A versatile overachiever
The AXYS RMK line from Polaris is popular, we know that. The lifted and cinched in chassis gives AXYS RMK owners a simple and highly-maneuverable powder player that is indeed, a “player.”
As we laydown text for this review of the 2017 600 RMK 144, the opening lyrics to Don McLean’s “American Pie,” come to mind:
Engine: 599cc Cleanfire Twin
Power: 120+ horsepower
Track: 15 x 144 x 2.0 Series 4
MSRP: US$10,699View Full Spec
“A long long time ago
I can still remember
How that music used to make me smile
And I knew that if I had one chance
I could make those people dance
And maybe they’d be happy for a while”
Odd, to think of this as we write about the 600 RMK 144, right? It’s because we were fond of the early 600 Pro RMK 155. When we tested Polaris’ 600 AXYS RMK, they only had the 600 RMK 144, which we’re reviewing. We will, however, present the tech on the 600 Pro-RMK 155 as well, for comparison reasons, and because we liked yesteryear’s Pro Ride 600 Pro RMK 155 so much.
For the two RMKs, the 600 Pro-RMK and 600 RMK, Polaris’ Clean Fire 599cc motor provides the momentum. With a bore and stroke of 77.25mm x 64mm, the electronic fuel injected motor with a single pipe is peppy and proud of itself.
The two 600s use a P-85 drive clutch and a TEAM LWT (lightweight) driven. The 144 RMK relies on a chaincase to throw the twist forces to its 15 x 144 Series 4 track with two-inch high lugs. The 155 Pro-600 RMK has the Low Inertia Quick Drive belt drive system that sends power to the track drivers which rotates the 15 X 155 Series 5 track with 2.4-inch high lugs. In our opinion, from riding the 600 Pro Ride RMK, we believe since the AXYS chassis is lighter, the Pro-RMK can surely turn the Series 6 with 2.6-inch high lugs.
Polaris hints on its website the 600 RMK 144 tilts just a few degrees into the crossover world. For example, the runningboards the 600 RMK 144 use are the same as on the Switchback Assault 600, which we recently wrote about, these are the all new PowderTrac Hybrid runningboards which are “Designed specifically for the crossover rider. The Hybrid boards are wider and flatter in the front for comfort while sitting and better positioning while standing up. The rear of the boards taper back for better mobility and snow clearance when carving.”
Couple these runningboards with the 3.5-inch (89mm) fixed handlebar with center-pull mountain strap and AXYS Performance seat with rear under seat storage bag, then the 600 RMK 144 continues its purpose to be part crossover.
Not to end there, the 144 has Polaris’ new IGX 144 uncoupled rear suspension. According to Polaris, the “IGX 144 rear suspension provides RMK-inspired off-trail agility and balance with a drastically improved on-trail ride. Pitch is controlled through geometry in this new rear suspension. And with 43% more front torque arm travel, this sled features reduced bottoming and less drag off-trail. An all new optimized, lighter, tipped rail beam design gives the sled a nimble feel.”
Ski stance for the 600 RMK is an adjustable 39, 40 or 41 inches. Shocks at all front suspension and rear suspension impact points are RydeFX MPVs. The 600 RMK’s estimated dry weight is 455 pounds.
The abovementioned crossover features, many of the same as the Switchback Assault 600, make the 600 RMK 144, in our estimation, a 65/35 RMK, 65% powder player, 35% trail cruiser. The 600 RMK and Switchback Assault are similar.
The 600 Pro-RMK 155 is like its brother, the 800 Pro-RMK 155 using the lightweight and rigid RMK rear suspension designed to manage weight transfer while maintaining a proper approach angle to the snow’s surface.
Shocks used on the front and rear suspension on the Pro-RMK 155 is the Walker Evans Impact-Extruded Monotube shock. In true RMK-Pro fashion, the Pro-RMK 155 uses forged aluminum A-arms, PowderTrac runningboards, and the PRO-Lite seat. Estimated dry weight for the 600 Pro-RMK 155 is 412 pounds; 43 pounds lighter than the 600 RMK 144.
These two RMKs lack a painted tunnel – each have that raw look. Paint adds cost, a down side, but on the plus side, a painted tunnel, in part, helps prevent snow and ice from flash freezing to the tunnel’s surface; ice adds weight.
Now, understanding these differences, we return to our seat on the 600 RMK 144. The RMK 144, like the Switchback Assault, is fast. It will tear down the trail as if it just bolted from a haunted house; fast sprinter it is. We would like to ride this 144 RMK at sea level just to see how 800-like it really is. But, with its clutches properly tuned for elevation, the fuel-injected 600 RMK 144 roared at the elevations West Yellowstone, Mont. reside at.
In the powder, the 144 did fairly well with its Series 4 track. We wanted more from it, but it is what it is, a 144 with two-inch paddles. Yet, with its narrow ski stance, and AXYS RMK chassis and cinched in panels, it was powder and sidehilling compliant. The PowderTrac Hybrid runningboards, not as narrow as the RMK-Pro specific PowderTrac boards, did hang up the chassis a few times. But that is us, we push powder and crossover snowmobiles beyond average riding.
The 600 RMK has a taller windshield than the 600 Pro-RMK, thus down the trail at high speeds, it gives more wind protection than the windshield on the Pro-RMK. To some, this is important when riding trails in frigid temperatures.
This little six-zero-oh made us drop an “oh wow” now and then, wowing us for its zippy trail manners, and wowing us for its RMK powder play manners. Will many Rocky Mountain riders buy and ride a 600 RMK 144? I don’t think so, at least not within the crowd we hang in. Unfortunately, this 600 will probably be the 600 RMK most rental companies will purchase. That is good, for the rental customer will have an RMK that will be tame and quick on the trails, and nimble in the trees and powder.
Back down memory lane. Polaris has two 600 RMKs that are a delight to ride, the Pro-RMK and standard RMK. The Pro with its 155 length and more aggressive paddle track is the all powder business and the one we are most fond of. Of course, the price is lower by about US$1,500 with the standard 600 RMK 144. With that significant price difference and the fact that the 600 RMK 144 is partly trail and mostly powder, this is an RMK that can move back and forth from each flavor with ease.