Prepare to be impressed. Very Impressed! We were!
There were definitely highly focused efforts by Polaris for MY 2015. Unfortunately some «independently impressive» introductions are «more than» overshadowed by the biggest introduction for 2015.
While Polaris has successfully maintained the small company «grass roots», «blue collar», image, culture, core values and passion of David Johnson and Edgar and Allen Hetteen, it is important to be totally aware that over the past 60 years Polaris has been successfully guided and grown into a world class corporation with resources, technologies, capabilities and talents that are second to none.
For 2015 Polaris' attention included a laser «Terrain Domination» focus on their performance trail models, a targeted expansion of their wildly successful replay of the INDY line of snowmobiles and exciting 60th Anniversary Snow Check and Snow Check Select customization programs.
Every year we write articles on what's new, some are more exciting to write than others. This is an article that is as exciting to write as any that have come our way over the last several years.
When a world class company like Polaris chooses to direct their attention and commitment to a project, there is nothing that is impossible to achieve. This is the mindset and commitment that Polaris took on over the past 3+ years for introduction in their 2015 RUSH and SWITCHBACK models.
A clean slate approach was taken in evaluating each and every component with the goal of making each piece better, lighter and higher performing. From the front of these machines to the back and everything in between it is evident that Polaris leadership gave a complete «YES WE WILL» to the evolution of already proven and potent Snowmobiles. Polaris product and production engineers responded with «YES WE CAN» and the end result is overwhelmingly «YES THEY DID».
The Pro-R rear skid had reached it's 5th birthday and while it's outside the skid rising rate format was revolutionary and had been massaged to impressive levels of performance, it still had a narrower sweet spot that was sometimes difficult to find. The uncoupled suspension geometry relied on increased rear spring preload to control excess transfer. The increased rear spring load, often limited the skids ability to provide optimal rider comfort across a wide range of trail conditions, most notably stutter bump conditions. It was an awesome concept suspension that could be better.
For 2015 the DNA and revolutionary original concepts of the ProR Rush and Switchback models are definitely still present and recognizable, but the execution is 100% reengineered and 93% new. It would be unfair as well as incorrect to call a near total platform evolution and innovation by the same name and for 2015 Polaris introduces the RUSH and Switchback models on the AXYS platform in ProS and ProX trim.
With highly focused objectives of Control, Comfort and Performance as their mandate, Polaris celebrates their 60 year anniversary with the AXYS chassis and a model reboot like has rarely been seen in the snowmobile industry.
It is important to keep the following facts at the forefront of every thought that enters your mind about the new AXYS platform.
To help you to group your thoughts, allow us to take you on an informal, far from complete «front to rear» introduction to Polaris' AXYS platform.
Front radiator - Gone! Increased tunnel cooling capacity and saved 3lbs
Headlight - Industries first total LED light, 30% brighter, .8lbs lighter. It's included on all AXYS models. NO shadow, No Hi-Lo gap, No $300 optional accessory, NO 3 hour installation and it is awesome.
Bodywork – All new plastic panels within outline of previous model, improved rider wind deflection, all panel seams concealed under all new body style lines, totally tool less removal of all body work with large, glove friendly ¼ turn fasteners. Exceptional fit and finish with recognizable yet refined styling.
Under the hood – Carbon fiber over structure like the Pro RMK, increased oil reservoir capacity, lighter / quieter automotive style, smooth wall, porous duct air box.
Motor – 800 Cleanfire HO, We could go on and we will later, but just some the basics for now. Yep…. HO with improved high flow intake, electronic 3 stage exhaust valve, fuel efficiency and horsepower. The Engine is mounted further forward, lower and is 3.5lbs lighter mostly due to use of the light weight «Race» crankshaft. On Polaris race sleds this 25% reduction is rotational inertia resulted in winning holeshots and acceleration. 600 Cleanfire engines also gets the intake / exhaust improvements (no lightweight «race» crank). Interesting fact: There is only 1 lb difference between the 600 and 800 motors.
Dash – Increased knee area and relocated engine intake vents away from rider for quieter ride experience.
Gauge package – Closer to rider allowing for glove box storage. Available Multi, multi function LCD gauge with full color display, fully integrated GPS, Bluetooth enabled and deeper diagnostic functions.
Rider position - 4.5 inches forward at hands, seat and knees.
Left hand controls – Finally…….. big easy to operate buttons.
Throttle – 35% less effort due to a move from a mechanical to an electronic oil pump.
Brake – Larger curved plastic handle for significantly improved feel and single finger operation
Seat – High performance foam, new covering material, narrower profile at the front, same seating area width.
Gas tank – Increased to 12 gallon capacity, tight to top of tunnel and extended further back to offset increased knee area and add unique styling lines to the AXYS.
Running boards – Foot well location is moved 2» forward to align with the more rider forward position. 15% more running board space is 3» longer on RUSH models, giving it improved function and «more normal» look.
Rear suspension – A totally geometrically and material redesigned Pro XC rear skid is 13lbs + lighter with a longer, repositioned front arm allowing for 33% more front track shock travel. Relocated, all aluminum rear crank assembly mount location for controlled transfer using softer spring rate allowing for more compliant ride over a much broader range of terrain conditions.
Track – With all the focus on weight savings, Polaris stayed with a 2 ply track and built in tunnel protectors, due to their belief in increased durability and studding suitability. Small weigh reductions were seen by going from a 2.52» pitch to a 2.86» on the 1.25» track offered on the ProS models.
To recap Polaris' stated AYXS design objectives:
Control - Improved balance offered by putting the rider in a better position, lowering the center of gravity and optimizing Pro XC geometry.
Comfort - Easier controls, quieter ride experience, more comfortable seat and foot positioning, incredible headlight performance and improved wind protection.
Performance - Significant weight reduction, increased response, increased fuel range and «good ole» more horsepower.
Based on our early January seat of the pants experience, we say «Mission accomplished».
As previously mentioned the 2015 RUSH and Switchback models will be offered in 2 distinctly different trim packages. Now this is important, so read closely.
The ProS version is the most precise, flattest handling, best broad range and stutter bump performance trail sled. It will feature the proven Walker Evans clicker shock package, a 1.25» Ripsaw II track and will be in full season models available with 600 Cleanfire or 800 Cleanfire HO engines.
Due to market response the 2015 PRO-S Switchback Adventure model will only be offered with the 600 Cleanfire and 1.35 Cobra track.
The ProX package is a whole different creature, specialized to extremes and likely unwelcoming in trail situations. It includes Special ProX colors and graphics, higher rated springs on every shock, 1.5» longer IFS shocks, a 1.75» Back Country X track, 5» taller handle bar and an overall 2.5» taller ride height. This is an extreme, big hit, stand up, ditch banging, monster mogul snowmobile and buyers should be aware of what they are getting. In North America the RUSH and Switchback ProX sleds will only be available through Snow Check and will only be offered with the 800 HO. Again Buyer beware! The focus and calibration of this sled is unlike any other X package offered. This sled is not for «Wannabes».
While on the subject of Snow Check, 60th anniversary edition ProS models will be offered with special graphics, black tunnel, red rails and front suspension components, the full feature GPS gauge package, storage accessories and a few other features. More Snow Check Snow Check Select details to follow in our Polaris 2015 (Part 3) article.
With commitment, talent and technology, Polaris took its very formidable, highly capability, impressively potent RUSH and Switchback performance trail models and improved everything about them from front to back. Hooray for snowmobilers everywhere!
The AXYS platform with ProXC suspension in ProS and ProX versions, you're going to be hearing a lot about it.
In 2015 prepare to «Feel the Line» like never before.