2011 BEST IN CLASS: BEST CROSSOVER SLED

Brothers and Co-Publishers of Supertrax – Kent and Mark Lester debate their picks for 2011’s Best In Class Awards.

WINNER: Polaris 800 Switchback Assault 144

Mark Sez:

Here’s the deal with X-over sleds: In my opinion, buyers in this category split along two very definitive lines. First, there’s the low impact, mogul bridging crowd who appreciate a trail sled with a longer track for bump compliance and the occasional pull down a snow covered lake.

My question is this, Kent: Are these buyers really crossover customers? Be honest; I don’t think they are. However, the other group (and I hesitate to estimate what this group represents in raw numbers) is into off-trail boondocking, flatland free-riding and general deep snow mayhem away from mountains.

The new Switchback Assault absolutely kills in this “real” X-over genre. The sled is lighter this year, it’s super nimble, it’s ridiculously fast and it handles itself in bottomless snow like a full-on RMK. The ergonomics are not just better, they are the benchmark for riding flatland deep snow.

Kent, pay attention here: This didn’t happen by accident. Polaris is serious – no, deadly serious – about acing every segment it competes in against Ski-Doo.

While last year’s Backcountry X was a tough act to follow in the boonies, this year Ski-Doo owners will need binoculars to keep the Assault in sight.

The interesting issue is this: It’s not like the BC-X isn’t a good crossover. It’s a formidable player and Polaris has responded in one year with an even better boondocker.

Kent, please try to rationalize your arguments with intelligence commensurate with what’s been demonstrated by myself here.

Kent’s Response:

Say, what? Mark, what are you talking about? Where did you come up with this deal about two different kinds of crossover riders?

Sure there are maybe fifteen people out there who buy a crossover to ride it 100 percent as you stated: flatland free-riding or boondocking in powder.

Please give yourself a reality check. That market is such a small iota of what real snowmobilers do with a X-over sled it’s not even worth mentioning. Besides, there’s about a jillion mountain sleds you can buy that do the same thing better.

Furthermore, other than a few of our younger staff members, who do you know who has actually ridden the Assault? The new 800 is still a mystery engine and although all indications are it is fast, how do we know whether or not it will survive a whole year?

Suddenly you trash-can a sled everyone around here loved, the Backcountry X, and totally disregard the fact Ski-Doo really gets it by increasing flotation with a 1-inch wider track without adding extra length.

It’s still the best of both worlds: 137-inches of length and 16-wide. You can trail ride any super-light Renegade, you can go off-trail with it all day long and you can still get the benefit of one of those E-TEC mills you love so much.

Pull yourself together, for Pete’s sake.

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