Written By Mark Boncher
Everyone loves sleds that are easy to ride. The new Matryx VR1 850 is one of those sleds. In the past, it has been very hard to find a big, high performance trail sled that was also incredibly nimble, light to the touch, and to quote many of Polaris’ media presentations ‘flickable’. The new Matryx VR1 fits that bill.
We’ve got some extra time on this twin 2-stroker, and it has been all that we thought it was, since our first rides on it almost a year ago when it was introduced. Here’s the report after our added mileage.
Confidence is key
In the world of crazy big horsepower, confidence is key. Confidence you can hit those bumps at pace, confidence you can clear that jump, confidence you can stay low and flat in the corners, stop on a dime, and confident that you can do all this, and not have the sled fall apart on you. The VR1 makes you a better rider, and that comes down to being confidence inspiring. Really, this is what anyone should be looking for in any snowmobile of any size, but as you ratchet up the mph and aggressiveness, the importance exponentially increases.
So let’s get to the good stuff – what we like about this pony! First off, the maneuverability is just awesome. Lively transfer and the 1.35-inch lug track give this sled more deep snow capability than you might think. It was also available with a 1.50-inch lug track that allows you to follow most anyone off-trail in the meadows and flatlands (and a 1.25 Ice-ripper was also avail.). Honestly though, the 15x129x1.35-inch Cobra track is the best all-around option here, and a track we’ve have grown to enjoy on many 129 and 137-inch long sleds. As a smaller rider, it is imperative that I can move easily into a forward/knee-out position in the corners, as well as stand comfortably without my knees constantly banging a corner of the plastics. This sled fit me extremely well, and our taller riders at the same time.
The Patriot 850 Cleanfire liquid cooled motor has some snort! In a short sled like this one (and the fact it is a high revving 2-stroke that will most of the time be ridden at sea level), you really get to feel all the horses in this one’s stable. You will never be last across a lake, or feel a lack of throttle response in any situation. The throttle pull is easy and predictable, and clutching engages smoothly and on time to burp you over any little jumps and moguls you find in your adventures.
At a slight 467 pounds dry weight, you can really manipulate what you want the sled to do when it’s in your hands. We appreciate the Walker Evans Velocity shocks as well, and the coupled ProCC rear suspension soaks up the bumps at any speed, but is still surprisingly supple, not like a snocross race sled. It is Polaris’ best trail skid to date, we believe. The sled is fairly warm too, not as much for our taller riders, but the air pocket is pretty good here, and I’ve certainly ridden big power sleds with thong-sized windshields that were MUCH colder. The Smartwarmers handlebar warming system helped the overall enjoyment of riding as well, and the storage behind the gauge was an interesting/cool idea.
If there was one thing we would have changed on this sled, it was the color options. This is easy enough to do and with all the wraps and other options out there, kind of a non-issue. But we will say that with all the other options on this sled, like the super high tech 7S gauge with GPS, touchscreen, Ride-command… and the new Nightblade headlight… and lock & ride flex accessory system, well, maybe graphics can wait a year.
We were grasping at straws to see who would get to ride this sled each time any of our riders had a chance,and we took it. That says something because although we all have our favorites, it’s not very often that one sled stands out this much to as many people who enjoy riding it.
One final thing we appreciated were the wide and contoured running boards on the Matryx VR1. Boards make a big difference, from clearing snow and ice out, to being at the correct angle to reduce fatigue. Also, being grippy, not only just wide by your boots, and also angled in the back correctly for each sled to take advantage of different body movements and maneuvers. We thought these platforms were spot on!