EDITORS NOTE: Through March and early April, we’ll be posting concise “First Impressions” stories on 2021 machines from Arctic Cat, Polaris, Ski-Doo and Yamaha to help spring buyers make informed decisions. Look for full evaluations in future issues of Snow Goer. Enjoy.
Based on the new Matryx platform and mixed with all of the premium features that the brand could load onto a trail sled, the 2020 Polaris 850 Indy VR1 137 made an immediate yet lasting impression on members of the Snow Goer test team.
The Matryx is an interesting combination of known quantities and new features. It utilizes the now-familiar Pro-CC rear suspension and Polaris’ traditional Race IFS front suspension geometry that make modern Polaris Indy snowmobiles handle well and track right. But above those connection points is a whole lot of new.
It starts with the ergonomics. Narrower body panels and a narrower seat combine to make for roomier ergonomics. From the way a rider can comfortably get farther forward – thanks to tighter-fitting dash panels that slope away from the rider – all the way down to the wider footwells, this sled earned rave reviews from our test teams for the way it “fit” riders. In fact, riders said they found themselves mindlessly flowing with the sled, moving naturally into more aggressive positions when guiding it down a twisting trail. All of this helped the sled handle expertly, and the Walker Evans Velocity shocks ate up bumps while keeping the rider feeling connected to the trail.
Next up on the items that wowed our team was the huge 7S gauge and its many features. Having a touch-screen-enabled, multi-screen gauge that offers all of the many wonderful features of Polaris’ Ride Command app at your gloved fingertips is a true treat. Track your friends, follow a path of a pre-planned trip, leave a breadcrumb trail of where you’ve been – it’s all very high-tech and cool, but also so functional and easy to use. Some, though, found the gauge a bit oversized.
As an added bonus, the programmable thumb warmers were a shocking revelation to our team. As one test rider said, “When they talked about it in the tech session, I thought it was a bit of a gimmick, but they truly were set-it-and-forget-it, and my hands stayed comfortable for the whole ride.”
Despite accumulating over 1,000 miles on Matryx sleds in our various test rides, we haven’t ridden on at night yet so we can offer no feedback on the new NightBlade headlight. Riders raved about the added storage options and the excellent power delivery from the 850 Patriot engine. The loudest, most repetitive complaints were about the too-slippery seat.
THE RIGHT CUSTOMER: We think most active trail riders will love this new setup. However, it should be noted that this is aimed at high-mile trail riders who appreciate high-end features, not the rough-and-rugged ricky-racer wanna-be. If you’re in that last group, you may still want an Indy XCR or Switchback XCR instead.
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.