Family Sled Choice – Finding the right fit
By Jason Snow
850, 850, 850…that’s all we hear in the snowmobiling industry lately and rightly so! However, as a father of two rug rats that are becoming hardcore sledders, my interest this season went in a different direction. My kids are now 9 and 13 and they’ve graduated from their first mini z’s to old school tundra’s, that we rebuilt a couple years ago, and now we were in the market for the next step in their riding evolution, but what would that be? This was our dilemma this season, what sleds could we get them as they both want to travel further into the country to see the sights that my wife and I have so often spoke of. They aren’t quite big enough for a full-size sled yet but we wanted something that would be safe while still maneuverable, something that would allow them to progress as riders and yet prepare them for the next step into a full-size sled. This seemed to be an obvious gap in the snowmobile product lines and far too often kids are being placed on sleds that are too big and powerful for their ability, certainly a recipe for disaster.
Last season Arctic Cat released their new ZR 200 line but it was a very small step up from the mini 120 models as the sled is only slightly larger and more capable, this seemed to be 2 years too late for my kids and wasn’t a good fit. That lead me to research the different 550 fan models that each manufacturer was offering as it’s a bullet proof engine that doesn’t have any overheating issues in low snow or at slower speeds. Much to my surprise, the Polaris Engineers must have realized the same product gap and were about to release a new model called the Polaris EVO for 2019! This obviously peeked my interest so I called my old buddy Jamie Buffet at M&F Motorsports in Stephenville to get all the details!
Everything about this new sled is designed for the younger or entry level rider. The ergonomic design has the rider positioned for comfort, control and confidence. The sled is lower and narrower than a full-size sled which provides new or shorter riders with more confident control. The lower seat and suspension height lowers the center of gravity and enhances ride stability. The front suspension allows the sled to evolve with the rider as the shocks are designed and calibrated specially for the EVO chassis and the all new EVO ski was designed exclusively for this sled to deliver confident handling and reduced steering effort. The 550-fan engine brings just the right amount of power and the speed is controlled electronically so as not to exceed 50 mph. They even designed the throttle flipper to have less resistance so that it can be comfortably controlled by smaller hands while not exhausting their thumbs!
After reading through all the material and doing some research I was convinced that this new model was exactly what I was looking for! Again, I called Jamie to inquire about availability as I suspected this model wasn’t going to be abundant. Fortunately, M&F had two snow check editions en route that included electric start, say no more…I won’t be hauling any pull cords this year, SOLD! With the deal now done, the next step was the delivery and of course wifey and I were going to take full advantage and surprise the kids for Christmas! The problem with this idea was that I’m not good at keeping secrets, when Jamie called in mid-November and said the sleds were ready for pickup I was so excited that I almost drove out to get them that same day. My wife knew better, leave them she said, they’ll be out of sight and out of mind so you won’t blow the surprise before Christmas. Begrudgingly I agreed and moped around for a few weeks until we got our first snowfall, then our second, and then our third. Finally, there was enough snow down to actually ride and I couldn’t take it anymore, I scheduled my servicing appointments, unbeknownst to wifey, and headed to Stephenville!
Yes, I know what you’re thinking, my wife is right more often than not and this was definitely such an occasion. The new sleds were even more impressive in person and having them in the garage was an impossible burden to bare! My only saving grace was that I can never leave anything stock and so I wanted to personalize these sleds for my kids before the big reveal. This ate up a couple of weeks while I traced each little decal and made the new graphics kit. Like most girls, my daughter loves all things pink so I decided to replace the lime squeeze green with pink and then add their names to the windshields. This brought us to mid-December and maybe it was my overwhelming excitement, my inability to keep a secret or Mother Nature’s track record over the past few seasons but I went with the latter. I explained to my wife that I was fearful of the mild/rainy stretch and given our investment I wanted to maximize the riding time for the kids so I was pushing to squash the big Christmas reveal and just let them have it now! Yup you guessed it, she overruled me and I was forced to wait…arghhhh!
Finally, the big day came and not soon enough! Now my wife, in all her wisdom, decided that we needed to do a treasure hunt, as if the anticipation over the last few weeks wasn’t enough already! Like a good husband, I obliged her and we stayed up half the night creating these witty little clues that lead the kids all over our house and finally into the garage. With the stage all set, we climb into bed at 3 AM in desperate need of sleep…only to hear my son jumping out of bed exclaiming that he just heard jingle bells!! $%#@!!@#
Up we get again, barely conscious, and drag ourselves into the living room to watch the kids open their gifts. In what seemed like a blur they finish with all their other gifts and so we break out their first clue for the treasure hunt. If they weren’t excited before, they definitely are now as they scramble all over the house solving each riddle and finding clue after clue in anticipation, they have no idea what awaits them! Finally, we get to the garage and the big reveal, my daughter has the expected reaction and is super pumped! My son, on the other hand, while standing on his brand-new sled, looks around and asks where’s the next clue?? #$%$$$#$%@ I’m gonna kill him I start to mutter as my wife calmly tries not to laugh and escorts me out of the garage before I say something I might regret!
Fast forwards a few months and both kids, YES I still have two, are thoroughly enjoying their new sleds. We’re all super impressed with this new model and it has exceeded every expectation we had. As an added bonus, Polaris has even developed an upgrade kit that will turn this entry level sled into a full-size model for a nominal fee!
In conclusion, if you have young riders in your family or even entry level riders and are looking for that perfect sled that will introduce them to the sport but has the ability to progress with them so that you get some longevity from the sled, look no further, the new Polaris Indy EVO is for you!