It is really interesting how Polaris has positioned their new 2015 800 Switchback Pro-X model. Normally when a new sled comes out there are a couple of different suspension calibrations, but with the new AXYS chassis platform from Polaris for 2015 they took a slightly different approach.
The new AXYS-based sleds are offered in two versions; dealer-stocked Pro-S models, best suited for the majority of the riders with flatter cornering and smoother trail bump compliance, and Pro-X models which were only available during the Spring SnowCheck Select pre-order program.
The difference? Pro-X sleds only come with the new 800 H.O. engine, where the Pro-S sleds come with either a 600 or an 800 H.O. But the BIG difference is in their set-up and calibration. Compared to the PRO-S setup, PRO-X models have a 2.5” higher ride height with IFS Shocks that are 1.5” longer, resulting in more IFS travel. There are higher-rate springs on all shocks, along with a much taller 5” handlebar riser. And, instead of the Ripsaw II 1.25” lug height track on the Pro-S models, the Switchback Pro-X is fitted with a wicked 137” x 15” x 1.75” Backcountry X track.
Did you catch that? Longer front shocks, taller ride height, much taller handlebar riser, much taller track lugs. The Pro-X is a serious machine. This is not a sit-down motor along the groomed trail for 250 miles sled, no sir. This is a snow-shredding big bump swallowing kick your buddy’s tail machine.
Where the Pro-S is the sit-down sled for trails and forest roads, the Switchback Pro-X will deliver the ultimate in big bump control, clearly with a stand-up riding bias. The Backcountry X track alone tells you this sled is going to give you wicked holeshots and acceleration, and is not going to like high-speed runs on hardpacked trails for mile after mile. It will not reach as high of a top speed, but it will sure get you through a shorter distance in a hurry.
We need to be very clear here. Polaris wanted to make certain their dealers and riders knew there was a very distinct difference between the Pro-S and Pro-X models. They told their dealers to steer the trail riders into the Pro-S, that the Pro-X would be taller and would be a ski-lifter going down the groomed trails. To this we can confirm, it is a ski lifter on groomed trails. It sits taller and this is perfectly logical.
But take it off into a section of whooped out moguls and put the hammer down and you have a riot. The rider is perfectly centered and you will have incredible control, and the suspensions will swallow the terrain like never before. It is impressive.
Off trail in deeper snow the Switchback Pro-X works fairly well, considering it is only a 137” track length. The 1.75” lug height moves plenty of snow, but with the progressive rate rear suspension and its hinged rear close off there is a restriction so deep snow performance is not a strong suit. Dry snow is less of an issue, wet heavy snow is where you will notice the restriction more so.
The traction and acceleration is truly awesome, especially with the added track length and tall lugs. The new 800 H.O. lights up quickly and hard, and with the light chassis it has a playful response that can be thrown around. This is a well-balanced platform. Compared to the previous Pro-Ride chassis the rider’s hands and knees are 4.5” forward, the feet are 2” forward and the seat is 4.5” forward. In this neutral riding position, you can lean forward for ski bite or lean back for traction, making vehicle control seem near effortless and expending less energy to do so.
Like we said, the 2015 Polaris 800 Switchback Pro-X was a SnowCheck Select model with a retail price of $13,199. It was also offered in a 60th Anniversary Package for $400 more, featuring AXYS storage, a painted tunnel and rails, and the interactive color LCD gauge.
From the November 2014 Issue of SnowTech Magazine (Oct, 2014)
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