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Polaris ’07: What’s in and out – April 3, 2006

April 3, 2006
Filed under Features

When Polaris dealers took their first look at the company’s 2007 lineup at the mid-March dealer meeting, they saw a streamlined lineup — 25 models — and one surprise omission:?the Liberty 900 CleanFire engine.
Coming into the 2007 model year, the company decided to discontinue the engine application in trail sleds, but planned to keep it for its RMK model. Sample units had been built and were in transit when Polaris decided to drop that model, too, said Matt Lube, Polaris’ product manager for longtrack machines.
Lube said motor mounts changed this year to address engine vibration, but they failed in validation testing. It leaves Polaris without a high-displacement mountain machine.
“We’re going to take some pain in this market until we can do it right,”?Lube said of the hole the 900 leaves.
Even with the 900 RMK’s absence, Polaris has a tight lineup for the coming year. It’s down 28 percent from last year, in terms of models offered. Models such as the Fusion nameplate, have been dropped; others, such as the Classics, have been consolidated.
Performance Redux
The Fusion nameplate is gone, but not the general sled concept. It’s re-named “IQ.”
“There was some baggage with the Fusion name,” Lube said, referring to multiple problems with the machine’s engineering. “It was the right time to make the cut.”
Polaris offers four engines in the high-performance category: the 600 HO, 600 HO CleanFire Injection (CFI), 700 HO CFI and FST. The 600 HO is the 120 hp carbureted two-stroke engine that debuted in 2006.
The new 600 HO CFI engine uses four fuel injectors, two per hole, to meter fuel. Polaris said the engine puts out 125 hp. Lube said this engine is 43 percent cleaner than the industry baseline, and fuel economy is improved. The carb 600 remains in the lineup for pricepoint and for customers who like to tinker with their engines, Lube said.
The 700 HO CFI replaces the year-old 755cc CleanFire engine. It makes a claimed 140 hp.
The 750cc, twin-cylinder Four-Stroke Turbo (FST) engine is unchanged except for calibration revisions to improve cold starts and reduce plug fouling. Polaris said the engine makes 140 hp. Lube said changes have been made to reduce plug fouling, and for easier servicing.
The machines use Ryde FX gas shocks up front and on the front track shock. The rear track shock uses a Fox position sensitive damper. The machine has a fixed steering post and hooked handlebars. Gone are the Rider Select adjustments.
Aside from a name change and simplified steering, these core-of-the-market models have been re-styled. Two-stroke IQ-based sleds are fitted with the same bodywork as has been used on some RMK and SwitchBack models. The turbo-powered IQ uses a similar hood with more vents.
Of its high-performance models, the top-of-the-line is called Dragon. It’s built on the IQ chassis, powered by the Liberty 700 CFI engine and is only available through the spring order program. It features Walker Evans clicker shocks and a taller handlebar riser. Other features include a narrow seat and the contest-winning ripped metal graphics.
In the sport segment, the SuperSport looks like a born-again Pro X, as it adopts the Pro X seat, handguards and a super-short windshield. The EDGE-based 500 XC SP gets new graphics and a lightweight Team Industries clutch. For the little kids, the 120 gets new Dragon graphics.
SwitchBack And RMK
Polaris offers three engine choices in the SwitchBack series: the 600 HO, 600 HO CFI and FST.
The SwitchBack chassis has been shortened 3 inches. The extra-long tunnel on the 2006 SwitchBack lineup was an eyesore; the change for 2007 increases showroom appeal.
Unlike the IQs, the SwitchBacks keep Rider Select steering. They do, however, loose the center grab strap.
RMKs have been lightened and simplified. Polaris said RMKs lost up to 25 pounds.
RMKs come with the 700 HO CFI, 600 HO and 550 Fan.
The Dragon RMK is a special limited build mountain sled that’s powered by the new 700 HO CFI engine. It has new Walker Evans Air shocks all the way around. The sled also gets the special Dragon graphics and lightweight seat. It is only available with the 15- by 155- by 2.4-inch Series 5 track.
No Longer Classics
Solo-luxury owners will have to get used to a new nameplate stamped on the side of their Polaris sleds. The “Classic” badge is gone for 2007; it’s been replaced by the “LX” moniker.
These riders want comfort, convenience and performance, Lube said. “We found that they liked the amenities, but didn’t want to be called ‘Classic,’”?he said.
These machines are directly aligned with the performance models; the graphics are identical, Lube said.
There are three engine packages:?340 and 550 fans, the 600 HO Cleanfire liquid and the FST four-stroke.
The 600 HO CFI IQ LX and FST have the most comfort features. They come standard with electric start, a tall windshield and Rider Select steering with positions 1 through 5. It uses a FAST M-10 suspension with Ryde FX front track shock and a Fox gas shock in the rear. Traction in the rear comes compliments of a 15- by 128- by 1-inch Hack Saw track.
For the fans, the 550 LX gets the upgraded 550cc engine with NiCaSil-lined cylinders and white hood. The 340 LX is identical except for its engine and shorter track lugs. They have electric start and reverse.
Polaris re-introduces its single/double passenger long-hauler as the IQ Cruiser. In the past, this machine has come as a two-up, with versatility to switch to a long-track solo touring machine. It’s the opposite with the IQ Cruiser.
“No one wants to buy a minivan and make it a sportscar,” Lube said. “This way, you can have the sportscar that can become a minivan.”
The machine is powered by the FST engine and shares its shocks, front suspension, 2-Up pillowtop seat and ergonomic layout with the rest of the IQ Touring lineup.
With the passenger seat removed, 1-Up riders can attach a lockable fastback cover to stow gear. The color-coordinated shell is much like a pickup truck tonneau cover.
Another luxury feature that sets apart the Cruiser from the touring sleds is its FAST M-10 ACE skidframe. Drivers control suspension damping through the gauge toggle switch.
The rest of Polaris’ IQ-based 2-Uppers are essentially identical to each other, except for engine choice. IQ Touring sleds are available with three powerplants: the 80 hp FS, the 140 hp FST or the new 600 HO CFI, which cranks out 125 ponies.
The machines have Rider Select steering with positions 1 to 5. Full instrumentation is compliments of the multi-function display. Mirrors are standard on every model except the FS-powered version.
The EDGE-based Trail Touring Deluxe gets the upgraded 550 fan engine that now features NiCaSil-lined cylinders.
The 340 Touring returns, but with a new Team Industries lightweight secondary clutch, expandable cargo seat and new rear cargo bag. The Widetrak LX is still powered by the 488cc Fuji twin. psb

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