Tag Archives: polaris

Jack Rabbit Revved Up on Rockstar – 1st Ride on the 2016 Polaris 800 Pro-RMK

My first ride on the Polaris Axys Mountain Snowmobile Chassis in Alpine, Wyoming

Better than Burandt?

2016 Polaris 800 Pro RMK 155IS an average mountain rider better on the Pro RMK Axys than professional rider Chris Burandt on his “old” 2015 Pro RMK? Nope. However, the thought that came to me riding the new 2016 Polaris Pro RMK 800, “I might now be a better rider than Chris Burandt on his 2015 Pro.” I could make the sled do whatever I wanted. Later, I got it stuck in a hole surrounded by trees – I dug a nice, deep trench. Yep, I proved you can still get stuck on the immortal 2016 Pro RMK. I might have been the first to get the 2016 Pro RMK stuck. But I won’t be the last.

All the stuff that feels so good on the Pro chassis is still DNA of the new Axys RMK chassis. The running boards, the handlebar orientation, the feel of the quick belt drive, it’s all there. Polaris did not fetch it up, they took the ProRMK to the “NXT” level. Literally. The ride was out of Dan Adam’s NXT Level Clinic‘s shop in Alpine.

The new 2016 Polaris 800 Pro RMK 155 is more powerful, more responsive and more controllable. It transfers the mood and personality of the rider right into the sled. What ever mood you’re in and regardless of snow conditions, the  sled will do what you want with less effort than ever before.

CONCLUSION: The new 2016 made me a better rider, but only in my dreams as good as Burandt. I may have to wait a few more years for that sled. How can it make you a better rider?

Jack Rabbit on Rockstars

Jack Rabbit playing in SnowBest part….the button that turns on the power. Power is reeling out the track, in a hypersensitive way. It’s like they replaced the throttle lever with a control button that fires the power instantly to the track. I did not really notice hesitation before, but Polaris engineers made it more responsive. A new electronically controlled oil pump makes the engine as responsive as a light switch. The new 2016 Pro RMK hops up on the snow like a jack rabbit revved up on Rockstars. 

168 Horsepower

The 2016 Polaris Pro RMK 800 engine puts out 168 horsepower. DISCLAIMER: “At some dudes dyno shop somewhere on some day in some conditions.” Regardless of the numbers being thrown around, this sled is more powerful and more reliable – as proven on the flat-lander sleds the past season.

The devilish details include a lighter crankshaft, grooved pistons and 3-stage electronic exhaust valves. Polaris engineers fine tuned their power plant recipe to even the horsepower playing field with Cat and Ski–Doo. The dyno wars will be buzzing, but the real tests will continue to play out on the mountain.

408 Pounds Strong

I know what your thinking, “Did they use more glue on the a-arms?” Or, “Are the a-arms going to fold at the first mogul now?” Nope. In fact, the new a-arms are forged aluminum. Lighter, check. Tougher, check.

Track. The all new track has mean, lean 2.6” lugs. More traction and even lighter than the 2.5 track.

Benchpressing a 2016 Pro RMKSIDETRACK: Watch a guy bench press a 2016 Polaris 800 Pro-RMK (basically)

To Play Video of this guy bench pressing 408 pounds CLICK HERE.

Headlights. The new LED lights are lighter in both ways.

AXYS Platform. The new chassis is actually reinforced more at the weak points on the chassis making it stronger than the 2015 Pro chassis. But, they still managed to make it even lighter.


Have Fun Pretending

I am Chris Burandt while riding my Pro RMK the same way I was Michael Jordan on the Elementary School ball court. Kudos to the engineering team at Polaris. 408 pounds made it a little easier to lift out of that treacherous hole in the trees. Now we’ll have even more power, lift and energy to boondoggle through the pow and pretend like we’re Chris Burandt.


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Karate Kid of Powersports

Average vs Great Businesses

Average companies and great companies have a great vision, develop innovative strategies, set goals, become accountable to budgets and execute relentlessly. However, what separates the average from the great is focus and fight.

Focus in an organization is the ability to align the vision, strategy, the wildly important goals, budgets andKarate Kid Mr Miagi execution. Fight in an organization is the ability to fall and get back up every single time. Polaris Industries provides an example of both.

Polaris Karate Kid

Tom Tiller was the Karate Kid of the powersports business. During the summer of 2003, I was sitting next to Tom Tiller, Polaris CEO, on a shuttle to ride the new ATV’s that Polaris was introducing at their manufacturing facility in Roseau, Minnesota. Just as he would for any inquirer, Tom clearly described his vision, goals and plan to execute to me. (the 10 minute version) He always had a story with a vision. He knew exactly where he wanted to go. He would fight until he succeeded. Anyone that heard him share his vision could hear the conviction in his voice. His goal: Be a 2 billion dollar business by 2006. Part of their strategy would include acquisitions.

Faced with Failures

2006 was a year of setbacks. In 2005, Polaris posted an impressive 1.9 billion in sales. However, with a poor snowmobile season, Polaris missed the mark under performing it’s prior year sales for the first time in 24 years with less than 1.8 billion in sales that year. In addition, Polaris was pursuing the acquisition of KTM. They purchased a 25% stake in KTM in 2005 as a stage 1, but stage 2 never came and the partnership unraveled prematurely at the end of 2006.

Going Global with Acquisitions

The setback in revenue retraction in 2006 was a catalyst for a revised plan. Dealer News reported, that Tiller and his management team put together a revised three year plan that mandated, “$150 million in net income…on $2.2 billion in sales.” Behind the wildly important goal to achieve 2.2 billion in sales, was a new vision and an aggressive strategic plan to go global and become the leader in powersports.

Goupil Small Electric Vehicle

Goupil Electric Vehicle

Although the KTM deal never materialized into a full blown acquisition, it helped Polaris prepare for several successful acquisitions in the coming years. The best result from the KTM deal was the framework that was established for Polaris to be a company that executes successful acquisitions.

Successful Polaris acquisitions in just the past four years include Global Electric Motorcars (GEM) from Chrysler in 2010, Indian Motorcycles and Goupil in 2011, Eicher Motors (a joint-partnership) and Klim in 2012, Aixam Mega in 2013, Koplin in 2014. Besides gaining acquisitions experience, the KTM deal helped Polaris expand operations in Europe propelling their expansion into a global company. After 2006 Tiller and his leadership team learned from the setbacks and established a framework for the future.

No Fear Fight with RZR

Throughout 2006 and lasting a few years, Yamaha got beat to a pulp with lawsuits and media attention over roll over accidents in their popular recreational side by side, the Rhino. In the summer of 2007, one of our sales guys actually took a customer for a demo ride. The salesperson decided to impress the customer by spinning a cookie behind the Rexburg Motorsports facility.

Jared Burt riding Polaris RZR at St Anthony Sand Dunes

Jared Burt riding Polaris RZR at St Anthony Sand Dunes. Dealer News published the story in July, 2008.

The customer stuck his leg out as it started rolling over, and snap. The ambulance came and hauled him away. It was a mess. The settlement between his attorney, Yamaha and our insurance company wasn’t resolved for four years. This was only one of hundreds and hundreds of cases filed against Yamaha. Later that year Yamaha released an update installing doors and wheel spacers on all Rhinos, but it just made the lawsuits come in even faster.

How does Polaris respond to this adverse market risk? Do they pull their similar Ranger vehicle off the market because of the risks of lawsuits? No, they fight! In 2006, Tiller and his leadership team finalize plans (in the peak of the national Yamaha lawsuits) to launch the all new sport Ranger RZR. (They obviously weren’t looking for advise from their legal department.) The RZR is a faster, more sporty and aggressive version of a Rhino that came to market mid-2007. The Polaris RZR has been wildly successful and today Polaris dominates the side by side market in both the utility and sport segment. RZR became metaphorical “crane kick” that propelled Polaris past the recession. (See Karate Kid crane kick video)

The antithesis of the bold RZR launch was the death of the Rhino. Yamaha pioneered the recreational side by side market starting in 2004. They had the manufacturing capability to launch innovative sport side by sides that would have been difficult for Polaris to compete with. Instead, Yamaha’s sales took a nose dive because they decided not to fight with new sport model introductions and discontinued Rhino production last year.

The Results of Focus and Fight

By 2013 Polaris revenues increased to $3.7 billion, the fourth consecutive year of 15% growth in both revenue and earnings. Polaris also eclipsed Harley Davidson as the new global powersports leader. Tom Tiller is long gone from the organization, having turned the reigns over to Scott Wine and Bennett Morgan in 2008. The setbacks and failures in 2006 were the turning point which necessitated more intense focus. The courageous response of Tiller and his team had set Polaris up for tremendous success.

A New Fight with Focus

The setbacks and courageous decision to get back up and fight in 2006 resulted in a plan with aligned vision, strategy, wildly important goals, budgets and execution. The KTM deal gone sour helped them prepare for future acquisitions and develop a distribution network in Europe. They deployed strategy to create new product segments and acquire companies including entry into the global small electric vehicle market. Polaris has updated and upgraded their wildly important goal. A business journal recently reported “[Polaris] sees 2020 revenues around $8.0 billion, representing a 12% compounded annual growth rate. This should be achieved by 5-8% organic growth, with another $2 billion revenue contribution from acquisitions. Net income should increase towards $850 million, as net profit margins should increase above the 10% mark.”1 The goal is aggressive, and they will probably have some setbacks on the way. The good news is that this company has an incredible amount of focus and fight. Don’t be surprised when they succeed in achieving this audacious goal.

Being Great

Polaris introduced the new Victory Magnum bagger at their 60th Anniversary Meeting in 2014.

Polaris introduced the new Victory Magnum bagger at their 60th Anniversary Meeting in 2014.

Polaris became great because of DNA within the company, leadership and culture to focus and fight. Guided by a strong vision, they pursued their principles in the face of failure. Too Frequently, there is a disconnect in a leader’s vision with the goals. Often, the budget does not reflect strategies that are being implemented. Executing effectively and decisively requires focus; aligning the vision, strategy, budget and wildly important goals. When results don’t go as planned, there is a set back, or mistakes are made. Learn from Polaris’ example, get back up, focus and fight!

1 Seeking Alpha, Polaris Industries – Great Long-Term Investment, Has Seen Runaway Momentum In 2013

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Surfing Asphalt on the Polaris Slingshot

Giddy with a broad smile, a bug actually stuck to my teeth. Early on the morning following Polaris 2015 product launch in Minneapolis, I was finally riding the worst kept secret in Powersports; the 2015 Polaris Slingshot. I was being convinced. Was it really a motorcycle? I had to flash my motorcycle endorsement before I rode. I was wearing a helmet. I could sense everything around me, the wind on my chest and a bug in my teeth. Then, the twisties came. Nope. It’s a car. A car that sits only 5 inches off the ground and rails around corners, but definitely a car.

Best guess on top speed is 135 MPH

Best guess on Slingshot top speed is 135 MPH

Technically, it’s a three wheel roadster, the term used to describe the three wheel hit, the Can Am Spyder. Nevertheless, I was having a blast on this new Roaster with the 2.4 liter General Motors EcoTech engine at 173 horsepower, 166 foot pounds of torque and a 5-speed manual transmission. Polaris engineers designed it with the perfect center of gravity utilizing mass optimization. Then, they added a coil over a-arm front suspension that soaks up all the bumps. It also stays planted around corners with the help of an anti-roll bar. Slingshot has a rear aluminum swingarm for the traction controlled rear wheel which is how Polaris earned the official motorcycle classification. It still let me lay a patch of rubber at a stop light because traction control is turned off at low speeds. It weighs in at 1,687 pounds and gets about 25 MPG and a fuel range over 200 miles. My guess is the Slingshot’s top speed is 135 MPH. No one would say what it is and I only got it up to 80 on the highway but top speed will come out soon enough.

Jared Burt First Slingshot RideThe base model retails for $19,999.  Four thousand dollars more will get you the SL Edition in red that comes with over $5,000 in accessories including a premium audio system, backup camera with a large LCD screen,a windshield and nicer bigger wheels and tires.

Riding around the suburbs of Minneapolis, it was fun to see the kids stop everything and stare as we rode by. The exotic look of the Slingshot makes it a fun vehicle to show off. More importantly, the Slingshot is a blast to ride. So whether it’s a car, a motorcycle or a roadster, Polaris stayed true to their core and has designed and built another innovative vehicle with a fun factor that will get your heart pumping a little faster every time you surf asphalt. – Jared Burt

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