2010 Polaris Dragon RMK 800 155
Give and take relationship
Unlike some winters, we were fortunate this past season to have a long-term mountain snowmobile from each of the manufacturers. But it was the Polaris Dragon that was the most sought after in our fleet.
Head Mountain Test Rider Josh Skinner and I fought over the Dragon all winter. And it was always a battle as to who’s garage the Dragon stayed in. Skinner fell in love with the Dragon the first time he rode this chassis on our pre-production ride at our annual Snow Shoot a few seasons ago. While I was more partial to Arctic Cat’s M chassis at that time, I still felt at home on the Dragon and wanted to get as much seat time as possible.
What the Dragon does well
The Dragon is one of those machines that does nearly everything well, but doesn’t necessarily have a forte in any particular area. This is a good thing! It’s powerful, rides well and handles well. For an all-round mountain snowmobile it’s really hard to fault it, unlike other machines in this class that have definite strengths and weaknesses the Dragon is more balanced across the board and is more user friendly to a vast range of riders, no matter what their brand preference or skill level.
Its 795cc Liberty 2-stroke provides good power in the mountains and Dragon’s Walker Evans equipped handling package works really well. There are adjustable Walker Evans air shocks up front. Initially the rear suspension was a bit soft for our liking, but after we adjusted the Walker Evans shocks back there the Dragon rode extremely well.
In our Real World mountain tests last season the Dragon was second quickest in our straight line hill run in fresh snow at 13.25 seconds and third on packed snow at 10.98 seconds. Ski-Doo’s Summit was fastest in both at 12.34 and 10.59 seconds.
In our Hill Cross course run the Dragon was third behind the M8 Sno Pro and Yamaha Nytro MTX, averaging 44.85 seconds compared to the Cat’s 42.91.
Dragon’s 155-inch track with 2.4-inch lugs gives the sled good traction in all types of mountain snow. Again this is an all-terrain performer so it is not focused on simply flotation in deep snow or traction on hardpack, but scores well in both scenarios. The adjustable 39- to 41-inch ski stance up front also makes this sled more versatile and adaptable.
Riding position is quite upright on the RMK, especially with the tall, wide Pro-Taper bars, and we like that it gives the rider a lot of leverage over the sled allowing you to maneuver it with ease. The ergonomics are really good too; the seat is narrow allowing you to easily jump from one running board to another as you sashay down the slopes and sneak between tightly spaced trees.
As much as we loved the Dragon, it just didn’t want to love us back. First we had a detonation light that kept going off and had to have the dealer re-flash the ECU. We also had the dealer stiffen the shocks like we said. However, we weren’t happy that the Walker Evans shocks on the Dragon’s tail end cannot be adjusted quickly by a consumer.
Unfortunately later in the season the engine on the Dragon seized while we were riding back to the truck one day. So again the sled was back in the dealer’s workshop, but thankfully the mountain season is long so we were able to get the sled back up and running before the season ended. However, we were concerned when we saw that ours wasn’t the only Dragon in the dealer’s shop that had seized the same way.
It was good to know that the failure wasn’t due to something we did though, and the dealership said the engine piston had seized because of running too lean. The problem’s root lay with the engine’s fuel injection system. We were happy the new piston and cylinder were covered under the Polaris warranty. However, replacing these parts doesn’t actually fix the fueling issue and the same thing could have happened again.
Thankfully Polaris has changed its EFI system for the new 2011 Pro-RMK and Polaris reassured us that it has solved this issue. Another positive for 2011, the Pro-RMK has adjustable shocks, so riders can make their own adjustments. So both of these areas have been addressed by Polaris for the upcoming season.
Overall our riding experience with the Dragon was extremely positive, despite the engine problems we had. However, it’s particularly good to see that all of these issues have been attended to and changes have been made to the new 2011 Pro-RMK. By further improving on the already good performing RMK, and fixing these issues, Polaris will have a strong contender in the mountains this season