We’ve just returned from our first rides on the all-new 2015 Polaris AXYS sleds (RUSH & Switchback) fitted with their new 800 H.O. two-stroke twin, as well as their 600.
What did we learn? The new Polaris AXYS sleds are freakin’ awesome. We admit it, they’re that good. These are the sleds we always knew Polaris could build, but could never get – until now.
We were able to ride several different sleds, from 600s to 800s, from Pro-S models to Pro-X models, for hundreds of miles in a wide range of conditions. Quite simply, our test team was blown away at how well the 2015 Polaris AXYS sleds performed.
You look at the new platform and it really does look like a RUSH and at first it doesn’t look all that different, but once you start riding it you quickly realize it is a very different machine. It is light and very fast, noticeably quick and agile. They are quiet, and very smooth in terms of acceleration and power delivery.
But what really stood out was the riding position. When Polaris came out with the RUSH for 2010, they told us how the rider was centered and how you could lean forward for more ski bite and back for traction, but the sled never fully delivered on that concept. Crazy thing is, all of that talk from 2010 now becomes reality with the 2015s.
The rider is perfectly centered and balanced for the ultimate in traction and control. The sleds go through the corners with precision, but very light steering. But here we run into the one thing that many riders might screw up – which sled is best for them. The Pro-X models sit much taller, have longer shocks and deep lug 1.75” tracks. They are set up far more as a cross country sled and are very tippy, or lift the skis quite a bit, motoring down a groomed trail If you mostly ride groomed trails you will be far better off with the Pro-S models, as they corner far flatter and are much more compliant through the trail bumps, and will work far better on hardpack with their 1.25” Ripsaw II tracks.
That said, our test team found the new Polaris AXYS models are the best handling sleds in the biz. The ability to rail through the corners with such confidence and maintain such light steering effort was truly amazing.
Polaris told us how fast their new sleds were, and it shows. The 600 AXYS models are quick, but the new 800 H.O. is really fast. Polaris didn’t want to talk horsepower, but stated that they were going to be where they needed to be, and when you consider how much lighter their sleds are and how fast and hard they accelerate, the exact power numbers become far less important. It spools up quicker, and with V-Force reeds and the free flowing intake and straight exhaust header we are pretty confident the power has to be up significantly from before. The power delivery is so smooth and linear, yet quick and instant, making it a total blast to ride.
There was no mention of any steps being taken to improve engine durability, so only time will tell as to how the new 800 H.O. compares to the current 800 twin. This issue is of concern to many riders, but we just can’t answer that one for you. Only time will tell.
The new rear suspension is also equally impressive as the rest of the sled. It has a FAR wider performance window than before, and with the longer repositioned front arm it works. With the rider centered (4.5” forward from before for your hands, knees and seating position) you feel like you are right on top of the balancing point of the machine. You feel this when you ride it, and the confidence this gives you is amazing. With the coil spring still on the rear shock it isn’t quite as compliant as a torsion spring arrangement, but past that it doesn’t seem to give up anything to anyone. The new PRO-XC rear suspension is such an improvement over what the RUSH and Switchback model had previously that the sleds should have been given a different name; maybe they should have just called it the AXYS and AXYS Switchback and dropped the RUSH name.
These are the best sleds Polaris has ever built, period, end of conversation. They are really fast. They are smooth, powerful and quiet. They have light steering with virtually no pushing. They deliver amazing ride quality and capability. These things ROCK!
Look for our full test reports in SnowTech Magazine!