Now that spring has sprung (be it early or not) here in Western Newfoundland and we’ve finally had the opportunity to get some solid seat time on all our Polaris mountain snowmobiles, I figured it was a good time to give my honest thoughts on the 2018 Polaris Snowmobile’s mountain lineup. If you’re considering spring order I hope some of your questions are answered in the words to come.
Before I go any further I’d like to add that the review I’m about to write is my opinion, as I see it – we all know there is a definite over abundance of brand-bashing & negativity online these days.
The question that keeps popping up in conversation – what are my honest thoughts & opinions on Polaris Snowmobiles and how do I find them compared to other manufacturers. My usual response to this is that after many years of riding different brands, Polaris’ mountain sleds work best for my style of riding in the type of terrain I enjoy to ride. Plain & simple. We teach backcountry technical riding and that’s where our Polaris snowmobiles really shine. We (speaking on behalf of the Sledcore & Sledworthy Crew’s) prefer the rider-balanced positioned snowmobiles as opposed to rider-forward mainly because they hold a side-hill on steeper, more technical terrain and that’s where we tend to ride as much as possible.
For the 2017-2018 season we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to test the majority of the 2018 Polaris mountain lineup with the exception of the 174 RMK.
In our arsenal are the following sleds;
1 – 2018 Polaris SKS 800 146”
2 – 2018 Polaris SKS 800 155”
3 – 2018 Polaris RMK Pro 600 155”
4 – 2018 Polaris RMK Pro 800 155”
5 – 2018 Polaris RMK Pro 800 163”
I’ll try to keep it as brief as possible. Here is my personal view on the Pro/Con’s I found with each of the following models and what I like/dislike as well as what I figured could be some possible refinements from a rider perspective.
1 – 2018 SKS 800 146” – The shortest sled in our lineup this year, I was really excited to try out this snowmobile here on “the rock” for the simple reason that even though we have amazing backcountry snowmobiling, we also have to contend with some significant trail riding to access our fun zones. So if you’re in the market for a new snowmobile here on the island, trail-riding should really be taken into account before purchasing. I found the SKS 146 particularly fun coming off the RMK 155 I usually ride, in the fact that it isn’t so planted as the longer mountain sleds which really gives is that flick-able feeling when rooping around and wheelieing off drifts and features. This sled has some noticeable rippyness on the trails and you can certainly feel the longer legs ripping in/out the trail due to the shorter-smaller lug track. I also had the opportunity to take this thing off-trail to which I was surprised at how well it actually side-hilled given the shorter track and wider running boards compared to the RMK or longer SKS 155 models. I’ll be honest, that I do prefer the handlebar set up found on the RMK which has the heated grips / Hi-Lo Beam / Mode buttons mounted above the gas cap as opposed to on the handlebar-mount found on the SKS 146. I also found that the bar riser was a little too low for me (5’ 10.5”). Again, that could be swapped out pretty easily if you were a taller rider. I also prefer the narrower running boards but if you’re riding more trail than backcountry you may prefer the wider boards.
Final Note: If you tend to ride 60-70% trail – 30-40% back-country this might be the sled of choice for you.
2 – 2018 SKS 800 155” – The SKS 800 155 in my opinion could possibly be the best set up sled for the West Coast of NL. The option of having the second cooler & added idler wheels are a big bonus for us here, as we do tend to ride a fair amount of trails & lets face it, we’re not always riding waist deep powder. It’s nice to have that extra cooler on tour days for us when we’re guiding groups. The nice feature about this SKS 155 is that you don’t loose any off-trail characteristics. It’s built & set up just like it’s brother the RMK which means you have the trail manners and the back-country options without loosing either essentially. It also has the same bar set up as the RMK models which is an added bonus for us. This sled holds a side-hill extremely well, is very flickable and matched with the Walker-Evans piggy back shocks you can pound it on the whoops, send it on some big hits & it’ll suck up anything you’re willing to throw at it.
Final Note: If you ride 70% back-country – 30% trail this sled is a good choice and is ranked well up there with all the Sledcore & Sledworthy Crews.
3 – 2018 RMK 600 155” – Out of all sleds in our lineup this year this one surprised me the most. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past number of years you’ve heard of Polaris’ 600 Liberty engine and how well built they are. They didn’t change a lot for the 2018 RMK 600 and for good reason. This engine just flat out rips. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it right!? If you haven’t ridden the 600 RMK I strongly suggest you do before making any biased opinions about this snowmobile. It has a very racy engine that rev’s quick and pulls extremely hard (and I don’t mean just for a 600). It does however have a little less low-end grunt than its bigger brother the 800 but don’t let that fool you it still pulls extremely hard.
Final Note: On a budget? Thinking you don’t need the big power of an 800? Don’t be fooled this ain’t just any 600. You can hang with the big boys all day on this snowmobile and have a heck of a time doing it!
4 – 2018 RMK 800 155” – This is the sled I chose as my personal whip this year. I prefer to ride mostly off-trail than on-trail. With that said I still have to contend with some trail to access my favourite zones so don’t think for a second that this sled is a slouch on the trail. A little suspension adjustment can go a long way and I actually find my RMK 155 to be quite plush on the trail if that was a concern for you. Another big reason I like this sled is the belt drive. Again, not a huge difference between this sled & the SKS 155 other than you may find a little more umphf out of the belt drive due to less rotating mass.
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty –> weight. At 408 pounds it’s hard not to love the lightest mountain snowmobile on the market. With lighter weight comes more flickability. I chose the Walker Evan’s piggy backs and the mid-rise handlebars for my personal sleds. I also like e-start which can also be a hot topic when it comes to the added weight. Personally, I love e-start and have never had an issue with the added lbs plus I like to run a battery for electronics. In a nutshell this is my personal favourite out of the bunch.
Final Note: If you like to ride 80-85% off trail – 15-20% on-trail this might be the sled for you. The RMK is super flickable, has tons of power and just seems to keep chugging in the deep stuff even when you think it’s a sinking ship it seems to find that extra traction and pull out of areas that will make you shake your head and fist pump your bro’s. Just keep an eye on your temp gauge if you’re running harder packed trails. Although I’ve never really had any issues with cooling throughout the winter it does tend to run a little warmer on the trail than the SKS with the extra cooler. The new T-stat in the 2018 models helps keep it that much cooler than previous models. Did I mention how much I like this sled?
5 – 2018 Pro RMK 163 – Otherwise known as the “Sherpa” within our group. We say this because we’ve seen this sled crawl out of some crazy places this winter. It acts like a pack-mule some times and just keeps going even when loaded down with a heavier rider in extremely steep & deep conditions. One disadvantage I will say of the 163 is it definitely pushes in the corners on the trail to/from ride zones but then again you don’t purchase an RMK 163 for the trail manners do you? It’s pretty amazing where this sled will take you if you’re not afraid to put it there. This is your full-on back-country weapon.
In all seriousness either of these sleds will put a smile on your face when you saddle up & pinch the throttle. It just depends on what set-up works best for you.
I hope this helps with any questions you may have with the 2018 Polaris Mountain Lineup. If you have any additional questions feel free to shoot us a personal message on our Sledcore Facebook Page or send me a personal email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sledcore Ride Clinics