Although there are those who think Polaris this year is standing pat on its snowmobile line since last year's introduction of the new 800 RMK, those who closely follow the snowmobile industry have focused their attention on the significant subtleties of the Polaris line-mainly what's happening with the 600 RMKs.
As exciting as it may have been last year with the introduction of the Pro Ride line in the 800 class, Polaris has made equal improvements in this year's 600 class sleds.
Leading the way this fall are six models with the 600cc Cleanfire powerplant-three of which are designed for the deep snow segment. Two are crossover sleds in the Switchback package. The sixth one is classified as an "adventure" sled, designed in the Switchback package with the addition of a unique luggage package.
There will also be three new models in the 800cc class-two in the crossover segment in Switchback packages; the third is in the performance class in the Rush package.
In a future issue we'll focus on the all-new Pro 600 RMK . which will likely be a very popular model when sales start to heat up. But for now we're looking at the base model or the more economically-friendly version of the 600 RMK.
What makes this sled so significant in the market?
Blending the lightweight Pro Ride chassis with the fuel-efficient 600cc Cleanfire engine, the 600 RMK will capitalize on four selling points: First, it offers the perfect ride for someone who doesn't need the added horsepower of an 800; second, it will be more affordable, yet capable of going anywhere the other sleds go; third, it offers the longevity that comes with a slightly smaller engine (less horsepower means less strain on moving parts); and finally, it offers lower fuel emissions, meeting the EPA standards for 2012 . which helps Polaris maintain its EPA compliance throughout its line.
Although the 600 RMK promises to compete as a top-selling model thanks in part to a competitive and affordable price tag, it won't be the only 600 in the Polaris line that will compete well in the market. The 600 Pro RMK will likely lead the fleet of 600s with its enhanced suspension package and ProTaper bars (the 600 RMK features narrow bars with a 3.5-inch riser).
The standard 600 RMKs come with RydeFX shocks. The shock package works well in powder snow and the narrower bars may even be an advantage when it comes to handling and control. The 600 RMK 144 will be based on the Switchback line, making it more of a trail terrain model than a deep powder sled. That Switchback lineage also means the 144 uses the Switchback seat whereas the 155 gets an RMK seat.
An additional difference between the 600 144 and 600 155 is the running boards. The 155 gets Polaris' new Evac running boards, designed to prevent snow buildup on the running boards, while the 144 comes standard with Hybrid running boards, which feature fishbone tunnel reinforcements. The Evac running boards have bigger openings on the flat part of the boards so that snow can fall through more easily and buildup is minimized.
Still another difference between the two base Polaris 600s, aside from the obvious 11 inches of track, is the track lug height. The 144 is a Series 4.1 track with 2-inch deep lugs while the 155 is a Series 5.1 with 2.4-inch deep lugs.
There are also two 600s in the crossover segment (Switchback line with longer tracks for deep snow, wider ski stance for better trail handling and Walker Evans Shocks for the bumps). The final new 600 class sled by Polaris for 2012 is called the 600 Switchback Adventure-designed for cross-country touring. It comes with an advanced cargo system that allows the rider to add saddlebags and pack up to 45 lbs. conveniently.
Polaris expects the 600 RMK to be an over-achiever as far as the performance goes. It's in the same chassis and has the same features as the 2011 800 RMK. It is listed at 449 lbs., more than 30 lbs. lighter than last year's 600 RMK in the old chassis. Much of the weight savings comes from the new Pro Ride chassis but 7 lbs. of that weight savings are due to Polaris using a lighter silencer.
As for price, it's no surprise that the 600 RMK 144 is the least expensive of the 600s from Polaris with its price tag of $9,499. The longer track 155 Polaris 6 has an MSRP of $9,999. The premium model 600 Pro RMK is $10,499. Now when you compare the Polaris 600s to their competition, the Ski-Doo Summit SP 600 E-Tec 146, which retails for $10,499, they are comparable. Ski-Doo does offer a 600 with a carbureted engine with that model retailing for $7,999, but it's not really apples-to-apples when comparing it to a Cleanfire injected engine, hence the price difference between not only the Polaris to the Ski-Doo but also the Ski-Doo carb versus the Ski-Doo E-Tec.