The AXYS RMK leads the way for Polaris in 2016. For the trail segment, the long awaited 800 Adventure has arrived along with improved calibrations, new shock technology and more spring customization throughout the line. Here’s a look at what you should know before you lay down some fresh green backs on a 2016 Polaris.
FOX Coil Over Air Shock – While Polaris was busy touting the final weight of their new AXYS based RMK models, we were more interested in the new coil-over air shock found on the much wanted and long awaited 800 Adventure. The new FOX Piggy Back shock looks to be traditional in nature, with high-pressure gas, coil-over spring, and three-position compression clicker mounted on the side of the reservoir. What’s different is the air-assist this shock offers with a remote access and accompanying air pump. The idea to combine an air-spring with a coil makes sense – not just for the ease of adjustment for when you add gear or a passenger, but to also allow the use of a softer, more compliant spring versus an air chamber or spring alone. The shock should deliver a supple ride, especially in the stutter bumps, while the air-chamber will be there to lend a hand for large bumps and unexpected gravity holes. Polaris barely mentioned the new shock and we hope to learn more about it this summer from our pals at FOX.
Forged A Arms – While there is plenty of newness going on with the AXYS chassis RMK (it wasn’t as simple as adding a longer tunnel to the AXYS front clip), one item that stands out and is easily viewed are the new forged upper and lower A-arms on the front suspension. Sure they look bitchin’ and they should be both stronger and lighter compared to the welded tube arms we are familiar with. But those two attributes aside, the other key advantage to the forged arms was the opportunity for Polaris engineers to design a failure point into the arms themselves. Unlike tubes, where it’s much harder to control where or how they will bend or break, a forged arm allows you to do just the opposite. That being said, the new arms should help to alleviate expensive repairs and kinked tunnels when you encounter that hidden stump or rock. Yes they are more expensive and it might be a few years till we see the forged technology on other sleds.
Walker Evans Dual Adjustment Shocks – For those that know how to use them, the addition of high and low speed compression damping adjustments on the premium Walker Evans front suspension shocks on the limited build 800 Rush Pro-S Night Lightning is a welcomed addition. While the Walker units are quality, we’ve been (pardon the pun) shocked by the lack of adjustment these shocks offer, especially on high end sleds like the AXYS Pro S and Pro X. The addition of the low speed compression damping adjustment is a step in the right direction, but now we need the simple ability to change spring preload on the front shocks and rear shock rebound adjustment.
RMK AXYS Chassis – We know it was one of the worst kept secrets of the season, and by now all the other media outlets have fallen over themselves in an effort to gush and wax poetically over the lightweight virtues of the latest RMK. While we admit, it appears to be a nice piece, here are a few nuggets you might not know about the latest RMK project. For starters, in order to fit a big paddle track into the AXYS chassis, the driveshaft had to come back inside the chassis. Despite this change from the Rush and Switchback models, the engine, drive shaft and rear suspension mounting points were lowered approximately 1.38-inches versus the Pro-Ride RMK, this is what leads to the “raised chassis” effect of the new RMK. While the new RMK is about 9 pounds lighter overall versus the previous design, the sled did gain some weight due to the silencer for the new 800 motor. Can you say significant weight savings with an aftermarket can?
Indy 600 Terrain Dominator – It’s nice to see the Indy still getting some love from Polaris. Frankly this new generation Indy is still one of the best sleds and best values on snow and it gets even better for 2016 with this limited edition Terrain Dominator model. While the name sounds like something from Saturday morning cartoons, and we would have loved to have seen the new 800 HO motor nestled under hood, there’s no denying the goodness of the sweet revving 600 Liberty. The limited in-season Indy features trick colors and graphics, complete with a painted tunnel and rails, ROX Speed FX adjustable bar riser and an extra stout front bumper. The sled rips and is an absolute gas to ride.
800 Adventure – Yeah, we’ve all been asking for an Adventure with 800 cubes under the hood, and finally for 2016 it is here. What’s more, we get it in the much improved AXYS chassis. Basically a Switchback Pro-S loaded with goodies, the new for 2016 800 Adventure gets it all including the rear cargo system, tall window with hood mounted mirrors, and the new 3-clicker FOX Piggy Back shocks up front and the all new coil-over/air combo shock out back.
800 AXYS Switcback Pro S – Why do we have the Switchback Pro-S in the mix for 2016 as a significant sled? While little has changed for the new model year in terms of new tech or features, the subtle improvements the Polaris team has made in regards to ride calibrations has significantly improve this sled. We were told the changes were limited to shock valving, but man what a difference it makes. As it stands right now, based on our late season rides, the Switchback Pro-S is one of the best trail sleds money can buy. The handling is fluid, predictable, and perhaps most important, is a ton of fun to ride. Where the Ski-Doo is precise and finite, the Polaris just feels more fun. We also were shocked at how much better the Pro-X worked this spring. It stayed much flatter in the corners, and didn’t have the “tippy” feel that we dinged it for last winter.
RMK AXYS – You knew there was no way we could list a grouping of significant Polaris sleds for 2016 without including the all-new RMK. On paper the sled is everything a mountain rider is looking for. It’s light, nimble, and touts a ripper motor that spools up quickly. The big number everyone is talking about is the 408-pound dry weight of the 800 Pro RMK 155. Of course light is only right if it lives another day and only time will tell if the new AXYS RMK is just right or too light. The other question mark is in the handling department, in that the new RMK is extremely receptive to rider inputs…perhaps too much so. The learning curve seems steeper and it could represent another step away form the “every man’s” mountain sled that as an industry we continue to stray further and further away from.