Going south for the winter to escape the bitter cold is not unusual, but this time Polaris Industries went south to be in wintry conditions, most importantly — snow.
The manufacturer’s snowmobile test team took a 14-day trip to the Andes Mountains in South America. There, the team rode eight off-the-line production sleds of the 800 Rush Pro-R and 800 Pro-RMK. The purpose: To test the snowmobiles over thousands of miles in areas where no sled has left tracks before.
“During last winter’s Demo Tour across the U.S. and Canada, consumers asked us time and time again to build the production sleds exactly the same as what they rode on the Demo Tour,” stated the company. “We promised to do that, and went all the way to South America to prove it.”
Below the equator
Why the Andes Mountains? In August, there aren’t too many places for ideal snowmobile conditions. But Chris Wolf, product manager of Polaris snowmobiles, says the Andes’ snow and temperature conditions at that time mirror North America and Europe’s conditions in the winter.
“The weather, altitude and snow conditions in the Andes Mountains in August are nearly ideal,” he said. “In addition, the August timing gives us the opportunity to test production snowmobiles right off the line.”
The Andes were a great area to challenge the machines. “From the standpoint of geography, this was one of our more challenging test trips,” said Wolf. “Besides the usual logistical and communications issues associated with traveling to another continent, we were riding in steep and rocky terrain that had literally never been explored on a snowmobile.
“Words, or even photographs, can hardly describe just how vast and untouched the Andes truly are,” he continued. “The test team did an outstanding job completing their work safely, despite the challenges of the environment.”
Made for deep snow and difficult trail riding, the new 800 Rush Pro-R and 800 Pro-RMK debuted last spring, but this was one last validation the sleds would perform the way Polaris promised consumers. “This was just one more double-check to make sure everything was right,” said Wolf.
The 800 Pro-RMK is the lightest production mountain sled on the market, says Wolf. Polaris engineers were able to take off 40 pounds, so the Andes deep snow wasn’t a problem, notes Wolf.
The team also tested its trail performance with the 800 Rush Pro-R. Also performing well, Wolf said it’s the “only true progressive rate rear suspension, combined with compact, rider-active ergonomics make Rush incredibly fun to ride and capable on any trail. The power of the fuel-injected 800 Cleanfire is just icing on the cake.”
The trip was a great learning experience for the test crew, says Wolf.
“The bottom line is that after literally thousands of miles of real-world riding in the Andes, we confirmed exactly what we expected — these sleds perform exceptionally well,” he said. “Dealers and consumers who rode these sleds on the demo tour last winter were very clear, ‘If the production sleds work like this, you have a winner.’ We assured them they would, and went all the way to South America to prove it. Now, we’re more confident than ever that we have delivered on that promise. Let it snow.” PSB