So is spending $2,000 or more on high ends shocks worth the price of admission? Long story short – probably not. But as always the whole story is not that cut and dry.

I am 27 years old and have owned a number of sleds leading up to my 2016 Ski-Doo Summit X T-3 154.

Within the past 5 years I have graduated college, got a real job and have since been able to buy nice newer equipment. My first brand new sled was a 2015 Skidoo Summit X T-3.  I rode it stock all of last year and to be honest was very impressed with the stock suspension while it was new.

For the first ~500 miles I don’t think I bottomed out once and while I do get a handful of easy early season road riding miles on, I was able to push it pretty hard in some situations and the stock suspension handled it like a champ. It was incredibly hard to bottom yet very plush through the trail chop.
Fast forward to the end of the season and the stock shocks faded quite a bit, I was bottoming out more often and by just standing on the sled and rocking it back and forth it was easy to tell the shocks needed to be rebuilt. Now I have heard Ski-Doo uses a break-in shock oil in their sleds from the factory that breaks down quicker than other shocks oils. So supposedly once you get your shocks rebuilt once using a higher quality oil, the shocks will last much longer before fading.
Once I saw that Skidoo was coming out with a 154” track with a 3” lug I planned on selling the 163 and picking up a 154, which is exactly what I did. In the 2014/2015 sled season I started getting more and more comfortable with jumping, but felt slightly limited with the stock shocks. I would find a jump, hit a few times and go further and further as I got more comfortable.  I got to the point where I was bottoming on the landings, taking a bit of beating and didn’t feel comfortable hitting the jump with more speed. I also ran into a few situations where the takeoff transitioned from flat ground to a steep incline pretty abruptly and I would start bottoming out on the take off, this really messes with you. It was late in the 2014/2015 season I knew I wanted try some “high end” shocks for next year.

Over summer I saw Ian at Monster Performance (Ski Doo shock specialist) was running a 10% off and free shipping special on Exit shocks. So I went for it. I bought a set Exit X1’s, which feature adjustable compression, for my sled. Four of those bad boys ran me about $2,050 with the 10% off and free shipping deal.
I went with Exits, over other brands, for no real rhyme or reason. I decided I wanted coil over vs air shocks, again for no good reason. I then went with Exits over similar spec’d Elkas because they are a bit cheaper and also when talking to Ian he mentioned Exits have the largest gas and oil capacity of any shock out there. So I figured go big or go home. The slight weight increase with the Exits didn’t bother me.

The front ski shocks as well as the center track shock feature dual rate springs, while the rear shock utilizes the stock torsion spring. Ian asked me my weight, riding style, as well as what I was wanting from the shocks. Using this information, he customely sprung and valved the shocks to his specs. I was told these shocks would be built at the Zbroz facility, but built to the specs Ian gave them. Basically I told him, the #1 reason I am getting these shocks is for jumping, I want to be abler to push them hard and not bottom out. I remember him telling me “oh you don’t have to worry about these bottoming”, that got me feeling pretty excited.

Stock Shock vs Exit and a pic of the rear Exits installed on my sled.


Fast forward to now I have ~1000 miles on the Exits in all different snow conditions and I have my experience from last year on the stock shocks to compare them too. No way around it, the exit shocks are better in every way. They have same plush trail qualities the stocks shocks had, but you can pound the hell out of these things they just take it. Whether it be rough trails or jumping I have yet to bottom, at least I have not felt a bottom out.
Off trail boondocking and tree riding my sled is ridiculously predictable. This 2016 has by far turned into the most favorite sled I ever have owned for a handful of reasons.  One reason is its off trail handling. The sled is an extension of my body more than anything.

 

I have wondered what is so different about this sled that makes me like it better compared to my 2015? Is it because of the Exit shocks? Is it because it is my second year on the XM chassis and I am just more familiar the chassis now? Is it because I went to a shorter track in the 154? Honestly your guess is as good as mine, but I think it has to do with a little bit of all those things.
I have already this year thrown down the biggest airs of my life and each of those landings have been softer than my hardest landing with the stock shocks. I am looking forward to continue to progress my jumping abilities and see what I kind of courage I can muster up with these Exits.  Here is two pictures a year apart on the same jump.  Different angles, but I think you can tell im going bigger in 2016.

2015

2016

Knowing how much softer the landing will be has broken down a few barriers in my mind, giving me more courage to hit things with more speed.
The level of adjustment you get with these shocks too is a huge upgrade over stock. For instance, with the dual rate springs I setup my center track shock so that the initial stroke is nice and soft so that the track can get up on the snow easier therefore causing the sled to trench less, but I run a stiff finish stroke to the shock so that it is still hard to bottom out. This is all accomplished with the dual rate springs. My front ski shocks I found the stock settings from Ian to be pretty ideal. Hard to find anything to complain about up front, but again if you didn’t like how the front was setup, you have dual rate springs to fiddle around with and the compression adjustment.

Lets talk about the negatives of the Exits real quick.  In my eyes there is only 1 negative and that is the price. There is now way around it, they are expensive. Riders who are all about getting the lightest sled possible also have an excuse to not buy them as they are heavier than stock and bit heavier than Elka’s. Fox Floats I believe are generally the lightest aftermarket shock. I however am not a weight nut, so having shocks that weigh a few pounds more than stock doesn’t bother me one bit. My final negative about them is the 20 clicks of adjust-ability. There is no way in hell I can feel the difference between having all the shocks set at say click 10 vs click 11. I would much prefer to have 3 clicks of adjustment like the new Fox QS3 adjuster system. Soft, medium and firm, way to go Fox for coming out with that! If I go full firm vs full soft on my Exits, with regards to the compression adjustment I do notice a difference which is nice. This way if I don’t like the valving of them right off the bat I have some room to adjust and get it setup how I like without sending them back to get re-valved.  Also if I roll up to a decent size jump I can click to a firmer setting to get more confidence on my landings.  However I find once you find a setup you like,  I don’t mess with adjustments to much.
So… do I think spending the $ on high end snowmobile shocks is worth it?

Here is my take. For the average rider, no they are not worth it. I was impressed with my stock shocks before they faded, I think for the average rider keeping your stock shocks and getting them rebuilt once they fade out is a good option. A better option would be when you get your stockers rebuilt for the first time, get them re-valved too by someone who knows what they are doing. I would recommend Ian at Performance motorsports for Ski-Doo shocks. I have also heard good things about Tom’s Snowmobile for almost any brand.
While I think they are not worth it for the average rider, I do think they are worth it if you are a jumper or hardcore cross country rider. I am going twice as big this year off the same jumps I hit last year and I credit it all to the shocks. They give me 100% more confidence in my landings.
Finally, if you have deep pockets and can afford them on each and every one of your sleds, I would get them on each and every one of your sleds. Cause as I previously mentioned the only real negative I see with the shocks is there price!

Thanks for Reading!