At the 2008 Polaris snowmobile media introduction in January, Polaris’ staff aligned its new 2008 IQ Shift with the 1989 Indy 500.

The Indy 500 proved to be a legend. Will we look back a few years down the road and judge the IQ Shift as a representation of Polaris’ return to glory?

Short And Sweet

Like the Indy 500, Polaris markets the IQ Shift as a value performance machine. The sled’s list of standard equipment is short, but all of the essential stuff is there. It includes a gloss-black hood without graphics, basic clear windshield, an analog speedomenter and a 15- by 121- by .91-inch Shockwave track.

Despite that the machine lacks glitz, it has the class-leading power, ride and handling for which IQ sleds are known. The IQ Shift rips down the trail, ditch or lake complements of the potent 120 hp, Mikuni TM-38 carbureted 600 H.O. engine that debuted in 2006.

It has the same 13.9-inch rear suspension and 10-inch front end as the loaded Dragon models, but it gets basic Ryde FX MPV shocks. Push-button reverse is standard and it includes a steel-braided brake line (a feature that other manufacturers typically reserve for more expensive models). The sled also gets the new Freestyle seat that’s standard on most other IQ-based sleds.

Key accessories are available to make each IQ Shift unique. Decal kits (including Pink Diva, Diablo and Performance), windshields, shock packages and bogie wheel kits will be available.

IQ Shift Ride Impressions

Power was quick, strong and smooth; the ride quality was awesome in the ditch, on the trails and on frozen rivers. The protective cab and new Freestyle seat provided good protection from the elements and a comortable ride.

The claimed 466-pound sled flew down the ditches and hopped over moguls like all other performance-bred IQ sleds. The track hooked up fine, and the .91-inch lugs should translate to a few more miles per hour up top.

The IQ Shift was set up strong, too. The sled roosted from corner to corner and the quick-and-strong throttle response made it leap over road approaches. Even with its basic, factory-installed runners bolted to the skis, the front end carved precisely as can be expected.

For $6,999, we can’t imagine a more fun, potent and able sled.

New 800 Engine, A Hotter Dragon and a Race Ready 600

Like Ski-Doo did with its Rotax 800R engine, the new 800 Liberty twin from Polaris is reserved for the mountain market in 2008.
If claims prove true, the 2008 800 H.O. RMK with the new 795cc CleanFire engine could help Polaris gain some ground in the deep snow segment. Comparisons provided by Polaris to the 700 CFI put the new 800 at 154 hp. The engine weighs 2.5 pounds more than the 700 CFI, according to Polaris.

The twin-cylinder engine is a monoblock design with an 85mm bore and 70 mm stroke. It has the same four-injector intake system as the 600 and 700 CFI, but the 800 has 48mm throttle bodies compared to 44mm. Also like the 700, the 800 gets a single-ring piston and new oil pump for more precise calibration.

Polaris didn’t have an 800 RMK available to ride, but we’ll get the chance to pull the trigger at our annual Rode Reports event in March.

Dragon Package Expands

The Dragon performance package extends to the SwitchBack models for 2008.
For 2008, the top-of-the-line models are the 600 Dragon IQ, 700 Dragon IQ, 600 Dragon SwitchBack, 700 Dragon SwitchBack, 800 Dragon IQ RMK (155- and 163-inch) and 700 Dragon RMK (155- and 163-inch).

The most notable feature of the Dragon package is the new Ryde FX Air 2.0 shocks. Unlike Fox FLOAT air shocks that have one oxygen chamber and a linear shock stroke, the springless Ryde FX shocks have two nitrogen-charged chambers that work like dual-rate, coil-over springs.

The benefits of Ryde FX’s new shock was easy to feel. Through small, sharp-edged trail chatter, the Dragon front end skipped over the bumps and gave little feedback to the handlebars. This was confidence inspiring and let us drive faster through the moguls.

Other bonuses of the Dragon package are the 5.25-inch handlebar riser and straight handlebars from the 440 IQ race sled. The straight bar is more comfortable because they keep hands more square to the earth through turns. The IQ Turbo Dragon retains Rider Select steering.

A 1.25-inch track is standard on all Dragon models, except RMK. The skidframe gets a Ryde FX compression adjustable shock out back and a non-adjustable coil-over on the front torque arm. The suspension also gets heavier torsion springs.

600RR Is Race Ready

The new 600RR, for
“More race, less trail.” That’s how Polaris describes its new 600RR race replica sled.

The new model is built on the same 440 IQ chassis that has helped the company return to the snocross racing winner’s circle since 2005. The 600RR is powered by the carbureted 120 hp, two-stroke engine found in the IQ Shift. Unlike the 440 race sled, it runs on 87 octane fuel.

To make it trail worthy, the sled gets a nine-gallon fuel cell, a 1.25-inch track, suspension re-calibrations, extra idler wheels and push-button reverse.

Windshields, hand guards and a speedometer are available as accessories.

Polaris’ lineup has many updates that reduce steering efforts, offer more comfort and provide better performance, among other things. Here are a few of the more significant updates for 2008. For complete information on the 2008 Polaris models as well as the product lineup from the other factories, pick up the Spring 2007 issue of Snow Goer.

Spindle: All IQ sleds get new spindles that Polaris says requires 15 percent less steering effort. From a side view, the cast part is more vertical from top to bottom than previous versions. This spindle is the third design for the IQ chassis.

Freestyle Seat: All 121-inch IQ models (except for the FST IQ) get the new Freestyle seat. It’s 2.3 pounds lighter, narrower up front and wider and softer in the rear. This translates to more butt comfort and easier stand-up to sit-down transitions.

136-inch Coupled Skidframe: SwitchBack models get a new 136-inch rail with coupling blocks for more weight-transfer control, better handling and better performance through bumps. This is essentially the same skid as other high performance IQ models. A 1.25-inch Rip Saw track is standard on all SwitchBacks.

Raw Chassis: All two-stroke IQ, SwitchBack and RMK sleds have lost the front radiator for 2008. With the dense mass of the coolant-filled aluminum part going away, this change should translate to a better front/rear balance.

136 Comfort Rear Suspension: The 144-inch M-10 ACE skidframe has been replaced in all IQ Touring sleds in favor of the new 136 Comfort suspension. The fully coupled, torsion spring skid should provide more comfort for touring riders without requiring as much suspension tuning. The IQ Cruiser sticks with the M-10 suspension.

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