Here is our very satisfactory and positive mid-season report on our 2011 Polaris trial snowmobile. It is already our second year of trials on the new Pro-Ride chassis and even if the design is very different from the other manufacturers, we got acquainted with the behavior of this type of machine. We realize there are still a few elements to be improved for 2012, but the 2011 edition of the Rush is much superior to its first version of 2010.
The major improvement concerns definitively the behavior of the Pro-Ride rear suspension in medium-sized bumps (± 12 in.). Effectively, during our 2010 trials, the front shock of the track was almost ineffective in bumps; in many occasions, the pilot has actually been thrown out his seat. The shock would react only in 2-3 feet bumps, which are extreme conditions that did not represent what the riders encountered. In 2011, the Polaris’ engineers modified the approach angle; they also redesigned the suspension anchorages to the front of the track. As a result, we experienced a major improvement of the Rush behavior in bumps that makes it much easier to control. This said, it seems increasingly obvious that there is still some work to be done here, because even if the problem has almost disappeared, the front of the track has a worse reaction in moguls (6 in. small bumps washboard). This is the sign that the front shock of the track does not work at the required speed.
The other key element of the 2011 edition is without a doubt the introduction of the impressive 2-stroke 800 cc Cleanfire engine, that develops more than 160 hp. This engine performances are outstanding in acceleration as well as at high speed. During trials in closed circuit, we reached top speeds that were more than satisfying for a mass production model. If we consider the available power and our race-style riding, the fuel consumption of this 800 cc is decent with its average of 14,5 MPG or 19,5 l / 100 km. Yet, the 800 cc most impressive element is the injection oil consumption. With an average of ± 0,3 l / 100 km, the Cleanfire is close to the most hi-tech 2-stroke currently on the market. The 800 Rush shows strong pickups and represents without a doubt a topnotch high-performance snowmobile in 2011.
The only point on this engine that requires some attention is that some models are not equipped with an electric start. In fact, the problem is not only the absence of the electric start, but rather the difficulty to start-up the robust 800 cc manually. It is a fact that most women and many men will not succeed at -25°C. Luckily there is a trick for such a problem : first you pull 4 to 5 times to warm up the engine, then you ask someone else to hold the accelerator very lightly (less than a quarter of the accelerator) while you pull the recoil handle with both hands. Our partner CM Barbeau, Polaris dealer in the greater Québec area, suggested to use some antifreeze they sold for about 7 $ to avoid injection problems during rides under -20°C.
Finally, the riding of this sled is very precise and easy for many snowmobilers. Everybody who seats on it likes the rider position of the Rush, as much as the room for legs. However, in race-style riding, the snowmobile may overturn sometimes, which produces ski-lift in some snow conditions. To almost eliminate the problem, we may install double (parallel) runners or even SnowTrackers; this way, the pressure point of the skis is wider, which partly controls the snowmobile gravity center. We must not forget that our trials are not over yet and we will keep on adjusting the sled in order to find the optimal settings for this beast that continues to surprise us.