Polaris is following up its 600 Rush that debuted a year ago with the new 800 Rush Pro-R, available for order this spring as a 2011 model. In addition to the big power upgrade, the sled gets a few updates that improve ride comfort, not to mention the appearance.
The Pro-R is much like the 2010 Rush with Walker Evans Needle clicker shocks valved for aggressive riders and a 1.25-inch Rip Saw track. Polaris switched to a piggyback shock on the front torque arm to improve durability; the ’10 had a remote reservoir damper.
Power comes from the 795cc Cleanfire Injection engine that debuted in RMK models in 2008. The engine has undergone several revisions since then to improve durability and running quality.
The 800 twin requires more cooling capacity than the 600, so it has a cooler in the rear end under the snow flap. With the new cooler, engineers had to incorporate two coolant hoses and re-work the black plastic shelf. The tube-metal cage has been revised, too. Other changes to the Rush Pro-Ride chassis include a new front torque arm to allow more stud clearance and an updated rail profile for more top-end speed and reduce noise.
We rode the 800 Rush Pro-R in Daniels Summit, Utah, last month where we noticed an improvement in ride quality from the Rush compared to the 2010 setup. The ride is noticeably more comfortable and compliant in the chop. This makes the Rush a better all-around package than the first go-around. Polaris mostly attributes the improved ride to the new rail profile and front torque arm design.
The 800cc engine makes the Rush more playful because it’s easier to lighten the front end and point the sled where the driver wants it to go. The sled handled really well with some inside ski lift, but it was controllable and predictable. While horsepower figures are lower than the 800 engines from Cat and Ski-Doo, the Polaris Liberty engine has smooth, playful, trail-friendly power for slinging from corner to corner in the woods.
We think the Pro-R graphics makes the sled more attractive, and style might have kept some people from plunking down cash for a Rush last year. Will more color push more Rush sleds out the doors of Polaris dealerships next season? Who knows? But with another engine option and a few refinements, Polaris has taken a good snowmobile and made it significantly better.