700 Dragon Switchback Rear Suspension Issue

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Dear Motorhead:

Last year I purchased a 2008 Polaris 700 Dragon Switchback and a 2008 Polaris 600 IQ Shift. One of the main reasons that I purchased the Switchback was because I read a number of articles stating how smooth of a ride the rear suspension provided.

Apparently I don’t have something adjusted properly on the rear suspension as I seem to get a lot of “kickback” when riding on rough trails. In fact, I found the the IQ Shift to provide a much smoother ride in those situations. Considering that I paid $3,000 more for the Switchback, I assumed the ride would be smoother.

I weigh approximately 235 lbs (w/snowmobile gear) and have the torsion spring adjustment set to “medium” (4.5″ sag). I’ve made the adjustments you suggested to me last year by opening the rear coupler block as follows:

I removed it and put it in the rear lower hole. Then I rotated the rear block so the skinny side is facing the drop link. Resulting in the least coupling in the rear-to-front direction.

I’ve taken the compression damping clicker to full soft (all the way out) and then moved it in one click which seemed to give me the best overall ride to date.

However, it still does not ride as smooth as the IQ Shift or for that matter my old sled (2002 XCSP 500 w/M-10). It almost seems that the torsion springs are weak as there is 2-3″ of lift play in the rear suspension.

Another guy told me that perhaps the preload on the front shock in the rear suspension needs to be increased. Any thoughts or ideas would be appreciated.


700 Dragon Soreback (Switchback)
Sam Halker


Thanks for your email!

Okay, thankfully the things I suggested made a difference for you! The pressure is off. I’ve re-read your letter and thought about it since yesterday.

I am wondering if your weight (235 lbs) and the springs set in the middle with the coupling moment backed way off is not creating bottoming which you are interpreting as kick-back. Bottoming can generate kickback under some conditions.

Here’s what I would try. Take some good old wheel bearing grease and put a glob on the torsion spring bail on the upper rear arm. Go for a ride on trails which create the ‘kick-back” you’re experiencing.

After a short ride get down and look at the snubbers on the slide rail and see if the grease is transferred onto the snubber. If there’s lots of it you are definitely bottoming and need either more spring or more coupling.

I would go up one click to full hard on the torsion spring first. Then rotate the rear coupler to the fat side forward but leave it in the lower (back ) position. You are a pretty hefty boy and the settings you are using seems to me to be a bit soft for your weight – In particular on rough trails.

See what you learn from these tweaks. You can also add in some compression damping one click at a time. I can’t see you getting severe kick-back with the settings you are using and your ride weight. It doesn’t make sense to me. I suspect you’re bottoming hard and “bucking” off the bump stops.

Hope this helps!

Motorhead Mark

Thanks for getting back to me. My weight that I gave you may have been a little off. I just weighed myself at 217 lbs and by the time I add for gear the total weight is probably closer to 225 lbs as opposed to the 235 lbs I stated previously. Don’t know if that difference would have much of an impact on your recommendations or not. We’ll be taking a family snowmobile trip to our place in Gaylord, Michigan between Christmas and New Years and I’ll try what you have suggested and let you know what I find out.

When I ride my son’s 2008 IQ Shift with the torsion springs set to medium it is a much more plush of a ride compared to my 2008 700 Dragon Switchback which seems to ride like a board. I looked up the ratings of the torsion springs and the Shift is 11# and the Dragon Switchback is 12.5 #. Even though the IQ Shift has lighter torsion springs in it, I’ve never really noticed either one ever bottoming out but perhaps the Dragon Switchback is as you suggested.

The dealer said it is because the IQ Shift uses “oil-filled” shocks and the Dragon Switchback uses “gas-filled” on the rear suspension and that is why the ride is smoother on the IQ Shift. Honestly, I have a hard time believing that one would have to spend more money on gas-filled shocks just so they can get a rougher ride. I’ve had others ride both sleds and they all agree that the Dragon Switchback does not ride near as nice as the IQ Shift.

I noticed a lot of what I will call “automatic sag” after the snow gets in the rear suspension in that you can lift the back of the suspension 2-3” and then it sags back down when you let go. When we are done riding we pull the sled into a heated garage and when the snow & ice melts from the rear suspension, the automatic sag goes away. I had a guy tell me that the preload needs to be increased on the front rear suspension shock but I have not tried that yet.

The other thing that makes it tough to swallow is the IQ 600 Shift not only rides better on the trails, it will beat the Dragon 700 Switchback in a head-to-head race. I wish I would of known these things before I spent the extra $3,000 on the Dragon Switchback.

My old sled was a 2002 XCSP 500 w/M-10 and the dealer’s salesman told me the Switchback would ride way better than my old sled. Well, the ride quality doesn’t come anywhere close to my old sled and the fact that there is not much cushion in the seat doesn’t help matters either. The IQ Shift is comparable in ride quality to my old sled, however Polaris sure missed the mark with the Dragon Switchback.

Thanks for your help,

Sore Back Sam

One more thing – for the ultimate fix have your rear skid shocks (both) sent to a reputable shock service centre and revalved softer – that’ll make the diff you’re looking for.

Gas shocks are not inherently “stiffer” – it’s all about the valve code. The shocks on the Shift are cheap gas bag units with little compression damping – that’s why they ride so smooth.

Get a shock tuner to set your rear arm shock so that the softest setting you have it set on now is the hardest and then you can go backward from there with the clicker. It’s a common complaint. Polaris knows the Dragons are stiff.


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