Polaris History of innovation
Polaris launched the first razor ten years ago and throughout the decades they’ve created new platforms in the power sports industry but it all started in a small garage in northern Minnesota way back in 1954.
Edgar had seen his brother Alan and David Johnson built the first Polaris snow machine in Roseau Minnesota. They had this idea they wanted to solve a problem with stopped so showing up to Lake of the Woods and they came up with a snowmobile.
The brothers and David created a machine to get them where they wanted to go but it also laid Polaris’s foundation rugged innovation combined with spirit and drive that’s never left the company.
Sixty-five years later Polaris remains a fixture in Roseau. They built ATVs snowmobiles and military side by sides. Sometimes it feels like the entire town works for Polaris. Spend time with any Polaris employee and you know how proud they are to be an American company with Minnesota roots.
While Polaris started in Roseau in the last decade the company has expanded across the US and beyond. Still on the gas for 65 years and Counting.
In 2008 Polaris released the very first Razor and any off-road enthusiasts who hasn’t been living under a rock for some years knows the razor changed the game entirely. It’s crazy to think that 2017 was only ten years though especially when you look at the progression of razor models that have come out of Roseau Minnesota from the very first 50-inch razor 800 to the latest razor 1000 tour beau s. It’s even crazier is the number of models that have been released over then years if you count just individual models and not model subsets you’re gonna come up with 15 different vehicles. There was two specialty vehicles with the RS1 and 170. If you were t include all the subsets the number would jump to at least 50 but probably more like 60 or 65, not to mention most of the 15 different razors went through at least one if not two or in some cases three complete makeovers. The sheer scope of the razor product line and the influence its had on this industry and only a decade is staggering. We thought it might be fun to take a look back at where the razor began, how it got to where it is today and how Polaris has managed to stay on the cutting edge of pure sport side-by-side design for so long.
50-inch Polaris RZR 800
The very first 50-inch RZR 800 was released in 2008. It boasted an 800 class parallel twin that produced 50 horsepower. The first version was pretty basic with just standard steel wheels gas-charged shocks and no fancy bling. The razor 800 was immediately an overwhelming success and Polaris seeing an almost infinite potential in this style of vehicle wasted no time bringing us the razor 800 S, which was basically the same as the 800 just 60 inches wide with cool-looking fender flares. The RZR S was really the model that proved just how capable the RZR platform could be. The increase in width along with the subsequent increase in travel and some upgraded components allowed riders to go bigger and faster then they ever thought possible on a stock vehicle.
After the RZR S there was flurry of activity behind the curtain at Polaris as they began releasing new RZR models in rapid succession. During this time we got the 800 XT , the RZR 4 800, the RZR 900 XP, the RZR 570 and the RZR 4 900.
Polaris RZR 4 900 XP
The 900 XP was the first big departure from the original front and rear double-a arm design of the 800 and 800 S and it was released in 2011. It was the first RZR to utilize a three length trailing arm rear end that not only increased travel pretty dramatically but also improved all aspects of the RZR’s ride in handling. 900 also introduced us to Sport side by sides with horsepower approaching to 100 mark with its 88 ponies. The four seat concept was one consumers had been begging for since just after the original 800 hit the shelves and it again proved to be a huge success giving entire families the ability to enjoy riding off-road together.
Polaris RZR 170
One of the more unique models introduced during this time was the RZR 170. Well met with some skepticism at first when consumers found out how fun and durable this vehicle was, it didn’t take long for more and more of them to turn up on trails anywhere they were legal.
Can-Am Maverick 1000
In 2013 Can-Am released their Maverick 1000 and beat Polaris to the 100 horsepower threshold. In most people’s opinions the Maverick wasn’t quite as good in the ride and handling department but that extra power was definitely exciting.
Polaris RZR XP 1000
Polaris wasted no time in responding and released the RZR XP 1000 in 2014. This was their first entry into the hundred horsepower side by side category and it was a winner. Where the Maverick had the power but lacked the suspension and handling the XP 1000 had it all. With this one move the horsepower war began between Polaris and km. After the XP 1000 km took things a step even further with the release of the industry’s first factory turbocharged side by side.
Polaris Turbo 1000 and RZR XP Turbo
Again though Polaris was already working on their own Turbo 1000 and the RZR XP Turbo wasn’t far behind showing up in 2015. Investing the Maverick by only a few ponies with 144 at first but was later on in the season bumped up to 168. The back and forth in horsepower was actually amusing and could be likened to two kids one-upping each other on the playground. In the end though both companies found their sweet spot in terms of horsepower with the final iteration of the RZR XP Turbo settling in at 168 big ones.
X3 Turbo – XP Turbo S
In 2017 for the first time in nearly a decade Polaris went a full season without a major new model release. During this time though Can-Am didn’t sit still and eventually released the X3 Turbo with 20-plus inches of suspension travel 170 plus horsepower and a long list of incredible features. Polaris immediately responded with the XP Turbo dynamics which brought a higher level of technology to the side by side a mystery than anyone ever thought possible. Fully active suspension gave the XP Turbo just enough of a boost to be exciting for one more season which was all the time the minds of Polaris needed to brings their biggest baddest and most impressive RZR to life the XP Turbo S. The Turbo S is a completely 100% new vehicles top-to-bottom that both specs like 72 inch width 25 inches of usable wheel travel, 32 inch tires, 3 inch internal bypass shocks with live valve technology and Polaris extreme performance on-demand 4×4 system. The new RZR 1000 Turbo S is the impressively spec side by side to date.
Polaris RZR RS1
The new vehicle is the RS1. The RS1 builds on the success of the ACE platform but it’s included in the razor lineup because it’s targeted at the highest level of performance buyer. In only one year it’s begun to change the industry once again and RS1 racing classes are popping up in all different styles of racing including GNCC works and best in the desert among others.