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The season of XCR 2017, Hats off to Polaris

The season of XCR 2017, Hats off to Polaris

The season of XCR 2017, Hats off to Polaris

Our 2017 XCR season went by in an arm pulling acceleration, bump absorbing, and performance handling flash.

It seemed like the season had just begun when we quickly blew past the first 1,000 miles of our long term experience with the potent 800cc XCR. By the end of the season we logged close to 3,000 miles of seat time on this very deliberate and special calibration of Polaris’ AXYS RUSH model.

Where did the season go? Wherever it went, it went with power, it went with handling performance and it went with extreme pleasure.

Much has been written about the power, reliability and performance of Polaris’ 800 Cleanfire HO engines. The crisp, arm straightening acceleration and top end capabilities are well documented. We have also written many articles about what the AXYS platform has brought to the performance level of our sport.  “Minimized weight”, “Optimized geometry”, “RiderCentric control”, “Active pitch”, “Incredible headlight”, we’ve written about it and you have read about it or experienced it  personally. What this article is about is XCR. How the XCR feels and how the XCR performs.

The season of XCR 2017, Hats off to Polaris

From the very first ride it was immediately evident that the full production version of the re-introduced XCR model was something very special.

What became ever increasingly apparent during each ride was that the 2017 XCR could handle and maintain control any and all trail conditions, bumps and big hits. The XCR continued with these impressive characteristics throughout the entire Northeast season.

On the first ride of the season the XCR and I experienced a significant and invisible early season snow hole in the center of a bridge located on a high speed section of a perfectly groomed trail. I prepared for an extremely unwelcome impact and the reasonable certainty of an out of control and possibly catastrophic end result. You know the feeling, that gut wrenching, no time to do anything about it sensation of “Uh oh” this is going to be bad as you prepare for the spine tingling, hard core bottoming out that usually follows.

Much to my pleasant surprise the XCR took it with unimaginable total absorption, control and level flight. Yes this was a BIG BIG hit, but the XCR calibrated spring rates and Walker Evans needle shock package ate it up and spit it out.

When Polaris loaned this sled to us, I’m certain that this type of trial by fire was not what they had in mind OR………… maybe it was. Either way I instantly became a seat of the pants believer in the XCR’s extreme capability. The same experience was not shared by my riding partner who was also riding a premium competing manufactures model. Controlled impact and confident landing was unfortunately not his experience.

Throughout the season the XCR excelled in all trail conditions. The 2017 XCR model was produced and proclaimed to be “Race Ready” with multiple competition capable reinforcements. In reality these reinforcements may never become necessary in trail riding conditions, but it’s nice to know that they are there.

The season of XCR 2017, Hats off to Polaris

The XCR specific modifications that most definitely transferred directly to my trail riding experiences were the superior suspension calibrations of the XCR model. The Hi Lo compression adjustable piggyback Walker Evans needle shock package and the increased volume of a 2” front track shock were truly exceptional, all season long.

The PRT Hayes performance braking system and the wide left side IQR handle bar with ProX riser also give a unique feel and performance to the XCR which noticeably separates it from that of Pro S models.

When describing the XCR’s “terrain dominating” suspension performance, we offer the following reality; the XCR’s ultra capability suspension does not offer the rider a cushy or plush ride. The XCR offers a firm performance feel and that firmness does transmit to the rider in a very predictable, controlled, level and non-jarring or bottoming out way.  You hold on and the XCR takes it all.

As for turning ability our RUSH XCR was extraordinary. Keep in mind that the 2017 XCR and Pro S Rush models are the last true short tracks in the performance snowmobile world.  Sharp turning was always maximized with BiteHarder sharpened carbides by Mack Studs. With the benefit of superior turning ability comes the short track reality of a choppy ride.

As a side note, we did hear positive results in increased high speed cornering stability by installing the slightly larger diameter Pro S sway bar versus the XCR’s standard Pro X version. PS: If you do it, you also need the larger sway bar bushings.

Throughout my season of XCR, dreams of an XCR with the proven ride benefits of a longer rear suspension and track filled my mind.  As we all know now, dreams do come true!

The season of XCR 2017, Hats off to Polaris

The XCR’s bold graphics really separate it from the crowd. Our XCR was a billboard of a high performing snowmobile everywhere that the SledMagazine.com / Motoneiges.ca XCR travelled. In Vermont, New Hampshire, Quebec and New Brunswick the attention and looks of approval from fellow snowmobiles were always the same “admiration of one bad ass snowmobile”.

For 2017 our XCR featured genuine Polaris storage accessories including the Pro-Fit Sport rack, Sport  rack bag, ProTaper handle bar bag, Lock & Ride hand guards and occasional use of Polaris’ Universal gauntlets. Each of these items added to the function and enjoyment of our XCR. Polaris has a strong history of offering quality accessories that are well thought out, easily installed and designed to match the styling of their snowmobiles.  

The season of XCR 2017, Hats off to Polaris

In some form or another, each of my articles reveals and repeats that I am a trail guy with a desire and need for long distance, multi-day storage. The short track format (even with every available storage accessory) is challenged when it comes to storage capability. Fortunately a 2018 XCR Switchback model with virtually unlimited storage options will remedy this. Long distance performance with improved bump bridging and storage space for everything you need to bring with you……………oh yeah!

When we requested the 2017 XCR as one of our long term trial snowmobiles from Polaris, we accepted that electric start was not an option for 2017. I would be starting a premium price snowmobile with a string and a mid 50s+ year old arm/shoulder. 

Aside from always being a humbling experience, pull starting was typically easy. The powerful 800 Clean Fire HO did require a few slow pulls on the coldest mornings before coming to life with a few more spirited pulls. A slight crack of the throttle always helped.  The only real challenge of no electric start was the inability to power my GPS.

At the time of the XCR’s media introduction we were not alone in assuming that the XCR’s unique duct cooled performance braking system eliminated the space needed for the electric start option. Upon closer inspection, it certainly seemed like space existed. Once again 2018 makes my electric start dreams come true.

The season of XCR 2017, Hats off to Polaris

 XCR conclusions

The reintroduced Polaris XCR is true to its original cross country racing roots. It firmly absorbs everything, always flies straight and allows the rider to maintain and enjoy a high level of balance, control and confidence in every turn and every situation. If you want a wicked sled that consistently does all of the above, an XCR model could easily be your new best friend. The XCR’s performance look, reinforcements and calibrations, lived up to Polaris’ goal and promise of superior capability.

This is a performance sled that will not disappoint. Your smile will be wide and a season of high performance pleasures will quickly pass. Mine certainly did, as I enjoyed possibly the best riding season of my life, in large part to the 2017 Polaris 800 RUSH XCR. Nice job, Polaris!  

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