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    2019 Polaris Sleds are Here!

    Posted by Tyler Nelson
    on Friday, March 02, 2018

     The Horsepower War is on!

    Polaris looks to bring a new generation of riders to snowmobiling.

    It doesn’t really matter who started it, but the horsepower war is beginning to look like a good old bench-clearing hockey brawl. Polaris was in the fight with their lightweight and over-achieving 800 H.O. motor, but they just upped the ante and all the other OEMs are going to take notice.

    ■ Boom baby!
    Like they were slamming down the last card on a royal flush, Polaris announced their new 850 motor. It is technically a little less than 850 (840cc to be exact) but the Polaris brass were confident that the power would be “class-leading.” We all know what that means, and sights are aimed at de-throning Ski-Doo as the brand at the top, and the only other OEM with a naturally aspirated 2-stroke engine over 800cc.


    The new Cleanfire liquid twin 850 Patriot 3DS motor will be manufactured in the US at the Polaris Osceola plant which is good news for folks here in the states. The foundation for the motor was laid several years ago and Polaris engineers were given a blank slate. This was long before the Ski-Doo 850 was released and Polaris reps told us they simply wanted to make a durable, reliable motor with great power-to-weight ratio. The “flickability” was key and there is little commonality with other Polaris motors. The 850 is a Snow Check option, and you can choose your sled, color, options and make yourself an exclusive sled, uniquely yours. After 25 years of Liberty engines including the 800 H.O. “giant killer,” Polaris has learned how to make lighter sleds with positive inertia that are easily maneuvered. The new 850 is said to have a 7% better power-to-weight ratio and 9% better acceleration than any motor in this class … that’s bold talk!


     The new 850 will be available across all Snowcheck model lines including the RMK, SKS, Switchback, Rush, and Indy. What really blew our hair back was the announcement of a standard four-year warranty with this motor. Polaris is REALLY standing behind this motor!
    In the RMK deep-snow line of sleds, the 850 is said to give instant lift, have low inertia, and the best power-to-weight ratio in the industry. It is by far the most powerful snow engine Polaris has ever built, and is said to have the best throttle response as well.


    Since this is basically an all new motor, then naturally most everything on it is going to be new. Highlights include a new piston, ability to have max electrical power at idle/low rpm, and much more. Basically the only things that are the same are the water and detonation temperature sensors and the spark plugs.
    The bore and stroke of the Patriot 850 were selected for minimized inertia and the best throttle response and handling. Engineers say they’re able to match inertia of the 800 but there is a bit more weight, and of course better durability.


     That new piston has improved heat transfer, a PVD coated steel single ring design, and the piston dome is 3mm thicker, with a higher capacity wrist pin, with 23% more contact area with cylinder bore. In addition, the motor has a lightweight crankshaft, which is just three pounds more than the old 800 H.O.; there is a larger clutch taper design as well so the clutch comes off easier. The new cylinder and head have plenty of new tech put into them as well, including better cooling and other new-to-this-motor designs.


    One of many cool new pieces of tech on this motor is a new water bottle with an integrated thermostat that is patent pending. This design moves the thermostat off the engine for minimized vibration and better durability and reliability. It will have a longer life too. This is a self-bleeding cooling system, with a tested 100 degree T-Stat.


     A new engine mounting strategy was used to minimize the vibration to the chassis and to the rider. Also the new 850 has a more consistent clutch center distance still with a P-85 Team primary. Belt longevity is better we are told and this motor drops right into the AXYS chassis so the performance is seamless.


    Exhaust flow is improved with a new pipe and silencer/resonator, and the tone quality is quieter, with heat-shielded resonation. There is an EGT sensor and Mototassinari V-Force reeds used.


    Finally, that 4-year warranty speaks volumes to Polaris believing in this new motor. Normally I would say to hold off a year on buying the newest, flashiest motor to let them get the kinks worked out, but with a four-year warranty many of those screams can at least be quieted.

     ■ New Smart Trail
    Polaris has been seemingly making all the right moves lately and the early released Indy EVO was another great power-play in the market. The smaller EVO still has its roots in a 121-inch full-sized sled, but with a new seat and lower ride height, lower front and rear suspension, narrower and lower handlebars. There’s a much shorter throttle throw for smaller hands and Polaris engineers moved the rider into a correct position for more diminutive stances. This is the exact right tweener-sled the industry needed. Other OEMs were taken by surprise and some just flat out refuse to invest in this part of the  market to spark parent interest or new 10-16-year-olds to get into the market.


    If you have not watched the Polaris commercial regarding the EVO, we highly recommend it. Family friendly tween riders and reaching out to new novices was the point of EVO; from easy steering, to a stable ride and lower rider position, to ergonomics meant to fit the vast majority of people, not just huge males, or tiny kids, but everyone in between. Plus you get a really peppy and attainable real trail speed limited at 50mph. The fan cooled 550 sled is electronic speed-limited and the throttle controlled machine will have stage tuning kits available, eventually. The accessory kit to bring the 550 motor up to full speed is not available yet and there is obviously no price available for that yet either, but Polaris tells us it IS coming. Maybe this will bring back memories of the old 300 and 340cc sleds we all rode growing up.


    The actual throttle pull is a shorter reach, and with an adjustable IFS stance, and specific shocks and skis made for the EVO. This is a totally effortless machine.


     One thing we hope they will change though is to make the brake a shorter throw and new lever. The current one is the same as standard sleds.


    There will be both electric start and pull start versions of this sled and two different color options (red/black and blue/hi-vis). Both these models are under $5700!

     
    The Indy line of sleds also gets an upgrade this year with a 129-inch rear Pro XC suspension. This sled still has a standard tunnel and is the lightest in its class already … and it will be available with the 850-motor this year too! Similar to what others have done in the industry, the XC skid gets a bigger two-inch diameter front shock, but there are Walker Evans shocks and clickers both in the front and rear shock in the 129-inch suspension with improved oil flow, and is less harsh at the top end of the clicker. The rails in the suspension have a new lightweight profile design, patent-pending. Track options for this skid will include the Camso Storm 1.5-inch, the Cobra 1.35-inch, and the Ripsaw 1.25.


     You will notice new metal flanges just behind the new Powdertrac TR running boards on the Indy and a skirt to keep the snow from flying up and getting the rider wet. There’s a new bumper and snow flap too. Storage options: a removable passenger seat (fits 129, 144, 146-inch sleds) and more options make this sled an affordable and fun option to the more expensive, big-bump oriented Rush sleds. One final note on the trail sleds, the Pro-X is dropped from the lineup due to the popularity of the XCR. 

    This article was written by Mark Boncher. Check out the March/Spring issue of American Snowmobiler for more from Polaris and the rest of the OEM releases for 2019.

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