New model releases are the highlight of our season here at SnoWest. It’s usually early January in some undisclosed location where you’d least expect a major manufacturer to be hiding prototypes of something they’ve been working on for years.
The release usually begins with a powerpoint presentation over breakfast, and then we suit up and spend the day getting acquainted with what could be your next purchase.
Well, that’s how it’s been for the past decade or so. This year, however, everything has been turned upside-down. Schedules have been messed up and travel has been restricted. However, we still managed to find a way to get seat time on some of the new iron for 2022.
It was obvious when Polaris began its 2022 mountain sled introduction that they were setting the table for something big. Their presentation started in a very calculated manner, first touching on the evolution of its purpose-built mountain sleds going back to the 2002 Vertical Edge, the 2007 Dragon, 2011 Pro RMK and 2016 AXYS RMK.
This presentation had “new platform” written all over it.
Great. This is what we have been waiting for and what we honestly expected last year, as Polaris had typically been running on 5-year cycles. But, 2021 came and went with a sixth year of AXYS RMK mountain sleds. So you can imagine the excitement at seeing not just a new platform (Matryx RMK), but also the Matryx RMK Slash and Patriot Boost.
So for 2022 we get a new Matryx RMK platform that is the next generation from the AXYS platform. And we get an extremely aggressive backcountry version in the Matryx Slash. And to fuel that fire, we get a factory turbocharger option for the 850 Patriot.
This is the biggest new model development plan Polaris has ever done.
With limited space, we won’t go into a lot of detail how this has rippled changes throughout the entire Polaris lineup. That information will come in future articles as we move into the 2021-22 snow season. For now we will focus on just three of the new Matryx sleds—the RMK 850, Slash RMK 850 and Slash RMK 850 Boost.
Matryx RMK 850
The first thing you notice while looking at the new 2022 Matryx RMK, aside from the body work, is the one-piece formed tunnel with its tapered close-off and lifted bumper. This is significant for a number of reasons.
First, the tunnel incorporates a new cooling system that no longer runs the length of the tunnel. The cooling system on the 2022 Matryx RMK extends only back to about the rear suspension hanger (about 8 inches rear of the fuel tank). This design accomplishes two things. It centralizes the weight of the cooling system and its fluid, and prevents the rear section of the tunnel from warming up and melting snow into slush, which turns into ice, which collects snow and turns into carried weight.
Second, the shorter tunnel, as we’ve seen, greatly improves deep snow maneuverability and the sled’s ability to keep moving forward as the track digs deeper for traction.
Third, the tunnel has a unique tapered close-off. If you look at an overhead view of the tunnel, you’ll see what we mean. The tunnel is not square at the tail end. Rather, it tapers in at the back corners, further reducing the profile of material that drags in deep snow.
Fourth, the rear bumper is much easier to reach down and get a hold of, although we’d argue now that with the shorter tapered tunnel you’ll be grabbing the rear bumper less and less.
The next big thing that stands out is the seat and tank, but we’ll actually circle back to what we mentioned earlier and that is the body work. Yes, this is the Matryx RMK. And while it does share a similar body appearance with the Matryx trail sleds, it does not share the same side pieces.
The Matryx RMK body work is extremely narrow and has a much lower profile. The trail version is designed to deflect wind out away from the rider. The RMK version is designed to be as slim as possible to reduce snow drag in sidehill maneuvers.
Okay, with that covered now we can move along to the seat and tank.
If you look at the side profile of the 2021 AXYS RMK and compare it to the 2022 Matryx RMK, you can see that the seat and tank have moved forward a bit, opening up space behind the seat for your foot to swing over. The Matryx RMK seat is about an inch lower than the AXYS RMK seat, and the Matryx RMK seat extends further forward, closer to the fuel cap. So you have as much or more seating area, but the seat is in a better position for mountain riding. The fuel tank is also slimmer so you get better rider ergos. The less stuff is in your way, the less effort you have to exert to move around on the sled as you change lines.
The front and rear suspension are very similar to what was on the 2021 AXYS RMKs. The front end is the React suspension with updated shock valving specs. The skid frame is the same as well, also with updated shock valving specs. There is a new drive shaft, driver configuration and track that replace the existing 2.75 Series 8 track setup.
Another significant change is the fixed toe hook is gone. You now have an adjustable toe hook that has three positions—or it can be removed altogether. This comes with the new Powerdertrac XT running board design.
Finally, all Matryx RMK models come from the factory with a tether. All Matryx RMK models also come with QuickDrive2 and are available with either the Series 8 2.75-inch track or Series 7 3-inch track. Some base model 155 variants will also feature the Series 6 track.
So, how does the Matryx RMK 850 feel out on the snow?
The good thing for Polaris riders is that this is not an all-new ride feel. It has the very characteristic Polaris RMK feel, albeit more of an RMK 2.0 feel. The Matryx RMK retains the rigid ride, where any input you put into the running boards or bars goes to the snow without much flex (I.e. wasted input). Since the front and rear suspensions are largely the same as the current AXYS RMK sleds we’re on, it retains that similar ride.
What’s different—and noticeably so—is the weigh centralization. The Matryx is actually a couple pounds heavier than an AXYS RMK. But—and this is a big but—the Matryx RMK rides and drives like it’s much lighter than the AXYS RMK.
Matryx Slash RMK 850
The Slash takes the Matryx RMK and goes into the ultimate category with a couple key things. Polaris calls the Slash the “ultimate” in lift, control and thrust: The tunnel is 5 inches shorter on the Slash than the Matryx RMK, which is 3 inches shorter than the AXYS RMK. The tunnel also features the tapered close off.
The Slash has an even shorter cooling system. Where the Matryx RMK’s cooler extends 8 inches rear of the end of the fuel tank, the Matryx Slash RMK’s cooler ends at the end of the fuel tank. This shorter design (which is intended for deep snow use) centralizes mass even more beyond that of the Matryx RMK, and keeps the tunnel free of snow and ice build up (which results in a lighter sled as the ride goes on).
High-end goodies, such as the 7S Ride Command display and WER Velocity Shocks, are available on the Slash. And, the Slash is the only way you can equip your 2022 Matryx RMK with Patriot Boost.
Matryx Slash RMK 850 Boost
This factory turbo system is very different than what the competition released last year. Polaris’s Patriot Boost system does not cap boost at a specific elevation. This is not just an altitude-compensating turbocharger system. Patriot Boost is all that plus some.
So, what’s it like to swing a leg over the 2022 Polaris Matryx Slash RMK 850 Boost? Unreal. This is where things get off the hook.
We use the word unreal for a specific reason: we’re still trying to absorb this into our reality out here in the West.
Take everything we said about the Matryx Slash RMK and add a factory turbo system with over 9 psi of boost on tap. And not just your typical boost. The 2022 Matryx Slash RMK Boost features SmartBoost Combustion Control System, a scalloped reverse-rotating turbine with patent-pending exhaust and waste gate system, intake reed cage and new clutches.
It drives like a stock naturally aspirated 850 though the creek bottoms, bumpy trails, sidehills and everywhere else you’re driving on low rpm. But just like a Gogurt, the more you squeeze, the more you get.
The turbo comes on like a lipo-powered brushless motor and pulls strongly but smoothly. You get the track speed you need in sticky situations without the hit that tends to knock your weight off balance.
Beyond that, you get boost that doesn’t stop. There is no elevation cutoff on the Matryx Slash RMK Boost. It builds boost at 1,000 feet and at 10,000 feet. This sled has a 10-percent power increase at sea level over an NA 850 Patriot, and a 50-percent power increase at 10,000 feet. And boost isn’t capped until upwards of 9.5 psi.
Watch our YouTube channels for more reviews and info on the 2022 Polaris Matryx RMK models. Sorry, gotta go hit the snow again on this beast.