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Tim Bender set out to transform front end geometry several years ago in order to get a competitive handling front end on the Polaris snocross sled. This was an interactive program where the factory engineers provided some computer simulations and Tim, with Hentges Team Engineer Sean Ray, designed and fabricated pieces. After a number of tests and trials with different hardware, they finally felt they had a front end that showed a marked improvement. The top Polaris Pro-teams formed a “Performance Alliance” where Tim and his crew in New York spend the summer fabricating parts and building engines for all the teams.
Last summer Tim produced 33 front end kits for the Hentges, Judnik, LaVallee and Carlson teams, as well as a few independents. The kit consists of a new upper A-arm and a mounting plate that moves this arm 3-inches further up. This required a 3-inch taller ski spindle and change in the steering post and steering arms. The steering post now has a universal joint in it to move the handlebars into a better angle. Steering geometry is also progressive, which means it is lighter in the center and heavier at the end of the steering movement. There is no swaybar on snocross machines because each ski has to handle the rough bumps independently. Roll, therefore, has to be controlled by the arm geometry and the roll center movement alone.
Riders took advantage of the “flatter” ride in the corners to stay competitive through the season. The Hentges Team had the best result with Kody Kamm finishing 2nd in points in the Open Class, despite this being only his second year in the top Pro Class. Ross Martin, a title favorite, suffered an early season injury, but all the “Alliance” teams had top finishes in the final points standings.
So what do Tim and Polaris have planned for next season? Of course he wouldn’t tell me details, but I know Tim well, and development never stops on the top level. He has proven he knows how to keep his teams at the sharp edge of winning performance.
We can probably expect a further upgrade and detail improvement on the front suspension. There were hints about lighter ski spindles and stronger A-arms. The team is also working hard on hole- shot performance. Tim has some tricks for the rear suspension that work well off the line. The “Alliance” has proven to be an effective Team Polaris effort, and with a number of talented drivers coming up through the ranks, Polaris is starting to look more like the “Steam Roller” of the old days, but Cat and Ski-Doo have innovations of their own that are helping to heat up the Front End Handling Wars.