Opinion: Rigidity vs Flexibility

Published in the December 2018 Issue March 2019 Feature Steve Janes

When it comes to deciding between the new Polaris 850 Pro-RMK and the Ski-Doo Summit 850, the tipping point of your decision likely rests in the tipping point of the snowmobile … or in other words, whether you prefer a rigid platform (RMK) or a flexible platform (Summit).

The power of both models is basically equal. Both have an 850cc engine that greatly outperforms their 800 counterparts. Both have linear powerbands which distribute the performance of the engine on a much broader curve. And both boast the latest technology from their respective manufacturers.

I spent last winter on the Summit 850 and fell in love with its power and handling characteristics. But late in the season I was able to spend some time on the RMK 850 and experienced how much better it was than its predecessor 800. Briefly I had both out together and was able to go back and forth on the two. Both had power. Both offered superb handling. Both had great rider ergonomics. Both are winners.

But it came down to riding styles and preference. This is where the two snowmobiles differ. And both have proven themselves to be extremely functional in terrain. Both will get to the same point on the sidehill … just with a little difference in how you initiate the turns.

So it comes down to whether you want the platform to “break” into a carved turn, or whether you want it to “roll” into a carved turn.

Since I had spent a lot of the winter “rolling” into terrain, I was a little more awkward on the Pro-RMK 850 since I had a tendency to over-pull the breaking point. However, those who spent more time on RMKs found it easy to over-roll into turns on the Summit.

I probably lean more to the flexible platform style of riding because of my age. (I may want to think I’m still in my 20s … but my body tends to react in slow motion nowadays.) I’m sure there are equally those who prefer the predictability of a rigid platform.

But one thing I do know: Both the Summit and Pro-RMK 850s have the best power-to-weight performance on the snow. They feel light because they are light. The powerband on both are much smoother than their 800 counterparts.

Whichever you pick, you can’t go wrong. You just need to decide which is the best way to go right.

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