Ski-Doo Summit Neo & Neo+ Mid-Sized Mountain Sleds
Technology
October 28th, 2022
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Ski-Doo Summit Neo & Neo+ Mid-Sized Mountain Sleds

Ski-Doo is making it easier to get into mountain sledding with the new release of two attractively priced mid-sized mountain snowmobiles, called Ski-Doo Summit Neo and Neo+ for model year 2023.

Why a Mid-Sized Mountain Sled?

Those of us who have been riding in the mountains for years tend to forget just how difficult it was to get started. There are some pretty sizable barriers to entry:

Knowledge and Skill

For a fresh reminder of how steep the mountain riding learning curve can be, all you need to do is to take a rookie friend out for a day of riding. Even if your friend is a super-fit star athlete,  you’ll probably spend most of the day digging, rolling and generally ‘unstuck-ing’ your exhausted friend’s sled as you coach them through the most mundane of hills. Tell me I’m wrong.

Buy a mountain sled they said. It’ll be fun they said.

What about this: Have you ever seen an inexperienced rider panic and grab a fistful of throttle at a bad time? Eight-hundred-and-fifty cubic centimeters of unbridled rage will get a rookie into trouble in less than a heartbeat. Ask anyone who’s ever been a snowmobile tour guide if they’ve ever seen this happen (answer: constantly). If you’ve ever tried to coach an apprehensive friend or family member on a full-sized and powered sled, you understand the concern. Every corner has the potential for disaster.

Cost

Here’s the second big barrier, and it’s significant. New riders must accumulate a LOT of gear and equipment to be able to ride safely in the mountains.

If you’re an experienced mountain rider, think about all the gear you use, and how long it took you to accumulate quality stuff. Avalanche safety gear (and learning how to use it). Thin, breathable outerwear. Helmet. Boots. Gloves and goggles (and backups). First aid. Tools. Tunnel bag. Jerry can. And let us not forget the real crux here; you’re not going anywhere without a mountain capable sled to ride. You see where I’m going with this?

The adventurous dream of breaking through fresh snow into new zones with high peaks and glaciers can be achieved, but it takes an accumulation of experience and quality gear to be able to do that safely, in addition to the cost of a sled to ride.

Size

A full-sized sled is a lot to wrangle through the deep snow and trees in the backcountry. It gets easier as your mind and muscles learn what to do, but that doesn’t help someone who hasn’t yet figured it all out.

A sled that is small and light is just what is needed to help people who are young, small, light, apprehensive or inexperienced learn the finesse it takes to control a sled with proper technique, rather than brute strength. Those of us who have been doing this for a lot time understand that riding a mountain sled skilfully has more to do with using correct technique than having a lot of strength or body weight to throw around.

To get the most joy out of the learning experience, we need to set these riders up for success with a sled that is well-suited to their size, ability and level of confidence.

Ski-Doo Summit Neo Neo+ _-11

Ski-Doo Summit Neo & Neo+

So where does a new person start? This is the question Ski-Doo set out to answer when they developed the Summit Neo and Neo+. Side note: for trail riders, there are two versions of the compact MXZ Neo.

For the Summit Neo sleds, Ski-Doo wanted to offer mid-sized sleds that riders can use to build confidence for mountain riding. Basically, the target is anyone new to backcountry riding or who may never have even ridden a sled before at all.

The manufacturer’s goal was to develop an affordable, attractive, fun and easy-to-use and ride sled that delivers a full-sized experience.

Ski-Doo Summit Neo Details

Here is a summary of the key features of the Summit Neo and Neo+

On Both

  • Mid-sized design, compact, easy to use and not intimidating
  • Uses a modified REV Gen4 chassis
  • Standard electric start and reverse
  • pDrive clutching
  • -35 mm ride height
  • RAS 3 front suspension w/ 34” ski stance
  • Pilot DS2 ski
  • Neo rear suspension
  • Compact deep snow seat
  • Neo throttle lever
  • Lower handlebar height
  • Narrower and smaller diameter handlebars
  • Comes ready for action with 2 LINQ accessory position mounts installed

Ski-Doo Summit Neo

  • Rotax 600 EFI – 40 hp
  • Top speed limited at around 80 km/h (50 mph)
  • 146 x 14 x 1.6” Cobra with FlexEdge track
  • $8699 CAD

Ski-Doo Summit Neo+

Same compact design elements as Summit Neo, but in addition:

  • Rotax 600 EFI engine – 55 hp
  • Top speed limited at around 100 km/h (62 mph)
  • KYB HPG front shocks
  • Premium colour and painted tunnel
  • Flexible handguards, mountain grab handle
  • 146 x 15 x 1.75” Hurricane with FlexEdge track
  • $9699 CAD

One thing to note: Although they share the same engine in different configurations, it is not possible to upgrade the performance of the Neo to the Neo+ specification.

 

Okay, but does it deliver? Check our Mic’d Up ride video below, in which a couple of seasoned Mountain Sledder test riders put the Summit Neo+ through the wringer to see what it can do. We also stop to walk around the Summit Neo+ to explain and show the parts of the sled.

In an era of $20,000+ mountain sleds, Ski-Doo has priced the 40 horsepower Summit Neo at $8,700 CAD ($7,000 USD) and the 55 horsepower Summit Neo+ at $9,700 CAD ($7,800 USD). That is very attractive for a family adding an entry-level mountain sled into the fleet for their burgeoning rider.

Ski-Doo tells us that quantities of all the Neo sleds (Summit and MXZ) are VERY limited for 2023, and rumour on the street is that the sleds allocated to spring orders sold out immediately. But hopefully you can see one out there in action this winter to help you decide if this mid-sized model is the right tool to help someone you know jump into our sport.

Ski-Doo Summit Neo & Neo+ Conclusion

So how do the Ski-Doo Summit Neo sleds perform in the mountains? Well, hopefully the video above gives you a good idea of how pleasantly surprised we were about the capability of the Summit Neo+ in particular. We can say with confidence that we found the peppier Summit Neo+ to be the most capable and easy to ride of the mid-sized mountain-specific sled options on the market today.

Ski-Doo Summit Neo Neo+ _-10

For aspiring mountain riders trying to choose between Summit Neo and Summit Neo+, we recommending spending the $1000 CAD more to get the Summit Neo+ model. It’s tame enough for the intended user, but the increased horsepower (55 hp over the 40 hp of the Neo) and bigger track will do a better job of bridging the gap between a youth sled and a full-sized mountain model. This will give your aspiring backcountry shredder more capability as they progress, and extend the time they have to build skills and confidence before necessitating the jump to a no-nonsense 800+ displacement mountain sled.

Plus, if it’s a family member you’re introducing to mountain sledding, you might need that time to start saving for a Gen5 TurboR mountain sled for when they are ready to start grabbing a mitt-ful of 180 horsepower.

 

– PW