Flash back one year: We've just learned about the 2011 800 Pro RMK. What's the first thing that came to your mind?
Where's the 600?
Well, that's what came to mind for us. Now jump back to today and the answer is right in front of your face.
And is it ever. The 2012 Polaris model lineup will be led by an all-new 600 Pro RMK and base 600 RMK, either 155 or 144, all in the Pro Ride chassis.
The 600 Pro RMK isn't a stripped-down version of the 800 Pro RMK built on the false premise that 600 riders don't care about premium components, either. If we were in charge at Roseau, this is the 600 mountain sled we would build. There is literally not a single difference-aside from the engine displacement-between an 800 Pro RMK and the 2012 600 Pro RMK. It gets everything-premium Walker Evans shocks, Pro Taper handlebars, 2.4-inch profile powder track, narrow-sculpted body panels and the same Team secondary clutch.
The 2012 600 Pro RMK also shares a new feature with the 800 Pro RMK (and base RMK models). Extra traction has been added to the outermost edge of the running board edge roll so that your foot has something more to grip when it's hanging off the edge.
Compared to the 2011 600 RMK, the 2012 600 Pro RMK features a 50-pound weight reduction. That mostly comes from the lightweight, rigid Pro Ride chassis. It also comes from a lightweight coil-over rear suspension with aluminum-bodied shocks, the same straight-rail skid found in the 800 Pro.
600 Pro RMK
It's difficult to list all the features of the 2012 600 Pro RMK without saying it's identical to the 800 Pro, but if you're unfamiliar with the fanfare the 800 received last year, pay attention.
Here's the full rundown on the 2012 Polaris 600 Pro RMK and RMK models:
There are three versions of the 600: Pro RMK 155 and base RMK 155 or 144.
All three feature a liquid-cooled Cleanfire 600 twin based on the 2-injector 800 found in the 2011 and 2012 800 Pro RMK.
The 600's silencer is 7 lbs. lighter than the IQ RMK 600's silencer.
The Pro RMK 600 155 weighs 431 lbs. dry, a claimed 50-pound reduction over the 2011 IQ 600 RMK.
The Pro RMK 600 has the lightweight RMK brake system with Cyclone master cylinder and single-piston caliper. The rotor is lightweight and the sled runs a lightweight jackshaft to minimize rotating mass.
The Pro Ride RMK adjustable front suspension uses Walker Evans gas shocks that are compression adjustable and rebuildable.
The RMK coil over rear suspension has Walker Evans coil over internal floating piston shocks with monotube design that are rebuildable.
The 600 Pro RMK also features the lightweight punched snowflap, carbon fiber rear bumper with extruded billet mounts and a low-profile LED taillight. A lightweight Pro Taper handlebar with mountain bar and hooks rounds out the 600 Pro RMK's features.
600 RMK 155
The 600 RMK 155 is the base model RMK, basically a stripped-down version of the Pro. It features the same chassis and engine with base shocks, handlebars and the standard brake rotor and jackshaft.
600 RMK 144
The 600 RMK 144 is a little bit different, in that it has more in common with the Switchback models. The 144 has the Switchback seat and wider running boards and a less-vertical Switchback steering post angle.
The 144's rear suspension features tipped-up rails and runs a Series 4 track with 2-inch lugs. It runs the same torsion-spring rear suspension as the Switchback.
Preliminary Ride Impression
We were fortunate enough to spend a day on the 2012 600 Pro RMK in early January in the powder at Togwotee, WY. Our first impression of the newest Polaris mountain sled is that it feels more like what we would expect out of a 700 Pro RMK, should that one ever be resurrected. But there's no need now, the 600 has the bottom-end snap and top-end pull to make up any ground a 700 would have on it.
Because of its lower track speed compared to the 800, the 600 Pro RMK just keeps going and going despite not feeling like you're flying up the slope. But it hooks up and goes a lot higher than you anticipate.
The nimble chassis is just as flickable as the 800 Pro RMK and in some cases you can make line changes quicker on the 600 than the 800 because you're not moving as fast when you see a new line out of the corner of your eye.
Other New Models
As we mentioned earlier, the only change to the 800 RMK and 800 Pro RMK is the added traction to the running board edge roll.
The Assault RMK remains largely unchanged and comes to 2012 with the improved running board edge roll grip.
The Pro Ride chassis has expanded to the Switchback models with the addition of a Switchback Assault 800, Switchback Pro-R 600 and Switchback Adventure 600.
The Switchback Assault 800 features a 144-inch track compared to the 136 found on other Switchback models. What's more, the Switchback Assault rides on a Pro Ride chassis similar to the RMK, with a full tunnel enclosure, but wider running boards. The other Switchback models feature the tubular suspension frame at the end of the sled similar to the short track Pro R sleds.
The new 600 is found in Switchback Pro-R 600 and Adventure models, making the Switchback segment of Polaris' 2012 lineup the most changed. The 2012 600 Switchback Adventure-designed to bring the dual-sport market segment to snow-comes with storage cases with removable carry inserts that the rider can take inside for overnight stays.