We recently spent some time on several pre-production 2016 Polaris machines, including the RMK Pro 155″ and 163” 2.6″ as well as the SKS 155″ 2.4″. Special thanks go out to Dan Adams for giving us the opportunity to spend some additional time on these new machines. We will just go ahead and answer the main question everybody has been asking – yes, the new 800 motor is the real deal. It is stronger and it is very noticeable. How much stronger is it? This is essentially the same engine supplied in the 2015 AXYS short track models (which we have extensive experience with) and is easily on par with the other two 800 twins currently on the market. The new 800 is “punchy” through the midrange, quick to respond and accelerate, and does not flatten out on top.
The new AXYS Pro-RMK platform is noticeably light and very easy to maneuver, which is no surprise to anyone. The 2.6″ track worked well in the wet spring snow and out preformed the 2.4″ track that was mounted on the SKS by a large margin. We would have liked to spent some time on the new 3″ track Polaris will be offering but unfortunately one was not available for our spring testing, which would not have been ideal conditions for this powder-hound track anyways.
The main thing we noticed is how well the new AXYS RMK holds a side hill. The new chassis sits taller and is extremely narrow, allowing the rider to hold a much steeper side hill without washing or panning out. The very back of the running board was one of the first things to drag, but we had to lay it aggressively into a very steep hill to make this happen. This sled is a joy to ride in technical areas, especially in tight trees on steep side-hills. Truly a boondockers delight.
The narrower handlebars are also a welcome change, but both the SKS and the Pro RMK we rode had the tall version on them, which we felt were still too tall. We would have preferred the mid height bars (6” rise). Keep in mind most of our test riders range from 6’ to 6’ 3” in height. Riders who stand less than 6’ may want the shortest bar Polaris offers.
The suspension of the new AXYS RMK felt very much like a 2015 Pro RMK from a ride quality standpoint. Even though this new AXYS RMK has a raised chassis, the stability on the trail was very similar to what we are used to with previous models. If anything, it felt a bit more stable and predictable.
The SKS models we rode had the skis adjusted in a variety of different stances with one in the center location while the other was in the wide ski stance. In both instances they were still surprisingly easy to side hill. We feel the SKS could be one of the most versatile machines available for 2016 as it has most of the capabilities of the Pro RMK, but with a more durable package for a wider variety of snow conditions. The added front cooler and extra idler wheels help in moderate snow conditions while a chain case drive system allows more gearing options. The SKS uses the aluminum over-structure and in-season models ship with electric start, making this a very well rounded package. Yes, those extra parts come at a cost of weight which we could feel at times, but after riding it, we feel it’s a worthy sled for those who ride in a wider range of conditions than just powder. We would order it without electric start to keep the weight closer to the Pro RMK, and we would outfit it with the 2.6” track for our snow conditions and riding style.
The SKS model comes with piggyback reservoir ski and rear rail shocks. These shocks provide better ride quality for the customer that understands how to adjust them. The bottom line is if you have to ride a lot of trail to get to your mountain riding area, you should consider the SKS as it is more compliant on the trail from a standpoint of more cooling capacity, extended hifax life and potentially better ride quality from the shock package.
We still feel that the RMK is the better deep snow sled of the Polaris line-up with its carbon fiber over-structure, Quick Drive system (chaincase on the 3″ track), single rear cooler and lack of idler wheels. Its lightweight package is quick to respond to rider inputs in all snow conditions. If you do not have to ride a lot of trails to get to the deep snow, this is the model to have.
Where all of our riding on the new platform so far has been in spring type or limited depth snow conditions, it will be interesting to see how our opinion varies with these models in the deep mid-winter snows. We are excited to get on the new 3” track and put it through its paces against the 2.6” version. Polaris indicates the 2.6” is better suited for a far wider range of snow conditions and that the 3.0” is a very condition-specific application, something like 20% of the time, for those who have the ability to pick and choose the days they want to ride (with the deepest, freshest snow). Choose wisely.
Subscribe to SnowTech and have every issue mailed right to your door, 5 times per year!