colors, hot rod power and a lot of bling ... sounds about right for a
mid-life crisis. But there's more to Project MLC than that.
Polaris introduced its 2011 Pro RMK, we thought the peak of mountain
snowmobile performance had been reached.
you can always count on the aftermarket to improve anything.
with a first-year model is also tricky when you're building a custom
machine. Aftermarket companies can't build parts until they have a
machine that they can tear apart and that usually means late fall.
That was the case as we set out to build Project MLC. In fact, our
Polaris Pro RMK 155 was the sled that Boondocker used to develop its
first Pro turbo kit. Pretty impressive when you consider too that
Boondocker techs Jared Sessions and Tony Jenkins installed the kit
for the first time during the Intermountain Snowmobile Show and did
it in two hours. And if you think that it was a quick install that
skipped a few steps, Project MLC left the show and went straight to
Wyoming for an early season ride.
before we made it that far, we had to get physical. That means the
day after we picked up our 2011 Pro RMK from Rexburg Motor Sports, we
started tearing it apart. Many people have commented about the irony
of how some service tech at the dealership busted his butt to get the
sled assembled and set up just in time for us to pick it up and undo
everything he did.
we replaced the red side panels with black ones from Polaris and we
left the foam lining off of the black panels to shed a few ounces. We
removed the hood and pulled the foam off it as well. All that foam
added up to a 2-lb. savings.
we removed the headlight and put it in a box-another 3.25 lbs
saved. We peeled the stock graphics off of any remaining places and
removed the running board edge rails, bumpers, hood vents, handlebar
clamp and spindles so they could be powdercoated in various Starburst
colors. Once we got the colored parts back from Ace Powder Coating in
Idaho Falls, ID, we reassembled the sled to "stock"
condition and loaded it into the trailer for the Intermountain
Snowmobile Show Build
the show in Salt Lake City, UT, Jeff Hawksworth from Skinz Protective
Gear installed SPG front and rear bumpers and Airframe seat. The
front bumper provides a very sturdy protection element and strong
grab point for pulling on a stuck sled. The SPG rear bumper adds some
weight compared to the stock carbon fiber tube bumper, but durability
is critical in a rear bumper-especially the way we ride these sleds
in the trees. The Airframe seat gives us a very
mountain-riding-friendly feel with a very trick look and added
storage with the SPG bag.
mentioned, the Boondocker crew installed the pump gas turbo kit
(including clutch components, Control Box and Electronic Boost
Controller or EBC). One thing that was new for 2011 is how Boondocker
pre-assembles the turbo kits at the factory so your installation job
is simplified. That was one of the reasons we wanted to see if the
turbo kit could be installed in a two-hour time frame. Typically,
turbo kits could take anywhere from eight hours to a couple of days
to install. But having them pre-assembled with clear instructions and
capable technical support readily available by phone has cut a lot of
labor time out of the process.
keys to Boondocker's turbo kits being so successful are the timing
key, exclusive TPS-Smart Electronic Boost Controller, Control Box
with 3D tuning, a deep-snow tunnel exhaust outlet design, new Torque
Building Air Box, No-Spill oil tank, intercoolers and cold air
3D tuning builds a three-dimensional fuel map based on boost, engine
rpm and throttle position (rather than a two-dimensional map based on
just two data inputs). The 3D tuning and timing key is what makes the
turbo run clean and crisp like a stock engine prior to boost and
seamlessly roll into boost power without a hiccup, lean spot or
the Intermountain Snowmobile Show, we also had one side of our
ArcticFX custom-colored "Broken Arrow" wrap installed by
Dan Adams, an ArcticFX-sponsored Pro rider who has installed more
than his fair share of wrap kits over the years.
Line Products' Dustin Pancheri installed a set of white Powder Pro
skis on Project MLC. Initially, we weren't sure if we'd stick with
the Powder Pros once we hit the snow. It all depended on how the new
chassis handled. But we can tell you that we never pulled them off.
They are absolutely outstanding for the Pro RMK chassis. Pancheri
also helped install a set of Stomp Grip pads to the tunnel sides,
which are an adhesive-backed pad that has knobs on it that you can
use to grip the sled with the inside of your boots. SLP carries Stomp
Grips and Stomp Grip seat covers.
Snowmobile Show Build
few weeks later, and with three more good October/November mountain
rides on Project MLC, we loaded up and went to the Idaho Snowmobile
Show in Boise, ID, for another round of installs.
Durbin, Lance Robinson and Larry Chess of RSI Racing installed a set
of 5-inch rise handlebars and gel-wrap grips with RSI grip heaters.
We cut about half an inch off each end of the bars to narrow up the
controls a bit. The gel-wrap grips provide great grip and comfort
while absorbing vibrations.
Racing Products provided a set of lightweight A-arms for Project MLC
and Carl's Cycle service technicians Bill and Kevin came over to the
show to install them for us. The upper A-arm on the Polaris uses a
threaded ball joint to adjust the spindle's camber. Carl's Cycle
recommends having any installation or adjustment done by someone who
knows how to properly set up the camber angle or the sled's handling
will go out the window.
Racing Shox sent a set of Float EVOL air shocks for the front end of
Project MLC and the Carl's Cycle techs installed those along with the
Holz arms. The Fox Float EVOLs are the best of both worlds of air
shocks: they are lightweight and benefit from the external "Extra
VOLume" chamber to maintain the shock's performance under
grueling conditions. We also installed a set of Fox Shox on the stock
rear suspension initially to test and ride quality was superb. We
found a comfortable setting with 65 psi in the main chamber of the
ski shocks and 160 psi in the EVOL chamber. We ran 110 psi in the
main chamber of the rear track shock with 200 psi in its EVOL
chamber. That gave us a plush ride at speed down a rough, shelled out
trail and performed very well off-trail in deep fluff and steep
MLC needed the ArcticFX graphics installed on the other side at Boise
and Dan Adams' wife, Irina, took care of that task.
again, Project MLC left the show in a trailer headed for big
mountains and deep snow. This time, Boondocker took it to Colorado
for some November riding and more testing.
the season progressed, we added more parts. We took the sled over to
Jackson, WY, where we installed a Gizmo cooling system enhancement
kit from Redneck Racing. The Gizmo serves as a bypass valve that
keeps cooled-off coolant in the tunnel heat exchangers from
circulating through a still-hot engine after the sled has sat for a
few minutes. The Gizmo circulates the coolant that is in the front or
engine portion of the cooling system and slowly bleeds in cold
coolant from the tunnel as the engine temp steadies out. The Gizmo
comes into play when the sled is first started in the morning, too,
shortening the cooling circuit the same way, which allows the engine
to reach operating temperature more quickly. That is key to
preventing piston scuffing and engine damage or failure. We were very
pleased with how the sled's cooling system operated with the Gizmo
late addition to Project MLC was a full Mtn. Tamer rear suspension
from Timbersled Products, complete with black IceAge slide rails and
Fox Float shocks.
Allen Mangum travelled to our backyard to install the skid in Project
MLC and stuck around for a couple of days to ride the sled and make
any ride quality adjustments. The Mtn. Tamer rear suspension is light
(lighter than the stock rail by a couple of pounds) and gives the
rider a wide range of adjustment in ride quality and weight transfer
control. The Mtn. Tamer features a sealed, greasable slide mechanism
on the rear arm with a knob for coupling control with infinite
adjustment capability. The Mtn. Tamer is a tried and proven piece of
dedicated mountain hardware.
a few months of riding, we had a sag in the running boards. We
installed a set of Better Boards running board inserts and Lincoln
County Customs helped us install a set of custom-made tunnel
did all of these modifications and bolt-on products leave us with a
better sled than we started with?
Our riding preferences lead us into trees, ugly canyons and long
sidehills. The added power from the Boondocker turbo means you can go
more places, go deeper into the canyon, go farther on the sidehill
and get out of trouble spots like you could not do on a stocker.
improvements to the chassis, controls and seat made Project MLC very
user-friendly for aggressive backcountry riding. Nothing is in the
way, the bars are just the right height and the sled is easy to
manipulate in sticky situations.
the suspension upgrades made it a machine that you could hammer
through the war zone leading up the mountain and still be completely
functional once you're off making your own tracks. We could control
weight transfer, nose weight, coupling, rebound and compression
damping and could make any changes we needed to the sled's overall
power to handling and everything in between, Project MLC is the
prefect combination of components and a core platform for the
mountain rider who's going through a mid-life crisis of his own.