In what has become a bit of a tradition, part of Team Snow Goer spent New Year’s Day on the trail, starting a new decade with an enjoyable ride while others watched college football and/or recovered from New Year’s Eve festivities on their couches.
This year, that involved breaking-in two new 2020 Polaris sleds plus testing some new riding gear on trails east and north of Lake Mille Lacs in Central Minnesota. After a week of warm and rainy weather put our desire for a January 1 ride in doubt, the rain was followed by some fresh snow that made the ride possible again. Conditions were mixed and included everything from smooth to choppy to rugged trails with a few big water holes scatter about, and weather that included a period of goggle-icing freezing rain added to the day’s variety. Through it all, though, it really was an enjoyable day, and a fabulous way to start 2021.
First Impressions: XCR and XC 137
Our Polaris demo sleds showed up later than usual this season, so while we’ve already had our Ski-Doo and Yamaha 2020 snowmobiles on multiple rides, this was the first outing of our 600 Indy XCR 129 and 800 Indy XC 137. Neither machine disappointed in our 108-mile ride.
The XCR was set up a bit stiff – as one might expect from a sled that essentially grew out of Polaris’ race department. We turned the clickers on the Walker Evans Velocity shocks to four-out from full soft , but frankly still have some tuning to do to make them right – with an excessive amount of rebound from the rear arm.
That said, the machine handled wonderfully in the ditches, through the swamps, into the woods and across the fields. When ditch banging, we appreciated the adjustable-height riser that allowed us to raise the bar quickly to prepare for sections where we’d be standing alot hopping over field approaches and bounding through mogul fields. The next time we stopped, though, we could simply lower the bar slightly for dicing through the twisting trails in a seated position. The short chassis and 128-inch Cobra track allowed the sled to pivot quickly, making it a fun sled to ride aggressively, and the power from the 600 twin was everything we remembered from this longstanding middleweight engine.
The Indy XC 137, though, was a bit more hooked-up to the trail, thanks to its longer Ice Ripper track with embedded carbide screws, and that provided a more stable ride in the sometimes icy conditions that were encountered. The Pro-CC rear suspension was much appreciated in the more rugged stretches of trail. It certainly didn’t completely isolate the energy coming up from the frozen moguls – there were still some hard hits – but it was significantly better than what we would have experienced had we been on a Switchback with the uncoupled Pro-XC rear.
We don’t know how long the 800 Genesis engine will be around, given the popularity of the second-year 850 Patriot, but it provided copious amounts of power, a consistent run quality and a meaty sound. Plus, the 40th Anniversary graphics package on a demo sled is a true head-turner.
When we stopped to refill the sleds at the end of the ride, the 600 XCR took 9.049 gallons; the 800 XC took 9.022. That’s right, in 108 miles of running, the difference in fuel used was 27 THOUSANDS of a gallon! It made us wonder if we left one idle just a little bit longer than the other… Either way, it was 12 miles per gallons for each while in break-in mode. We’re expecting it to improve slightly going forward on each sled.
Editor’s Note: This review was originally published in the October 2020 issue of Snow Goer. Every issue of Snow Goer magazine includes in-depth sled reports and comparisons, aftermarket gear and accessories reviews, riding destination articles, do-it-yourself repair information, snowmobile technology and more! Subscribe to Snow Goer now to receive issues delivered to your door or your computer for a low cost.