Back when the RMK IQ and Fusion were first introduced two years ago, they were split along body style lines as long track and short track. The Fusion, despite having a-arms, had a big torque motor and not the lightweight cross country sleds the EDGE XCs and Pro-X models had evolved into. Guys always like having the newest and the greatest from a brand, often times even if it doesn’t really match their type of riding or preferences.
Even though there were legitimate issues with the Fusion 900s, the Fusion 600 and 700s that followed for 2006 still were not the RAW sleds that the Pro-X had become. They really weren’t built for the same riders, but the same riders were buying them.
OK, 2007. Polaris dug deep and knew they needed a true performance sled to offer to their faithful. A lightweight rocket ship, with a cross country capable bump suspension. More Pro-X like in capabilities. Doing what they knew best.
To fit this bill, one would need to make it as light as possible yet retain durability. This would mean using a small block motor, not the big torque gorillas that the CleanFire big block mills were. The 600 H.O. was being finalized as a CleanFire engine, and there’s enough room in there to make it a 700 as well…
Enter the Dragon, a limited-build screamer utilizing the sleeker RMK-style hood and bellypan with a conventional (exhaust up front, carbs in back) architecture motor. Gone is the bulk of the Fusion. Instead, a pure-Polaris in the form of a fire-breathing Dragon.
So, how hot is this new 700? It is a quick-revving engine, spinning briskly up to 8250 RPM. It winds up to peak RPM faster than say a Firecat 700, and has a whisker more power on top. Probably three-four horse would be our best guess right now, @ 140+ HP. We’ll see. The midrange pull is said to be 15% stronger than the 600 at 6500 RPM, right where you do a lot of riding.
For those familiar with a Ski-Doo SDI engine, the Polaris CFI is going to be quite similar in operation in that you pull the rope and the electronics do all the work. No choke, with reliable two-pull starts (usually to pressurize the fuel rail more than anything else). Up and down in elevation or temperature, the engine gets the right amount of fuel and ignition advance to match the conditions and fuel being used. A knock sensor monitors detonation, either by poor fuel or heavy loading of the engine, and compensates to ensure maximum durability protection. And unlike the Ski-Doo SDIs, the Polaris CFI system is batteryless. A larger flywheel and ignition changes make this happen.
The CFI injection consists of an injector in each cylinder and one in each side of the crankcase, making it a four injector system. Solenoid-actuated power valves are electronically controlled for accurate and variable opening, maximizing fuel economy at slow rpm rise rates and providing all-out ass-kicking acceleration when the rate of RPM increase is greater.
Polaris indicates their testing has revealed fuel economy will be right on par with the Ski-Doo SDI engines, something we look forward to after the past few years.
The Dragon is a far leaner machine than the Fusion in so many ways. Gone is the adjustable steering post, with its weight and complexity. That’s OK, we like where the steering post is located with its tall wide bars and curved hooks. It just fits better.
Also gone is the heavy steering of the 2006 Polaris IQs. A bunch of time was spent on getting the steering effort nailed down, with the skis mounted a bit further forward on the spindle to reduce the steering effort, basically a result of the new cast spindles in 2006.
So the Dragon is just an IQ with a 700 instead of a 600? Oh no. The Dragon gets the RAW treatment, stripping away all unessentials to make it light and purpose built – to go fast. Sure, you can strap on some bags if you wish, but the showroom appeal of this sled is meant to be RAW, all the way.
In this respect, the rear of the sled looks rather unfinished. Maybe a bit too RAW for our liking, but air don’t weigh nothin’, now does it? That’s the point. The dry weight spec of the Dragon is 476 pounds. In the day of heavy EPA certified sleds, here is one that is just as light as any of the best cross country 2-strokes, and is EPA-compliant. Yes, you can have your cake and eat it, too.
Inside the Walker Evans “Needle” Shocks
The 2007 Polaris Dragon is fitted with a trick set of Walker Evans Racing shocks; remote-reservoir needle shocks with 16-position compression clickers, front and rear.
Notice the bypass hole in the shock shaft. As the shock strokes, oil flows through the end of the shaft and through this single bypass hole, providing a (controlled) position sensitive function. This allows a small amount of oil to bypass the shim stack during normal stroking. A tuning needle is fixed at the end of the shock body, so when the shaft travels and meets the needle the oil flow through the bypass hole is first reduced, and then effectively shut off approaching full stroke. The needle length and taper can be used as a tuning device to vary the “transition” point, much like the height and taper of a jet needle in a carburetor. You can see the familiar piston and shim stack as well, with rebound and compression sides. There is no rubber jounce stopper; the shock travel is limited hydraulically and allowed full stroke capability for maximum suspension travel.
Don’t let the “position sensitive” function fool you; these are very capable shocks with a wide range of calibration capability, from cross country duty to being compliant on the trail. They’re not “soft” like the original PPS shocks from the EDGE models. This is a lighter and simpler way of integrating the benefits of bypass valving without compromises.
700 H.O. CFI
Based on the successful 600 H.O., the new 700 H.O. CFI is a “small block” engine with a traditional layout – exhaust up front and carbs in back. Like the new 600 H.O. CFI, the 700 H.O. uses a four-injector system; two fuel injectors per cylinder, with one low-mounted injector firing into the airstream exiting the reed cage, and one high-mounted injector firing into each cylinder. The result is fully automatic calibration, excellent fuel economy and EPA-compliance – 43% cleaner than the industry baseline. A full compliment of sensors feed data to the on-board CPU for control of the fuel injectors, ignition timing, and power valve opening to compensate for changes in temperature, elevation, engine temp, exhaust temp, throttle position, RPM and fuel quality. Two-pull starts are a reality.
While a “new” 700, it uses the same proven dimensions as the proven Liberty 700 VES; 81mm x 68 mm bore and stroke. It pulls 140 HP at peak, 4 HP more than the Cat 700 and 2 HP less than the (previous) Ski-Doo 800. Compared to the Liberty 800, peak output is 3% more with better carryover (over rev).
A 140+ HP EPA compliant 2-stroke with trick shocks that comes in at only 476 pounds? The true bump sled is back in the Polaris line. This is as close to a Pro-X as we’ve seen for a few years, and those who prefer that kind of calibration know who they are and have been hoping for this sled. Why we didn’t get it two years ago remains a judgment call, but we’re happy it is here now.
We were told 2-strokes would get heavier in order to meet the EPA regs, and while some have, this one is not. This is still a true lightweight, over the snow vehicle that is compliant. The fuel economy and range are what they should be, and of course the Dragon has the push-button reverse that we all now take for granted (until you hop on a sled without it.)
We didn’t get a chance to run the Dragon alongside a Firecat, but we can tell you there shouldn’t be much difference here – rider weight and set up should more often be the difference, but we’ll see. The Dragons we’ve sampled sure seem like they should deliver on their promise of 140 HP.
What really makes this sled unique are the Walker Evans “Needle” shocks, remote reservoir clicker units from the race department. The tuning needles provide great latitude in calibration, allowing maximum tunability and adjustability as well as extreme durability. The Polaris calibration guys were giddy about what they could do and have done with these shocks, and the sled responds in kind with a balanced performance envelope that is appropriate for the intended crowd. It is not harsh in any respect, but it is not soft in any respect, either. It is compliant when need be and capable when need be, and once you get the preload set for your weight the shock valving can be dialed to your liking. Very sweet.
The ease of steering is a nice change from 2006 models and the ride of the rear suspension is probably the best from Polaris for this segment. The most noticeable thing we detected was a lack of precision handling when it came to initial turn in. The Dragons we rode just didn’t have that planted railing feeling one gets from other sleds, but remember the steering was very light. We look forward to some calibration time to see what we can end up with (yes, one is on its way). Sno Pros and X-Packages have just met their match.
The 2007 Polaris Dragon 700 is very limited in supply and retails for $9,599.
(Republished from the September 2006 issue of SnowTech Magazine)