When Polaris finds something that works, they expand upon it and run with it. Like their â€œDragonâ€ packages. Last year, the Dragon 700 was somewhat limited in availability, but nowhere short on performance and capability. The 700 CFI motor was getting all of the running quality issues worked out of it, as is typical with all-new fuel injection systems. Now, for 2008, the 700 CFI and the already-established 600 CFI are both ready for full-scale production.
We have been informed that the 800 CFI, which was planned to be introduced as a very late 2008 model in the form of an 800 Dragon, will be limited to the RMK models for 2008, with the 121â€ version released in January as a 2009 model. The demand for the limited number of these engines was too great from the mountain segment, where going to battle with an 800 is far more important than down at low elevation.
One of the issues with the 2007s was a hesitation when you wacked the throttle open quickly, or backed out of it abruptly. Polaris found the pressurized fuel rail in the EFI system needed to be â€œburpedâ€, so they have added a â€œFuel Vapor Separatorâ€ to all of the CFI engines to eliminate this problem. This was also added to all of the 2007s in the field that experienced this issue, as well.
Even with this update, the running quality of the CFI engine package continues to develop, much like the Ski-Doo SDI did in the first few years of production. Switching over from carbed engines to fuel injection isn’t as easy as one might think, and Polaris has done a great job at bringing their two-stroke engines up to where they needed to be after being sidetracked with the 755 and 866 big blocks for a couple of years. Now they’re back to what they do best; small block two-strokes, and now they’ll finally have a (125 HP) 600, (140 HP) 700 and (155 HP) 800.
What makes the Dragon models unique is their suspension packages, much like the Arctic Cat Sno Pros, Ski-Doo X-Packages and now the Yamaha RTXs. Compared to the base 700 IQ, the Dragons get a host of premium add-ons to increase their performance and value. The shocks are the most significant; new RydeFX Air 2.0 shocks up front get rid of steel springs, but use oil instead of air to seal the dual chamber. In the rear, an Air shock is on the front arm with a remote-reservoir compression adjustable RydeFX rear track shock. This is in contrast to the Walker Evans found on the Dragon 700 last season.
Other differences include a chrome windshield, painted spindles, a 1.25â€ Camoplast Ripsaw instead of a 1â€ Hacksaw, much taller handlebar risers (5.25â€ vs. 2.38â€) and bar hooks with handguards (to go with the lower chrome windshield).
Polaris is really bent on making their sleds easy steering with a lighter effort, and once again they’ve reduced the steering effort with new spindles that are lighter as well. In fact, the whole sled is lighter with the use of their RAW Hybrid chassis that gets rid of as much weight as feasible. Most noticeable is the removal of the nose radiator, not needed with the small block engines. Instead, full-length tunnel extrusions do the job, complimented by a perimeter cooling system.
The rear suspension gets more tweaks for 2008 as well. Larger idlers are aimed at increasing top end speed. And, heavier standard torsion springs increase preload capability, either for aggressive riding styles or heavier riders, or both. Our big guys were always at the upper end of the previous spring capability, so this is a welcome change for all but the under 170-pound crowd.
You’ll also find a new Freestyle seat on the Dragons. This is narrow and firm in front, yet softer and wider in the back. Seems where you sit is a matter of how you are riding, and the dual-zone seat enhances rider mobility in the cockpit by making transitions easier, along with matching the foam density to the riding style. If you’re slid up front, then you’re riding aggressively and need a firmer seat, where if you’re back in the saddle you’re taking it easier and benefit from a more comfortable seat.
So, how does the Dragon IQ work in comparison to the rest of the class? Better than you’d maybe first expect. The IQ platform has never had any issues, short of the lacking performance of the big block engines of years past. The CFI 600 and CFI 700 deliver fuel economy that is right there with the Ski-Doo SDIs, maybe a whisker less, but better than the EFI Cats. The power is very strong for each engine size, with all three of them coming in at the top of their class.
The ride quality is very controlled, not as smooth or comfortable as the new F-Series Cats, but very capable and Polaris-like with excellent pitch control and weight transfer. No real issues, here, they bottom easier than the 2007 Ski-Doos but we’d have to say they’re better than the 2008 Ski-Doos in overall rear suspension performance.
The handling of the Dragons allows light steering and, if anything, isn’t aggressive enough for some. The Yamahas and Ski-Doos will carve with more precision, but with more effort as well. The Cats and the Dragons are really close in this regard, but again no real complaints other than we’d install different runners or skis as soon as possible. The stockers (skis and runners) are just not good enough for our liking.
The wind protection is typical for this class, racy-looking windshields sell sleds and make them faster, but when the temps drop below zero you start to feel it. We have a taller one on hand and swap them out, as needed. 200+ miles at -10 is no fun with a bikini windshield.
A valid gripe is the lack of storage on so many of the bump sleds, and this is true with the Dragons. There is a RAW look to the rear of the sled, where it is wide open wasted space. Ski-Doo used to nail this on their sleds, but now they’ve gone to the minimalist approach as well. If you want to carry gear, strap on a bag or get a backpack because there’s no on-board storage on the stock configuration. Polaris does have some cool (accessory) bags for this, now.
In reality, the Dragon models continue to be some of the most capable sleds in the widest range of conditions, a Polaris tradition. They are great trail sleds, not too firm like many others in this class, they steer easy and don’t wear you out. They are outstanding in deep snow for a 121â€ sled with 1.25â€ lug height. Polaris always does this better than anyone else. They are really light (476 dry spec for the 600) by all standards, except the new XPs. Polaris has worked like the dickens on product quality, and we’re confident these 2008s will be some of the best sleds they’re built in a number of years. Problem is, will their buyers recognize it, or is it too late? They should have had these sleds two-three years ago, but they’re here now. They are well-balanced in every respect, and other than the lack of storage and minimal wind protection, they will compared favorably in every regard. Maybe not the best at everything, but now they’re not bad at anything. And when the terrain gets really rough, they hold their composure and make you look and feel like a better rider. If you’re familiar with how well the 2007 Dragon 700 performed, get ready for more. More performance, more fun, more kicking your buddy’s butt all day long.
The 2008 Polaris Dragon IQ 600 retails for $9,499, and the Dragon IQ 700 goes for $9,899. The four-stroke Turbo Dragon sells for $10,249.