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RIDE REVIEW: 2022 RIOT X 8000 146

I recently spent a few quality days riding the 2022 RIOT X 8000 146 in what I would consider, THEE most fitting ride conditions for this Mountain Crossover, in Northern Minnesota.

Starred areas are points we rode in Northern Minnesota. For reference, the Arctic Cat factory is located in the SW corner of the map roughly 2.5hrs from Baudette.

We covered ground both on- and off-trail from Kelliher to points north in Waskish and Baudette, and even traversed a bit of the big frozen waters of Lake of the Woods and Upper Red Lake.

2020 RIOT X was the first year introduction of the new 50/50 Crossovers. This pre-production marketing photo shows the unit with a laydown steering post, which was changed by production and swapped to a vertical post like the 2022.

When the two RIOT models were introduced in 2020 as a true 50/50 Crossover, I bought the RIOT X version with Challenger track, 2-inch lugs and the twin-rail uncoupled CROSS-ACTION skid frame. Although the RIOT X was considered a 50/50 Crossover, the X still skewed more towards off-trail riding, than on-trail, with its deeper lug track, front Arctic Mountain Suspension and vertical steering post.

The 2022 RIOT X with ALPHA single-beam rear suspension and 146 PowerClaw track with 2.6-inch lugs.

Since I was familiar with the 2020 RIOT X, I was looking forward to spending time on the 2022 version with several upgraded key differences. The 2022 RIOT X has the ALPHA single-beam rear suspension (146 length), 2.6-inch Powerclaw track, ATAC adjust-on-the-fly suspension and the new Arctic Cat ADAPT clutches. More so than my 2020, the 2022 RIOT X definitely skews more towards deeper snow riding than trail. Hence, the factory referencing it as a Mountain Crossover.

The fun-factor of the 146-inch ALPHA rear single-beam suspension is unmatched in deep snow.

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m a flatlander at heart, and can ride well-enough to survive navigating backcountry rides point to point with no fanciness in between. That said, the ALPHA rear skid helps an average guy like me…I absolutely love how you can make this skid frame dance in deep snow with the slightest of input. Executing deep powder turns are a cinch – while standing, apply one part counter-steer, a bit of body lean into the direction you want to turn, point your head, and the RIOT X naturally follows. It’s so damn easy to ride you’ll feel like a veteran deep snow rider.

Both RIOT models are capable of rallying a trail (RIOT more-so than X), but there are some handling trade-offs because of their deep snow capabilities. If you are a trail rider only, you may want to focus on buying a ZR with 137-inch skid frame.

IS THE RIOT X ANY GOOD ON TRAILS?

I receive this question quite often – The short answer is, YES. Ill say this though – If you are purely a trail rider, take a good hard look at a ZR with a 137-inch skid frame, or opt for the standard RIOT with a 1.35″ or 1.6″ lug. You’ll be much happier with their trail prowess. While riding in Northern Mn, we logged several hundred miles of well-groomed trail mixed with twisting rolling terrain through swamps and hardwood forests. The RIOT X handled all of it at (cough) above average speeds.

RIOT X PowerClaw track with 2.6-lug height.

Here’s where the trade-offs come into play when owning a RIOT X…although it can handle trail speeds for hard chargers, you need to work that sled over with some true rider input and body English to keep the front end planted in the corners. (It’s a workout) The other trail trade-off is the 2.6-inch PowerClaw track. It’s main purpose in life is to sling copious amounts of deep snow. Off-trail, this track works incredibly well, but you really need to baby the track when running hardpack trails. At some point, you will start to throw lugs (paddles) from the track if riding with generous throttle application all the time. The standard equipped scratchers will help cool the track, but again, you need to remember what the track was originally designed for – Deep snow.

One of my favorite additions to the RIOT X for 2022 was the ATAC adjust on-the-fly suspension system. The innovative ATAC utilizes a thumb-operated button on the left handlebar controls to operate the FOX 1.5 ZERO iQS coilover ski and Arctic Cat IFP 1.5 front- and FOX 1.5 ZERO iQSL coilover rear-track shocks, allowing the rider to instantly switch between three factory compression settings (Soft, Medium and Firm), with two additional settings (Driver 1 and Driver 2) allowing you to customize your own calibrations between front and rear shocks.

For my riding preferences on the trip, I found the Medium setting worked the best in all the groomed trail conditions, so I left it there and didn’t stray from it. But when we got off trail navigating 3ft+ deep snow, It was a welcome feature to toggle through the ATAC settings to the rear shock Lockout feature which helped launch the RIOT X to the top of the snow under acceleration. The only thing you had to remind yourself of, was returning the setting back to medium once on the trail.

New Arctic Cat ADAPT drive clutch (left) versus TEAM clutch (right).

NEW ADAPT CLUTCHES

Several of you have asked about the performance from the new ADAPT clutches designed by Arctic Cat for the 2022 models. (Fullsize units) I’m not sure what to tell you? And by that, I mean, I didn’t notice a huge performance difference over a TEAM clutch it replaced. From a Layman’s viewpoint, I don’t think Im alone in my feeling, as many snowmobilers wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. The lightweight, compact design seemed to spool up quick, and the belt kept tension without fade and performance during our entire ride, so I call that success.

If you enjoy tail standing in the deep stuff, the RIOT X is a true master of the craft when combining the ALPHA single-beam rear skid frame with the ATAC rear shock lockout feature.

LAST THOUGHTS

Like I said in the opening paragraph, the deep snow conditions we rode for three days exploring unplowed logging roads, drainage ditches, swamps and fields mixed in with trail rides to get there, were truly where the RIOT X shines, and you should buy one if this is your type of daily riding. My only nitpick of the RIOT X is a personal one, and one I haven’t changed my opinion of since owning the 2020 RIOT X – I’m not a fan of the vertical steering post. As hard as I try, the push/pull motion of the handlebars is fatiguing while trail riding and my wrists truly hate me after a full day of hard charging. The vertical post is more comfortable when standing up riding off-trail (Its intended purpose), but Id still prefer the laydown steering post with an up/down handlebar arc. For me, it feels more natural on- and off-trail. You’ll have to decide if its right for you, or one of the trade-offs you can live with. Either way, the RIOT X is a phenomenal mountain crossover snowmobile.

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23 COMMENTS

  1. I have about 20 miles of handlebar time (all trail) on an Alpha Riot, and was surprised at how well it handled on trail. I expected it to be super tippy in the corners, but it wasn’t bad at all. I like my regular Riot better, and agree completely about the ZR being a better choice for trail riders. But, I think the “X” is better than many expect it to be.

  2. Check out ALICES RESTAURANT PANCAKES BAUDETTE OR MAC & DON’S SUPPER CLUB BIG BREAKFAST PLATTER, WESTWIND RESORT STEAK BITES W/ FRIES, KELLIHER VILLAGE ONE STOP FUEL UP – ANYTHING UNDER THE HEAT LAMPS. Trails are still in great shape up here. Groomers going out tonight, awesome area to ride, great enclosed shelters to warm up in and cook your brats. I ride this area a lot, and it’s Cat country!

    • That portion of Minnesota will have winter easily through April. The trails were in amazing condition and off-trail boondocking was deep! For any Minnesota riders looking to log miles the next handful of weeks, head that way.

    • B&E, I’ve never been that far north and it sounds awesome. Grand Rapids area has been incredible this year, but the season is winding down and it’s cool to know we still have options.

      • I normally ride north of Blackduck from my house up to Gemmell over Washkish/Westwind Resort for lunch or head east to Effie , Bigfork, Marcell then take the Bowstring trail to Squaw Lake i like making loops typical weekend 200- 300 miles

      • The gray. Not just the amount of it, but the color itself. Literally makes me sick when I see it in person. Good thing my local textron dealer is 30 miles away, and they don’t have any in stock.

    • Your question is a great one…the RIOT and RIOT X were introduced as 50/50 crossovers to clean up what was getting to be a muddied-up Crossover line previously. (CrossTour/CrossCountry/XF/HighCountry) To your point, since the RIOT X intro, that particular model has moved further towards the Mountain category. And with the addition of the M8000 Hardcore 146 in 2022, the similarities between the two models get even blurrier, but the RIOT X is still a bit more suited to trail riding than an M.

      If you compare the 2022 RIOT X 146 to a 2022 M8000 Hardcore 146, the spec differences are nearly the same. The key difference is the adjustable ski stances. (RIOT X 39.5-41.5 vs M HDC 35.5-37.5).

      Other differences: You can’t get ATAC on a M8000 Hardcore and there are weight differences. (M8000 Hardcore is around 30+lbs lighter)

      MSRP Price differences are there too:
      2022 M8000 HDC 146 with QS3 Shocks $15,295
      2022 RIOT X 146 with QS3 Shocks $14,545
      2022 RIOT X 146 with ATAC $15,945

      • So it’s not even fair to call it a crossover. The biggest flaw in this whole sled is the 2.6″ track. 2″ makes more sense. Swing and a miss!

      • I wouldn’t call it “muddied-up”. CrossTour was a 146″ touring sled, and Cross Country was the best, with a 137″ 1.75″ BackCountryX track, and NEITHER have a current incarnation. Not everyone wants a 146 uncoupled skid.

        • IMO, the CrossCountry was one of the best all-around snowmobiles of those years. It did everything incredibly well. When the ZRs transitioned to a 137, the CrossCountry got muddied-up in consumers eyes. I miss that 1.75 track.

      • @ Riot Rider 800: Kyle covered most of the differences, however the M series has much longer track 155/165 and a bigger paddle , up to 3 inches. Just what is needed in 3 ft of fresh powder that we were in yesterday. I can’t speak to the 2″ vs 2.6″ comments only to say that if your riding in the deep stuff, the longer the paddle the better.

  3. The more I see that Orange ZR, the more I fall in love with it. If they would have offered that in the 6000, I might have been swayed from my 22 RR. Probably get them about the same freaking time.

  4. April 10, 2022 and still have not received my 2022 600RR, the dealer told me maybe July or August they did not say what year.

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