First Impressions: 2013 Polaris 600 Switchback Pro-R production sled

Fun and athletic describe the 2013 Polaris 600 Switchback Pro-R.

We’re working our way through our fleet of 2013 demo snowmobiles and burning the first gallons of fuel to break them in. Fun-fun! A couple weeks ago we put the first miles on our 2013 MX Z X E-TEC 600, and this past week we hit the trail on board our 2013 Polaris 600 Switchback Pro-R.

This sled recieved a few updates for 2013 to improve the overall riding experience, including Pro-Steer skis and one-piece curved handlebars  so it no longer has to rely on separate plastic hooks that plug into the end of the bar. Holding onto these new bars all day, we could defintely feel more heat, and it was evenly disbursed across the grip area.

Last season we had two, 2012 Rush models, and staffers who are shorter than 5 feet, 10 inches tall were hindered by the tall saddle because it interfered with side-to-side transitions, making them unable to effectively get low and forward to help keep the inside ski on the ground. But riding on the 2013 Switchback Pro-R’s lower seat, we feel like we can more easily maintain better control of the sled. We can keep more weight on the inside ski for better handling, and it’s more rewarding to ride because we can feel our body influencing the sled. The new seat is wider and cushier for more comfort, too.

A lower seat height helps shorter-than-average people maintain better control on Polaris Pro-Ride snowmobiles.

Early season trail conditions made it difficult to get solid impressions how the Pro-Steer skis affect handling, but we felt less chatter and feedback over uneven, rough terrain. After traveling 98 miles the fuel tank took 7.783 gallons of gasoline, which factors out to 12.59 miles per gallon. During the break-in period, Polaris Liberty engines exhibit less of a lightswitch effect as Ski-Doo E-TEC engines that seem to suddenly wake up after about 75 miles. This 600 Switchback performed steadily all day, but after about 50 miles the sled transferred weight and lifted the skis more easily when we squeezed the throttle. Perhaps the rear suspension had loosened up, or maybe the engine did in fact wake up. Either way it’s a fun sled with a lively, responsive powerplant that’s perfect for leaping over road approaches and moguls.

So first impressions of this sled are good, with a fun engine, good handling and playful suspension, but there’s a minor annoyance about it: The recoil handle vibrates within the pocket on the plastic console. There are several rubber bumpers inside this pocket that are supposed to cushion the handle, but they aren’t doing the trick on our machine. We can hear it buzz while underway, so we’ll have to figure out a solution. Our 600 Indy SP demo has a rubber cushion on its recoil handle, and it seems like Switchback models should have this, too.

A swamp on the Aspen Trail east of Backus, Minnesota.

Central Minnesota hasn’t been hit by a big storm this season, but it has received a few small doses of snow, so we took advantage of a thin-but-nice snowpack that was mostly soft. It was a fun day on the trail where we enjoyed some sections that had been groomed to its full width, but groomer operators weren’t trusting the swamps yet, so they hadn’t been prepped and instead there was just a singletrack path through those areas.

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