For years the magazines have been telling you about the new race sleds during this time of year, and often stating that even people who aren’t interested in racing should pay attention because things unveiled on today’s race sleds often end up on tomorrow’s trail and mountain sleds. And, that’s often been the case – though not so much on Polaris sleds in the last dozen years. The brand has been updating the same race chassis it unveiled in 2005 for 11 seasons, though admittedly some trail components (crankshaft, front suspension geometry, etc.) has been tested on the race sled first.
Well this time we really mean it!
Polaris officials call the 2017 Polaris 600R Race Sled unveiled on September 9 on the eve of Haydays “Axys-inspired,” with angular Axys-style body panels that look similar to what has been found on Rush, Switchback and RMK models for the past couple of seasons. So, on its face it sounds like the race sled is actually following the lead of the consumer sleds.
However, this version of Axys bodywork is 10 inches narrower than the similar bodywork on last year’s 600R IQ Race Sled. Hmmm… significantly narrower body panels facing the riders, where have we heard that before? Oh yeah, on the REV Gen 4 chassis that stole Snowmobile of the Year honors in our November issue. Axys-based body panels on the Pro-RMK models are already narrower than the similar panels on Rush and Switchback models, but could both go narrower still? Time will tell but we’re spotting a trend here.
Also, a new steering system is integrated into the new race sled that moves the handlebar on a plane that’s 13.5 degrees flatter. That, along with the new side panels, allows a rider to get farther forward and lower on the chassis in corners, and thereby get in and out of corners faster, according to Polaris designer Matt Prusak (no relation to this magazine’s editor).
“The focus from day one was to improve cornering performance,” Prusak said. He noted that the previous Polaris race sled, while dated, had proven to be very competitive against everybody except snocross mega-star Tucker Hibbert, but “we saw the competition at various times have an advantage [in corners] and we wanted to address that.
“It’s the narrowest sled we’ve built, so you have to repackage everything,” Prusak said, and that helps explain the new intake system and exhaust on the sled, he said. It also gets new footwells and a new MessageCenter gauge, and Polaris also updated the clutch weights to for improved holeshots, plus added a more durable belt. The body panels and steering system were used by some of the brand’s top Pro Open racers for part of the last sncoross season, and racers on hand at the Polaris unveiling said the difference was notable.
“Being able to get down into your cornering positioning is way easier,” said racer Kyle Pallin.
Below is the full press release from Polaris.
ALL-NEW Polaris 600R Race Sled:
The AXYS®-Inspired Evolution of a Winning Platform;
New, Race-Ready RUSH Models Deliver Terrain Domination & Celebrate ‘Return of the XCR’
MEDINA, Minn. (Sept. 9, 2016) – While Polaris snowmobile racers dominate on the all-new 2017 Polaris 600R Race Sled this winter, recreational riders will experience Polaris race-ready technology on the trails, lakes, and in the ditches on the new 600 and 800 RUSH® XCR models that mark the return of the legendary XCR name and performance.
The new Polaris 600R Race Sled and RUSH XCR represent the Polaris heritage of using racing as a testing and proving ground for advanced technology that elevates the performance of production models ridden by enthusiasts across the snowbelt.
The new Polaris 600R Race Sled is the latest evolution of a proven racing platform that has won on snocross tracks, ice ovals, and cross-country courses. This new sled was developed through the integration of the latest technology along with race-proven features of the previous platform. Some of the same premium technology is also found on Terrain Dominating production models like the 600 and 800 RUSH XCR.
“For over 60 years, Polaris has pushed the technological envelope in snowmobiles and racing to win championships and to develop suspension, engine, and chassis technology for our production sleds,” said Chris Wolf, Vice President, Snowmobiles. “Our newest RUSH models feature so much race-proven technology, they carry one of the most legendary names in racing history: XCR.”
Polaris and riders are celebrating the Return of the XCR all winter, starting at Hay Days and continuing at major snowmobile shows and races. Complete details are available at www.TerrainDomination.com, and on the Polaris Snowmobiles Facebook page, where the tag #ReturnoftheXCR is being featured all winter.
NEW Polaris 600R Race Sled
The new Polaris 600R Race Sled is the latest evolution of a title- and race-winning platform. For 2017, the AXYS-inspired design creates a 10” narrower sled body for better rider mobility and tighter cornering capabilities. In addition to the new bodywork, the sled has a new intake system and plenum, windshield, and headlight. New instrumentation includes the 600R Digital MessageCenter Gauge, and the footrest area has been redesigned to reduce drag in corners and improve under hood ventilation.
The improved steering system features a steering post that is 13.5 degrees flatter than on the previous race sled for improved rider mobility, cornering, and sled maneuverability. Steering effort is reduced through an improved steering ratio.
The new exhaust system is designed to conform to the sled’s new, narrower bodywork, and it is engineered to deliver enhanced performance. Additionally, the sled’s performance is improved by:
- New clutch weight design for improved holeshots
- A new drive belt that improves performance and provides greater durability
The 2017 Polaris 600R Race Sled also features proven components such as the quick-accelerating 600 Cleanfire® engine, lightweight crank, industry-leading IFS (Independent Front Suspension), and rear suspension with improved shock calibration for optimized ride and balance.
“This is advanced technology that wins races and contributes to our development of Terrain Dominating consumer sleds,” Wolf said.
NEW Polaris RUSH XCR
Polaris has long been the industry leader in Terrain Domination, both on and off the race track. Several models that excelled both on the trails and in racing carried one of the legendary sled names in Polaris history: XCR. The XCR name was introduced in the early 1990s on a sled that was a close replica to the model that dominated cross-country racing and carried Hall of Fame Polaris racer Jack Struthers to back-to-back wins in the grueling I-500 (1991 and 1992).
Like that original XCR, the new 600 and 800 RUSH XCR are race-ready. Polaris engineers achieved the goals of light weight, strength, and durability with race-proven suspension components, like the chromoly rear pivot, reinforced rail beams, and solid bogie wheels. The RUSH XCR is the sharpest handling, quickest accelerating sled on the trail with features including:
- The AXYS® Chassis that provides Rider-Balanced™ Control for flatter cornering, more precise handling in all conditions, and better control in big bumps and chatter bumps.
- PRO-XC™ Suspension with Active Pitch Control™ to optimize weight transfer. The progressive rate rear suspension is optimized for the best performance and Rider-Balanced™ Control, and it features a Walker Evans® 2.0” Body Front Track Shock that Polaris helped develop to withstand higher speeds and, with its increased oil volume, perform under higher operating temperatures.
- The Independent Front Suspension is equipped with Walker Evans® Hi/Lo Compression Adjustable Piggyback Needle Shocks with XCR valving, giving a rider the greatest tunability to suit personal riding styles and the day’s conditions.
- The Polaris Race Technology (PRT) Brake System has superior components and enhanced cooling to deliver optimized braking in all conditions.
The new 800 RUSH XCR is powered by the proven 800 Cleanfire H.O. Engine that delivers unrivaled acceleration. It has 3-stage electronically controlled exhaust valves, an electronic oil pump that eliminates power-robbing gear drive, high-efficiency intake and exhaust, VForce® Reeds for the ultimate in throttle response, a lightweight crankshaft, and grooved pistons for increased durability and engine life.
“With the new Polaris 600R Race Sled and the Return of the XCR, it’s going to be a great winter for Polaris riders – on the track and on the trail,” said Wolf.