Apparently, the “cool kids” don’t mind being downright cold in this modern era! That seems like the obvious explanation as to why virtually every new snowmobile comes with a windshield that doesn’t shield the rider from any wind. Maybe its name should be changed to “low, plastic decorative piece,” lest the windshield be sued for false advertising.
Actually, there are two good explanations for the super-low stock windshields, and I believe them both: (1) Sleds with low windows look more appealing on the showroom floor, and (2) the sled factories and their dealers make more money on parts, garments and accessories if they sell us sleds that need immediate upgrades.
Luckily, there are stay-warm options available from the aftermarket, like the Cobra Axys Mid-Height Windshield and Fuzion Handguard combination from PowerMadd that we installed on a 2018 Polaris 800 Switchback XCR.
Installation of the window was relatively easy – the front two holes on each side lined up with the holes for the standard windshield, so we just had to remove-and-replace plastic push-pin rivets. However, since our XCR came stock with a lower windshield, there were no holes for the rear-most windshield attachment (near the flared edges) so we had to line up the Powermadd window and drill holes through the XCR’s bodywork, carefully checking what was on the other side before firing up the power tools. PowerMadd-provided well nuts and machine screws were then used to complete the attachment.
The oversized Fuzion handguards mounted to the handlebar, utilizing the Sentinel mount kit designed specifically to work with the Hayes master cylinder on the sled. The guards themselves use a smart and unique mounting system with a flip-able bracket and multiple spacers that allow them to be mounted in seven positions left to right and two positions closer or farther from the handlebar. The Sentinel mounts then connected the guard to the handlebar, with a full mount bracket for the right side and a half-bracket on the left that tied into the brake mount.
Once the two items were in place, we could cruise in comfort. The
18.5-inch-tall, mid-height windshield integrated perfectly into the angular Polaris Axys design, with a geometric shape that gave the sled a unique look but didn’t draw too much attention as it kicked breezes around the rider. Sightlines were good looking through the clear, optical-grade polycarbate material, which stood tall and forward enough for it not to interfere with our new handguards when we rotated the handlebar.
The guards are made of highly flexible, closed-cell AEPE foam that a lowed them to be sturdy and hold shape against the wind, but flex and not break when the sled was rolled onto its side. Unlike the window, the look of the huge Fuzion guards (which measured 8.5 inches at their widest point) didn’t integrate very well into the look of the Polaris, but remember the premise of our project: It was about adding functional wind protection to a factory design that leaned more toward fashion than rider comfort.
On our first ride, self-generated wind on a moving snowmobile was crawling beneath the handguard and seeping to our fingers. On the left side, the only trail-side fix we could make involved rotating the mount not just for the guard but also for the attached master cylinder and brake handle forward on the bar. That put the brake handle in a less-than-ideal position – the only possible downside to the otherwise smart design.
When we returned from that trip, we rotated the mount that attaches to the actual handguard, bringing the guard closer to the handlebar, and thereafter we were able to rotate the brake back into a more comfortable position.
In the end, by investing about $200 and less than an hour of time, we notably improved rider comfort on our XCR, making it ready for the coldest days that Ma’ Nature could dish out.
Editor’s Note: This review was originally published in the October 2020 issue of Snow Goer. Every issue of Snow Goer magazine includes in-depth sled reports and comparisons, aftermarket gear and accessories reviews, riding destination articles, do-it-yourself repair information, snowmobile technology and more! Subscribe to Snow Goer now to receive issues delivered to your door or your computer for a low cost.