No model year 2010 snowmobile was as highly anticipated last fall as the Polaris 600 Rush. Its rear shock outside of the track was a bold step away from conventional design not only for snowmobiling, but also for Polaris — a company that likes to take the safe route when reacting to the competition and attempting to set market trends. It hasn’t been since the mid-1990s that Polaris brought this much innovation to snowmobiling.
With the rear coil-over spring set correctly and shocks “clicked” to the appropriate damping level, the sled offered a good ride with decent handling and appropriate ski pressure. Big G bumps — like a series of rollers or a big dip in front of a trail bridge — are where the skidframe sets itself apart from conventional rear suspension designs. “Bottomless” is the best way to describe the feeling, because it feels like it truly is impossible to bottom in big holes. After riding through normal, run-of-the-mill bumps and chatter, riders noted that it felt firm with too much feedback to the rider’s spine.
Cornering was flat if the driver was steady on the throttle, but the inside ski would lift if we hit the throttle mid-way through the turn. As Polaris engineers said upon introduction of the Rush Pro-Ride chassis, its progressive skidframe was sensitive to proper setup. We thought that setting the rear spring a few pounds lighter than actual body weight gave the best combination of ride quality and steering effort.
Suspension adjustment was a sore spot because the rear spring was a real hassle to adjust. If we needed to adjust from a 200-pound rider to a 155-pounder on the trail, for example, the spring collar usually won the battle because we gave up trying to adjust it after struggling to twist it a few turns. Adjustment was easier after the sled thawed in our shop, but even there it was no picnic. Big clicker knobs on the shocks were easy to turn and dial in to riders’ preferences; two clicks made a noticeable change in damping, proving the high sensitivity of Walker Evans shocks.
Compared to earlier Polaris sleds, hardware seems to be of higher quality, parts fit better and location and attachment of components appears to have been thought out more critically. But considering all that was done to make parts fit well, the drive belt was grueling to remove and replace. We had to unbolt the nosepan from the footrest to gain clearance between the driven clutch and footrest so the belt would squeeze between there, but even after doing that it required brut force.
Power from the 600 Cleanfire engine is addictive. Compared to the smooth Rotax 600 E-TEC, this 600 Liberty has more a raw snarl to it and it wails more of a “Braaap” when you crack the throttle — it’s an exhilarating sound! Fuel economy was 10.826 mpg, based on data from rides throughout the season through varying trail conditions and riding styles.
Ergonomics are comfortable for all driving styles. The driver can chill out and take in the scenery or lean hard into left and right turns without feeling out of position. A 6-foot, 4-inch rider was surprised to find plenty of space on the Rush. While it looks a bit tight for a tall person, the only point of contention was a lack of knee room for aggressive riding, he said. Cut that rider down 8 inches and he’ll say the Rush console feels too big. The firm seat keeps the driver up with a good view of the trail.
Two particularly strong points of the sled are its headlight and brake. The beam was brighter than the other five sleds in our fleet and the field of vision was wide. The Phantom brake system is the new gold standard in snowmobiling for brake performance; not only for how well it slows the machine, but for the feel (feedback) and high-performance sound.