2019 Ski-Doo Summit SP 600R – The Little Summit That Could
It’s not very often in the macho world of mountain sledding that we talk about having too much power. The very idea is ripe for ridicule. But the fact of the matter is, for many riders, having 160-plus quick-revving horsepower on tap can be too much to handle.
Looking back, we were all new riders at one time. And many of us—hairy-chested men even—cut our teeth in the mountains on a 600-class sled. In many ways it makes sense to do so. They are light and agile. The power is more manageable. And they inspire confidence rather than intimidate.
“In the mountains, it's just plain easy. It goes where you want, without effort.”
But most of all, they’re just plain fun to ride! And in no case is that more true than with the new 2019 Ski-Doo Summit SP 600R.
Skill Development in the Mountains
There’s a valid argument that riding a 600-class sled can make a mountain rider better by helping them achieve a better understanding of throttle control, traction and speed. It takes time and experience to understand that momentum is your friend, but that ground speed and control rarely have a linear relationship.
An 800-class engine can often act as a crutch by masking a rider’s mistakes with enough power to get them out of trouble quickly. However, a poorly timed stab at the throttle of an 850 can get inexperienced riders into trouble even faster. That can easily put riders in danger of harming themselves or their sled—in both cases, total confidence killers. In the worst scenario, excessive power can get beginner and intermediate sledders into trouble by propelling them into terrain they aren’t ready to safely navigate.
Here’s a scenario to illustrate the point: Take two equally inexperienced riders. Put Rider A on an 850 and Rider B on a 600 and point them to the mountains. In two years, Rider B will have mastered throttle control, felt more confident and had a hell of a lot of fun. Rider A will have faced a steeper learning curve and likely endured more crashes, stucks and periods of frustration.
Now, of course this scenario won’t apply to every new mountain rider. Strong riders with motorized off-road experience, for example, or natural ability are more likely to quickly adapt to the power of an 850. Regardless, every rider should hop on a 600 at some point if they have the opportunity, just to experience the fun of blasting around and pushing a sled to its utmost capability, rather than the other way around.
The Rotax 600R E-TEC Engine
When Rotax engineers went to work on designing the 600R E-TEC they followed the same design principles that make the 850 E-TEC such a powerful and responsive powerplant. It’s a direct-injection engine that utilizes the same square design of equal bore and stroke found in the 850. The 600R E-TEC is listed at 125 hp at peak rpm, which is five horsepower more than the first generation 600 H.O. E-TEC.
But the more appreciable improvement comes from a 30% increase in responsiveness that is achieved by way of several key modifications. At its core, the 600R E-TEC features a 15% lower inertia cranktrain. Meanwhile, on the intake side, double-reed valves and a shortened intake tract improve airflow for a snappier response. At the other end, electronically controlled triple-stage exhaust valves operate three times faster than their pneumatic predecessors.
To fit the new 599 cc engine into the narrow REV Gen4 platform, the magneto had to be slimmed down after the same fashion of the 850. However, a more robust magneto allows the integration of the battery-less SHOT starter system in the 600R, which is a particular boon for riders with less strength or endurance.
The beauty of this little engine is that although the power is abundant and quick, it’s not an overwhelming amount. That’s a big factor for riders who are working to develop good throttle control.
2019 Ski-Doo Summit SP 600R
Ski-Doo has been making Summit models for 25 years, culminating in the REV Gen4 platform. It’s by far the most agile and easy-to-ride Summit chassis to date. Now place the extra power and responsiveness of the 600R into the compliant REV Gen4 chassis, and it’s easy to see why the Summit 600R is more than the sum of its parts.
On the trail, the Summit 600R handles better than any of the bigger, longer-tracked mountain sleds. The steering requires less effort and is more responsive. It does still run a little loosey-goosey, but this is a Summit after all, and it doesn’t compromise its capability in the mountains for trail decorum.
In the mountains, it’s just plain easy. It goes where you want, without effort. Riders can spend more time enjoying the experience of exploring the mountains and less time worrying about getting bucked and sending a rider-less sled headlong into some trees.
You can take it into tight trees; it can turn instantly. It feels super light and floats well. And if you want to push it a bit in more technical terrain, it’s super fun to hoon around at wide open throttle.
“It's designed to be effortless and fun to ride, and by that measure it truly hits the mark.”
I Think I Can, I Think I Can.
But is the Summit 600R a capable mountain sled, really? Absolutely, without a doubt. It’s the little mountain sled that can. In powder conditions it chews around like a champ, especially if there’s a track put into the bigger hills. In more settled conditions, it’ll go just about anywhere an intermediate rider would or could want to go.
The Summit SP 600R comes in 146” and 154” track options with a legitimate 2.5” lug. You can even get a 154” track with a 3” lug! That says something about BRP’s confidence in the deep snow capability of the 600R.
Now, will the Summit 600R get you in and back out of the deepest, most gnarly hole? No. And you probably won’t be the one breaking trail on a deep pow day when there are a bunch of 850s around. But that’s not the purpose of this sled. It’s designed to be effortless and fun to ride, and by that measure it truly hits the mark.
Ski-Doo has made mountain snowmobiling at lot more accessible for newer, smaller, lighter and less confident riders with the release of the 2019 Ski-Doo Summit SP 600R. That’s a lot of different folks! But don’t be fooled—The Summit 600R is no toy. Sure, it’s a fun sled; but it’s made for people who want to take mountain riding seriously.