2017 Polaris 800 Switchback Assault 144
I had the chance to put the Polaris 800 Switchback Assault 144 to the test over three weekends. The 2017 edition has brought many improvements to this snowmobile. I am going to make you discover the wonders on this hybrid machine designed to have fun on trail as well as off trail.
The most important difference in the Switchback Assault lineup this year is without doubt the introduction of the AXYS chassis. It provides more rigidity and lightness all while offering a higher riding position. This way, the pilot can get up more easily in bumpy trails or when a urge for jumping off into deep snow occurs. As I also tried the previous model, I assure you that the AXYS chassis makes an extraordinary difference in matter of riding experience.
Polaris offers two engines to propel this machine : the 600cc and the 800cc. My trial machine was equipped with the 800 Cleanfire H.O. engine, developed jointly with the AXYS platform for an optimized mounting position that improves the balance of the chassis and the overall balance of the snowmobile. This engine offers great power and generous torque. In this very light snowmobile (only 207 kg/456 lbs), the engine provides very good accelerations, strong pick-ups when exiting turns and it makes the skis lift as you wish!
To take full advantage of this powerful engine, Polaris offers the P-85/TEAM LWT clutches for quick and effective engagement. Strong and with increased lifetime, this system is very efficient silent.
With the AXYS chassis comes the new IGX 144 rear suspension for off-trail agility and balance inspired from the RMK, and also for improved trail riding.
The standard Walker Evans front and rear shocks are easy to adjust with the knob located above the remote reservoirs. The PRO-STEER skis with redesigned keel and runners react perfectly on all types of terrain and let the pilot connect directly with the machine.
Two tracks are available for this snowmobile : the Cobra track of 3,4 cm/1.35 in. or the Series 4 track of 5 cm/2.0 in. The trial machine was equipped with the track of 5 cm/2 in. and I must say that it is more convenient for my 50/50 type of riding. Combined with the chassis and the rear suspension, the track is very supple on trail all while being aggressive enough to jump off into powder snow, in deep powder snow.
Controls are adequately located on the handlebar and with their good size, they are easy to operate with gloves on. The digital gauge is easy to use and offers easy reading of the numerous data.
To provide good support to the pilot, the seat is both soft and firm for increased comfort. Being narrower, it is perfectly balanced to offer the required support on trail and the minimal support off trail. Also, the gripper material helps the pilot to stay in place.
The standard tunnel bag is convenient and large enough to bring your lunch, a bottle of water and spare items. The sealed zippers make it waterproof.
The new PowderTrac running boards are very rigid. They offer good grip and snow/ice clean-out (56 % more open space than previous ones).
The 2017 Polaris 800 Switchback Assault 144 has impressed me very positively. As I like both on-trail riding and off-trail riding, I know that it is hard sometimes to find a snowmobile that performs at all times. We often have to choose one or the other. Or else, we get one of each category (if we can afford it). However, I must say that with the 800 Switchback Assault, we can own one of the best compromises to get performances on trail as much as off trail… Hours of fun with this most versatile snowmobile!
Team SledMagazine.com is grateful to RPM Rive-Sud for making this trial possible. You are invited to visit them in Lévis where they offer Polaris, Arctic Cat and Yamaha snowmobiles.
www.rpmrivesud.com, 226, Chemin des Iles, Lévis (Québec) G6V 7M5, Téléphone : 1 866 781-4631