In about the first week of March we have been traveling to a snowy location for the past 30 years to ride and photograph...

In about the first week of March we have been traveling to a snowy location for the past 30 years to ride and photograph all of next year’s snowmobiles. This past year was no different, as we once again had the opportunity to get some seat time and take some photos of the latest and greatest sleds from all of the manufacturers. After getting to ride some 60+ sleds in a week’s time, our staff always comments on a few of the “standouts”, sleds that exceeded our expectations or ones that were just plain dialed. Here, my friends, we have such a sled. The 2014 Polaris 800 Indy SP. This thing is dialed.

800indysp

It was just last season that Polaris introduced two new Indy models, the 600 Indy and the 600 Indy SP. Many of you will remember how excited we were about these two new models, as they combined the bonded Pro-Ride chassis with a more familiar rear tunnel and coupled suspension (instead of using the RUSH rear end). Polaris continues to tell us the RUSH has been wildly popular and very successful, but at the same time there have been enough of their customers and dealers asking for a sled just like what the Indy 600 was – lightweight, responsive, less expensive, playful and predictable.


With the introduction of the Indy models the standard RUSH models have been eliminated, so the only RUSH models left in the Polaris line-up for 2014 are the 600 & 800 RUSH Pro-R. The simple fact that Polaris is coming out with an 800 Indy SP and is dropping the base RUSH models says volumes in our book. 2014 is the fifth year of the RUSH, and Polaris dealers and consumers reacted so favorably to the 600 Indy models last season that it just plain made sense for Polaris to come back with an 800 engine in this popular Indy package.


Polaris has always done a very good job with their coupled rear suspensions, and this capability remains intact with the 800 Indy SP. The magic formula starts with the 600 Indy SP of last season, and drops in the 800 Liberty twin engine with a new seat for 2014. The new “Indy Pro-Ride” seat design allows easy transitions between seated and standing positions. Its wider surface where a rider plants for seated riding enhances comfort during long days of great riding. There is better support to the seat foam and it complements the machine.


Of course, the inevitable comparisons will be made between the 800 Indy SP and the 800 RUSH Pro-R. The largest differences are found in the rear suspension and shock packages, where the Indy has a coupled rail with non-adjustable FOX shocks and the RUSH gets the progressive rate un-coupled rear suspension. While the RUSH (with its Walker Evans adjustable shocks and progressive rate design) will provide better resistance to bottoming of the rear arm, the Indy actually does a better job at resisting bottoming of the front arm due to the coupling, which means the front and rear suspension arms act together to resist bumps once the arms are coupled. The spring rate and shock action of the front and rear arms are combined, where on the RUSH the front arm is left up there all on its own and, with the rear arm so capable, riders were finding they were bottoming the front arm.

800Indysp2

The other difference from all of this is how the Indy isn’t going to be lifting the skis as much as a RUSH, both on acceleration and during cornering. The Indy is going to maintain more consistent ski pressure, making it better suited for groomed trail riding. There will be less chassis pitching and rocking, but yes, when you push it really hard you will bottom the rear arm more than you would with a RUSH.


In an attempt to provide some difference between the two lines, the INDY models come with a 1” lug height Hacksaw track instead of the 1.25” lug height Ripsaw of the RUSH. While this might be an OK move for the 600 Indy, most riders will find the 1” lug height Hacksaw track to be not tall enough for the 800 in all but hardpack conditions. We would prefer a taller lug track, but this is part of the beauty of the Indy in how the lower lug track lets you throw it around in the corners as it isn’t so hooked up all of the time. It makes the sled playful and gives you a lighter steering effort, but with the power of the 800 you will find the track spinning more than with the RUSH. On the other hand, the 800 Indy will be faster out on the lake with this track and is better suited for studs, and some riders will install something even better like the new Ripsaw II track (which would be our personal choice).


There are more of the “premium” features found on the RUSH, things like the TEAM secondary where the Indy comes with the Polaris P2 secondary. The Indy has a simpler gauge package, but it is still very functional. The Indy has a slightly lower bar riser (3.5” instead of 4.5”) and doesn’t get the lightweight brake rotor. With the focus being more of trail riding than stand-up bump crushing the Indy has no running board reinforcements, but the 800 RUSH PRO-R is $1,200 more than the 800 Indy SP (and the RUSH is $1,800 more when we compare the 600s).


For the vast majority of trail riders who are buying sleds to go out and ride groomed trails, this is a more functional and more logical machine. The combination of the Pro-Ride chassis with the variable caster front suspension and canted a-arms goes through the bumps with ease and predictability. Then we give it a coupled rear suspension with a great shock package and we have an excellent sled that brings back the fun to riding.


What really surprised us was how well this machine worked for us during spring testing. This was a standout and a staff favorite. From the clutching and the gearing to the precision handling and light steering to the flat cornering and predictability, the 800 Indy SP was clearly the result of some serious calibration efforts on the part of Polaris. They had put serious time into making this sled work as good as they possibly could, and it showed. Every single one of our test riders reacted the same way in that the 800 Indy SP was as close to a perfect calibration as we have experienced from Polaris in many years. You can hop on this sled and you are the boss, you are the master. It does what you want it to, it responds to your every wish and command.


We also has a similar reaction last year to the 600 Indy SP, which is still an outstanding machine, but the 800 was every bit as good. While Polaris had struggled years ago with the running quality of their 800, the latest versions now deliver excellent running quality and performance. Granted, they are not going to be giving you the 160 HP of the Arctic Cat or Ski-Doo 800s, so if you want the most powerful 800 the Indy isn’t going to be it, but that isn’t going to matter to all of the Polaris riders who wanted an Indy package with more power than the 125 HP 600 engine was giving them. The Polaris 800 should be right about 150 HP, and in the lightweight Indy it pulls hard and has excellent top end as well, so nobody should be complaining.


The 2014 Polaris 800 Indy 800 is right on the money and the overall calibration of the entire vehicle is something that Polaris knows all too well. If you’re an X-package or Sno Pro kind of rider then stay with the RUSH, but if trails are what you ride, look no further. Seriously, if you are a Polaris trail rider go buy an Indy, either the 600 or the 800. Priced at $10,599 it is a full $1,200 less than a 800 RUSH Pro R, and the 600 Indy SP goes for only $8,999 making it the true standout.

From the September 2014 issue of SnowTech Magazine. To see all the great articles from SnowTech you have to be a subscriber to the magazine. Subscribe here – and have SnowTech delivered to your door.

  • Paul

    February 6, 2014 #1 Author

    I have talked to many engine builders around my area (Mpls). They have buckets of 800 cranks that need to be rebuilt. It seems like any two stroke twin cylinder engine north of 700cc can’t take the power and are not terribly reliable. This is one of the reasons 4 strokers are gaining popularity. People read the blogs about yet another 800 or 1000 twin blowing up and they start looking at other options. That said, I haven’t received my AARP card for permission to buy a four stroke sled. I like 600cc sleds a lot but sometimes I want more power but I don’t want the weight of a 4 stroke or the unreliability of a big 2 stroke twin. I wonder how a triple cylinder two stroke would do if it were designed with today’s weight and fuel saving technology. Recall the old Thundercats: fast as hell, gobs of power and totally reliable.

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