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1997 Polaris Indy 700

What's traditional at Polaris is revolutionary anywhere else. But will it get Polaris engineering any respect?
So, you're not getting any respect, eh? Try being a Polaris snowmobileengineer. This may be the most maligned job in snowmobiling. Everyone who snowmobiles can build a better sled than a Polaris engineer. At least that's what they tell us.

Confusion of all confusions is why would a group of designers and engineers who have created the number one selling snowmobile be classed as current-dayRodney Dangerfields? We don't get it. After all, it was Polaris engineering that brought the first mass-produced independent front suspension snowmobile to the sport in 1980. In fact, derived from the RX-L racers of the late1970s, the TX-L Indy was nothing short of sensational.
Evolving Suspensions
During the past 16 seasons, Polaris engineers have constantly refinedthe IFS system. The new Indy 700 utilizes the most modern Polaris IFS. Itcomes standard with Polaris' controlled roll center. This CRC package featurescomputer-designed radius rod locations and tie rods of approximately thesame length as the upper radius rods to more precisely control the frontgeometry as well as to limit bump steer and scrub. A parallel steering linkageis used to further enhance handling control. Nitrogen cell shocks smoothan arc of 9.5 inches of overall travel on the SKS version and 8.25 inchesof travel on the RMK model with its narrower 38-inch ski stance. The SKSversion has a 41-inch ski stance.

While the engineers in Roseau, Minnesota, have evolved the front suspensiondesign, two competitors copied it. One to the point where select Polariscomponents would fit the competition's breakthrough design. And, yet, Polarisengineers are maligned for standing pat.

We're confused again. How do you stand pat and bring out the industry'sfirst mass-produced long travel suspension system? Granted, the XTRA-12was not the first super long travel snowmobile suspension. FAST's M-10 unitcan claim that distinction, but Polaris was first of the original equipmentmanufacturers. New introductions like the 1997 Indy 700 derive the benefitsof XTRA engineering with an extended-length rear suspension that deliversupwards of 10.9 inches of rear axle travel. This version of XTRA-10 is mountedbelow the tunnel bend line on RMK models and is said to provide superiordeep snow performance. The SKS version offers 8.3 inches of rear axle travel.

Both XTRA-10 versions are interactive with front-to-rear torque armsto control suspension movement when first encountering a mogul. Indy Selectshocks are standard on the Indy 700 rear suspension, which is said to loselittle, if any, top speed or acceleration over a less supple suspension.

While it may be hard to discern, the Indy 700's driveshaft has been movedback about an inch and lowered about a third of an inch. This is claimedto give the Indy 700 RMK and SKS models greater deep snow mobility thanother Polaris RMK models.

While Yamaha is just now introducing a hydraulic brake to its snowmobiles,Polaris has featured liquid-cooling on its hydraulic braking system fornearly a decade. The SKS model comes standard with the liquid-cooled brakewhile the RMK version gets by with a standard hydraulic disc. We might addthat Polaris upgraded its disc brake a season back and it is as consistentlygood as any in the sport.
Born in the USA
While the fact that Polaris will offer 42 models this season might beseen as excessive, would we still think so if we wanted an Indy 700 witha deep-lug track instead of the standard Indy 700 SKS? Then we'd want theRMK. And the confusion of wondering why Polaris engineers might be malignedwould end with that sled and the fact that Polaris engineering conceived,constructed and brought to market the first all-American snowmobile sincethe demise of the Cuyuna-powered Scorpion Whip in 1980.

The Indy 700 was born in the USA, and darn proud of it. Polaris puristswill be pleased. The 700 is a traditional Indy with the wedge-shaped cowland basic, but upgraded, independent front suspension that traces its historyright back to the original TX-L Indy. When we watched cross-country racingaces take the jumps this past season, we were instantly reminded of howsavvy those TX-L engineers had been. We watched Kirk Hibbert launch andland his state-of-the art and nose-heavy Arctic Cat racer. We saw the Flyin'Finn, Toni Haikonen, sail over moguls and we watched as Paul Mack launched,sailed and landed more smoothly than the competition aboard an Indy thatdrew its ancestry from the TX-L. It wasn't an arrow, but it was closer toone than the competition. Maybe, just maybe, those original Polaris engineersgot this chassis and suspension thing right way back in the late 1970s anddidn't have to reinvent the snowmobile. And maybe some professional jealousysprang up from those who didn't get it right back then.

Because, as best we can tell, the Indy 700 is a true, made in AmericaPolaris, with all the positive things that went into the original. Plus,the new 700 gains all the best technology in materials and thought thatnearly 20 years of evolution can provide.
Big Twin Power
Deep powder snowmobilers are lucky to be the first to enjoy this all-American sled. With total power output in the 110 horsepower range, we'd have tosay that most riders won't have any previous point of comparison to thissled's low-end torque. Cat's now-discontinued 700cc Wildcat twin comes tomind and Ski-Doo's Rotax 670 might be another reference point, but onlythe Indy 700, with its design, for grunt rev range, will satisfy a seriousmountain hopper. We found that the new Polaris twin could be idled down,stoked and readied to launch back uphill at the flick of a throttle valve.

Polaris claims that its twin shares few common parts with the 700cc watercraftengine introduced last autumn. But both were computer-designed to insuredurability and performance while minimizing weight. With a bore and strokeof 81mm by 68mm, the new twin features crankcase reed induction, nicasilcylinder liners, digital ignition and dual 39mm D-type Keihin carburetors.These carbs feature special springs to give the rider a lighter pull onthe throttle lever.

The complete engine package is said to weigh 12 pounds less than the680cc Ultra triple, and the package includes a new quick-removal airboxdesign and a two-into-one pipe. Polaris states that the new 700 deliverspeak power at 8,500 rpm and that it has more power than last year's Ski-DooSummit 670.

Drivetrain performance of the Indy 700 RMK that we tested was rated wellabove average by our test riders. They gave it solid "8"s in engineresponse. The front suspension ride scored an "8" as well. Inareas of performance that are critical to deep powder riders - engine/clutchresponse, throttle response and clutch backshift - the 700 scored solideights out of a possible 10 in each sub-category. In reality, perhaps ourtest riders score Polaris snowmobiles harder than the competition becausewe have come to expect more from Roseau engineering. And, maybe, Polarissnowmobiles have become the standard of comparison. That makes it easierfor the competition to look good when they meet the Polaris standard, butharder for Polaris snowmobiles when all they do is stay the same or gaina bit on the previous year's standard of excellence.
Great Expectations
When we sit on a Polaris, like the new Indy 700, we expect the footreststo fit us a certain way. We expect the handlebars to be wide enough forgood leverage, yet thin enough so that our hands won't tire on a hundred-milesafari. We expect to be able to look over the hood and see the skis workingin the powder. We know the windshield will shield us from blowing snow andthat we can reach alongside the key switch to adjust the hand warmer switch.

We expect the hood latches to release quickly and to see a band of aluminumshielding the drivebelt on the left-hand side and a disc brake on the right.We know that the sparkplugs will be readily accessible if we want to pullone and check its color to make sure that we aren't running lean in thehigh mountain areas. We know this because Polaris engineering has createda consistency in design that we know works. We know what to expect, becausePolaris engineers have knowledge about snowmobiling gained since David Johnsonbuilt the first Polaris back in 1954.
Traditions and Standards
The Indy 700 is a traditional Polaris Indy. But this tradition might be considered breakthrough and revolutionary at some other companies. Thetrailing arm front suspension has three points of movement and is controlledby coil springs mounted over a single shock absorber.

Cooling for the engine is done with aluminum extrusions mounted under the running boards. They've been mounted that way since the original TX-L.This is a breakthrough concept at other companies.

It's just another Indy, but with a major difference. This Indy is built around the company's first ever Made in the USA snowmobile powerplant. Andthat will get Polaris engineers a great deal of respect.
Polaris Indy 700 RMK

Overall Height: 46 inches
Overall Length: 116 inches
Weight: 496 lbs.
Ski Stance: 38 inches
Engine: 470cc case reed inducted, liquid-cooled twin
Exhaust: Tuned pipe
Drive: P-85
 Driven: P-85
Suspension Travel:
 Front: IFS, XTRA-10, CRC, nitrogen cell, threaded adj. shocks, 8.25 in.
 Rear: XTRA-10, Indy Select hydraulic shocks, 10.9 in.
Fuel Capacity: 10.7 gallons
Key Features: Hydraulic disc brake, speedo, trip, dual range hand warmers, thumbwarmer,carbide ski runners. Optional: reverse, electric start, electric fuel gauge,skid plate, mirrors, backrest/2-up seat.
Retail Price: $6,999
Riding Impressions:
"The Indy 700 RMK (Rocky Mountain King) is made for deep snow only,and it does its job well." - Steve Ingram, test rider


Engine/Clutch Response
Overall Performance 7.00
Overall Ergonomics 7.00
Front Suspension 8.00
Front Handling 5.00
Rear Suspension 5.00
Rear Handling 4.00
Overall Accessibility 7.00
Styling 5.00
Fit &Finish 5.00
Overall Rating 6.55

(Based on an average of American Snowmobiler test rider scores in 29 categories.Scores range from a one or "the worst ever made" to a perfect10 or "the best ever made." In the "overall" categories,test riders rated a model against other sleds in its class.)
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