Dear Ralph: I’m a 200-pound six-foot guy who bought my 2002 Polaris XC 800 from a guy that was 250 pounds and 6’5” tall....

Dear Ralph:
I’m a 200-pound six-foot guy who bought my 2002 Polaris XC 800 from a guy that was 250 pounds and 6’5” tall. I’ve rode the sled for a season and don’t believe it is set up for my size (or his for that matter). Do you have any tips on setting the suspension up for me? Anything to save my spine would be most appreciated.
Jon Dias

By the sounds of things, it is a matter of being too soft, not being set too stiff for the previous owner. Several things come to mind. First, you need to get stiffer torsion springs for the rear torque arm. My guess is the ride height is much too low and that you require additional pre-load. I’m going to assume you’re familiar with the pre-load adjuster blocks in the rear suspension and have set them to their highest (tallest) setting as instructed on the set-up decal under the hood of the sled and in your owner’s manual. Most every performance sled comes calibrated for Mr. Average, who is something like 175 pounds. After a few years and thousands of miles, the springs slowly lose their rate and get softer as you go, so it may have been able to carry your weight when new, but we’re past that.
Sometimes the heavier springs are too much. On these Polaris models, many shops will simply take the existing springs and put them in a big press and give them extra angle to the short arm of the spring. This is like adding some height to the adjuster blocks; it increases the effective spring rate. You’d want to find a dealer comfortable and familiar with this procedure, but we see it done quite often on Polaris XC models – especially 2002 EDGEs.
Second, being a 2002, I doubt the shocks have been rebuilt and this needs to be done. Like springs, the shocks slowly get softer as they lose their charge. Again, brand new it may have been acceptable but now they’re in need of new seals, oil and a fresh charge of nitrogen. This is likely a PPS Fox rear track shock, and there are also kits that can be installed to firm up the internal valving, which isn’t the first thing I’d do but keep it in mind as an option, if needed.
Third, you would want to tighten the rear coupling blocks to couple the front and rear torque arms earlier in the travel. When coupled, the spring and shock action of both the front and rear torque arms is combined, resulting in a firmer calibration. This of course has other side affects (traction, ski pressure) but it is available to you for the purpose of firming up the suspension action. Big guys usually don’t have a problem with traction, so you could afford to couple sooner. The blocks can be rotated so they are closer to the rear of the torque arm, and sometimes they can be moved to a more forward hole as well. Start with a little and work your way up, we do this all the time to compensate for our bigger riders.
In addition to installing stiffer (larger wire) springs there are kits that replace the long arm mount further up on the rails. This will provide a more rising rate to the spring rate, that is greater resistance to bottoming as the suspension collapses. This is found in the aftermarket from shops like Speedwerx (Hot Seat) and Tri-City Polaris, and is what Yamaha does with their recent torsion spring suspensions. It, in effect, provides more of a position-sensitive spring rate to the suspension travel.
In review, get heavier springs or have your existing springs kinked, and rebuild the shocks. Set the cam adjuster blocks for the proper ride height, then try it and see where you’re at and go from there. Set the coupler blocks tighter if needed to firm it up even more.
It is still possible you could rebuild the shocks, crank the adjuster blocks and tighten the coupler blocks and be close, it all depends on how soft it is right now and how far off the ride height is.

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