2022 is going to be another a huge year for Polaris – especially their deep snow riders. It’s not because of just one new vehicle but the introduction of so many more new models, so much new technology and so many options being presented at one time. Polaris is introducing 22 more new models for 2022 and most of them are mountain-specific. Then consider what they came out with last year, the new Matryx platform on the trail and crossover sleds.
Without a doubt, the biggest news from Polaris this year is in the deep snow segment with the transition of their RMK and Khaos models to the Matryx platform along with the introduction of the Patriot BOOST – their turbocharged 850 two-stroke. Polaris got beat to the punch last year on the introduction of a 2-stroke turbo, but they have been working on this project for a very long time. They have taken a unique approach to their version and judging by our first two test ride sessions it is every bit as impressive as we expected, actually exceeding our expectations. It makes more power at low elevation and it maintains its power all the way up to 10,000 feet of elevation. On pump gas. This is no easy feat.
But first, let’s all share a moment of silence – for the demise of the beaver tail. Yep, Polaris has retired the beaver tail Pro-XC versions of the RUSH and Switchback for 2022. There is no more RUSH, there is no 137” Switchback. The writing was on the wall last year so those who liked that platform pretty much knew it was their last chance.
Many more of the AXYS-based sleds have been converted over to the Matryx platform for 2022. The value sled Indy SP remains on the AXYS, and then there are the fan-cooled models like the Indy 550, 550 Adventure, EVO and RMK EVO that remain on the old Pro-Ride platform (pre-AXYS) simply as price-point models. This also means the good old Liberty 600 engine is gone from the performance sleds, but it does still appear in the AXYS RMK 144 and Indy SP with an electronic oil pump. The Liberty 800 HO engine is still here in two Titan models as well, still on the AXYS.
With the Liberty 600 pretty much gone the AXYS-based Indy XC 129” and 137” are also gone! After only three (129”) and two (137”) years, these sleds served as transition models from the beaver tail Pro-XC suspension models like the RUSH and Switchback 137” to the new Matryx-based Indy XC and VR1 models. For 2022 we also see both track lengths of XCR models are now Matryx-based, in 128” and 136” track lengths. Remember, these sleds still run the 2.52” drive pitch which places the rows of track lugs closer together so we end up at 128” instead of 129” and 136” instead of 137”. Details, details. The new red, white and blue XCR might be one of the wildest-looking sleds for 2022, loud and proud. Of all the 2022 sleds we’ve ridden the new XCR 137” is one of the best new performers.
One of the more significant changes to many of the Matryx models is the switch away from Walker Evans Racing shocks to Fox QS3 shocks, front and rear. We find this on the Indy XC models, both 129” and 137”, and on the all-new 146” Switchback XC. Polaris listened to their riders asking for a more compliant version of their popular Switchback Assault. The Switchback XC is going to be available both for Snow Check and in-season. So, where the Switchback Assault still runs the Velocity Series Walkers, the new Switchback XC (and Indy XC sleds) all are using FOX QS3 shocks with their 3-position adjusters for adjustable compression damping. This does several things – makes it simpler to adjust for less intense riders, but also spreads out the supply issue that Polaris ran into with Walker Evans this past season. Getting shocks from two suppliers spreads out the work. Another consideration would be cost. Cost is always a consideration with spec changes, do not kid yourself.
Back to the new Switchback XC, it can be ordered with the big 7S touch-screen display and with either lug height of Cobra track, the 1.352” or the 1.6”, in either the 650 or 850 Patriot engines. This is sure to become one of the most popular crossover sleds, ever, as so many owners of Switchback Assault sleds find the spring rates and even the shocks to be firmer than they like, or need. Another model variation here is the new Matryx-based Voyager 146”, a 650 Patriot-powered sled with the 1.6” lug Cobra track and even tamer Polaris IFP shocks. This one comes standard with a rack, hitch and the 7S touch-display.
Another new term you’re going to see from Polaris is “StarFire Series”, leveraging their famous StarFire race sled heritage on XCR, VR1 and Matryx Slash Snow Check models. You’ll also see the term “Factory Mods” in reference to their Snow Check customization capability, which is unmatched in the industry. This results in ultra-premium purpose-built high-performance sleds with exclusive features and factory-installed accessories.
So as you can see, Polaris was plenty busy doing housekeeping with their trail and crossover sleds. When they introduce a new platform they like to offer models in both the old and the new platform for a year to allow for a smooth transition. They came out with Matryx-based trail and crossover sleds last year but kept the AXYS-based models in the line-up as well. Now this year the AXYS-based sleds are gone. Same deal for 2022 mountain models. We see the bulk of newness in the deep snow models, but even with the introduction of Matryx-based deep snow sleds we also see many of the AXYS RMK models still being offered. At least for this year.
The big news for 2022 from Polaris is the all-new RMK Matryx platform in four distinct configurations; PRO RMK Matryx, RMK Khaos Matryx, PRO RMK Matryx Slash and RMK Khaos Slash. If that sounds confusing, look at it this way – we have PRO and Khaos sleds in base and lightweight (slash) versions. The difference? The PRO RMK is the ultimate mountain sled for technical backcountry terrain, where the Khaos has a different suspension calibration that allows it to carry the front end even easier, with a playful geometry for the most dynamic deep snow ride. The Slash models maximize lift and control even more by slashing the weight and drag with even shorter tunnels and no snow flap.
You might notice the SKS models are now gone. The benefit of the SKS was more cooling capacity. The 2022 RMK Matryx (base model) has a long tunnel, snow flap and long tunnel cooler so it pretty much replaces the SKS at 155”.
Bringing the RMK models to the Matryx platform does several things, most notably it opens up the rider cockpit for the freedom to move around, just as it did with the trail and crossover models. It also allowed Polaris to build a new tunnel and cooler design where the tunnel is “chopped”, or much shorter than before. The cooling system of the AXYS was one of the key limitations, and now with the conversion to Matryx the shorter tunnel has been made possible. The new formed one-piece tunnel with tapered close off is 3” shorter than the AXYS on the base RMK Matryx and a full 8” shorter on RMK Matryx Slash models.
Make no mistake, Polaris has enjoyed great success with their 2021 launch of their Matryx trail and crossover models and they fully intend to continue this trend with their new RMK Matryx machines as well. They’re swinging a big hammer now, and they’re swinging it pretty hard.
Polaris 2022 New Technology
In the mountains, the conditions are always changing. No matter the weather, conditions, or terrain, the Patriot Boost runs strong every single day – and you don’t have to touch a thing. Electronic boost control paired with the patent pending SmartBoost system allows the Patriot Boost to constantly adjusts and fine tunes itself, producing consistent, hassle free, dominating performance every single ride.
The Patriot BOOST engine produces more power from sea level to the mountain peak. Polaris internal testing indicates the Patriot BOOST to be the most powerful production turbo 2-stroke engine ever, creating 10% more horsepower than the 850 Patriot at sea level, and 50% more horsepower than the 850 Patriot at 10,000 feet of elevation with up to 9 PSI of boost.
From day one the 850 Patriot engine was designed to handle the stress and demands of turbocharged power, making the 850 Patriot the ideal foundation for the Patriot Boost package. The base engine receives updated crank seals for greater pressure capability, updated pistons with a new Polaris-exclusive alloy and unique geometry for the application, higher resolution flywheel for improved starting, new ECU with integrated control hardware for the SmartBoost system and the new P22 primary clutch with idler bearing to eliminate belt tension adjustments.
Nearly six years in development, Polaris tells us it took them several tries to get the exact turbocharger design right. The turbocharger is 40% lighter than aftermarket designs and features a vertical design with a scalloped, reverse rotating turbine. This results in a lightweight turbo that is seamlessly packaged into the Matryx Slash platform. The direct airflow path and lightweight turbocharger result in immediate response and power. A check valve in the bearing housing along with the turbo oil pump control ensures immediate oil supply to the turbocharger at start-up.
One key difference from other turbocharger systems is how Polaris positions the wastegate in the exhaust pipe, separated from the turbocharger itself. This positioning is said to allow for the best power and response, and the ability to run such high of boost on pump gas at extreme elevations to maintain power even longer and higher. The large diameter bypass allows the engine to respond like a naturally aspirated engine without turbo backpressure for excellent off-boost performance. The electronically-controlled, continuously-variable positioning of the wastegate delivers excellent response and performance.
P22 Drive Clutch
2022 marks the addition of a new drive clutch dubbed the P22 which is only utilized on boosted models where the P22 replaces the P85. Both designations refer to the year they were first released. Yes, what we are saying is the P85 Polaris drive clutches that we have been using originated in 1985. They have gone through many renditions since then, but the original design is still being used. Where the P22 differs from the P85 is the P22 utilizes an idler bearing on the center shaft to allow the belt deflection to be tight all the time, even as the belt wears. It also has a splined spider which allows the moveable sheave to be removed once the center bolt is removed, normally without a puller.
This clutch resembles the drive clutch being used on the RZR Pro XP and late model Ranger models. The spider, cap and moveable sheave appear to be beefed up from their P85 counterparts. We’re assuming Polaris found this need when offering the horsepower that the boosted models provide. The driven clutch is the same Team Industries TSS-04 with the belt deflection adjuster removed. As the belt wears, the sheaves of the driven clutch simply come closer together taking up the slack and keeping the belt tight. If this sounds familiar, it’s because Arctic Cat has had this feature since 2018.
Having tight belt deflection is critical in making the sled perform well right at engagement. It makes the transition from disengaged to engaged nearly seamless. This is a very welcome trait, especially for deep snow riders as they continue to gravitate their riding styles to tighter, more technical terrain. Slow speed tractability is crucial to us being able to effectively navigate this type of terrain. The number one mistake we find with riders is failure to adjust the belt deflection. We are excited for this new P22 clutch and not having to monitor belt deflection any longer.