Polaris Stays the Course with Its 2018 Axys Pro-Rmk Platform
Mountain Sledder | On 19, Dec 2017
Innovation is sexy. Consumers love it. We want to hear about it and we want to experience it for ourselves. But for a manufacturer, it comes at a huge cost. New technology doesn’t always work the way it’s supposed to; sometimes it breaks or malfunctions in unforeseen ways. And it is expensive to develop. Such is the price of maintaining a loyal fan base and drawing new customers. These factors were all carefully considered in the making of the 2018 Polaris Axys PRO-RMK.
Occasionally, an innovative product breakthrough will leapfrog a company ahead of its competition. That can afford it the chance to take a breath, regroup and focus on the next best step, while everyone else plays catch-up. Such was the success of the Polaris Axys platform back in 2016. Now—two model years later—not much has changed to the deep-snow RMK model, and riders are pretty okay with that. Just ask Keith Curtis, who recognized early on many of the game-changing features of the Axys; benefits which have since been enjoyed by thousands of owners in the last couple of years of production.
The Long and Bumpy Road to MY2018 Polaris Axys PRO-RMK
Getting there was not without adversity for Polaris. The first PRO-RMK generation was a huge step forward in terms of weight and handling, but it was also subject to its share of problems. Minor tweaks were made along the way as Polaris engineers worked to fine-tune the chassis. Some were effective while others came at the expense of durability. Riding an early-model PRO-RMK was a compromise between phenomenal handling and so-so reliability.
The Axys PRO-RMK platform changed that, bringing dependable reliability and somehow even better deep-snow and technical performance to the table. From MY2017 to MY2018 there are no functional changes to the PRO-RMK line-up, and if that tells you anything it should be that Polaris has finally managed to nail the sweet spot between designing the lightest sled and one that you can count on day-in and day-out. Sledders know it as BNG—Bold, New Graphics—when a manufacturer changes only the colour options between model years. In this case, BNG mean something different: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Don’t mess with what works.
If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It
How well does it work? For starters, Polaris riders continue to rave about their Axys PRO-RMK mountain sleds, even in the face of significant engine technology releases from the three other manufacturers in the last two years. Ski-doo released a new engine in MY2017, the 850 E-TEC, the same year that Yamaha unveiled a 998 Genesis factory turbo. Arctic Cat came to the table in MY2018 with a proprietary new 800-class dual-stage injection C-TEC2 engine that has already garnered rave reviews for output and responsiveness. Yet the Polaris fan base seems unfazed.
That speaks volumes about ride-ability of the Polaris Axys PRO-RMK. Detractors argue that it is underpowered by comparison—but even were those claims backed up with numbers, it handles so well that it really doesn’t matter. And there is no question that it is the lightest production mountain sled by far.
Mountain Riding Is Constantly Evolving; Manufacturers Must Keep up
Mountain riders look at sledding zones with a different eye these days. The sport is evolving, and the way terrain is being used has changed. For the majority of riders, it’s no longer about top speed or making the highest mark. It’s about traversing tight, convoluted terrain for the sake of getting somewhere or just for the challenge of it. Today, everyone likes to dip into the trees at least a little bit—and some riders go there almost exclusively.
The manufacturers know this, and they are intently focused on the factors that allow mountain sleds to navigate technical terrain. It’s a wellknown fact that the ability to sidehill effectively and in control is crucial for riding tight trees and gaining access to new terrain. Without a doubt, that characteristic is where every snowmobile manufacturer is looking to improve moving forward.
Just like the previous model year, it is incredibly easy to initiate and maintain a sidehill manoeuvre on the 2018 PRO-RMK. The sled feels very comfortable there, and makes it easy to hold a line across a steep slope, even in less than ideal snow conditions. You can get it on its side in a snap for sustained sidehills in spring snow, or to crank a sharp turn in a tight spot.
As for the reliability? Well, for MY2018 Polaris offered 4-year warranties on spring orders. If that isn’t a bold statement about the confidence that Polaris has in the reliability of its product, what is?
Producing a sled that is fun to ride and simply works as intended is just the kind of innovation that mountain riders love to see. And if that earns a manufacturer the right to stay the course for a year, well, Polaris riders are all right with that.
2018 Polaris Axys PRO-RMK Key Features
800 Cleanfire H.O. Engine
AXYS PRO-RMK is the lightest factory mountain sled
Forged Aluminum A-Arms reduce overall weight
Series 7.0 3.0” tracks available in 155”,
163” and 174” lengths
Series 6.0 2.6” tracks available in 155” and 163” lengths
Walker Evans Monotube Shocks option & Piggyback Clicker Shocks option
QuickDrive Low Inertia System reduces rotational inertia by 21% for easier handling
Optional high resolution, full colour, LCD digital display
More technical information is available at the Polaris Snowmobiles website.