Snow Goer contributor T.J. Krob has enjoyed a great start to the snowmobile season near his home in Bozeman, Montana. Here is his initial review, written on January 6, of the 2016 Polaris 800 Pro-RMK 163 demo he’ll run all season. Click here to read his initial impressions of the 2016 Yamaha SR Viper M-TX 153 LE demo he’s also riding and testing this winter.
The mountains of Montana have experienced one of the better Decembers we’ve had in years. Ample snow has allowed me to accumulate 373 miles aboard our 2016 Polaris 800 Pro-RMK 163 equipped with the new Series 7 track with 3-inch lugs.
Early season riding is usually dicey – or expensive if hidden land mines are discovered – but this Polaris bounced off rocks, stumps, sagebrush and logs without any battle scars. I installed a Polaris Ultimate Skid Plate to help prevent potential damage, but the durability of the sled has been unquestionable. The track has held onto every paddle that it started with, and it shows no signs of giving in even after spinning down to sharps rocks or the ground, and even trying to climb over a 2-foot diameter log on the first day when there was only 18 inches of snow.
Exploring the Polaris Interactive Digital Display (PIDD) gauge with GPS during the first ride was cool to see where I was tracking, which would be helpful if a strong storm blew in and reduced visibility. Having a bottomless 3- to 4-foot pack of snow through mid-December really proved how well the Series 7 track works in the deep snow. There were several days that the snow was literally over the bars all day, and this RMK just kept going like the Energizer bunny. Fellow riding comrades were attempting to break over a few hills during a ride without any luck, but I lined up and was pleasantly surprised that I was able to frolic and play across all of their trenches.
The engine would gurgle hard while carving to the right, so I swapped over from the ‘Ethanol’ setting to the ‘91’ setting after I had put about 200 miles on the sled – Polaris specifies to run in ‘Ethanol’ mode during break-in. Making the fuel-setting change made a difference in run quality. Response was better and there was no more gurgling while the sled was laid over, but it still doesn’t run as well as it should. The sled loads up when idling through the trees, so much so that the engine will hesitate when the throttle is opened up after idling or run at a low RPM and even arond 5000 rpm.
An odd occurrence has happened a few times after beating along a steep, rutty sidehill: the leading edge of the side panel will pop out. Even with the rubber strap secure and the quarter-turn locks fully engaged, the snow must impact the panel with enough force to either rotate the lock or force it from its position. And the little plastic wear guide inside the rubber boot that surrounds the steering arm slipped out of the rubber and is twirling about the steering arm – but that’s a quick fix.