high speed conditions. No matter the conditions the feel of eps remains the same, you don’t feel it, its just there. While this advancement in steering technology is truly impressive it does not eliminate Yamahas characteristic darting which is more noticeably present under firm rutted trail conditions, but it definitely reduces the effort necessary to combat it.

2012 Highlights and notes

EPS Standard on all Apex, Vector and Venture models

Vector and Venture models receive revised Apex front end geometry and revised Apex ski.

Vector looses its side tunnel adjuster, same shock, same adjustment range, less possibility for damage to the adjustment cable found in the old design, front ski shocks are also changed (not for the better)

Nytro receives , a Ripsaw single ply track with less side bite which is intended tos keep the sled more settled with better release of energy and less ski lift. 8Nytro also receives the HV style trail ski with more trail for less straight line dart and reduced bump steer.

MTX gets the new Ascent track and lighter skis

No changes in the calibration of the EPS units and they are the same on all.

For the mountain crowd, Push turbo or MPI supercharger kits are now available on Nytro’s as a dealer installed option. All warranty is through the supplier.

The 2012 lineup continues to offer exactly what the Yamaha riders have come to expect in a premium ride. The top of the Yamaha line offers pleasurable rides with characteristics and strengths unique to the brand.

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As has become tradition, BRP enters 2012 with continued innovation, refinement and expansion of their model lineup. Without a doubt the big news for 2012 is Rmotion. R motion equals more………….more capability, more comfort and more adjustability.

Much in the same way that BRP’s rider forward, centralized mass, pyamidial frame, sdi and etec engine technologies changed the game of snowmobiling this suspension does the same. With a dropped link rear attachment point which increases travel by 2” without changing ride or seat height , a 4” longer front arm length for flatter cornering, and revised shock mounting geometry and shock calibrations, we found this suspension to do exactly what BRP says that it does . Its capabilities, stability, predictability and balance must be experienced to be believed. BRP PR and media relations manager Steve Cowing may have said it best when he said that the driving goal of BRP’s constant innovation is that “better rides make better riders” who can argue with that.

After watching it perform beside me and feeling it perform under me, it moves and reacts exactly like the BRP website video shows, no bad hops, no bottom, no kick, it just plain out works like nothing we have seen or felt before. These sleds are sweet. I smiled from ear to ear each time I rode one and spontaneously repeated “WOW!” to the ultra ego who rides with me inside my helmet.

For model year 2012 the long travel, truly rising rate innovation will be offered only in XRS and X models. As a spring order only option this suspension can be ordered with external running board mounted glove friendly shock and spring preload adjustment knobs. While the unique external hydraulic spring preload adjuster is said to allow for 40% stiffer preload adjustment than is possible with the standard in the skid adjustment block, I never saw anyone during snow shoot (no matter how big the hits taken) have the hydraulic adjuster turned in higher than a level of 2 of the 5 levels available. This Spring only option is offered at $400. Without this option the rear shock which for 2012 features a one knob combined low speed/high speed adjustment is still exactly the same only adjusted by the same size easy to turn knob, just under the skid.

For 2012 BRP continues to use an interesting formula for developing and expanding is product line. They begin with the main market segments of Performance seekers and Recreational seekers. From here these distinct groups are divided into trail, off trial, touring and utility categories. It is were these primary users of MXZ, Summit, Grand Touring and Skandic overlap that BRP develops specialized crossover models such as GSX, Freeride, Tundra and Expedition.

BRP’s 600 ACE program which was developed as a way to grow the sport through new users and rental fleet use was a huge success in it’s 1st year. It gained huge credibility and exceeding all sales and market share expectations.

Other 2012 items of note

Rear seat storage in all X and XRS seats, all X models include electric start.

MXZ TNT and Sport models now have the 1.25 rip saw tracksand painted tunnel standard.

GSX included 1.25 ripsaw

GSX offered with 600 etec, 800 etec and 1200 engine options

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Wow! The changes for Arctic Cat in 2012 are inspired, the changes are bold, the changes are extreme and the changes are extensive. This is not your Dads Arctic Cat, this is not even your best buddies last year’s Arctic Cat. Without a doubt some of the most exciting news in the snowmobile industry was kept under tight wrap and proudly introduced by Arctic Cat snowmobile product manager Joey Hallstrom and his team at Snow Shoot 2012. The Cat is back!

The recently unveiled Pro Cross and Pro Climb chassis’ have been under development since 2008, extensively tested and proven through Arctic Cat’s ultra successful racing results.

The result, a total makeover of Cat’s 2012 trail and mountain sleds. New chassis, new front suspension, new brake system, new torque plate, new chain case design, new drive sprockets, , new steering, new skis, new styling, all with significant weight reductions over the previous Pro Spar chassis. Only the proven and powerful 800, 120 hp class 1100 and 177 HP, 1100 turbo (13 psi boost), engines return. The 600 twin has been retired and is replaced in performance and weight class by the impressive 1100 4 stroke.

Weight reductions over last years F800 -57lbs, F1100 -51lbs, F1100 turbo -64lbs

A unique 30 degree mounting angle of the A arms absorbs bump forces into the pyramid structure of the sled for a more stabile, controlled and responsive feeling. A very tall spindle design allows for an ultra wide A arm mounting position which offers significant handling benefits.

The new 2 piece tunnel structure and rear skid changes alone resulted in over 7 lbs of weight reduction.

The new torque plate link minimizes misalignment and flex between the engine and jack shaft. This design reduces belt operating temperature resulting in longer belt life. With the old alignment system, a belt would operate for an average of 25 hours under a full load resistance test offered by the rear of the sled being immersed in a huge water tank before failure. The new system with the torque link performed for 125 hours under the same test before failure.

The overriding feeling that I got from the AC camp was that, they may have missed the mark in the past by bringing sleds to market that they thought we should learn to like, but have now produced the quality and caliber of snowmobiles that they are confident consumers will want to ride.

The new styling is futuristic and all Cat. With inspirations, inputs and designs from Italy, California and Detroit, the final 2012 design originated from an in house Arctic Cat designer who sketched the initial informal concept on a napkin.

Taking styling cues from the Cat logo itself the shapes and contours are distinct, refined and undeniably Cat. From the eye shaped headlights to the silhouette ear shapes found in the windshield, ski tips and skid rails, to the tail and leg resemblances of the rear seat, tunnel and snow flap angles, this sled is all Cat. The black sleds are awesome, the green sleds are mean and the orange Sno Pros were attention getting. In addition the pearl white with orange accents and retro Cat versions are available on Sno Pro limiteds.

The 2012 Pro Cross Chassis based trail sleds are offered in Sno Pro models with the Fox float 2 shock package and more trail compliant XLR models with rear storage bag, deluxe gauge, higher windshield and heated seats on the 4 stroke packages. XF versions replace the previous Crossfire models and have a 141” track length with 1.25” on the LXR’s, 1.5” on Sno Pro’s and a crazy High Country model with a 2.25 track paddle, mountain seat and telescopic adjust handlebars on the 800.

The F and XF series sleds handled with incredible precision and impressed in every way with superb suspension travel and a light steering feel that closely resembled the feeling found with eps. Truly these sleds were the talk of Snow Shoot 2012.

2012 Pro Climb mountain sleds feature all the weight saving benefits of the new chassis in a 40” wide ski stance with a more vertical steering design with telescopic adjust, a new ski design and a new seat. A Hill Cross Racer (HCR) series with rear exchanger delete which reduces ice build up in the tunnel as much as 34 lbs over a competing mountain sled, is also offered and includes the Power Claw 2.25” paddle and ice scratchers.

Arctic Cat diehards with be silly with excitement and the non loyal Arctic Cat crowd should find themselves tempted like never before.

From the trail sleds, to the mountain sleds to the Bearcat groomer special , the Cat is back. The game has definitely changed for 2012. I would ride one in an instant.

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For anyone who may be interested, here is the list of the sleds that we rode


Liste des machines utilisées


Switchback 800 Pro R orange

Switchback 800 Pro R retro

RMK Pro R 800 155’ Black

RMK Pro R 800 163’ retro

Switchback Adventure 600 136’

IQ Turbo LXT 136

IQ Turbo LX 136


MXZ 800R etec X w/R motion

MXZ XRS 800R etec 2011 model w/R motion

F1100 LXR

F800 LXR Black

Skidoo Grand Touring 600 ace black

Yamaha Phazer white and blue

Skidoo Skandic SWT 20” 600 ace yellow *Greg did not ride

Apex 10th anniversary Black

Apex Blue


Skidoo GSX 800 etec Special edition

Yamaha RS Vector Burgundy

Arctic Cat TZ1 Burgundy

Bearcat XT Burgundy

Skidoo Renegade Backcountry 800 R etec Black

Arctic Cat XF 1100 Black

F800 Sno Pro Orange

F1100 turbo Sno Pro limited White

Skidoo GSX white 121” 1200 4-tec

MXZX 600 etec Rmotion white|black


Skidoo Freeride Clown wrap 800 R 154” *Greg did not ride

Skidoo MXZ XRS 800R etec Rmotion 121” yellow 2012 graphics

Yamaha FX Nytro Black

Arctic Cat F1100 Sno Pro 50 anniversary

Arctic Cat F1100 turbo Sno Pro green

Rush 600 Pro R White and blue

Rush 800 Pro R retro

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YOU R the MAN!!! great find, those are some shots like you take.


ha !! ha !!

hi bob !!

thanks !! i wish i could have a job like that !!


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Those are great pics for sure,Michel always does a good job.I have one of his pics as my screen saver(Jacques Villeneuve doing a wheelie). I asked him to call me if he needed someone to carry his gear, I guess he lost my number. :p

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Those are great pics for sure,Michel always does a good job.I have one of his pics as my screen saver(Jacques Villeneuve doing a wheelie). I asked him to call me if he needed someone to carry his gear, I guess he lost my number. :p

hi plain-rev !!

i expect to climb mount hog's back in the chic-chocs soon.if you re interested to carry my gear up ,send me a pm !! or 418 756 ???? :p

groomer !!! :drinks:

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