Is there a more burning question in the sno-mo-biz in MY 2019?
Here’s the plan – we’re going to lay out some of the strengths and weaknesses of each sled and give you the opportunity to make an informed decision – knowing your brand loyalty will ultimately determine your conclusions.
SKI-DOO MX-Z XRS 850 129
From a production quality and assembly standpoint, the X-RS 850 is a piece of watch-like precision. Nothing in the biz equals Ski-Doo’s attention to detail and high quality finish – in a showroom shoot-out, Ski-Doo wins every time.
In our opinion, the legendary rMotion skid takes the nod by a sliver. Here’s why: The remote tunnel-mounted rear arm shock compression adjuster and rear torsion spring pre-load adjuster are incomparable making the Polaris’ traditional adjustment ritual – hands under the sled and in the skid – seem archaic.
However, we will say this – once you’ve got either sled dialed-in it’s unlikely you’ll make any changes throughout the season – unless your membership to Nutri-system put you in a different weight category during the riding season.
Front suspension? That’s a whole different story. The Ski-Doo pales in comparison to the Indy’s IFS. Ski-Doo’s rMotion skid simply overdrives Ski-Doo’s RAS 3 in this application.
Ski-Doo’s 850 E-TEC gives full measure for its 850ccs and 165 HP. This thing is a rocket and we can’t say a bad word about it. E-TEC makes the 850 almost incomparable in the fuel economy category. When ridden sanely, it sips fuel.
We also give props to Ski-Doo’s pDrive roller tower primary. It is the future and enhances every single pony the 850 Rotax pumps out. pDrive shifts with buttery smoothness and the clutch follows engine RPM with incomparable accuracy.
The Ski-Doo is a bit of a contradiction in this category. When equipped with SD’s TS tunable skis we find the G4 sometimes unpredictable, requiring the rider to “chase” the sweet spot for initial turn-in and mid-corner bite. With Pilot 5.7’s things are much more predictable and control is consistent.
POLARIS INDY XC 850 129
Polaris has moved mountains to improve fit and finish quality on the latest AXYS sleds debuted for MY 19. Having said that the paint finish on areas of the bodywork is still a little orange peely while exposed Torx screw heads at the base of the handlebar opening through the hood look cobby. We have to give the nod to Polaris for style and cutting edge graphics, though.
Numerous responses to our wildly popular Indy walk-arounds taped earlier this season contain your comments about how visually appealing the AXYS chassis looks. Ski-Doo needs to get over the yellow thing and go off the grid like Polaris has with its coloration and graphics.
We already knighted rMotion as the best rear suspension again. However, it’s worth noting that once adjusted the new Pro CC can go rail-to-rail with Ski-Doo’s rMotion. Getting your set-up takes more work with the Polaris.
Up front, there’s no question who owns suspension laurels. The AXYS chassis capably swallows everything from trail chatter to craters. You can run as fast as the new Pro CC will push the chassis and remain in control with consistent and linear feedback through the bars.
The Patriot 850 was a clean sheet of paper this year but was targeted with laser precision to compete with the Rotax 850. From a pure loud handle evaluation, the Patriot makes no apologies. It’s crazy fast, yet incredibly trail-able. While fuel economy is not and won’t be comparable to E-TEC direct injection, the engine does scavenge cleanly and runs mostly smoke-free once warmed.
Of special note is the new drive belt used by the Patriot 850. Polaris claims up to 7500 miles of service! We’re watching our 850 press fleet carefully. One more thing about the 850 Patriot: It aces the SD 850 in the vibration category.
The Patriot’s new-design engine mounts virtually eliminate vibration at idle while the G4 Ski-Doo rattles and vibrates its hood and ski tips in a way not commensurate with the sophistication we have come to expect from Ski-Doo.
The Polaris IFS is complimented by the new Pro CC and will make you look and feel like a better rider. Polaris got the handing equation figured out some time ago and subtle tweaking has only made it better. This system turns-in, and progressively cuts harder than anything in the biz with intuitive predictability. The Polaris variable castor IFS system is the setup all others must be judged by.
So go ahead and make your own conclusions and don’t forget to factor the all-important MSRP equation when you compare these two ultra-high-performance, superb snowmobiles.