It is quite difficult for a snowmobile manufacturer to keep rolling out the new technology, year after year after year. So when a manufacturer appears to take somewhat of a breather one year, you have to suspect they are reloading the big guns for the next year.
We say this because for the 2018 model year, the big news from Polaris was their introduction of the extreme crossover (or performance utility) Titan models. While pretty cool in their own right, this followed three years of hot and heavy introductions – the AXYS platform for 2015 with the RUSH and Switchback models, the AXYS RMK models for 2016, and the 144” AXYS models, including the Switchback Assault and Switchback SP for 2017. After three years of intense progress, coming with the Titan models for 2018 was giving Polaris a breather to prepare for 2019.
Did we say “big guns”? Yep. And little guns, too. Starting at the bottom, 2019 brings us the new Polaris EVO. Well, new in terms of taking some existing technology and giving it some tweaks to make it better suited for a specific market. Polaris took their fan-cooled 550 two-stroke engine and Indy platform and re-worked it to better fit smaller, and younger riders. It sits lower, hugs the corners and trail better, and is speed limited (out of the box) to 50 mph so as to not intimidate the less experienced, be it youth or simply new riders to the sport. The ergos are such that a smaller rider is seated lower and further forward making them more comfortable and less intimidated so they will quickly become confident. The concept is valid, what remains to be seen is if the sales will follow. Those who have tried it come away liking it, a lot.
The new model we are most excited about is the new for 2019 Indy XC.
While we have a separate test report on this model in our Spring issue, we still need to tell you about this sled as we are so impressed with it. All AXYS trail sleds since 2015 have been RUSH or Switchback models in the 120” and 137” track length, with the hinged “beaver tail” rear suspension.
The 2019 Indy XC is a 129” AXYS platform sled with a normal, traditional tunnel and a new Indy CC coupled rear suspension. Don’t be fooled by the use of the Indy name, as this new model is not a price-point machine nor is it lacking features. This is a top-of-the-line high performance model, and actually a more capable machine than the RUSH or Switchback Pro-S sleds it will obviously compete with. It features top-line Walker Evans needle shocks with piggyback reservoirs front and rear, and a non-needle piggyback at center so this is a very serious and capable machine. The new Indy CC rear suspension is less sensitive to rider weight and phenomenal in the chatter bumps with the separation of the torsion springs and shock action (compared to the coil spring mounted on the shock on the RUSH & Switchback models).
We’ve ridden them and are stoked at how well they perform on-trail and flying down the ditches. Going back to a normal tunnel also gives us excellent performance in fresh or deeper snow and it gives us back our storage on the back of the sled. Let’s just say it works very well, and in our opinion is the very best Polaris has to offer. Yes, it is that good.
And now for the big guns. For 2019 Polaris is offering up their all-new 850 Patriot engine. This is a brand new engine from the ground up and is NOT a descendant of the big block 700 twin like the 800s have been ever since. Again, we have a separate article in this issue on this new engine, and it rocks. It is ONLY available if purchased during the Spring Snow Check period, and comes with a 4-year warranty to overcome any and all objections one might have regarding the durability of this new engine. Where the priority has always been lightweight with the 800s of the past, this new 850 places more priority on durability while staying as light as possible. It is a torque monster and pulls with authority, exceeding our expectations. The 850 patriot is offered across the Polaris line-up for 2019, from RUSH and Switchback to the new Indy XC to the Switchback Assault and PRO-RMK and SKS models. These models are all still offered in the 600 and 800 engine sizes as well, so you now have three different engines to choose from in all of your popular models. There are very few models that do not offer the 850 as an option, notably the Titan, RMK Assault and Adventure.
Again, if you want an 850 Patriot model you can ONLY get it right now during Spring Snow Check, and believe us, you want it. Our time with this new engine has been nothing but impressive and total fun. We love the performance from the current 800, but this 850 will blow your mind. It is a smooth linear power delivery, but very strong and thick. We used to talk up the torque and power delivery of 4-stroke engines, but with this kind of power from a 2-stroke one has to wonder why, other than long term durability, why anyone would want to deal with the extra weight of a 4-stroke. To each their own, but Polaris has nailed it with this one. When we asked Polaris reps how much power the 850 would be producing, they only smiled and told us “enough”, adding that their power to weight ratios will be about 10% better than anything else. After riding the 850 Patriot in several different models, we totally believe them.
So when we get to the mountain segment, the big news of course is the addition of the 850 Patriot engine to the line-up. Polaris owners have noticed the past two winters how their sleds could have used a bit more power up at elevation, so they will no longer be riding at this disadvantage. Another area where RMK riders have been seeking more performance has been with agility and responsiveness, and this has also been addressed for 2019. Introducing the PRO-RMK REACT front suspension for 2019, this enhanced design will deliver a near-effortless, precise ride experience with less ride fatigue. Pulling the sled up into a sidehill is now far easier as well, thanks to the adjustable 36-38” wide front end featuring forged a-arms and spindles. We also find lighter SLS shock springs up front, reducing unsprung mass by three pounds with a design that is actually lighter than titanium, along with new running boards on these models to better match the capability of the front end.
New high performance short track sleds, new youth and novice models, revised mountain sleds and an all-new 850 two-stroke engine for 2019. Has the team at Roseau been busy? You’d better believe it!
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