“This sled just works.”
That was the sentiment from Snow Goer magazine staffers and other people who threw a leg over our 2009 Polaris 600 Dragon SP demo sled last season.
OK, so what does that mean?
Like most of the other snowmobiles in Polaris’ lineup, the Dragon SP is predictable and easy to drive. The machine just feels right and it reacts how you expect it to. It doesn’t feature the latest method of fuel induction, an exotic chassis or unique styling, but what it lacks in headline-making technology, it makes up for in the fact that it has a strong and playful engine, good front and rear suspension performance and predictable handling that add up to a snowmobile that’s versatile and fun to ride.
Engine performance was typical for the 600 Liberty we’ve gotten to know well since 2007. With a rating around 124 hp, it was fun to work the throttle and get quick, responsive acceleration out of corners or wide-open runs across a lake. Low- and mid-range performance was best, as Polaris sleds of late – Dragons especially – typically are clutched, geared and tracked for good corner-to-corner performance with less ‘go’ up top.
With premium Walker Evans Needle shocks, the 2009 Polaris 600 Dragon SP is marketed as a mogul masher. One place where the shocks especially stood out was in sharp holes. When the suspension dropped into a depression, it felt smooth when hitting the edge on the hole’s opposite side. And when riding fast over rough trails, the sled was comfortable and stayed flat as it absorbed the ruts and bumps rather than swapping or sending a jolt up the driver’s spine. The Dragon SP was also comfortable for a leisurely, Sunday afternoon pace. The suspension setup was compliant without rattling a driver’s teeth over washboard bumps at moderate speeds; say around 30 to 40 mph.
After making some rear suspension adjustments for flatter cornering, we enjoyed the sled for its ability to carve the trails. In stock form, the Dragon was a tippy machine that required a point-and-shoot driving style, meaning we had to slow down and steer through the corner, point it out of the turn and shoot to the next one. We couldn’t carry much speed because inside ski lift was too severe.
But adjusting the skidframe’s rear scissor stop blocks to limit suspension coupling made a night-and-day difference in handling. This kept more weight on the skis, which let us carry speed through corners without fear of rolling the machine over. No other adjustments were necessary, other than clicker changes on the shocks to suit individual riders’ weights and riding styles.
The flat Dragon handlebar is one of the most comfortable perches on snow, and the seat offers wider support in the rear with a narrower shape near the gas tank for easy transitions from side to side. The seat and tank, revised for 2009, make the machine feel smaller, too. While the cab and hand guards offered good protection from the elements, the flyscreen windshield was worthless, so we ran a taller aftermarket windshield during the coldest winter months.
The 2009 Polaris 600 Dragon SP was the most exciting trail sled from Polaris last year, but when compared to the hot snowmobiles from other manufacturers, it’s conservative. When you boil it down, though, what matters most is if your machine is fun and makes you smile while you ride it. Our collective ear-to-ear grin is a sign that this sled might be the most under-rated snowmobile from 2009.