Hard Accelerating Big Bump Dominator
Normally when Polaris offers special models for their Spring-only Snow Check program, it is a feature-laden version of a sled that is available all-season long. But when we get to the 2015 800 RUSH Pro-X, we have a different twist to the offering. The 800 RUSH Pro-X was only offered during the Snow Check program, so if you wanted one you had to step up and put your money down early, just like always. But the Pro-X is more than fancy graphics or extra gear bags – it is a different beast.
Compared to the Pro-S models, the Pro-X sits taller. This is the first thing you notice when you hop on one and ride it. The whole sled sits taller, and thus it is higher centered. While the rear suspension travel specification is the same between the two at 13.6” (rear axle) the Pro-X has more front suspension travel than the Pro-S; 9.9” compared to 9.3”. The handlebar risers are 3.5” taller as well. But when you ride it, you would swear it is even more.
Polaris reps tell us they developed two targets for the RUSH Pro models; small bump performance with handling for the Pro-S and big bump performance for the Pro-X. The Pro-S is clearly the sled for groomed trail riders, where the Pro-X is clearly for those that attack even bigger bumps.
You know the Pro-X is a mean machine simply because it comes with a 1.75” lug height Backcountry X track. This is not a track that you want to be screaming down a hardpacked trail at high speed for very long. This track is for holeshots and acceleration in chewed up snow, and for going places other than down packed groomed trails.
Compared to the previous RUSH models, while it looks quite similar it really is a new sled. The Pro-X places the rider in a more centered position that is 4.5” forward; your feet are now 2” forward and your hands are 4.5” forward. You’ll also notice the nose cooler is gone up front.
What really makes the sled work well in the bumps is a revised rear suspension, now called the Pro-XC. The front torque arm has been moved back 5” for 33% more front shock travel and the rear pivot is 2.5” further back. These changes help to provide a significant improvement in pitch control and bump compliance. Where the previous RUSH had to rely on spring rate to control the chassis pitch, the new Pro-XC does so with new geometry, and it works. The skid frame is a full 13 pounds lighter, also helping it to react quicker. The whole sled should be like 30 pounds lighter, so while the new 800 H.O. engine isn’t going to be the horsepower king in the 800 class, if it has to push around a sled that is 30 pounds lighter again it is like adding back several horsepower.
This “new” 800 H.O. has a 2.5 pound lighter crankshaft for a 25% reduction in rotational inertia, 3-stage electronic power valves, electronic oil pump and re-designed high flow intake and exhaust system. Polaris didn’t want to talk horsepower numbers, but did claim improved fuel economy and outstanding acceleration, which it has. It is very quick corner to corner, and the sleds we tested ran very smoothly and pulled hard. Now with a 1.75” track under you it should launch hard and be quick, but top end will not be a strong suit. Again, this is a corner to corner bump sled, not a lake racer and not a groomed trail slot car.
The new LED headlights are another super cool feature, 30% brighter and they really do make a difference for being able to see better at night. No need to pay more for them, they are standard issue. You also get a sweet color LCD gauge with GPS mapping capability, another step up in electronic trickery for Polaris. The gauge really does raise the bar for the industry, and those who get it will for sure appreciate all of the features it delivers.
SnowTech test riders were able to ride several of the new Pro-X and Pro-S versions of the new RUSH, and we have to admit they are very impressive. The new AXYS platform widens the sweet spot of what kind of conditions the sled works well in. What we noticed most was the difference between the two versions. The Pro-S was easily the staff favorite for groomed trails, where the Pro-X was clearly calibrated for bigger bumps and was not nearly the flat cornering sled as the Pro-S. In fact, the Pro-X was lifting the inside ski quite regularly on a smooth groomed trail. It is clearly not intended to be the slot car that the Pro-S is, so know this. It sits taller and is calibrated for big bumps, and does not have as wide of a performance window as the Pro-S. Not a matter of right or wrong, but one of a very different calibration for very different conditions.
Our riders really liked the new riding position, not too far forward and not as cramped as the “old” RUSH. The new seat is a huge improvement, but it really came down to where your hands and feet were, how much your knees were bent and what you had to do to get the sled to go where you wanted it to. The Pro-X was very responsive, almost telepathic in capability. The front end never steers hard, it just soaks up the chatter and follows the lines you want it to. After riding them, we all agreed this is what we thought the original RUSH should have been like, but never fully delivered on the hype. This one does. Better late than never.
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