One year ago Polaris unveiled the Axys chassis as the foundation for trail-focused Rush and Switchback models. It brought better fit-and-finish, less weight and a more powerful engine wrapped in a smaller package than the Pro-Ride chassis it replaced. For 2016, deep-snow riders will also get to enjoy those benefits with a specialized version of the Axys chassis expanding to the Pro-RMK lineup.
Polaris made few changes to its 2016 lineup of trail sleds, but released two limited edition models: one in the Indy platform and one Rush model, and new, easy-to-adjust shocks will hang on the front of some Switchback Adventure models. But first, let’s dive into the details about the new Axys Pro-RMK.
2016 Polaris Snowmobiles: New Chassis, Exclusive Tracks Improve Pro-RMK
Polaris engineers said they focused on improving lift and maneuverability when they designed the 2016 Pro-RMK, and they say they made it happen with a lighter and taller chassis, better tracks and a redesigned rear suspension. The new sled is also lighter – Polaris claims an 800 Pro-RMK 155 will be 408 pounds dry.
Despite all of the changes, designers kept the same rider position, rear suspension approach angle and a rigid frame. Power comes from the 800 H.O. engine with electronic oil pump, VForce reeds, high-flow intake, coolant bypass, three-stage variable exhaust and lightweight crankshaft that debuted in Rush and Switchback models last year. Standard RMK models stay in the Pro-Ride chassis with the 800 Cleanfire engine.
The raised version of the Axys chassis used for the 2016 Pro-RMKs positions the torque arms, driveshaft and A-arms 1.375 inches higher to make it easier to roll, and so more of the sled rides above the fluff to reduce drag and keep more of the body clear of the snow when the sled is leaned over. Also to reduce drag, Axys RMK fenders and the console are more compact than those on trail-focused Rush and Switchback Axys models. Other ergonomic changes include narrower ProTaper handlebars with a revised bend.
The new platform has a higher center of gravity, but not a full 1.375 inches. Engine placement, chassis design and mass of parts in the chassis helped to offset the center-of-gravity effect of the raised chassis, Polaris Development Test Manager Marty Sampson said. The carbon fiber structure over the engine, QuickDrive drivetrain and extruded aluminum running boards carry over from the previous Pro-RMK chassis. Compared to spindles used on the 2015 Pro-RMK, the raised Axys RMK spindles are 1.375 inches longer between the lower control arm and the ski saddle.
New A-arms are made from forged aluminum. Forged properties mean the material will bend farther than cast aluminum before it breaks, Sampson said. The complete A-arm package is 1.6 pounds lighter than the 2015 Pro-RMK’s setup.
The new RMK platform also gets new track options that will be exclusive to the brand. The Series 6 track has 2.6-inch lugs and is lighter than the 2.4-inch Series 5.1 track it replaces. Polaris says the track was designed for use in a wide range of snow conditions, while the Series 7 has 3-inch lugs and was designed for deep powder. The Peak track has stiff lugs that are 2.25 inches tall and it replaces the Competition track that has been used on late-model RMK Assaults. RMK track length options are 155 or 163 inches.
The new rear suspension inside those tracks provides better control through a more compliant ride, Polaris says. More compliance comes from less spring preload, and easier drivability is a result of better control over weight transfer.
In addition to the all-new platform for deep snow, Polaris is bringing back the SKS, a model the company defines as the “ultimate, do-it-all deep snow sled.” Like the Pro-RMK, it’s based on the raised Axys chassis with the narrow/adjustable ski stance, but the SKS has a chaincase, bulkhead-mounted heat exchanger, extra bogey wheels and standard piggyback Walker Evans clicker shocks.
Read about our 2016 Polaris Axys Pro-RMK test ride.
New Fox Shocks For Switchback Adventure
Buyers of Axys-based Switchback Adventure models will get to experience new shocks from Fox. The ski shocks are 3-position clickers where riders select soft, medium or firm compression damping with a large dial for foolproof suspension tuning.
A new Fox coil-over air shock in the rear suspension of the Axys-based 2016 Polaris Switchback Adventure models is meant to operate without air pressure, but if necessary, riders will have the ability use a low air setting (up to about 15 psi) for increased load capacity for cargo or a passenger.
Other than the new shocks on the Axys-based Adventure models, Rush and Switchback models in the Axys chassis have only graphics changes, but there is a special new model. The 800 Rush Pro-S Night Lightning LE’s key special features include a black color scheme with reflective graphics, Walker Evans high/low speed compression clicker shocks, interactive display with GPS capability and Rox Speed FX adjustable handlebar riser.
After three years on the snow, the Indy lineup has fulfilled the role of low-cost fun/rugged utility segment of the Polaris snowmobiles lineup. The new 2016 600 Indy SP Terrain Dominator is a special model with Midnight Blue tunnel, red spindles, red suspension rails and retro graphics. Like the Rush Pro-S Night Lightning, this model will have limited availability during the season.
SnowCheck Select Customization
Buyers of 2016 Polaris snowmobiles this spring will be able to choose a custom combination of chassis, engine, track length, lug height, shocks, gauges, storage, windshield, handlebars and colored tunnels, rails and spindles. Axys-based Rush, Switchback and RMK models are eligible for full customization.
For example, buyers of the 800 Switchback Pro-S will be able to choose a 1.25-inch Ripsaw II, 1.35-inch Cobra or 1.75-inch Backcountry X track, standard multi-function gauge or the upgraded interactive display with GPS. Other options include electric start, windshield, storage options and nine colors and graphics combinations. Pink Ribbon Riders Limited Edition RMK, Rush and Switchback models will have a black tunnel and rails, pink accents and Pink Ribbon Riders logo.
Axys RMK buyers can choose the Series 6 2.6-inch track, the Peak 2.25 or the SnowCheck-exclusive Series 7 with 3-inch lugs. Deep snow riders also have their choice of shock packages including the new Walker Evans Piggyback Clickers, Walker Evans monotube dampers or Walker Evans Needle clicker shocks. ProTaper handlebar options for RMK are low, mid or high. Switchback Assaults ordered in the spring are available with a mid or tall handlebar.
Rush and Switchback Pro-X editions are exclusively available this spring, and only with the 800 H.O. engine. The SnowCheck Select program runs through April 14.
The April 2015 issue of Snow Goer magazine includes more quotes from Polaris officials, photos and further model information – plus a complete model list of the 2016 Polaris snowmobiles.