BEST 2019 FLATLAND FREERIDE SLED
Supertrax Magazine Co-Publishers and Brothers Kent and Mark Lester are at it again bickering and arguing about their picks for the annual Supertrax Best In Class Awards!
WINNER: 2019 POLARIS 850 SWITCHBACK ASSAULT
Yes, I know this is the third run of the Switchback Assault and, except for a new engine, is pretty much the same as the first one.
Mark will be on this like a crow on a dead armadillo and here's my point: The competition has had three tries at exceeding this sled's prowess and hasn't been able to do it.
A combination of excellent AXYS handling and a 144-inch uncoupled skidframe that rides like a trail sled makes this version of the Assault unbeatable.
The fact we're looking at a new powerplant is moot. Sure Ski-Doo's 850 E-TEC throws temptation into the plan but frankly, I'd still take even the "old" Liberty 800 in this chassis over it.
By stirring-in the new Patriot 850 this year, Polaris took a giant flyswatter and squished flat all the naysayers about which sled is best.
The Assault is a true crossover and doesn't lean impossibly toward deep snow riding focus but instead, allows those who ride flatland powder and foothills to get there in comfort without being beat-up on the trails.
Is the Assault the best in the powder? Maybe the 'Doo 850 is a smidge better but it takes a heck of a deep snow rider to tell the diff (not Mark).
It's all about balance and all-around handling (trail and powder) and that's where the new 850 Assault gets the blue ribbon.
Mark knows this is true but is just is too stubborn to admit it.
RUNNER-UP: 2019 SKI-DOO BACKCOUNTRY 850 X-RS
This may shock Supertrax readers and hopefully Kent will not mistake what I'm about to say as some kind of willy-nilly endorsement of his mainly crackpot assertions.
I digress. I would have picked the Assault for the coveted BIC X-Over/Freerider award, myself. From my perspective it goes like this: Buyers in this segment demand more from their sled purchase than other categories.
They definitively want as close to zero compromise as possible. In other words they want a completely transparent trail riding sled and a completely competent deep snow ride with no downside in either riding genre, considering the performance parameters of this segment.
Getting this balance just right is the challenge every OEM must navigate head-on. Ski-Doo comes close – oh so close.
If they traded off a little bit of the BCX's off-trail capability for just a tiny bit more trail prowess, the outcome could be 180-degrees different.
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