Ever since Polaris came out with the beaver-tail 120” RUSH in 2010 and then the longer Switchback 137” models, we have wondered if they would ever go back to a traditional tunnel for their high-performance trail sleds. Polaris had an ideal chance to do so with the introduction of their new AXYS chassis back in 2015, but no, they stayed with the progressive rate hinged rear end once again. What really tipped the scales was the 2017 introduction of their Switchback Assault (and 144” Switchback SP). These sleds, also on the AXYS platform, showed us all just how good of a sled Polaris was building. Since then, we have been hoping Polaris would build a shorter track version of their crazy-popular Switchback Assault – with the key element being they would be built on the AXYS platform.
It was in 2015 that we saw the introduction of the AXYS-platform RUSH and Switchback sleds followed in 2016 with the AXYS RMK, in 2017 with the AXYS Switchback Assault, and in 2018 the Utility-crossover Titan models. They had covered all of the bases in just four years, so what was next? We just couldn’t help ourselves in wishing for a short track version of these “traditional tunnel” sleds. Not a value model like the Indy had been, but a full-blown high performance model. Like a 129” version of the Switchback Assault. AXYS platform, good shocks, straight tunnel.
Enough of an introduction, as we now have what we have been asking for and waiting for – AXYS platform, 129” track length, traditional tunnel, and still sporting what amounts to a rising rate geometry now housed inside the tunnel. And it works very well. This is a broad range sled, giving us a more versatile machine across a wider set of conditions. It also gives us a wider range of load carrying capability, with the switch back to torsion springs on the rear arm instead of a single coil spring on the rear shock.
You might think the 2019 Indy XC sleds are going to be value models since they bear the Indy name, but they are not value sleds – they are high performance sleds using the “Best of the Best” Polaris technology, and the very best shocks you can get. They do not (yet) replace the beaver-tail RUSH models, but they very well could in the next year (or two). Word is Polaris was working on the 137” version of this machine last winter in prototype form, so the writing could be on the wall already. The market will decide what kind of sleds will survive and which will be dropped from the line-up, so we will let that take its natural course.
In order to build a 129” AXYS model, Polaris engineers have developed yet another excellent rear suspension called the PRO-CC. This next-generation rear suspension combines many of the lessons learned and knowledge gained over the past several platforms and delivers performance across a wider range of conditions, for a wider range of riders. The front arm is very long, using the exact same geometry as the front arm on the current RUSH & Switchback sleds but with a softer calibration since the PRO-CC goes back to a two-way coupled design. Coupling of the front and rear arms combines the shock and spring action of both front and rear arms. This provides a soft supple ride before the arms are coupled, with increased resistance to bottoming and bump control when the arms are coupled – each arm will displace as the other moves.
The rear arm of the PRO-CC has torsion springs (like the 144” Assault) so the shock and springs again go back to their own motion ratios (moving at their own rate, independently of each other). On the RUSH & Switchback models, the coil spring is mounted directly on the rear shock thus they have the exact same motion ratio. On those sleds the ratio is “progressive” in that it starts out soft and ramps up firmer through the travel, having more of an exponential curve to the motion ratio. With the PRO-CC design we go back to a more linear “rising rate” motion ratio for the rear shock. More importantly, we have separation of the springs and shock on the rear arm, and it is coupled.
We also find the rear arm is mounted very far back on the rails. This allows for excellent load carrying capacity, able to accommodate a wide range of rider weights. It also provides excellent weight transfer control and it provides a more consistent track tension through the suspension travel. The timing rods also appear to be very long, so you know this is a different geometry arrangement.
The shock package is first class with Walker Evans shocks; a 2” diameter unit on the front torque arm with 10-position adjuster for compression damping calibration and a 1.75” velocity sensitive needle shock on the rear arm. The remote reservoir is mounted in the middle of the shock, not on the end, making this a position-sensitive design. Again we find a 10-position adjuster to vary compression damping. As an added bonus, the adjustment dial for the rear shock damping is far easier to access and adjust than it is on the 144” Switchback Assault. Thank you Polaris.
All of these changes do several things in comparison to the un-coupled 120” and 137” suspensions we’ve been riding from Polaris since 2010. The PRO-CC is not going to be as position sensitive to where the rider is sitting, or leaning, as what the RUSH and Switchback sleds have been. That also means the PRO-CC suspension and the Indy XC models are not going to be as much of a wheelie monster, and it means they are going to deliver a phenomenal ride in the chatter, or stutter bumps, now that the shock and springs are independent once again. What’s old is once new again.
The new Indy XC, at least out of the box, is going to not be as planted up front as the current RUSH or Switchback models. Don’t despair, as this is more of a calibration decision that it is an engineering change or difference. The factory engineers tell us a rider can make their Indy XC handle that way (more like the RUSH) with a simple 3/8” adjustment of the ski shock springs, letting the front end settle in slightly. That said, we were perfectly content with how the new Indy XC handled the tight trails considering how much better we felt it worked out on the high speed running. As more of a cross country sled and less of a slot-car groomed trail sled the Indy XC is a more capable package with very controlled and balanced manners, but not being too stiff as one would expect. It is NOT an Assault in terms of shock calibration. In the small chatter bumps it works extremely well, more like phenomenal, thanks to the separation of the shock and springs on the rear arm.
From a chassis stand point, we would have to say that less aggressive sit down trail riders might still prefer the current RUSH or Switchback models, but past that if you are one that attacks the bumps then this sled is going to be better. It is by no means a less capable sled, actually it is both more capable and more comfortable on both ends of the spectrum simply by virtue of the rear suspension geometry and design and its greater load capacity, both rider weight and bump energy.
Polaris is smartly offering up their new Indy XC 129 models with three track options; the Camso Storm 1.5” for aggressive performance both on and off trail; the Camso Cobra 1.35” for superior traction and control on soft, loose and unpacked snow; and the Ripsaw II 1.25” for balanced performance and flatter cornering on both hard pack and loose snow. In our testing both the Storm and RipSaw II will let the tail of the sled slide a bit more than the Cobra, resulting in flatter cornering, with the Ripsaw II being the best in this regard. Personally I still prefer the Cobra track for the chewed up snow and fresh snow that I generally ride in more often, but there is no wrong answer here. With big power under the hood many riders will opt for the Storm 1.5”, while those using studs or running the 600 might opt for the Ripsaw II with the slightly lower lug height. Those riding in fresh or loose snow more often than hardpack will want the Cobra track for its cupped lugs and superior performance in these snow conditions.
The shock package on the Indy XC is first class Walker Evans, with compression adjustable piggyback needle shocks front and rear and a 2” compression adjustable piggyback (no needle) at center. The remote reservoir on the rear shock is positioned towards the middle of the shock body, known as “Velocity Series”, like what is found on the 600R race sled.
For those who don’t need or want the power of the mighty 850 Patriot engine and the four-year warranty offered during the Spring Snow Check program, the Indy XC is also available with the Liberty 800 and 600 engines all year long so riders can benefit from this excellent chassis and suspension package. Only the 129” Indy models have made the conversion to the AXYS platform, all other Indy models remain on the Pro-Ride platform for 2019.
From talking with the Polaris engineers, it seems as if the Indy XC will be no lighter than the RUSH or Switchback models, but we have to consider this is a 129” track length when making comparisons to a 120” or 137”, so adjust accordingly. Polaris spent a ton of money on lightweight trick parts in the hinged rear assembly on the beaver-tail models, so building the Indy XC should be easier and less complex. The obvious benefits of course are the improved deep snow performance, or ability to perform better in greater snow depths, and the ability to mount and carry cargo bags or fuel cans on the tunnel. Performance wise, from our own experience and what the Polaris test crew indicated, the Indy XC will satisfy a wider range of riders and riding conditions with its broader performance envelope. It is a more capable bump sled and a more capable snow sled. Rear suspension adjustments will be quicker and easier.
We’ve been waiting a long time for this kind of machine from Polaris. The 2019 Polaris 800 Indy XC 129” starts at $12,499, and the 600 Indy XC 129” sells for only $11,499.