Polaris produced nimble Indy XCR models through the 1990s for aggressive trail riders and cross-country racers, and they were wildly popular. Fortunately for aggressive riders and snowmobilers who appreciate nostalgia, the XCR nameplate returns for 2017 on the 600 and 800 Rush XCR LE models.
Other changes and upgrades from Polaris for 2017 include a longer Pro-RMK and a new chassis and rear suspension for the Switchback Assault. But first, here are the details about the new cross-country racer.
Engine options for the 2017 Polaris Rush XCR LE are the 800 H.O. or 600 Cleanfire. The Polaris Race Technology (PRT) brake system has a new, race-spec rotor that has more surface area than the rotor used on other Rush models and contributes to even wear on the new Type 81 brake pads that Polaris says are more durable and can withstand more heat. In addition to the different pads, the tolerance between the XCR’s pads and rotor is closer, which makes the brake react quicker when a driver squeezes the lever.
The 2017 Polaris XCR’s rear suspension has a chrome-moly rear pivot (the arm that connects the rear crank to the suspension rails), heavy-duty front track shock mount, chrome-moly front torque arm, reinforced suspension rails and solid bogie wheels. The jackshaft is a solid, hardened steel component. A 15- by 121- by 1.35-inch Cobra track wraps around the skidframe. The track’s 2.52-inch pitch makes it faster than the 2.86-inch pitch track used on Pro-S and Pro-X models, Polaris engineers said at the 2017 Polaris snowmobiles media sneak peek event in January. Ergonomic features of the XCR include the taller Pro-X handlebar riser (3.5 inches vs. 2.36 on Pro-S) and mid-height windshield. The handlebar comes from the IQ race sled, which curves farther downward on the left end than the standard Rush handlebar.
Ski shocks and the rear damper are Walker Evans Hi-Lo Compression Adjustable Piggyback Needle dampers, which have separate external adjusters for high- and low-speed compression damping. The front track shock is a 2-inch diameter damper with high- and low-speed compression damping, but it’s not a Needle shock. The larger body holds more oil to reduce heat buildup and contributes to a plusher ride. Calibrations are different than Pro-S and Pro-X shocks, but know that they’re set to manage fast vehicle speeds over rugged terrain. The XCR and Pro-X share a lightweight torsion bar that helps give each side of the front suspension an independent feel over moguls. XCR ride height is set like the Pro-S.
Rush and Switchback models in Pro-S and Pro-X trim are mostly unchanged, except for colors, graphics and a new gauge. Also, the top seam around the perimeter of Axys-based seats was lowered to make a softer edge that allows smoother side-to-side transitions.
2017 Polaris Snowmobiles: Switchback Assault Moves To Axys Platform
The 600 and 800 Switchback Assault 144 models have moved to the Axys platform for 2017 with several new features, including a new rear suspension. Plus, a new, more affordable 600cc Switchback model has been added to the mix. Unlike the 137-inch Polaris Switchbacks that have an outboard rear suspension, these three Switchback models are based on a conventional rear suspension that’s enclosed inside a full-length tunnel.
The new IGX (Ideal Geometry Xover) 144 rear suspension in the Switchback Assault models is an uncoupled system with a longer front torque arm than the Switchback 144 rear suspension it replaces. Geometry of the front torque arm is common with Rush and Switchback 137 models to help influence the vehicle’s attitude in the snow and deliver a better ride. Suspension rails are tipped at the rear to effectively shorten the wheelbase and provide better on-trail handling, and reinforcements boost their strength. The skidframe is fitted with Walker Evans Compression Adjustable Piggyback shocks.
New PowderTrac Hybrid running boards are wide and flat near the front for comfort while sitting and standing, and the dual-angle, tapered design improves mobility and snow clearance. A new aluminum ProTaper handlebar is another updated feature. It’s narrower than the bar that was used on earlier Switchback Assaults, and it’s flat so it relies on a tall riser rather than a swept shape to elevate the area where the driver’s hands hold on. The machine has a RMK mid-height windshield, but it keeps a trail-friendly, 42.5-inch ski stance.
Front shocks are Walker Evans Piggyback Needle dampers with compression clickers. Other standard features on the 2017 Switchback Assault 144s include the LED headlight, new digital MessageCenter gauge and Pro-Steer skis. The 1.35-inch Cobra track is standard, but the 2-inch Series 4 track is optional. Power options are the 800 H.O. or the 600 Cleanfire engines.
Switchback Assault models are for aggressive riders who want premium features and are more likely to venture off-trail, but the new 600 Switchback SP 144 is designed for riders who spend more time on the trail, and perhaps don’t want or need high-end shocks.
The 2017 Polaris 600 Switchback SP 144 has a lot of the same equipment as the Assault, such as the running boards, LED headlight, new gauge and IGX rear suspension, but it has Fox IFP shocks and a steel handlebar. An Axys mid-height windshield provides better protection than the Switchback Assault’s windshield.
2017 Polaris Snowmobiles: 800 Pro-RMK 174
After reinventing the Pro-RMK last year with a lighter and taller chassis and more-powerful 800cc engine, Polaris ditched most of the standard RMKs and added two new ones for 2017.
Weighing in at a claimed 442 pounds, Polaris claims its new 800 Pro-RMK 174 LE is the lightest 174-inch sled on snow, and it’s virtually identical to shorter Pro-RMK LE models – except for the track length.
Track lugs for the 800 Pro-RMK 174 LE are 3 inches tall, so, as with other RMKs fitted with the Series 7 track, the 800 Pro-RMK 174 LE will use a chaincase to spin the driveshaft because the added traction necessitates a lower gear ratio than what the belt-driven QuickDrive system can provide.
One standard RMK model remains in the lineup: the new 600 RMK 144, which is built on the raised Axys chassis and relies on a chaincase rather than the QuickDrive drivetrain, PowderTrac Hybrid running boards, IGX 144 rear suspension and RydeFX shocks. The rest of the RMK, Assault and SKS models are unchanged except for colors and graphics.
A close cousin to the 600 RMK 144 is the new 600 Voyageur 144 sport-utility sled. The chassis and most features such as shocks, track, handlebar, riser, powertrain and skis are the same, except that the Voyageur has a 20-inch tall windshield and metal, rear storage rack.
2017 Polaris Snowmobiles: Snow Check Select
RMK, Rush and Switchback buyers will have the option to customize their machines with features and colors during Snow Check Select. RMK buyers can choose from four tracks, three Walker Evans shock packages, electric start, three heights for their ProTaper handlebar, and low windshield (with hand guards) or mid windshield (without hand guards).
Rush and 137-inch Switchback buyers can choose a 1.25-inch RipSaw II track, 1.35-inch Cobra or 1.75-inch Backcountry X. Switchback Assault LE buyers can select the Cobra with 1.35-inch lugs, or the Series 4 with 2-inch paddles.
Any machine purchased during the Snow Check period can be ordered with the factory-installed Polaris Interactive Digital Display (PIDD). Appearance can be customized with colored rails, tunnel and spindles. Models designated with “LE” include factory-installed accessories and will have limited availability during the season. The 800 Pro-RMK 174 LE, 800 Pro-RMK 163 LE and 800 Pro-RMK 155 LE include Walker Evans Piggyback Clicker shocks, storage and PIDD gauge. The 800 Switchback Pro-S LE will have the 1.35-inch Cobra track, upgraded Walker Evans shocks, PIDD gauge, storage and Rox Speed FX adjustable handlebar riser.
Rush Pro-X, Switchback Pro-X and Pink Ribbon Riders RMK, Rush and Switchback models are available during the Snow Check sales promotion, which runs from February 29 to April 12.
For more photos, quotes from manufacturer officials and complete models lists about the 2017 snowmobiles from Arctic Cat, Polaris, Ski-Doo and Yamaha, check out the April 2016 issue of Snow Goer magazine. It mails to subscribers in mid-March and hits newsstands on March 24.