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There has been a huge void in the utility snowmobile market since 1995, when Ski-Doo stopped manufacturing the dual-track Alpine. Since then, there have been various wide-track snowmobiles manufactured and one dual-track snowmobile manufactured in Italy. The dual track has always been a favorite because of its wide compaction platform, low gearing and high traction.

The Ski-Doo Alpine did a good job of grooming; it fell short, however, in the areas of steering, maneuverability and, most important, operator comfort. Single-track utility machines have come a long way since 1994. The Ski-Doo Skandic superwide track (SWT) is Bombardier’s replacement for the Ski-Doo Alpine. It debuted in 1995 and has had a few minor changes since then, including an increase in displacement from 499 to 550 cc, and improved voltage regulation and lighting. Basically, though, the machine has remained unchanged for the past decade.

With all of this in mind, the ABR operators tested the 2006 Ski-Doo Skandic SWT, the 2005 Ski-Doo Expedition TUV, the 2007 Yamaha VK Professional, the 2007 Ski-doo Skandic SWT V800, the 2009 Polaris Widetrack IQ, and a 2006 dual track Alpina Sherpa.

Ski-Doo Skandic

The Ski-Doo Skandic (click on the image for a larger version).

See our photo gallery for more photos of the Ski-Doo groomers.

The Ski-Doo Skandic SWT 550 fan, uses a two-stroke 550 engine that has been very dependable for grooming, although it has poor fuel economy and there is considerable noise and smell generated by a two-stroke engine. The cooling system has been very reliable and the 24-inch wide track offers an extra four inches of width over other wide-track machines. The two-speed synchromesh transmission has proven very reliable over the past 12 years. The machine steers as well as the old Alpine and can found with additional operator-installed nose weights and after-market Simmons skis to enhance steering performance. The wide tunnel and low seat do not offer comfort for long-legged operators.

The Ski-Doo Skandic SWT 4-TEC V-800 four-stroke came out in 2007, using the V800 engine that was proven in the Can Am all-terrain vehicles. This is an electronic fuel-injected engine. The low-end torque and engine power are very good with low noise, and there is no odor from the four-stroke engine. The engine started very well and was tested in -20F conditions. The engine has some flat spots and I question whether it was thoroughly mapped at low

speeds for grooming. I would still take this four-stroke electronic fuel-injected engine over any four-stroke carbureted engine available on the market.

This machine also has the 24 inch by 156 inch track and has the same suspension as the SWT 550 fan. The track lug has been increased to 1.25 inches which gives a substantial increase to deep snow traction. The engine cooling system worked flawlessly. The machine indicated it was getting warm in hard snow while pulling heavy applications, but the heat alarm never came on. The machine has a wider and taller contoured seat for more comfort. The electrical system worked well and has plenty of power for high power work lights in addition to actuators. The V-800 was tested for a complete season and logged 1,500 miles without any issues.

The Ski-Doo Expedition TUV V-1000 was tested with the Rotax V-1000 four-stroke engine with single overhead camshaft. This is a two-cylinder sequential EFI engine with a tuned muffler. The engine started well and had very good low-end performance. However, cooling was an issue. The test machine was equipped with an optional radiator fan kit from Ski-Doo ($800). The machine performed well in all but hard-packed, icy conditions at low speeds, when it would overheat pulling heavy loads. The TUV (which stands for Touring Utility Vehicle) was compared with the VK Pro for cooling and the TUV would last 30-40 percent longer before the heat alarm came on. It houses the same dependable transmission as the SWT but is built on Ski-Doo’s Yeti II chassis.

The TUV’s front suspension is a curved swing arm with a hydraulic shock. The rear has the same suspension as the Skandic SUV, with twin shocks (hydraulic and gas). It is a softer, higher-travel suspension but still offers adjustability for grooming. It takes a more-skilled operator to get this machine to steer properly under load. This was our choice in operator comfort with its comfortable seat, softer suspension and agility in light grooming applications. The electrical system puts out 40 amps, or approximately 480 watts, and did the electric chores without any issues. The TUV may not be available for 2008.

Read more on the next page.