As much as Polaris is on a roll since releasing the Pro RMK two years ago, we didn't really expect huge changes to the 600 and 800 Pro-based RMK models for a while.
Boy, were we surprised.
Polaris unveiled its 2013 lineup with more than a dozen changes to the Pro RMK chassis that netted a 14-pound weight reduction. But not only is it lighter, it's rolling on an OEM first-a belt drive gear set. Another first-extruded running boards. Oh, and don't forget the carbon-fiber tubes that make up the chassis' overstructure-another OEM first.
And outside of the mountain lineup, we were more than surprised to see that Polaris is bringing back a staple that helped make the brand so popular in the 80s and 90s. The 2013 season marks the return of the Indy.
In a season where snowmobile sales are up five percent through December-and up 24 percent in the Deep Snow model segment-Polaris again sits atop the industry bestseller list with the 800 Pro RMK 155. The 800 Pro RMK 163 and 600 Pro RMK 155 are also in the top echelon. The industry-at least for the past several years-is following the model of "as the West goes, so goes the industry."
But let's not stray from the meat and potatoes of what's coming next season for mountain riders.
The 2013 800Pro RMK 155 will see a dry weight reduction of 14 lbs., going from a dry weight of 431 lbs to 417 lbs. (The 800 Pro RMK 163 and 600 Pro RMK 155 get these same updates.)
The bulk of the weight reduction comes from an all-new QuickDrive low-inertia belt-drive system that replaces the chain drive and case. The QuickDrive is 5.5 lbs lighter than the chaincase and an additional pound is saved when you factor in the oil, seals and related parts. So 6.5 lbs of the 14 lb reduction comes right out of the center of the sled-and in the drivetrain.
Additional weight reduction comes in smaller increments in a handful of areas. A new driveshaft is lighter thanks to bonding technology. Three carbon fiber tubes (not carbon fiber wrapped aluminum) are used to construct the over structure in the chassis. The A-arms now have bonded aluminum ends (like the tubular components of the Pro chassis are), eliminating the steel welding and arm ends. The Pro Lite RMK seat has been shortened (length-wise), which makes it easier to move around the sled and reduces weight by 1.5 lbs.
The full list of updates is limited to the 2013 800 Pro RMK and Pro RMK 600. The Assault will stick with the chaincase for 2013 due to the fact that as a race sled, it's more prone to gearing changes-something that won't be available on the QuickDrive for the coming year at least. But it gets the rest of the updates for an overall weight reduction compared to the 2012 Assault.
Running Board Mania
A lot of talk lately goes after running board design. Traction, snow evacuation, durability and serviceability have become big talking points in the West.
Polaris took a new approach for 2013 with its Powder Trac running boards. Rather than using integrated running boards that are produced as a section of the tunnel material-stamped sheet aluminum-the 2013 Pro RMK and Assault feature extruded aluminum running boards that are a separate piece from the tunnel. The running board is extruded and then machined into the board. The outer edge rail is no longer a separate piece. The result is a stronger, more rigid board that has huge snow evac openings and superior traction. The board itself can be replaced without having to cut the tunnel.
Polaris separated the kill switch from the throttle block, so it can be mounted a little farther down the bar so it will be protected from branches and bodies that can accidentally kill the engine or break off the kill switch (it comes from the factory in a position that is still readily accessible for what it's designed for-quick engine kills).
So the question is, how does a 417-pound Pro RMK handle? Well, if you look at our Deep Powder Challenge stats, the 2012 800 Pro RMK 155's real-world ready-to-ride wet weight is 550 lbs. So the 2013 should weigh in at 536 lbs full of fuel and oil. That means the real question is how does a 536-lb Pro RMK handle?
We had two days' worth of seat time on the 2013 800 Pro RMK 155, 163 and 600 Pro RMK 155. The weight reduction is evident when you throw a leg over the seat and start carving through the trees. The front end-where 12.5 of the 14 pounds came off of-feels lighter and comes up a little easier. One of the engineers explained it like this: The front of the sled got lighter. You are in the same position on the sled. So the result is going to be a front end that responds quicker and easier.
The 2013 800 Pro RMK and 600 Pro RMK feel much more responsive and feel like they have a few extra horsepower. That's partly because of the belt drive efficiency, but mostly just because of the weight.
So what's all the talk of the Indy comeback?
There are two 2013 Indy models: 600 Indy and 600 Indy SP (even the SP tag returns.).
Both models feature the liquid-cooled Cleanfire 600 SDI engine and ride in the Pro-Ride chassis. The 600 Indy features RydeFX MPV shocks all the way around, Indy skis and a 15x121x.91-inch Shockwave track.
The 600 Indy SP features Fox IFP shocks, Pro-Steer skis and a 15x121x1-inch HackSaw track.
Why Buy Early?
Once again, if you choose to take advantage of Polaris' Snow Check Select program, you get exclusive options, such as track length and lug height on specific models, color options and graphics as well as the certainty of getting the model you want.