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Max Sled Review: 2009 Entry Level Fans- Arctic Cat F570 and Polaris 550 IQ Shift

snowmobile

Finally what is known as "entry level" gets the "big boy" chassis after all these years. Well, the 550 IQ Shift anyway. Last year, Arctic Cat introduced the F570 in the Twin Spar chassis and we've often commented that the Polaris 550 fan would also work great in the IQ chassis. Now either brand loyal entry to mid-level rider can feel good about riding the fan engine sleds. Not that the older chassis were that bad, just that snowmobiling has grown beyond them. Better ergonomics and modern aesthetics drive the market now and what better way to get someone excited about your brand when they are just starting out; than to put the fan motors in the current chassis.

snowmobile F570

F570

The F570 provides decent power, but also offers lighter weight than a liquid with less maintenance. Dad doesn't want to have to worry about their kids cracking a heat exchanger or mess with radiator fluid. He just wants their kids to go riding and have fun. There are some advantages to a fan motor; they are light weight, heated air can warm the hands and they provide just enough, but not too much power for the novice rider.

Arctic's Twin Spar is a chassis that has come along quite well over the last few years and the F570 gets a pretty stellar package with digital/analog gauges, electric gas gauge, reverse, hand and thumb warmers and electric start. About the only limitation is the color choice; green.

The suspension gets standard twin tube shocks and the track is a 128-inch x 15-inch with 1-inch lug.

MAXSLED SCORE
OVERALL 3.4

Overall Style

3.4

Ergonomics

3.4

Front Suspension

4.4

Rear Suspension

4.0

Engine

3.0

Chassis

3.6

Windshield

3.6

Gauges

3.2

Amenities

2.2

Overall Feel

3.4

Max Sled Test Pilot Comments. "This is a very good entry level sled. The power is perfect for a new rider and the suspension and steering work very well together. On the negative side, the engine power is probably only adequate for novice riders." - John Gag

"I truly believe that this sled is fits the beginner rider the best because it's not overpowered and it won't get the operator in trouble as fast as some of the others. The graphics on this sled should be improved to attract the young rider." - Steve Franta

"The F570 handles incredibly on the trails. The front suspension corners flat and is very stable. The rear suspension takes the bumps out of the trails. The power is lacking on this model, but it is an entry level sled. I'd like to see a little more power to play with. A mid-level rider might get bored with it very quickly." - Randy Nemitz

"White and green colors look good together. The front and rear suspension are at the top of the industry. The engine needs more horsepower, but then again, it is a price-point sled. I think there's too much plastic around the rear end of the chassis. I would like to see an improved version of the adjustable seat on all models." - Brent Nelson

"The F570 continues as Cat's entry sled and in the Twin Spar chassis is a nice sled to look up to dad with. The engine power is average and while perfect for a novice young rider, feels a little underpowered compared to the same engine as the other brands." - Shane Zeppelin

snowmobile foto F570

Polaris 550 IQ Shift

Polaris 550 IQ Shift
снегоход Polaris 550 IQ Shift

The 550 fan engine from Polaris has been a mainstay for many years. The only problem was that it was stuck in the older Edge chassis. That was fine when the Edge was in, but the Edge has been replaced with a more ergo-friendly version with an improved front suspension. When Polaris introduced the Shift last year, we thought the 550 fan would be a great engine to put in that model. For 2009, we got it. The 550 IQ Shift feels like the 600 up to about 50mph - the "sweet spot" when trail riding, and that make this model well worth a look for the entry or budget minded market.

What adds to the coolness of the Shift is the fact that you can dress it however you like, or leave it naked. Plus, the 550 fan feels like it has more power than the other brand's air-cooled engines. You get Phantom brakes, Ryde FX MPV shocks and a lightweight freestyle seat with the newly sculpted fuel tank. You also get PERC reverse. Electric start is optional and the gauge is the old fashioned mechanical analog; while it works fine, other brands have gone digital. The track is a moderate 121x15x.91 lug.

Max Sled Crew Comments. "This sled felt quick for a 550 fan. I like that the 550 fan is offered in this chassis; it's about time. It's a perfect price-point entry level sled with decent suspension technology. There's not a lot to dislike about the 550 IQ Shift. With it being an entry level model, it might have been nice to be offered with a different color hood like Polaris blue with no graphics." - Shane Zeppelin

MAXSLED SCORE
OVERALL 3.4

Overall Style

3.6

Ergonomics

4.0

Front Suspension

3.8

Rear Suspension

3.8

Engine

3.4

Chassis

3.8

Windshield

3.4

Gauges

2.4

Amenities

2.2

Overall Feel

3.4

"This sled is set up well for the beginner rider. It won't get you in an uncomfortable situation too fast. It's a great starter sled for a great price. This was a well thought-out sled that will fit in most budgets." - Steve Franta

"The hood style and all black color look great. One of the best starter sleds for the money. I don't like the looks of no rear idler wheels and I feel it needs to have a taller windshield. The seat and seating position are very good." - Brent Nelson

"I love the idea of the Shift and the price. This is just a plain fun sled to ride." - Randy Nemitz

"This snowmobile is very competitively priced and the handling package is excellent for the new rider. I wish there was a way to save money on graphics and still communicate information like model and engine information." - John Gag

As you can see, both brands run very close overall with one brand having better gauges and suspension and the other having a better chassis and ergonomics.

The entry level or budget level, whichever way you want to look at it, has evolved into the modern snowmobiling age. There's no shame in riding any one of these sleds. When I was growing up, I was riding fan-cooled sleds with a lot less technology than these and it makes me jealous that today's novice riders have a choice of sleds we could only dream about when we started out.

11/13/2008 - Shane Zeppelin shane@maxsled.com
www.maxsled.com

 
 
 

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