Aiming squarely at potential newcomers to the sport of snowmobiling – whether they are teens transitioning from youth sleds, female riders, renters or just generic newbies – Polaris unveiled two new 2019 Indy EVO snowmobiles on Friday, January 5.
The trail-focused Indy EVO snowmobiles are essentially downsized 550 Indy sleds that sit lower to the ground, feature more compact ergonomics and utilize an engine package that limits their top speed to 50 mph. But don’t discount these as lesser models – they also include quality suspension designs, comfort-focused features, a gauge, push-button reverse, hand and thumb warmers and other frills of full-sized sleds.
“This is a real trail sled that’s engineered specifically for new riders and it has got performance scaled for those riders so that somebody can come in with a level of power and handling that is not intimidating,” explained Chris Wolf, Polaris VP/Snow, “and it’s actually a vehicle that can evolve as riders’ skills evolve.”
Wolf said the machines could fill a much-needed hole in the market of newer, affordable, entry-level sleds that was left when 340cc and 440cc fan-cooled sleds got squeezed out of the market after the turn of the century.
The 2019 Indy EVO models were being unveiled Friday at the ISOC Amsoil Championship Series event in Shakopee, Minnesota, but the production machines won’t be available at Polaris dealerships until next fall.
What Makes An Indy EVO?
At a glance, an Indy EVO looks much like other modern Polaris Indy models, except that it’s shorter and narrow, with slightly more-forward ergonomics.
Compared to a 550 or 600 Indy, the rider sits on a lower seat, grasps a narrower handlebar and controls the sled using a smaller throttle lever. A smaller/narrower fuel tank allows a rider to sit closer to the console behind a smaller windshield. The front end of the sled is narrowed 4 inches total, with a center-to-center ski stance 3.5 inches narrower – 39.5 inches on an Indy EVO compared to 42.5 on other Indy models.
Beyond that, however, a lot looks very familiar with this package. The machines are built upon the Pro-Ride chassis with suspensions featuring similar geometry (dual A-arms up front/twin arm coupled design in the rear) to the bigger sleds, though with more entry-level shocks. The machines are propelled by the same 15- by 121- by .91-inch Shockwave track that a rider would find on the full-sized 550 Indy, and slowed by the same RMK Hydraulic brake.
Under the hood is the familiar, time-tested Polaris 550 fan-cooled twin that is fed by Mikuni carbs and ties into the CVTech PowerBloc50 primary clutch, except in this iteration the engine is limited through the ECU to max out at 50 mph.
The limited, initial specs that Polaris released don’t list suspension travel stats, which will be lower due to the lower ride height. The lower-seated rider and limited suspension travel lower the sleds’ center of gravity, however, to improve handling.
The base Indy EVO has a dry spec weight of 409 pounds and the machine has an MSRP of $5,299, compared to the 422-pound 550 Indy that lists at $6,999. An Indy EVO ES model with electric start retails for $5,699.
The Story Behind The EVO
In a pre-release teleconference with the snowmobile media, Wolf said the concept of building a smaller/lower sled for entry-level or transition riders has been kicked around at Polaris for at least a decade.
“We’ve been building concepts and trying lots of different combinations – trying to find the right formula – for 10 years,” Wolf said. “There are lots of different kinds of things that we’ve tested. There have been some competitive products that have been out at various time frames and we’ve kind of done consumer research with those, and just done a lot of homework trying to balance what [newcomers] really want in terms of performance, size and price, and we think we’ve really hit a sweet spot with this one. But it took us awhile to get here.”
The resulting Indy EVO clearly had Wolf excited.
“A lot of really specific engineering went into this to make it specifically tailored for that new rider,” Wolf said. “The ergonomics are more compact than a full-sized sled so it fits more riders – the seating position, the handlebar position, the overall ride height of the vehicle and also even the throttle – the throttle is an easier reach for somebody that has a smaller hand.
“The ride itself is very confident, very stable because of the lower ride height,” Wolf continued. “The rider feels really confident cornering. And then it’s electronically limited in speed to 50 mph. We did that so that we can give the riders enough power to keep up with the group but not so much so that it could be intimidating for newer riders.”
Plus, Polaris will offer stage tune kits that dealers can install that to make the machines faster and will bring up the ride height, so the capabilities of the machine can expand as the rider’s skills and confidence grow.
Just a small handful of Indy EVO models have been built so far for display at shows and events, Wolf said, but dealers will be able to take orders on the models soon for fall delivery.
“It fills an important part of our lineup that no one has really done for many, many years: a real trail sled that allow our customers, especially new riders, to get on Polaris, and we know from experience that once they are riding our brand they tend to stay loyal over time,” Wolf said. “We feel like this is a pretty important, strategic move for us.”