The word is out: Polaris has a new big bore engine that designers say promises 9 percent more power than the brand’s previous biggest-bore engine (the 800 H.O.) and features a stout design that carries a long-term warranty.
The brand also has a new line of sleds for trail riders in the Indy 129. It utilizes a full-length tunnel and new, coupled rear suspension placed inside the Axys chassis.
That’s all good news, but if you want to get the combination of the new engine and new Indy layout, you’re going to have to reserve one now because the 850 Patriot twin is only available in the Snow Check spring order program that wraps up on April 17. That has people begging to learn what this setup rides like.
Luckily for us, we got to test different 850 Indy 129 XC machines both in West Yellowstone, Montana, a month ago, and in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula last week. Luckily for you, we’re in a mood to share our initial impressions! Here are five thoughts:
1) Big Power From The New 850 Patriot – This new 840cc powerplant has some serious snort, with a strong pull right off the bottom and a great top-end – in fact, the machine almost seems to find another gear when you’re traveling at about 80 mph and then pin the throttle the rest of the way to the handlebar. We lined it up side-by-side on a lake with a Ski-Doo MXZ X-RS 850 and the two machines were very similar—the winner was always the one that got the best traction off the starting line, but once rolling they were even. The pre-production Patriot demo models did have a flat spot in the acceleration curve at around 5900 rpm (felt like a lean bog), but designers say they’ll get that dialed out this spring.
2) Big Efficiency From An 850 Twin – We figured the new Patriot would be fast, but its efficiency was surprising. We’re used to Polaris engines frankly lagging far behind Ski-Doo E-TEC engines when it comes to fuel mileage, but after one particular 89-mile stretch of trail last Wednesday evening, the Polaris 850 Indy 129 XC took 7 gallons to refill while the MXZ Z-RS 850 took 6.9 gallons. That mileage wasn’t always reflected over our three-days ride, however – two days later, the Polaris took 9.8 gallons at 98 miles vs. 7 in the Ski-Doo. The difference between the two trail rides? On the first, we were still going fast but we weren’t planting the throttle on every straightaway. More importantly, we were checking the RPM at different speeds, and the snorty new 850 was putting up some impressive speeds at lower RPM. The Indy would go 74 mph at just 5750 rpm, with the throttle lightly engaged.
3) Mixed Handling Results – When test riding the new Indy 129 out west, we were impressed with the way the new, coupled Pro-CC rear suspension combined with the known Axys front suspension to create easy going, predictable handling that kept the skis on or close to the ground in all circumstances. Our conditions were more mixed at last week’s ride, as that demo model had the optional 15- by 129- by 1.5-inch Camso Storm 150 track that ended up being a less-than-ideal match for the hard-packed, slick trails we encountered. The Storm 150, with its long, cupped lug bars, just didn’t hook up consistently, and that affected the handling of the whole machine.
4) Ride Quality – That new Pro-CC rear suspension provides a ride that may appeal to a broader range of trail riders than the Pro-XC rear suspension found on Pro-S or XCR Polaris machines, though it will depend on how you truly ride. The Indy’s Pro-CC is a coupled design that is better in repetitive stutter bumps than the uncoupled Pro-XC but still had plenty left for hitting the big stuff, thanks in large part to its Walker Evans piggyback shocks. However, for those with a snocross racer’s mentality, the Rush or Switchback XCR models are still better for the all-out attack mode when bashing through the roughest terrain.
5) Accoutrements – Overall, we liked the layout and featured package on the new Indy 129 XC. It comes with the seat/handlebar/footwell combination from the Rush/Switchback lines that creates ergonomics that fit most of our riders like a glove, plus better running boards.
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