Take a very good long look at the 2015 Polaris RUSH models. At a distance they might look very similar to the previous RUSH models. Their narrow profile, the hinged rear end, looks like a RUSH.
But take a step closer and then you can see that while similar, they are indeed new and different – bolder and more muscular, with sharper lines and a few more bulges, but for sure different. Which is a curiosity. We had never felt the previous RUSH models lived up to their hype, all the way back to their 2010 introduction. As the model years progressed they indeed worked better and better, but they never did measure up to what we were told they should be, or could be.
So when we had our chance to ride the 2015 pre-production models, we have to step up and tell you that all of the hype, all of the glory that we were promised back in 2010 is now here. Fully intact. Better late than never, we say.
We almost wonder if Polaris should have distanced themselves from the “old” RUSH and called their new sleds something different. It might have been the better move, in the long run. Many riders might discount these new sleds simply because they have the same name, which would be a mistake. The 2015 versions should of (could have) been called the AXYS, which is the name of the new chassis for these machines.
Along with the new AXYS chassis we have a new, or heavily revised, rear suspension as well, now called the PRO-XC suspension that is a full 13 pounds lighter. Up front, well, Polaris is calling this new version the AXYS front suspension, but it is really very similar to the PRO-RIDE front end that already works so very well, so there was no real need to re-name it. But since the entire machine is said to contain 93% new parts, we are perfectly OK with the new names. As long as it works, which it does.
The key difference with this new platform is how the rider has been repositioned – your hands and body and seating position are all about 4.5” forward, with your feet about 2” forward. Not quite as far forward as say on a Ski-Doo, but the difference compared to the “old” RUSH is very noticeable and quite amazing. Polaris calls this a neutral position, not too far forward and not too far back, which allows the rider to have “Rider Centric Comfort” and “Rider Balanced Control”. These are both very clever marketing terms, but they really do justice at describing how the rider is now better positioned for attacking the terrain, both through the bumps and carving corners.
Further, Polaris claims the new AXYS sleds are flatter cornering with more precise handling, giving you better control in big bumps and chatter bumps. To this we can validate “yes” on all points.
We were able to do some serious testing of the 2015 Polaris AXYS sleds and can tell you they 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 (like 2.5” 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 and lift the skis quite a bit motoring down a smooth 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. Polaris says the Pro-X models are for rough trails, just realize that while you gain bigger bump capability you will noticeably loose flat cornering and have a much higher centered sled.
That said, our test team found the new Polaris AXYS Pro-S models are the best handling sleds in the biz through the widest range of conditions. 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. Polaris is calling this a new engine, but it looks to be more a matter of a new injection system and a new electronic power valve system with the rest of the engine remaining very similar, so we are going to have to wait and see how it holds up over time. Right now we believe this to be a valid concern until proven different.
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. Once again, the new PRO-XC rear suspension is such an improvement over what the RUSH (and Switchback) models 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.
SnowTech readers have come to trust us when a new sled comes out, that we try to be as straight with you as we possibly can. Indications are 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! Now let’s hope the actual production models work as well as the pre-production sleds we tested, or we will really look like idiots. Our guess is they will.
From the September 2014 Issue of SnowTech Magazine (Aug 2014)
SnowTech is published 5 times per year. To receive all the great Technical Snowmobile related content from SnowTech Magazine you have to be a subscriber – and get it delivered to your mailbox. Interested in Subscribing?