RIDE IMPRESSIONS: 2010 Polaris 600 & 550 Shift

Staff Report

The Shift concept was originally designed to take Polaris customers back to the company’s roots when it offered very basically equipped sleds in a very limited model selection for a very reasonable price.

The idea was and still is: Simple is better. This is a perfect menu for a recession and even better for consumers who already own a sled but need or want a second one.

Just because the price is low, it doesn’t mean Polaris skimped on the Shift series. This year, the basic platform has been radically upgraded and both the Shift 600 and the fan-cooled 550 include the new-last-year cut-down and lightened front-end design used on the hard-to-get-hold-of 2009 SP.

Both get coupler blocks added to the skidframe, a shock upgrade and the 600 Shift has graduated from last year’s 120hp, carbureted 600 to the 4-injector Cleanfire injected rocket launcher producing 125hp. That’s a lot more sled for about a thousand smackers more.

Even the 550 Shift gets the chassis improvements this year. It’s been upgraded with a Ryde FX gas shock in the front of the skid and a Fox Position Sensitive damper in the rear. Sure, there’s no idler wheels at the rear, but this year the 550 gets coupler blocks and this is essentially the same skidframe you get on more expensive, full graphic IQ models.

Up front, the SP-style belly has shaved some weight and uses steel bodied Ryde FX gas shocks to take the hurt out of the moguls. Frankly, we’ve been really impressed with the ride quality of both 2010 IQ Shift models and feel the extra cost to get such high quality suspension components is a super-good buy.

The 550’s fan-cooled mill is a strong performer and delivers a steady 60-plus horsepower to the snow. It uses dual 34mm carbs and Nicasil coated cylinders to reduce weight. If you upgrade, the 4-injector Cleanfire mill in the Shift 600 is a wonder of smoothness and overachieving thrust. This engine, in this chassis, is a fabulous combo of perfect ergonomics, impressive acceleration and near-perfect snowmobile handling.

Certainly, with the 600 Shift, the most arduous horsepower addict would never wince at being “forced” to ride it because the “big pony” is out of service.

Likewise, either Shift is an excellent sled to put less aggressive riders on for the day. There’ll be no complaints about warmth and comfort and the suspension will hold up on the longest of the long trail rides.

Polaris has packed a lot of value into its Shift series this year and definitely upped the ante in the budget wars. Take a look.

Supertrax Online
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