Aggressive vs. Not-So-Aggressive

February 2020 Feature Lane Lindstrom

We’ve danced around the topic of the Polaris Pro RMK vs. the Polaris SKS in a couple of issues this season but haven’t really dived into the nitty gritty about which sled would be best for what kind of rider.

So if you were to ask us the difference between the two and riding styles we would suggest it’s aggressive/technical (Pro RMK) vs. non-aggressive/less technical ish (SKS). Someone might want to argue that point but the bottom line is the SKS has a different purpose on the snow and, thus, a different rider in mind. The Pro RMK is designed for those riders who thrive off-trail and look for the deepest snow and nasty drainages. The SKS can tackle those conditions but it’s not where the rider wants to spend most of his time. The SKS rider wants to dabble off-trail but not generally spend all his riding time there.

Many of the Pro RMK and SKS features are the same but there are two significant reasons/differences that speak to each model’s strengths. For the purpose of this article, we’ll look at Pro RMK and SKS with the 800 Liberty Cleanfire H.O. engine and 155-inch track.

Ski Stance—A Matter Of Inches

We made the point earlier this season that anyone who has spent any amount of time trail riding knows a wider front end/ski stance offers a flatter ride in the corners and more stability on the trails. Conversely, if you prefer the steep and deep, a narrower front end/ski stance is better off-trail because you can maneuver a bit easier in the powder, through the trees and in off-camber situations. You sacrifice a some handling on trail with a narrower front end but most western riders are okay with that because they prefer the off-trail capabilities of today’s mountain sleds.

Having said all that, sledders have some latitude when it comes to how narrow—or wide—they can adjust the front end of their Polaris sled. The adjustable ski stance on the SKS offers three positions: 39, 40 or 41, inches while the Pro RMK 155 ski stance’s three settings are 36, 37 or 38 inches. So even at its narrowest, the SKS can’t get quite as skinny as the Pro RMK nor can the Pro RMK, at its widest, meet the narrowest setting of the Pro RMK. While an inch or two doesn’t seem like much, it can make a lot of difference off-trail, especially in the off-camber spots where you need to pull the sled up on its edge and keep it there. That inch or two might also mean the difference between making it through the trees or not. A wider setting also affects the geometry of the front suspension.

None of this is to say that the SKS is not capable off-trail because it is, just not in most very technical riding spots. Maybe a better way to say it is that in those technical spots, it’s easier to maneuver the Pro RMK both physically and dimensionally than the SKS.

Now if you’re headed cross country over wide-open spaces in moderately deep snow, the SKS is a great option because of its wide front end. It won’t dive as much as a narrower sled.

A Weighty Matter

At 408 lbs. dry, the Pro RMK has a 37-pound weight advantage over the SKS (445 lbs. dry). That is a significant advantage, especially off-trail in deep snow and tight spots where you’re continually pulling the sled up on its edge and hopping from side to side. You would be less tired at the end of the day if you were to ride the Pro RMK compared to the SKS in similar conditions. The biggest part of that weight savings is in the drive system where the Pro RMK features Polaris’ exclusive QuickDrive belt drive system and the SKS a traditional chaincase. Along with being lighter, a belt drive system is more efficient than a chaincase and a bit more responsive when you press the throttle.

Finally, the 800 Pro RMK has two track options (15x155x2.6 Series 6 and 15x155x3.0 Series 7) and the SKS three: 15x155x2.25-inch Peak, 15x155x2.6-inch Series 6 fully clipped and 15x155x2.4-inch Series 5.1). That means the SKS purchaser has an additional option and can get the track best suited to his riding style. We prefer the Series 6 track. 

SKS (155x2.6 Series 6) MSRP: $13,799

Pro RMK (155x2.6 Series 6) MSRP: $13,199

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