What is Polaris doing for their 2020 snowmobile line-up? Continuing to expand their AXYS platform, now into the 137” track length machines with their all-new INDY XC 137” models in several configurations. This is the big news, for sure, but we also have a few other surprises for you, including the all-new RMK KHAOS, a mountain sled designed to have more of a lively feel and response and a more capable suspension package.
It is really amazing what a difference ten years can make. Looking back to 2010, Polaris had just introduced their Pro-Ride RUSH platform, with the bonded chassis and the hinged rear end featuring the progressive rate rear suspension. When it was first introduced, many called the RUSH the “closest thing to a REV Polaris had ever built”. It marked the first time Polaris was truly serious about catching up to and closing the gap created by the 2003 REV.
While the 2010 RUSH might not have been the greatest thing since sliced bread, Polaris kept working on the concept and kept refining it. And with each passing year, the RUSH kept getting better. And better.
But it wasn’t until the 2015 introduction of the second-generation RUSH on the AXYS platform that the concept truly lived up to its full potential. With the 2015 RUSH AXYS, the sled was finally everything that we had been told the 2010 RUSH would be, but never quite fulfilled.
And with each passing year, Polaris switched over the rest of their performance sleds to their newer AXYS platform. In 2016 it was the mountain-specific RMK models, then in 2017 it was time for the 144” crossover segment sleds and the Switchback Assault. 2018 Brought us a new series of work sleds in the Titan series, also on the AXYS platform.
All the way along, the 120” RUSH and 137” Switchback models held on to their hinged rear end and progressive rate rear suspension, non-coupled and quite sensitive to rider positioning. Lean back and they launched, lean forward and they railed, and with each year their calibration continued to improve.
Now for the wrinkle. Back in 2015 when the AXYS platform was introduced, we openly questioned whether Polaris should have dropped the RUSH name altogether. We believed the opportunity was there to move forward with the AXYS platform and abandon the RUSH, but Polaris held to their guns and the RUSH continued. What really got our attention was the 2017 introduction of the Switchback Assault, a 144” sled with a standard tunnel that flat-out worked (and in our experience is about the single best all-around sled currently available). It worked so well that we all started to ask for shorter tracked versions of this arrangement, ones with standard tunnels, improved clean-out, and the top of the tunnel to mount gas cans and gear bags to, down low where they belonged. The RUSH & Switchback sleds on the AXYS platform had evolved into excellent machines, and continue to be today, but the opportunity was there once again to evolve the line-up.
So, for 2019 our dreams were fulfilled with the introduction of the 129” Indy XC models. We ran one last Spring for 1,500 miles and told you how much we liked it, but really didn’t know if Polaris riders and dealers would agree with us or not. Would the Polaris faithful hang onto to the hinged-rear RUSH or would they flock to the new Indy XC? The 129” Indy XC was fitted with a new Pro-CC rear suspension, this time a coupled rising rate, more traditional and less sensitive to exact rider positioning, but fitted with top-tier Walker Evans shocks. Previous Indy sleds had been positioned as value models, would Polaris riders understand how the new Indy XC models were high-end machines?
The resounding answer is yes, they did understand and they did want it. But, not everyone. Not enough to drop the RUSH completely, at least not yet. For 2020, as with 2019, we have both the 120” RUSH and the 129” Indy XC models to choose from.
Logically for 2020 Polaris continues the progression and conversion with their introduction of the Indy XC 137” models, but they’re not called Switchback. There are still 137” Switchback sleds with the hinged tunnel in the line-up. Yep, at least for this year.
The new Indy XC 137” models are exactly what we would expect, longer tracked versions of the popular Indy XC 129” sleds. Tunnel is longer, track is longer. More cargo room, better flotation, smoother ride in the bumps. For many 144” is too long and 129” is too short, but 137” is just right. The range of capability is incredible. Based on our early ride time on these machines, they could easily be the single most popular sleds in the Polaris line-up for this coming year. For many, this is the Polaris sled that they’ve been waiting for and it will live up to the expectations with ease.
With the 137” Indy XC models getting most of the attention, there are some variations. There is a base version with Polaris-branded shocks at a lower cost than the Walker Evans, much like is found in the 129” platform, and we have a new Indy XC 137” Adventure model with an even wider range of capability, excellent for groomed trail cruisers and long distance riders. You’ll also notice the 600 Switchback SP 144” has been replaced by the 600 Indy XC 137” SP for 2020.
When we get to the XCR models the shorter version that had been a RUSH XCR has migrated to being a 129” XCR, based on the Indy XC. It’s actually a 2.52” drive pitch which means it is a 128” track length, but it’s being called a 129” to avoid confusion. The 137” Switchback XCR remains on the hinged platform for 2020 and does not make the conversion to the Indy XC design.
In the world of long tracks, Polaris has expanded their EVO series of starter sleds to now include a long track EVO, the 2020 RMK EVO. Like the 2019 Indy EVO, the RMK EVO is designed to better fit a smaller rider (in the 4’6” to 5’6” range) as it sits 5” lower to the ground, with a seat that is 3” lower and the chassis being 2” lower. This is a 144” track length sled, also limited to 50 mph, and also having upgrade kits available to deliver full power as the rider skills progress.
In what could be the biggest surprise from Polaris for 2020 we find an all-new mountain sled in the RMK KHAOS 155”. This is a tricked-out RMK155” that has been given changes to the suspension design and calibration to give it a more lively feel and response. These design and calibration changes have taken weight off the skis and put it onto the track, thus giving the sled a rebalanced feel with much lighter steering. It is fitted with a full-on Velocity Series shock package by Walker Evans.
Polaris calls their RMK KHAOS the “Industry’s First All-Mountain Sled”, claiming it excels in all conditions and all riding zones. It is an easier rolling chassis, and is a wheelie king as well. Less of a beginner sled and more of an expert sled, it is sure to please a growing number of riders who play all day in a wide range of riding conditions.
Polaris has added a battery charging connector to all of their sleds equipped with a battery, making battery maintenance easier. This is a quick-connect SAE plug, compatible with many battery chargers, for quick charging or seasonal maintenance alike.
Several detail changes have been made to the mighty 850 Patriot engine for 2020, aiming to further advance the technology and reliability. There is a new software program calibration aimed at improving hot start issues, eliminating bogging and hesitations that some riders experienced. Hardware changes include a retaining ring added to the PTO bearing and matching machining of the cases to position it precisely in the crankcase during assembly, slight changes to the piston profile for improved heat tolerance, and assembly line changes to improve the silicone sealing application to keep the sealant out of the check valve.
The starter system from the 850 engine has now been added to the 600 & 800 engines, and we will be getting improved idler wheels in the rear suspension to further improve durability.
For 2020 is how Polaris is continuing to only offer their 850 engine package during the Spring Snow Check program with a 4-year warranty, but there will be even more colors and more options to choose from when ordering your machine. The 800, 600 & 550 engine packages continue to be available both during Snow Check and in-season. Polaris is also allowing their dealers wider capability in tailoring unique inventory for their in-season orders, and plans on offering an on-line search tool much like the automotive industry for buyers to find specific feature combinations of the model they are looking for.
In the eyes of Polaris, the Polaris rider is the hero and they are working hard to deliver what their riders are asking for. We think they’re doing an excellent job at it.