A freakishly nimble mountain tamer
Engine 1: 850 Patriot
Engine 2: 800 Cleanfire H.O.
Track 1: 15x155x2.6" Series 6
Track 2: 15x155x3.0" Series 7
Front Suspension: AXYS RMK React
Rear Suspension: RMK KHAOS
Polaris invited us out to Wyoming’s Togwotee Mountain Lodge to test out the brand new and incredibly nimble 2020 Polaris RMK KHAOS.
Not only does Polaris want to be wicked with its AXYS Pro-RMK with 850 Patriot power (which came to market for modelyear 2019), and with its 800 Liberty motor, but for 2020, Polaris wants to go chaotic on the mountains with new 2020 Polaris RMK KHAOS – a freakishly-nimble and beyond “flickable” mountain sled.
Before going into the particulars of the 2020 Polaris RMK KHAOS, it should be noted that Polaris told us back in January that the Pro-RMK was the number one selling snowmobile across the snowmobile kingdom for this model year. The numbers were preliminary – not locked down – as the selling season was still burning down the freeway, but this is good news for mountain snowmobilers. Why is that? The builders are rolling out products that meet mountain-rider demands, which are powerful, light, high-tech, simple, and robust.
Taking advantage of its momentum, Polaris developed the KHAOS. This is a snowmobile that takes the 155 Pro-RMK’s nimble character, and jacks up its nimbleness 10 notches, while giving it the strength of “10 Grinches plus two.” Polaris’ suspension smart folk, with Walker Evans shocks, developed for the KHAOS shocks that make this sled a flickable, hillclimbing, cornice dropping, rock- and log-hopping savant the former AXYS Pro-RMK Assault never was.
The AXYS Pro-RMK 850, speaking specifically the 155, delivers high-confidence when initiating and carving out personal real estate in deep snow or on a hillside – such as tight Figue-8s or a loopy circle, for example. Our season on a 2019 AXYS Pro-RMK 155 LE with belt drive, proved to us this chassis and motor indeed delivers high-confidence.
However, as 2019 wound down and 2020 was starting to wind up, Polaris felt its Pro-RMK drivers were supplying to much of their energy (effort), to hold a long sidehill line. (Testimony from many deep-powder dealers and Polaris’ sponsored athletes who bust down the Rocky Mountains.) The 2020 Polaris RMK KHAOS is meant to lessen a rider’s energy input when entering into a carving situation or when managing a sidehill sweep. This is not to say that the 2019 and 2020 155 Pro-RMKs were/are difficult critters to stuff into a sidehill to slice some snow – the AXYS chassis, for us, is, and has been, easy to stick into a hillside and make a robber’s run. But the KHAOS is the next evolution.
According to Polaris, the KHAOS is a mountain snowmobile that is designed to hit all the mountain riding “Zones.” What the heck is this? Well, if your favorite zone is being off-camber and wide-eyed in a steep gully with tightly spaced trees, then the KHAOS is well-designed for this.
If your “zone,” is sidehilling across clean mountainsides, then the KHAOS is in its “zone.”
If your zone is highmarking, tree running, wrong-foot forward downhill sidehilling, or boondocking, or mogul mashing like a crossover boogie man, or cornice dropping, or blasting through the deepest mush you can stir, then the KHAOS is in its “zone,” and in that “zone,” or that “zone,” or that “zone,” or that “zone,” or that “zone,” or that “zone,” or that “zone,” or….
The 2020 Polaris RMK KHAOS is not chaotic in its personality, rather, it is focused, determined, aggressive, easy, flickable times two (or 10), sassy, forgiving, and made for young, middle-aged and older riders. Once KHAOS is tied into your DNA, it is all about being – almost – maliciously compliant. It will do exactly what you tell it. It will zone-into your fave “zone” with such speed and ease, you may want to reward it by taking it into other play zones.
Here are some observations. The KHAOS uses the AXYS RMK React front suspension. This front suspension, introduced for model year 2019, is so quick and nimble, we at Snowmobile.com, defend it as the best mountain-snowmobile front suspension to date. However, the KHAOS, in simple terms, is to the 2019/2020 Pro-RMK LE with React, what the 2019 Pro-RMK with React is to 2018 Pro-RMK; before React came along. The 2019/2020 Pro-RMK LE 155 is a remarkable mountain sled, a delight to ride. We just love it. But the KHAOS, sort of, well, dates it. “It’s so 2019,” some may say.
The only zone the 2020 Polaris RMK KHAOS will not do well in is the shop/garage during summer waiting for winter.
Some considerations. The KHAOS reacts to handlebar post height like no other. Visit with your dealer prior to ordering. Our recommendation is this: If you believe the mid-height bar post is just right for you, then you are mistaken. If your current AXYS Pro-RMK 155 is built with the tallest handlebar post, then go mid for the KHAOS. If your current 155 uses the mid-height post, then go to the shortest. KHAOS riders need be close to the drivers, vertically and horizontally, when piloting this 850 155. Tall handlebar posts will force the rider’s body back away from the drivers, and when this happens, the KHAOS will over transfer. Yes, shock load, and rear suspension tuning will take most this out, but KHAOS responds to body, foot, shoulder and hand placement unlike all the other mountain snowmobiles ridden to date. The KHAOS is a balance beam snowmobile.
Also know, the 2020 Polaris RMK KHAOS responds to incremental shock adjustments much more that the Pro-RMK; it is not set and forget, working with some compromises. The KHAOS Walker Evans shocks are so precise, that you, the rider, will notice gains from little adjustments. Basically, all the “zones” are programmed into the shocks, sort of to write. And the minor changes to rear suspension configuration makes the KHAOS with its shocks a “zone” hunter. So, go kill a zone, not a zombie.
The KHAOS is a 155 sled that can be built with either the belt driven 2.6-inch Series 6 track or the chaincase driven 3.0-inch Series 7 track. We recommend the 2.6 with the fast spooling Low-Inertia Quick Drive belt drive system. Not to end there, new KHAOS purchasers can choose the 800 Clean Fire Liberty Motor, or the 850 Patriot, with the two track configurations. Both are well-suited for this new AXYS Pro-RMK chassis.
The question is, how is the rear suspension different than the Pro-RMK 155 that makes the KAHOS more lively than its Pro-RMK brother; the differences are minor. First are the shocks, which are the the new Walker Evans Velocity shocks. Second, the rails front profile is from the AXYS Assault RMK, which has a longer limiter strap.
The 2020 Pro-RMK 155 and the KAHOS share the same front suspension, difference being, the KAHOS uses the Walker Evans Velocity shocks.
The Walker Evans Velocity shocks give the KAHOS owner the ability to dial in a plush ride while still preventing the sled from bottoming-out (shocks fully collapsing) on the big events. The Velocity Shocks have High and Low speed damping adjustments knobs, located on the reservoir, to adjust to a rider’s riding style.
The goal for the 2020 KAHOS vs. the 2020 155 Pro-RMK LE is to have a powder sled that easily wheelies (quicker and more easily than that of the Pro-RMK 155) due to its front rail being let out more with a longer limiter strap. This makes the KAHOS a little bit easier to maneuver (more flickable like a light and lively dance partner), than that of the 155 Pro-RMK (as mentioned, not that the Pro-RMK 155 is flat footed, it is not).
Lastly, how is the KAHOS different than the AXYS Assault RMK it replaces? The KAHOS has a narrow front suspension, the React, it has shocks that have a wide range of adjustments and as for the KAHOS with a 2.6-inch track, it comes with belt drive. A KAHOS with the Series 7 3.0-inch track relies on a chaincase, as all AXYS Assault RMKs did, regardless of track profile.
While the Pro-RMK 163/174 is still Polaris’ deep powder flagship snowmobile for the 2020 model year, the KHAOS is the king of nimbleness and flickability. It’s all about choice and if you fancy yourself a freestyle rider, the KHAOS just might be the snowmobile for you.