March 3, 2011
After debuting in 2010 and expanding in 2011, Polaris is bringing its Pro-Ride chassis to the crossover segment with the all-new 2012 Switchback line.
The short track Pro-Ride chassis also expands, in the form of a new 800 Rush Pro-R LE that has special features and new suspension geometry shared with other 120-inch track Polaris Rush models. There’s also a new segment-defining 600 Switchback Adventure; and the Pro RMK setup with a 600cc engine.
The IQ chassis still exists, but it’s limited to IQ Shift, four stroke Turbo IQ, utility and 2-Up touring sleds. All totalled, Polaris returns with a lineup that’s 29 models deep, with four engines and many different combinations, not including the 120 Pro-R.
Improved 2012 Polaris Rush models
From the outside, Polaris’ Rush lineup looks the same. From the saddle, the sleds are quite different, thanks to new suspension geometry up front and adaptations to the unique Pro-Ride rear that combine to make the sleds more stable for 2012.
Up front, Polaris added what it calls Race IFS geometry that has new control arm bearings, a new steering post, longer A-arms and new spindles that stand up taller; all in the name of flatter cornering and more-precise handling.
In the rear suspension, engineers raised the lower mounting point of the front torque arm, while going with a lighter spring on the rear arm. This also was designed to improve handling, not to mention deliver a better ride.
We’ve ridden these machines and the 2012 Polaris Rush models stayed more planted to the trail in a variety of conditions. Through hard corners, the inside ski lift exhibited on 2010 and 2011 Rush models has been significantly reduced, as has the wheelie effect felt on hard acceleration.
For 2012, Polaris also built in tunnel protection, making it significantly easier to add studs to the track of a Rush.
There are two Rush packages to choose from. The base 600 and 800 Rush come with coil-over Fox shocks all the way around and a 15- by 120- by 1-inch HackSaw track. Upgraded 600 or 800 Rush Pro-R models comes with lightweight drivetrain parts to take out 2.5 pounds, plus they have adjustable Walker Evans Needle Shocks and a RipSaw track with 1.25-inch lugs.
Among the other short trackers, the 550 and 600 IQ Shift return as the price-leading sleds, this year with white hoods, while the four-stroke Turbo IQ is essentially unchanged.
2012 Polaris Switchback
Snowmobilers who want a longer track for ventures off the groomed path have new options, as the 2012 Polaris Switchback line of crossover snowmobiles gets the benefits of the Pro-Ride chassis that’s used on the Rush models.
From the stirrup forward and from mid-tunnel back, the 2012 Polaris Switchbacks duplicate the Rush in many ways. At mid-tunnel, however, about 7 inches was added to the machine, allowing for a longer track.
The 2012 Polaris Switchback’s front bodywork is the same, and the length of the track is masked by the distinctive rear suspension setup. A keen eye will notice the longer, more aggressive running boards.
The Switchback models share the new front suspension geometry found on 2012 Rush models for more side-to-side stability, but Polaris opted not to change the lower front arm mount on the rear suspension, figuring a sled that occasionally picks up the skis and wheelies is preferred more by those who venture off-trail and need to be able to pop the front end over rocks, stumps or downed trees.
Base 600 and 800 Switchback models come with Fox shocks all the way around and a 15- by 136- by 1.25-inch RipSaw track. Riders seeking to upgrade can opt for a 600 or 800 Switchback Pro-R Walker Evans Needle shocks, a 15- by 136- by 1.352-inch Cobra track and lightweight driveline parts.
Riders seeking true off-trail prowess might want to further upgrade to the 800 Switchback Assault. It has more in common with the RMK mountain machines, including a traditional rear suspension. It benefits from the Rush front end, set-up at 42.5 inches for more stability. It keeps Walker Evans shocks and high Pro Taper handlebars.
2012 Polaris Switchback Adventure
Polaris is attempting to define a new segment with its new 600 Switchback Adventure — a machine patterned after popular, adventurous on- and off-road motorcycles with go-anywhere, do-anything auras. The general design make the machine look like something a motivated rider may use to try to cross the Snowbelt. The 136-inch track with 1.352-inch lugs gives it off-trail capabilities. It’s a mold-breaking machine that Polaris hopes will becomes the preferred alternative for high-mile riders who want full-featured sleds but without a geezer-sled stigma.
The Switchback Adventure comes with Polaris’ Adventure Cargo System that includes two hard-side saddlebags that mount behind the seat on each side of the machine, utilizing the Lock & Ride fastening system used on the company’s ATV racks. The sled also has electric start, mirrors, power outlets, a tall windshield and wind deflectors that protect the driver’s legs.
All Switchback models, except the Assault, also get a new seat with a more natural saddle. The 550 Shift returns mostly unchanged, except it now has a special Canadian Edition that features electric start, a rear cargo rack, gripper skis and a 1.352-inch track.
2012 Polaris Rocky Mountain Kings
The biggest news to hit the mountain market in some time came last spring, when Polaris introduced the super-lightweight Pro-Ride RMK setup for its 800-class mountain machines. Polaris claims its 800 Pro-RMK 155 is the sport’s best-selling snowmobile, and the 163-inch version is second.
For 2012, Polaris continues that momentum by expanding the Pro-Ride RMK chassis to its 600-class RMK models. Escaping the old chassis on the 600 Pro-RMK brings with it complete re-engineering, with structural bonding, lightweight jackshaft and rotor, punched snowflap, carbon fiber rear bumper, LED taillight, redesigned silencer, Pro Taper handlebars and weight savings wherever possible. In fact, Polaris says its 600 Pro-RMK 155 will weigh 431 pounds – 53 pounds less than last year’s 600 RMK.
The 600 Pro-RMK comes with Walker Evans shocks. The base 600 RMK 144 and 600 RMK 155 get the new chassis, but they don’t have all of its lightweight characteristics. Plus they get Ryde FX shocks. The 144 is more like the Switchback Assault, with its seat and steering post, while the 155 has the RMK steering and seat. All 600 and 800 RMK models benefit from more aggressive running board trim for 2012.
Polaris is going all-in with an aggressive spring Snow Check Select program, dangling attractive options and special models for those willing to commit early.
The best example is the new 800 Rush Pro-R LE — a model featuring high-end Walker Evans shocks, Rox Speed FX adjustable handlebar riser, rear storage rack, electric start and special colors and graphics. It’s only available through the spring Snow Check order program, which runs through April 19.
Beyond that, special colors and graphics are available on Rush Pro-R, Switchback and RMK models in the spring, as are programs that allow buyers to choose their preferred windshield height. RMK buyers can even choose their seat. Polaris also has a new security system available for order.