Some riders want the fastest. Some want to climb to the highest points. Others want the best cornering. And a large number want to be comfortable. They want the best ride quality available, a sled that will soak up the bumps on a weekend afternoon, or on a several hundred mile ride. They want to be able to stand up at the end of the day and not feel like theyâ€™ve been beaten with a stick.
But they donâ€™t want to be on a â€œslowâ€ machine either. They want all of the new bells and whistles, great power, responsive handling, and yes, the best ride quality available. Well, here it is. The 2006 Polaris Classic 700.
Forget your mental image of what a Polaris Classic used to be, this is one serious scooter. Polaris took their rounded IQ RMK styling and cosmetic appeal and matched it to their a-arm IQ platform, with a 128â€ track length and world-famous M-10 rear suspension, the undisputed ride quality king.
This is a new 128â€ track length version of the M-10, slightly longer than the previous 121â€ standard. Polaris tells us they went to this slightly longer track length to compensate for the smaller â€œfootprintâ€ the M-10 has compared to other suspensions. The 128â€ M-10 has about the same amount of track on the ground as their other 121â€ suspensions. The benefit here is you donâ€™t lose any traction to the 121â€ sleds, but you gain the stability and ride quality gains of the slightly longer wheelbase. Matched to a Camoplast Ripsaw 1.25â€ lug height track, traction is not an issue on these M-10s. The tunnels are slightly longer that what we find on the Fusion models, with the stylish clear tail light and a nice storage compartment in the rear.
This is the only IQ Classic with a 2-stroke, but this one rips with the fully EPA-compliant Liberty 700 H.O. Polaris calls it a â€œ700â€, but it is actually a 755cc engine based on the 2006 Liberty 900. Using the same 80mm stroke, smaller 77.5mm pistons make this engine pull hard down low and deliver 95 foot-pounds of torque, with peak output a stout 138 HP!
Power delivery is linear and great for all around riding. There is nothing peaky about this engine. It features four injectors, delivering crisp throttle response and superb running quality. Two additional injectors have been placed in the rear wall of the cylinders for a total of four, delivering excellent running quality. As with the 900, it automatically adjusts for fuel, elevation, temperature, and features the Polaris â€œDigital Wrenchâ€ diagnostic system. The forward intake and exhaust allow for centralized mass placement in the chassis, just like the 900.
Curiously, the 700 has an under square bore x stroke, so the piston speed is fairly high, but this makes for some incredible arm-stretching torque. The torque comes on quick and is broad and flat; it makes you wonder why they didnâ€™t call it an â€œ800â€! It pulls hard out of the hole and through the midrange, it just doesnâ€™t have that warp-speed top end of the 150 HP mills on top end. For most mortals, this engine is plenty strong and fulfilling.
Polaris also explained there were some emissions benefits to using a long stroke small bore combination, and emissions compliance is a huge factor for the sled makers from this point forward.
Polaris made some serious upgrades to the entire IQ platform that is found on all IQ sleds for 2006. All IQ models feature the Polaris exclusive canted a-arms, something theyâ€™re really proud of, and should be. The IQ front suspension is the most predictable and consistent performer, and gets better with new spindles that reduce the caster angle by four degrees for more precise steering and reduced push in the corners. A slimmer spindle reduces the chance of frontal impact and drag through deeper snow. A new ski enhances handling yet again, and accepts both dual and single carbide runners.
All IQ models are fitted with the Rider Select adjustable steering column, but some models have removed the two far forward positions that were deemed un-needed (Classic and Touring models). The system is improved with a new sliding cover that reduces engine compartment noise, and easier to use locking mechanism, and flatter handlebar rotation (less impact with your legs at full crank).
Polaris took it on the chin for some of the detail issues on their first IQ models last season, but now with another year of development under their belt the current rendition is worthy of your consideration. One could argue it is pretty much a Fusion 700 with an M-10, but thereâ€™s more to it. Some riders prefer the taller windshield and mirrors. The blue hood and seat are pretty sweet, too. Electric start and push-button reverse? Standard. Then there is the RMK vs. Fusion styling.
The 700 (755) engine pulls hard and is sure to excite, and should provide exceptional fuel economy (weâ€™ll see). The styling is fresh, the ride quality impeccable, and the handling about as dead-nuts perfect for riding groomed trails as youâ€™d ever expect. If the steering is a bit light for your taste, swap out the dual-runner carbides for a set of singles and carve away.
The longer M-10 and Ripsaw track are stellar, as is the digital gauge cluster. The rider protection is taller and wider than other IQ models, making it great for long rides on cold days. We did notice there is no preload adjustment on the rear track shock other than replacing set length collars; the Full Range Adjuster is your means of set-up for various riders, but two optional collars can increase preload if required.
Yes sir, this is a sleeper in the 2006 Polaris line-up, major. It is unlikely dealers ordered enough of these, as it is the shortest RMK-style IQ you can get, and the only 128â€ one with a Liberty two-stroke. If you donâ€™t like the Fusion styling, buy this one right now as it is certain to be in short supply once everyone figures out it is the only way to get this combination. PERC reverse, pull-and-go CleanFire Injection, electric start, decent mirrors, excellent rider protection, adjustable steering column, exceptional ride quality and handling. Wow, hard to believe!
The 2006 Polaris IQ Classic 700 retails for $9,299. Or, if you prefer a 4-stroke of similar power, the turbo-charged FST Classic goes for an impressive $9,199.