Technology
March 2nd, 2020
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2021 Polaris Snowmobile Mountain Lineup – What’s New

It’s that time of year when we get to learn what the manufacturers have been busy working on for the next model year!

With the release of the RMK Khaos last year, we expected to see that model available in more configurations for the 2021 Polaris snowmobile lineup. Not only did that come to fruition, but the RMK Khaos and PRO-RMK both have been treated to a new lightweight drive system, called QuickDrive2, and a newly designed 2.75” lugged track in 155” and a new 165” lengths.

Read on to find out more about the 2021 Polaris snowmobile lineup!


2021 Polaris Snowmobile Mountain Sleds

Let’s start with what is new across the board for the mountain models. After all, that’s why you’re here, right?

QuickDrive2 Belt Drive System

Up first, is a newly designed belt drive system called QuickDrive2. QuickDrive2 features a lower inertia design than the previously available drive belt system (now called QuickDrive1) in part due to a 10% gear reduction. To achieve that, QuickDrive2 uses new sprockets and a new belt.

The new QuickDrive2 drive belt, which is unique to Polaris and has been co-developed in partnership with Gates, has a different internal structure and is longer than the QuickDrive1 belt to accommodate the different sprockets.

The result of the new design is reduced rider effort, quicker response and better lift out of the snow.

Polaris Snowmobile_
Polaris Snowmobile_-2

Mountain Sledder recently had the chance to test out some prototype 2021 Polaris sleds with QuickDrive2, and the performance is significant, especially over the chaincase drive system. Sleds outfitted with QuickDrive2 felt significantly easier to initiate a sidehill maneuver and to chance directions in tight trees. They were also much more responsive to throttle input at low speeds in particular when navigating slowly through dense areas. We experienced the benefit of the QuickDrive2 system on every different track configuration we tested.

An interesting side-effect of the QuickDrive2 belt drive system is a noticeable “whirring” noise when mashing the throttle at slower speeds. By no means is it annoying, but it is present and audible. Actually, it sounds pretty awesome—almost like some sort of futuristic vehicle from a sci-fi movie.

Polaris RMK Khaos Snowmobile_
Mountain Sledder test pilot, Sean McCaig, putting the new QuickDrive2 to the test in the trees.

QuickDrive2 will be a SnowCheck only option. Spring customers will have the option of ordering the original QuickDrive belt drive system or the QuickDrive2. Or in the case of the Series 7 3” lugged track, the choice will be either the QuickDrive2 or a conventional chaincase drive system in some configurations. However, given the performance gains we experienced, and the history of belt drive reliability, our conclusion is that we can’t see any reason why a person would choose a chaincase drive over the QuickDrive2 system.

Series 8 2.75” Lugged Track

A brand-new track from Polaris with a 2.75” lug and 3.5” pitch, called Series 8, will be available in 155” and 165” lengths.

The new track has been lightened and optimized for flex, while the lugs feature improved stiffness. The Series 8 track has been developed in partnership with Camso over the course of several years to bring it to production. Polaris says the new Series 8 track delivers better lift, traction and flotation for all types of mountain riding.

Polaris Snowmobile_-3

Again, Mountain Sledder had the opportunity to test both 2021 Polaris PRO-RMK and Khaos sleds with the Series 8 track in various lengths last week. In settled powder with a good base, the Series 8 track impressed. Traction was fantastic, and in the case of a PRO-RMK 155” x 2.75” Series 8 track model, we felt that ski lift was markedly improved and the sled felt very fun, lively and powerful. The efficiency of the track make the sled feel somewhat akin to the exuberate feeling of riding the Khaos model, while still maintaining the precision handling the PRO is known to provide. In the conditions at the time, Mountain Sledder test rider Sean said that he felt that particular model was the best handling sled of all the mountain sleds tested (and we rode them all).

Together, there is a 5 lb overall weight reduction that comes from the combination of the QuickDrive2 and Series 8 tracks.

Polaris will also continue to offer the Series 6 2.6” lugged track in 155” and 163” lengths as well for next year, for customers who insist on a 2.6” lugged track. The Series 7 track with 3” lugs will also continue to be available in many configurations.

Polaris RMK Khaos Snowmobile_-2
Polaris RMK Khaos Snowmobiles_

850 Patriot Available In-Season

Yep, that’s right. Polaris customers will now be able to get their hands on a 850 Patriot powered PRO-RMK or RMK Khaos in-season. The Liberty 800 H.O. Cleanfire has officially been retired from the mountain lineup. RIP.

2021 Polaris RMK Khaos

In addition to the QuickDrive2 and the new track option, the 2021 RMK Khaos will be available in an expanded number of configurations. As we all know, the Khaos was previously available only in a 155” track length, with the option of a 2.6” or 3” lug in its first model year. That’s now changed.

For 2021, Polaris will make the Khaos available with six different track configurations:

  • 15 x 155 x 2.6″ Series 6
  • 15 x 155 x 2.75″ Series 8
  • 15 x 155 x 3.0″ Series 7 (with chaincase or QuickDrive2)
  • 15 x 163 x 2.6″ Series 6
  • 15 x 165 x 2.75″ Series 8
  • 15 x 163 x 3.0″ Series 7

While the 155” x 3” will afford the option of choosing either a chaincase drive or QuickDrive2, all other spring orders will come with the option of the new QuickDrive2.



2021 Polaris Snowmobile Lineup – What Else is New

New 650 Patriot Engine

A new 650 Patriot Engine that shares the architecture of its 850 sibling is built to exceed the Liberty 600 Cleanfire it replaces in all ways, including durability. It delivers up to 60% better fuel efficiency, 10% more power and 14% more torque than its predecessor according to Polaris internal testing. Woah.

The crank, rods, bearings and combustion chamber are all the same as used in the 850, but everything has been balanced for the smaller displacement engine. For that reason the stroke is the same as the 850, while the bore is reduced to achieve the smaller displacement.

2021 Polaris Snowmobile_-13
2021 Polaris Snowmobile_-14

The fuel economy numbers are impressive, but understandably, the best economy is achieved at slower speeds.

  • Up to 22% when riding at 45 mph
  • Up to 40% when riding between 20-50 mph
  • Up to 60% when riding at 25 mph

If fuel economy is important to you, you’ll probably also be happy to know that the 650 Patriot has been optimized for use with 87 octane and fuels with up to 10% ethanol to help save at the pump. Oil consumption has also been decreased by 10% over the 600.

The same mounting strategy as the 850 Patriot has been used, which is effective at reducing vibration and maintaining a precise center-to-center distance between clutches.

The 650 Patriot sounds like a pretty sweet little powerplant. Unfortunately, it won’t be available in any RMK sleds for 2021. The RMK 144 ES and PRO-RMK 155 will continue to be propelled by the 600 Cleanfire for now. But let’s get real—if you’re ordering a mountain sled, you probably want the 850 anyway.

However, the new 650 Patriot will find its way in the Switchback Assault and INDY models for 2021, and will likely permeate into more models in future years.


2021 Polaris Snowmobile Lineup

So, that’s what’s new in the 2021 Polaris snowmobile lineup as far as mountain riding. Of course, Polaris leads the way with colours and options to customize a spring check sled through their SnowCheck program. There are over 100,000 different possible configurations of snowmobile available through Polaris’ SnowCheck spring order! And here’s a crazy fact for you. Last year, Polaris produced more than 5,500 sleds that had a totally unique configuration—one of ones.

2021 Polaris Snowmobile_-7

From our perspective, we’ve been pleased with the on-snow performance of these improvements to the PRO-RMK and Khaos model lineups. The QuickDrive2 is a vast improvement over the chaincase drive and better than its predecessor. And the Series 8 track has impressed in the conditions we’ve ridden it so far. Together, with a 5 lbs weight reduction, they provide a very responsive and nimble combination with excellent all-round performance that substantially improves the already impressive performance of the Polaris deep snow sleds.

And finally, with an increased choice of track lengths on the RMK Khaos model, it will be interesting to see if more PRO-RMK diehards consider the move to the more playful platform for model year 2021.

 

See the model year 2021 Polaris press release below, and stay tuned to sleddermag.com for more content on the 2021 Polaris mountain sleds to come!

 

– MS


Polaris Introduces 2021 Snowmobile lineup, Shocking the Industry with Technology, Innovation and Performance.

New Lightweight Drive System for the Mountains, Industry-Changing Performance and Control for the Trail and Unprecedented Technology Ensures Polaris Delivers the Ultimate Experience on Snow for Any Rider on Any Terrain.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN (March 2, 2020) – Experience the ultimate in performance, breakthrough technology and intelligent innovation from Polaris with the introduction of the model year 2021 snowmobiles. From the legendary trail performance of Indy and the deep snow-dominating RMK to the smooth riding and incredibly versatile Switchback and the extreme crossover capability of Titan, new riders and impassioned enthusiasts alike will find the ideal, industry-leading sled from Polaris.

With more than 100,000 customization options available through the Polaris SnowCheck program – enthusiasts can secure exclusive models such as the dominating trail performance of the all-new Indy VR1, the ultimate 50/50 crossover of the all-new Switchback Assault 146, or the all-mountain performance of RMK Khaos and the unmatched precision and predictability of PRO RMK. Spring customers can also choose powerful engine options such as the venerable 850 Patriot, now also available in-season, and the all-new 650 Patriot, along with industry-leading technology and innovation.

RMK – All-New SnowCheck Exclusive QuickDrive2 Drive System
The world’s best mountain sled lineup continues to raise the bar in 2021 with the all-new, SnowCheck-exclusive, QuickDrive2 (QD2) —a lightweight drive system. QuickDrive2 features a low-inertia design and 10% gearing reduction—resulting in reduced rider effort, an even quicker response and instantaneous lift.

Working in tandem with QuickDrive2 is a new Series 8 track available in 155” and 165” lengths. With a flex-optimized design and improved lug stiffness, the new Series 8 track delivers instantaneous lift, superior traction and optimum flotation for all types of mountain riding.

An expanded RMK Khaos lineup for 2021 will harness these new, exclusive technologies. In addition to the new QuickDrive2 and Series 8 track combinations, SnowCheck customers can also choose an all-new powder dominating RMK Khaos 163 with QuickDrive2 and Series 7 track with 3” lugs.

Not to be outdone, the king of the mountain PRO-RMK series will also be available with the low- inertia QuickDrive2 Drive System in both 2.75” and 3” lug configurations with track lengths up to 174”. Adding more performance across the entire RMK family is the expanded availability of 850 Patriot power in-season; SnowCheck available factory installed low-elevation clutching calibration; the return of the RMK EVO, designed for new riders; and the ultimate deep snow crossover SKS models.

New 650 Patriot Engine – Designed for Outstanding Durability, Unrivaled Efficiency and Exceptional Performance
After shocking the industry with the 850 Patriot, the most powerful snowmobile engine Polaris has ever built, the all-new 650 Patriot will do it again in 2021. Purpose-built to provide unparalleled durability, the new 650 Patriot delivers up to 60% improved fuel efficiency*, 10% more power* and 14%* more torque when compared to the Liberty 600. This powerful combination has the new 650 Patriot destined to become the undisputed king of the 600-class.

New Indy VR1 and Switchback Assault 146 – A New Dimension in Dominating Performance
For more than 65 years Polaris has defined and redefined the sport of snowmobiling through unprecedented innovation. This relentless pursuit continues with the introduction of the all new Indy VR1 and Switchback Assault 146 models. Both built upon the rider-first, SnowCheck- exclusive Matryx platform—they unlock an entirely new dimension of effortless rider control. The dominating trail performance of Indy VR1 combines ferocious acceleration, effortless control and intelligent technology. The Switchback Assault 146 is the ultimate 50/50 crossover delivering pure dominance on-trail and off.

The Indy VR1 and Switchback Assault 146 introduce a new level of intelligent technology surrounding the rider. The Indy VR1 and Switchback Assault 146 will boast the industry’s first 7” interactive, touch-screen display. The new 7S Display is equipped with exclusive Polaris Ride Command Technology and integrates an entirely new level of intuitive, touch-screen control and customization options featuring Ride Command mapping, Group Ride tracking and Bluetooth connectivity.

Both the SnowCheck exclusive Indy VR1 and Switchback Assault 146 will feature industry-first SmartWarmers – thermostatically controlled hand and thumb warmers. SmartWarmers utilizes temperature sensing technology to ensure a consistent, customized flow of heat regardless of ambient temperature. Joining this breakthrough technology is an all-new NightBlade projector beam LED headlight with automotive intensity and all-new Lock & Ride FLEX accessory integration.

To ensure this level of dominating trail performance and effortless control isn’t limited to just SnowCheck customers, the all-new Indy XC Launch Edition will be available in extremely limited quantities in-season. With both 850 Patriot and 650 Patriot power on tap, the Indy Launch Edition will feature the Polaris Message Center gauge package.

Titan – Most Capable Crossover Now Smoother and Quieter
Polaris Titan model is the ultimate high-performance, do-it-all snowmobile for work or play. For model-year 2021, Titan introduces further refinement to the sled’s already inspiring capability with a new, quieter track design and new driveshaft with improved driveline for reduced vibration, quieter operation and increased efficiency for a truly refined riding experience.

AXYS Platform – The Rider-Balanced Industry Benchmark for Trail and Crossover Performance
The legendary Polaris AXYS platform continues to set the industry benchmark in trail- performance. The 2021 Indy lineup leads with the racing pedigree of the Indy XCR; dominates the trails with the iconic Indy XC; delivers all-day comfort and convenience with the Indy Adventure; employs proven performance with Indy SP; offers value and trail versatility with standard Indy models; and serves up the perfect sled for emerging riders with the INDY EVO.

For those looking for the ultimate in on- and off-trail performance, Switchback continues to lead the industry with the optimum combination of rider-balanced control and performance. For riders looking for premium big-bump performance and a race-proven pedigree, Switchback XCR delivers. Those preferring a smooth riding experience will covet the incredibly refined ride quality of Switchback PRO-S. And when it comes to the ultimate in crossover performance with the ideal blend of on-trail handling and intuitive off-trail control, the much-heralded Switchback Assault gets the nod.

Outfitted with a myriad of options, including race-proven suspension designs, premium shocks and new in-season availability of the 850 Patriot, enthusiasts can also take advantage of industry-leading SnowCheck customization during the spring-order period March 2 – April 15, 2020.

Apparel and Accessories – New Polaris 509 Helmets and Revolutionary Lock & Ride Flex
More than just world-class snowmobiles, Polaris also offers the ultimate in rider gear and accessories. We’re offering an expanded lineup of technical riding gear that features our TECH54 breathable, waterproof membrane fabric technology for the ultimate in function, warmth and style.

The all-new Polaris 509 Delta R4 is the ultimate all-in-one modular design. The Delta R4 delivers exceptional fog-free vision with the Ignite dual-pane heated shield, maximum field of view with the extended-face frame face shield and ultimate convenience with glove-friendly controls, including the easy-on and easy-off magnetic FidLock chin strap.

Polaris Engineered Parts and Accessories are designed to perfectly complement Polaris snowmobiles with innovation, performance and style. For 2021, an all-new Lock & Ride Flex accessory mounting system will redefine accessory integration with our fastest, easiest and most secure mounting system. With Lock & Ride Flex riders can add, remove and mix-and- match multiple configurations of storage and passenger seating with one simple click.

*Results derived from internal Polaris testing as compared to the Liberty 600 Clearnfire engine.