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Does Being the Fastest Matter?


(3/8/2016)

Line 'em up: snowmobile drag race

I’ve been thinking a lot about you guys (and gals): the readers of this site. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about if you want to be the first across the lake?

There were several comments in the 16 Things to Know About Arctic Cat for 2017 story last week that indicated that being the quickest/fastest was indeed very important, at least to some people.

Seems to me that the desire to be the fastest has evolved over the last decade, maybe even significantly.

Arctic Cat Boss Cat III

I think back to when I got into this sport in the late 1970s, being the fastest was woven into the fabric of everyone’s snowmobile suit. The factories were racing; the speed run wars from early in the decade had produced machines like the Boss Cats; and there was a progressive increases in engine displacement/horsepower from various brands that fueled the culture.

Snow Goer Shootout

In the 1980s I remember desperately waiting for the issue of Snow Goer magazine to arrive that had their annual Shoot-Out results. I remember going up to Forest Lake north of the Twin Cities one weekend, and there seemed like hundreds of riders who gathered just to race one another. It wasn’t an organized event, but apparently it occurred most weekends. Plus, there were all kinds of radar runs throughout North America.

Arctic Cat Wildcat snowmobile

It was similar even in the 1990s. The four remaining OEMs continued to build ever-more-powerful machines. The fence along the drag strip at Hay Days was lined four-deep with spectators as the four brands battled for supremacy in multiple stock classes, with chest-thumping ads to follow in the magazines for those who won. Sleds soon took to asphalt at NHRA events; aftermarket companies sold clutch kits by the truckload; and everyday snowmobilers like me and you still seemed to care about who would be first across the lake.

Arctic Cat Firecat ad.

It seemed to me that change to this mindset began to occur in the 2000s. I saw the OEMs putting less emphasis in grass drag races, which coincided with less spectator interest. Instead of talking about which brand had the fastest 600, I remember way more conversations about stuff like rider-forward; 4-strokes vs. 2-stroke; mountain and crossover sleds; and the like. There was only a fraction of the number of local radar runs compared to a decade earlier. I probably saw the most change in my personal sphere of riding friends. We hardly ever “lined ‘em up” anymore.

It’s been a similar story these last six years. Arctic Cat is pretty much the only brand racing grass drags in the stock classes the past couple years; there’s very little (if any) marketing that swirls around being the fastest; engine displacement categories from the OEMs have stayed pretty much set; and I simply don’t see or hear a lot of conversation about who has the sled to beat.

Arctic Cat engineers comparing top speed in 2010.

Now...I’m perfectly willing to admit that it could be ME who has changed, and I’m simply unaware of a still vibrant current of drag/speed supremacy flowing through our sport. And for sure there are still speed runs, drag races and aftermarket companies focused on the task. And every time I ride with Arctic Cat engineering people, they’re constantly drag racing each other.

So I’m asking you: Do you still (or did you ever) race your friends? Does it matter if your sled is the fastest/quickest sled in its displacement class? If you were the person in charge of Arctic Cat engineering, would you place a priority on speed/quickness? Even if it means a sacrifice in handling or ride quality or bump compliance? Is fast top speed by itself good enough, or does it need to be fastest-in-its-class? How frequently do you race against other machines?

There are no wrong answers here, I’m simply curious what you think.

Thanks for reading (and responding).



Comments (56):

Paul Hein says:
3/8/2016 3:50:00 PM

Things change as you get older for sure. My son and I ran NSSR every weekend in the mid 90's. Really cut into our trail riding some years. Other years, with little or no snow, it kept us in the game so to speak. Thru the early 2000's with the Firecats it was all about who was fastest. I had many a heated battle with friends and complete strangers for quite few years. I never lost an impromptu race on my 03' F7. It ran 104mph in 1000' on ice, stock.
My wife and I switched to the Twin Spar 800's in 08'. No sense in racing anybody with those. I still had my F7 and would bring it out when somebody talked smack and needed an a** kickin".
Next evolution was to the new chassis and the four stroke 1100 in 2012. Not exactly a race sled either. Now I ride a 7000 el tigre'. I actually lined it up with a couple guys this winter. Not much competition. A Sno Pro 500 that I had actually owned and my buddies 600 Poo. It was fun but not the end all.
To me, at this time in my life, having a sled that is dependable , takes the rough well and pulls hard between the corners is all I need.
I do miss my F7 though sometimes. ; )
Kevin H says:
3/8/2016 3:54:00 PM

For me personally, it doesn't matter - but then again I'm running a 2016 6000 series sled and not an 800 or turbo. Also, the guys we ride with don't race anyway.

However, for the AC brand I think it does matter to a lot of people. Most guys buying Arctic Cats realize they aren't getting the highest quality or fit and finish; or the lightest sleds; or the most refined sleds; or even the highest tech sleds. The love fast and the bulletproof running of the Zuke laydown motors. They love the AC name and their dealers too. That's why they put up with the quirks -- such as with the F7 because it usually beat the 800's across the lake. But to have a sled that is a little heavier; a little behind in technology; usually more expensive; and not winning races has some people asking why.

To me, AC's niche has been the fastest sleds with durable engines. I mean the Thundercat; then the F7; then the turbos provided a lot of bragging rights.... Still, for me I'd love to see the OEM's focus more on building good yet affordable sleds and let the aftermarket focus on making them faster.
Pluedy says:
3/8/2016 4:00:00 PM

When I was a kid it was the Friday-night "speed trials" on the Del Monte airstrip just outside of Markesan. Run what you brung for bragging rights.

But I've had this same discussion regarding personal watercraft, which I've been testing for magazines since the late 1980s -- there are photos of me running radar on a Tigershark Daytona. At some point PWC got so fast that the opportunity to use all the throttle became limited. To go 70+ mph requires near-perfect water conditions, and quite honestly a fully engaged frontal lobe, because the lake is shared with a lot of other traffic. If you have a snowmobile that goes 120+ how often do you really have an opportunity to use it? So then what's the point? I think modern riders would rather pay for great suspension and handling, more comfort, better fuel economy, than for a few more mph. Of course my fastest sled goes about 50...
Team Mattison says:
3/8/2016 4:02:00 PM

For us Mattison's, it's all about a good cross country family ride. :-)
Mavrick says:
3/8/2016 4:16:00 PM

Having the fastest sled has been Arctic cats MO for many decades, and their diehard loyal fans are willing to put up with some quirks from the factory as long as their sleds rip, meaning i totally agree with Kevin H. The fact that the first two comments on here reference the F7 speaks volumes of how important being fast is, especially to AC riders. AC needs to get back to the inovation that always was present in the past, and i'm sorry but in my opinion the last time AC truely went on their own path was with the F7, i mean who else would of thought / had the guts, to narrow up a snowmobile to not only drop weight, but reduce resistance? Talk about trying something new and not playing catch up, but leading the way.
Ken says:
3/8/2016 4:18:00 PM

John: I totally agree. I want to post again what I posted in the "16 Things to Know About Arctic Cat for 2017."

Quote: "I don't understand why people are wining about speed on the Cats. Depending on the type of rider you are, does it really matter that one machine can beat another? This of course would only be if you are in the racing circuit. Are you guys not watching the racing circuit? What brand is winning? Cat of course! Not taking anything away from the drivers either. Don't need to be racing each other all the time. There are too many variables that will effect who wins on that particular day anyway". End of quote.

If people want the speed then purchase the new Thundercat. It sounds like the Thundercat is the fastest. I for one do not have to have the fastest sled. I don't race, not to say I never have, it's just that I prefer to just ride. Of course only on a Cat!

I do understand the bragging rights thing on who has the fastest. Even the OEMs want that and even market it to the consumer. I still believe that Cat has these bragging rights. I will continue to brag up the Cats no matter what.

Again my point here is just ride, have fun and be safe.
Diggit says:
3/8/2016 4:54:00 PM

To me, racing isn't everything, it's the only thing. It's why I fell in love with arctic in the first place. I've never rode with my buddies, and not encountered an impromptu drag race. I've also never heard the end of the time I lost, or let it slide when I beat my buddies...usually that night while relaxing over cold ones. Maybe it's because we ride different brands. We never go 100+, but if you lose the 0-70 sprint, there's a lot of heckeling to follow, thats for sure. Its this fun taunting and teasing that gets us through the long summer, waiting for winter. Before anyone buys a new sled, they go online to see what's perceived as the new top dog. Same thing for SxS... Why do you think the wildcat sales dropped. YouTube is full of videos of people drag racing. (They may not be designed with that in mind, but nobody wants to lay that kind of money down on the "turd" or the group.) My crowd could careless about the turbo 4 stroke sleds, even if they are the fastest drag racer. Too complex, heavy, and expensive. It's all about well rounded, nimble, quick 2 strokes (I bet sales reflect that too). We all felt let down the thundercat wasn't a big triple 2 stroke. If every year you claim more and more horsepower, but the sleds are slower, start figuring out the inefficient drivetrains. Tired of 800s still getting walked by 20 year old zr/zrt, or fircats. If you have a new engine introduction, slower than last year's, you missed the mark, IMHO. I don't buy a powersport vehicle for transportation. I buy it for fun, shenanigans, and general beat thy Polaris buddies arse.
Mike F says:
3/8/2016 5:18:00 PM

I'm with the Mattison's on this one....lol!
fast f800 says:
3/8/2016 7:50:00 PM

i cant remember the last time i raced somebody but i still want a fast sled. is it the fastest, i dont know. i do want a light sled though. lighter than the new stuff.
Ed Welsh says:
3/8/2016 7:50:00 PM

Being first across the lake will always be a priority for a big segment of the market. ACat has known this for years and has made this part of their dna.

What makes it across the lake first on sunday, has bragging rights till next sunday.
Paul Hein says:
3/8/2016 8:03:00 PM

We all know if the government hadn't put emission regulations on sleds you'd be looking at a completely different line up. That's why there is no new 900 or 1000 two stroke. Things aren't as simple as the old days.
krom says:
3/8/2016 8:33:00 PM

I agree with Kevin, Mavrick, Diggit, and Ed.

Sleds are toys, not bland commuter cars. Guys buy 800's and turbos because they are fun, and fast. Being the fastest if important to a lot of guys who buy sleds. It comes up often at the dealership, guys looking at new sleds want to know that it will be faster than their buddies new doo, or poo.

Doo released an 850 with 10 more hp. I'd say that their market research shows that it is important as well.

I kind of feel you're setting up us loyal bleed green guys, for a let down. Between this, and one of your last interviews, where it was hinted at that the being the fastest isn't important any more, as the wait for the new 800 has dragged on, and on.

If they are having trouble getting an 800 twin to meet hp and reliability goals, I say scrap the whole project, and slam an extra cylinder on the 600. 900 CC triple, triple easily 180 hp, meets emissions, only requires a new case, and head be cast, and will be a piece of cake to stuff in a chassis that fits a 3 cylinder turbo 4 stroke.
Greg Hallstrom says:
3/8/2016 8:55:00 PM

No, speed does not matter. That is not what snowmobiling is all about. In my younger and wilder (more stupid?) days it probably did but after I almost killed myself twice I finally wised up. Now I ride for the real reasons which are to explore the back country and the fellowship of friends in the great outdoors. Manufacturers and even the snowmobile magazines put far too much emphasis on speed when they should be concentrating on such things as ride quality, flotation, and dependability. I would much rather just cruise along and enjoy the scenery or explore a lake or swamp or unplowed forest road than worry about how fast my machine is. That is REAL snowmobiling!
Tom Mahon says:
3/8/2016 9:04:00 PM

Today's snowmobiles are extreme high performance machines , and what's great about them is that you get to use them at your own personal best potential -- You can not do that with a crotch rocket or muscle car- legally . Being fast is a key component , but you also need to corner and suck up the terrain and be ready to go next day. Speed factor is scary, 0-60 and your in the mix is 100% adrenaline boost most people do not experience .-- For $ 14- 15K >> no other toy, car, bike or water craft comes close. Not to mention the wilderness factor . ADK's
Gingy says:
3/8/2016 10:35:00 PM

I used to race my buddies all the time, very seldom now as I get older. Living in the mountains of Colorado we ride the long tracks 153/162 which simply aren't as fast as the shorter sleds, but they sure do go thru the powder much better. Speed and quickness take a back seat to flotation and handling. To answer John's question, if I were the head of Arctic engineering I would not place a priority on quickness or speed for mountain sleds, but maybe for some of the other segments after reading the above comments. Dependability, exploring and sharing with friends and family is where it is for me.
Tom T says:
3/9/2016 12:05:00 AM

I think we have too look at this in a "big picture" aspect. Back when top speed was king that's really all there was. Fast forward to today and now there are so many more types of riding with machines built for that type of riding specifically. I grew up and live in the flats of ND where ditch banging and poker runs are about all your going to do. But after going out west the first time I all but gave up riding around here for more than one reason. Lack of good snow(or any snow) multiple years in a row, when we would get snow our famous wind due to no terrain features blows it into concrete anyway. So western riding has had a HUGE impact on snowmobiling in the last ten years, for me, Cat, and all the manufacturers. Plus you have the crossover segment that continues to grow each year which is not a "speed" driven segment, more of an off trail explore with on trail capability, think UP Michigan. So my point is there are so many more segment specific models now days you actually have options other than just speed alone. Not saying speed isn't fun at all, my F7 was still to this day one of the most exhilarating sleds I have ever riden. But back in the 80's through early 2000's all you had were sports car models of sleds so to speak. Now we have lots of options, bottom line we are living the BEST time in snowmobiling, so get out and enjoy it however you want too.
Erik says:
3/9/2016 2:42:00 AM

Hej John.
No we dont race, But arm streching turbo addiction is hard to live without when you once started. And we are not going back to 2 stroke.

Cats been spoiling us beeing on top for ever. We are starting to get hard to please. Look in the yam yam camp they have got a whole new life buying Vipers (old engine new chassi). They are talking that new turbo engine up to the moon and I think its cool we got an Arctic Cat sled game App for the kids.....

But does the rest of the world?

Tyler K says:
3/9/2016 7:44:00 AM

I agree with Tom T. there will always be that fraction of people who buy a snowmobile to be Johnny Fastest across the lake, that fraction of people has been trimmed significantly. The guys who bought the fastest are throwing turbo's on their sleds and going to the mountains, the game has changed. As a racer I want at least competitive speed, as a trail rider I don't care I just don't want to wrench to ride.
Bob V. says:
3/9/2016 8:33:00 AM

I agree and disagree...Maybe fastest & or quickest doesn't matter as much as it once did. But I think we all know deep down that if you have a great riding sled that is a pooch, nobody wants it new or used. Cat has been a leader in making some of the best performing sleds in the past.
I don't care if you have a pair of two up sleds, 120's or high performance sleds, we ALL do some playful racing for fun. Cat sleds have been performance sleds. Cat buyers want performance. Look at the adds above with the F7s smoking the competition, the 1981 El Tigre holding the title of Worlds Fastest, the Thundercat, the CFRs, to name a few. Everybody wanted to get their hands on these sleds. Why ? Performance ! Don't kid yourselves....
Bulldog says:
3/9/2016 9:58:00 AM

A lot of what Diggit says is spot on. I dont by an 800cc machine to be last across the lake. I fully expect to be as fast as the other brands 800 class machines and being on a Cat I really expect to win! Most of you guys posting on here who just want a sled for trail riding should be buying the Crosstrek or touring sleds. That is what they are designed for. When AC puts out an 800cc 2 stroke that should be marketed to the go fast crowd and AC should make sure it takes down the competition in the top speed department. I can tell you none of my friends are impressed with the speed of my 2016 El Tigre and it makes Cat look like they have no clue what they are doing. Most are talking about buying new E-techs because not only do they have a more modern motor and supposedly the best rear suspension and chassis... but it also kicks my ass across the lake. My 2003 F7 was awesome and so was my 2010 CFR 800 HO as far as speed goes so I know the 800 motor is not the problem. The El Tigre rides and handles much better then those sleds but man it's not even close to as fast on the lake. There has got to be a way to have both and AC really needs to spend some time figuring out their clutching and drive line issues. When it comes to the top iron... performance and speed sells.
Derek Elias says:
3/9/2016 10:02:00 AM

I am 50/50 on this. I've always had the if not one of the fastest sleds in town. For stock class or improved class races, yes it pays to have the fastest sled around for drags. For xc races, if you cannot handle your sled going 90MPH+, what good is all that HP/speed. It's fun to line up with your buddies for a quick flat out drag, but it's also great to trail ride with them as well.

Too have the "World's Fastest Sled" title, you need a great chassis and handling sled, but also you must have the clutching spot on or close to it in order to get all that HP to the ground. But now I'd rather take a leisurely cruise with my F10 & ZR 8RR and if someone wants to shoot their mouth off, I let my throttle do the talking. Sleds have come a long way in terms of technology in every aspect. Every manufacturer is playing the game, and I applaud AC for having the fastest sleds out there.
Bulldog says:
3/9/2016 10:11:00 AM

By the way John... I know I have been critical of AC over the past few years but that has been because I'm frustrated with the last 2 new sleds I have purchased from them. (2012 and 2016 800's) A thread like this really gives me hope that they are listening and I pray to the sled gods that they get the 2018 release of the new 800 or 900 or 850 or whatever it is right. Give us 2 stroke go fast guys something we can be proud of when someone comes up next to us and wants to "see what you got". I used to love taking down bigger sleds with my 03 F7 or having people ask me what I did to my CFR and then seeing the look on their face when I tell them it's stock. Priceless! I also trail ride and do family rides with these same sleds so ride and handling is also important.
Charlie says:
3/9/2016 11:14:00 AM

Yes speed does matter to me as it's one of the items (among many) I value in a sled. If I'm buying a sled i prefer to have the one i pick be faster than the others brands, just like I want it to look better, ride better, have greater durability, etc.. It's one of the criteria that drives my perception of a particular sled or even brand. Is speed the end all be all no, but it sure plays a role in my perception. Speed+Handling+Looks+Durability = perceived value. If one of those is less, my perceived value decreases and make it less desirable.
kawcat says:
3/9/2016 12:16:00 PM

I've noticed since 2005 Cat has been making quick sleds vs fast sleds. I personally would rather make it from corner A to B faster than the next guy. Anyone can hold the throttle in a straight line. I purchase a new sled every 3 yrs and have never had a sled as slow as people are claiming other than top speed. I can make a simple suspension adjustment and always beat the other brand until i topped out. Exception is the F chassis. It was a tank but it in its defense this sled was never a racer and Cat even told us it was designed with the trail rider in mind and I still didn't loose by more than a few lengths . Still one of the best trail riding sleds i have ever owned and warmest, not to mention land mind proof.
Bulldog says:
3/9/2016 12:56:00 PM

Cat should engineer a drive line that gives both hard acceleration for corner to corner and top end speed. Or better yet, a button you push on the handlebars that makes it shift to overdrive by engaging a different gear. How cool would it be to be flying across the lake neck and neck with your buddy and then hit the button, it shifts and you just starts pulling away. ;o) I know, I know... it's called nitrous oxide!
Bill Nemanis says:
3/9/2016 1:11:00 PM

Having read all the posted comments I find myself asking this question; why do the manufacturers race? Speed does matter. I think that the reason I ride Arctic Cat is because of the company commitment to racing. It provides us with not only fast but mechanically sound and reliable machines. We all enjoy reading about team Arctic success in cross country, snowcross, sprint and enduro racing. Team Arctic wins because their riders are skilled and their machines are fast and reliable. I believe that Arctic Cat's snowmobile sales success is very closely tied to their racing efforts, of which speed and reliability are vital componets. I look forward to the continuing competitive efforts put forth by all the manufacturers in all racing venues.
hugh says:
3/9/2016 1:41:00 PM

Yes it still matters who is fastest among friends even at my age. When my new Ctec's both need $500 in clutch parts to make it as fast as a twenty year old ZRT, a sled I rebuilt from the ground up for a nephew, something is wrong. It shows that there is not anyone in TRF anymore that knows WTH they are doing with clutching. I can understand dialing back a little to satisfy bean counters and lawyers but constantly getting drilled by the competition is unacceptable.
tito says:
3/9/2016 2:16:00 PM

I think what their trying to find out if class matters. The turbo put an end to what is fast. The Others MFGs. decided not to play. It dosnt matter to me. But If I was in charge it it might not be good for sales. For the ones that will never give up 2 stroke or the ones that cant afford or dont want a turbo. Dump the 800 class to make it clear. Up the 6000 make 2 versions one a light weight and another you can realy beat on like the present
GregW says:
3/9/2016 3:54:00 PM

You're kidding with this question, right? I certainly hope you're not preparing us for the new ctec 800.

Every guy I ride with wants to be able to go to the front. That has not changed, nor will it EVER change.

What has changed then? The WHERE has changed. Not only do I want to go by you on the lake... I'm not satisfied with that anymore.
I want to go by you on the trail (where safe), through the ditches, across the moguls, up the hillclimbs, through the fields and in the powder. I want reliable, clean, efficeint power. The XF Cross Country is as close to the perfect do-all snowmobile that you've ever made (I turned my '12 F800 into that very sled 3 years ago - right down to the track/gearing). The only thing missing is the new 800.

So my sled has to be able to do ALL of that.

Think of it like this. 20 years ago we had a pickup truck for work, a sedan for the family, and maybe a muscle car if we were lucky. Today, I have a Crew Cab Laramie with a 400 HP Hemi. All in one package.
Bulldog says:
3/9/2016 4:50:00 PM

If I was a 4 stroke guy and looking to buy the new Turbo powered Thundercat or Sidewinder I think I would buy the Sidewinder. (even though I dislike the name) The only reason is I think the Yamaha torsional Clutch will be faster on the lake then the team set-up AC is offering. When talking to Viper owners vs ZR 7000 owners they all say the Viper is faster on the lake because of Yamaha's clutching so I dont see why anything will be different with the new turbo powered sleds. As an AC fan I hope I'm wrong but based on recent history... I bet i'm not.
hugh says:
3/9/2016 6:07:00 PM

You know GregW's thought is scary and sad if Cat lowers expectations any further. Many of us have been through the days of porting, pipes and big-bores. I rode some stuff that would suck your ear wax out. I downsized my sleds for that reason. But i've been believing I would buy a bigger motor just one more time before I retire and quit sledding if it was a Ctec. Shame on Cat if it comes out as a turd and not an overachiever like my laydown 700.
True North says:
3/9/2016 9:43:00 PM

Sure there was a time I had to be first to the end of the lake, but that's about all we rode. Now we have great suspension and easy to ride sleds. 200 or 300 mile days are not that big of a deal now. My 800 cross tour pretty much holds its own doing anything but dependability is everything for me nowadays. I don't want be sitting on the trail or more likely miles from a trail in the middle of nowhere with a broken sled. I want that think to get me home or its gone.
John Sandberg says:
3/9/2016 10:43:00 PM

Great, thoughtful and interesting responses here. Thank you!

My questions aren't in any way a set-up to lower expectations of any current or future sleds. Not. At. All. They're simply contrasting what I see now vs. 10, 20, 30 years ago.

One more question if you're still in the mood to answer: For those of you who do find it important to have the fastest/quickest sled, is it class specific? In other words, if you buy a 600, does it have to be the fastest in the 600 class? Or does it only really matter on the biggest iron?
Charlie says:
3/10/2016 6:49:00 AM

I want the fastest/quickest in a specific class. This is becoming more important now as we see the "biggest iron" pricing a lot of folks out of that market. Pretty hard to justify $16k for one sled just to have the fastest stock snowmobile. Heck it wasn't that long ago I bought two holdover F8's for nearly the cost of the Thundercat... It's not likely Cat will even have the fastest sled in any category based on the poor factory clutch calibration we've seen out of TRF in the past.
Bulldog says:
3/10/2016 8:52:00 AM

I agree with Charlie, I think whatever class sled you buy you expect or at least hope that its the quickest / fastest one in that class. Nobody wants to purchase a machine that doesn't perform as well or better then the other sleds in that class. If I buy a 600 I want to be able to beat the competitions 600 class sled across the lake. The only exception to me would be in the touring / utility sleds. Those should be plush with all the amenities of a luxury vehicle for cruising and tough as nails for the working crowd.
Bulldog says:
3/10/2016 8:59:00 AM

True North - That is why you bought a Cross Tour and that sounds like the perfect sled for you. A lot of us performance guys want an 800cc 2 stroke rocket ship for blasting down the lakes, trails and fire roads. Would it bother you if your Cross Tour was faster on top end? Most likely not. You don't have to use it if you don't want it. But when you want it and it's not there... that's frustrating! Please put the speed back in your sleds AC.
MN Sno Pro says:
3/10/2016 11:12:00 AM

Coming from an aggressive trial/ XC racing type viewpoint in the Midwest I place higher value on suspension calibration and tuneability than raw top speed(Applicable mainly in the 600CC class). I've watched enough identical machines go straight from a crate to the track to know that a sleds "speed" is completely subjective to the guy that set it up, no matter what the engine size.

I've spent time in the upper HP classes too(200 +) and have come to realize it's kind of a joke in my mind. The guy that wants to be the fastest among his buddies is just going to dump more money in his sled to go faster. Sure it's nice to know you're starting ahead of the curve with a fast machine but if you truly care about speed you're not going to run a sled stock anyway.

Priorities in order...
1. Handling
2. Durability
3. Speed

GregW says:
3/10/2016 4:19:00 PM

600cc and up I think we expect to be at the head of the class, depending on the model.

ZR or XF - yes
Touring sled or Two Up - no

I understand what MN Sno Pro is saying... but I'm one of those guys that expects his new sled to come out of the box running at it's optimal level. I should not have to dump money (or time) into it to get the clutching, fuel, and oil delivery right. My 2012 F800 was using oil at 30:1 for the first year. Clutching is still not quite right (it has over-revved since day one 8400 rpm).

This I don't understand coming out of THE racing company.
tito says:
3/10/2016 5:15:00 PM

I dont understand anyone buying an XF cares about speed. Or is track size a class too. How about a color that could be a class
Derek Elias says:
3/10/2016 5:42:00 PM

If I buy a ditch banger 600cc class sled, or a 800cc class sled, I want it to be the fastest box stock. But if I buy a 600 or 800 XF or touring, I'd rather have handling and comfort. Just my thoughts
Mark Viskocil says:
3/10/2016 7:21:00 PM

John,

Rarely do I open my F1000 up against others. Like never. Rarely do I race them. Like never. For me, I love having a sled that I know could beat them, and I love that I never get sick of cracking a beer in the summer and staring at it because it looks so damn cool.

Call me materialistic, but in the next 1-2 years I will have that new turbo engine sitting in my garage. Not to race it, but only because to me, I know I have something when I sit on it. It won't be that beautiful blue version. It will be a Cat, because to me snowmobiling IS Arctic Cat. Bottom line.

However, I may need to have Speedwerx wrap it if Cat can't make the 129 look a little better (like the 2013RR does. That sled looks amazing. Stunning...like a 1986 Pantera :)

Thanks for representing my favorite company John. You really do a hell of a good job listening to people. Later.
Nick R says:
3/10/2016 8:07:00 PM

You know that Queens song.....? I want it all and I want it now!

I think that's how most of us feel.

I think the 800 class is really the most important, are we gonna let those 850 Rotax's make us look bad, boy I hope not.

Of course riding safe and having reliable fun is #1 priority for me.

I might never line up with anyone, ever. But when my F7 blows by my brother's 800 on the lake with, you can bet we'll be talkin about that for years!

And isn't talkin it up with your buddies a HUGE part of snowmobiling? It is for me!
Bulldog says:
3/10/2016 11:13:00 PM

Yes it is Nick R. In my circle of friends me and 3 others represent Cat. I can truthfully say that none of us are happy with the top end performance of our current 800's. They are all 129" ranging from 12 -16 model year and we take a lot of **** from the ski-do, apex and Axys guys when we hit the lake. If we modify them for more speed (clutch kits, riot kit, pipe, can, timing key) you get even more **** for having to put that much extra money into our sleds just to beat their stock sleds. They say, why spend all that extra money and void your warranty when you can buy a stock sled from skidoo that is that fat already? Hard to come up with a good answer for that one. I tell them because Skidoos are like *******s... Everyone has one. ??
Mike F says:
3/11/2016 6:20:00 PM

Bulldog....you really don't know what you are doing...lol...but by all means spend more money on the aftermarket....lol
Ed Welsh says:
3/11/2016 9:09:00 PM

Speed is not the most important part of snowmobiling . With that said, 2016 is my 45 th season of riding. The most memorable stories that are told revolve around racing. Turns out that the older I get, the faster I was. ........lol
Brian Hennel says:
3/12/2016 6:46:00 AM

John, great questions! (Just for background, I'm 47 and have a 2012 F800 50th, 2015 ZR6000R-XC and a 1994 ZR700.) I do still race my buddies and it still matters if you are faster in your respective CC/HP class, more so if it's against another brand. I don't want to be the fastest to the point that I'll buy a Turbo or something bigger than my completion, perceived or actual (any fool can bring a gun to a knife fight), but I do want my 800 to be on par, if not faster then other brands 800's. I don't expect it to be perfect out of the box, but I don't want to reinvent the wheel either. I feel the same about my 600, though maybe to a lesser extent. I just want to trail ride and maybe make a few runs on the lake and know I'm not going to be embarrassed. I'll prepare accordingly and I expect the manufacturer that's getting a sizeable chunk of my money to do the same.

I will offer one more thing about the newer sleds that I feel slows us down, big lug tracks. I don't think most short track trail sleds need a 1.25" plus lug. For my needs (typically groomed trails), a 1" is more than adequate. Lose the quiet drive as well. But that is just my (and most of my friends) opinion.
Brian Hennel says:
3/12/2016 6:49:00 AM

Competition not completion!
FeelTheThunder says:
3/12/2016 2:33:00 PM

I am 53 now and fastest to the end of the lake is everything with my friends. Passing somebody at 80 mph is exhilarating. I started with a used 78 Tiger 5000, bought a brand new 87 Tiger 6000 and two of my buddies had Polaris 600's and I could not catch them on top end, until next year when I bought a new Wildcat and I was back in the lead. Purchased a new 92 Wildcat EFI and later a 2000 T-Cat and a 2002 T-Cat. I still have them and they are pretty stock except for pipes, picks and clutching and can do 118 GPS mph that keeps me ahead of everything except for extreme boosted turbos. You can be fastest in class but that will not help you out on the big trails and lakes, you have to be fastest period. Racing from a dead stop has never been big on my list. I raced an Apex and the owner owned a Yamaha dealership. The sled was built to beat everything by his top mechanics and I just walked by him at 110 mph on the groomed lake trail. Is top speed important? You bet. I rode 200 miles one day with a yellow 800 XRS, his top speed was maybe 106 mph and I beat him all day, everywhere, including powder which surprised me. He was very upset with my old T-Cat beating him.

A new 2 stroke T-Cat would have been great, I will have to see how the new 4 stroke handles. I still ride the T-Cats out at my cottage on Lake of the Woods and I have a 1000 Pantera for my wife. They are exceptional handling machines for the smooth trails and long lakes. To this day I am racing my friends and family and first to the end of the lake, or back to the cottage, is still number one on the list.
flintstone says:
3/12/2016 7:08:00 PM

Game changers sells sleds period, the last game changer was rider forward. The next game changer will sell sleds. I have tons of ideas what I think the next idea will be. Creativity is where it is at... When's the last time cat changed the game?
Snappydave says:
3/12/2016 10:56:00 PM

Is top speed important? ,, heck yeah it is! ,, and so is Dependability. If I'm spending $14K or more for a flagship model, it better be 1st at the other end of the lake. It's like asking the Vette owner why he buys a car that can go 200mph,, his answer- "cuz I can, if I want to- will yours go 200mph ?",, same with these big sleds, cuz I can. snap
Cgs83544 says:
3/13/2016 10:56:00 AM

Did I just read from cat thread does speed matter??? Yes it matter every other article on this site is about how cat is doing.. CC team dominated this t train on a wins again the fastest turbo ever.. On on on... I salute the weekend warriors out there on there new 8 trying to carry the flag ship... I had 00 zrt 8 hit 114 at 70 that machine was starting to come alive not dying out... Been on cats for 20 years it keeps getting harder and harder every year.... Speed and dependability can go achieved with excellent design and engineering.....
Tom Mahon says:
3/14/2016 5:55:00 PM

I was at Old Forge No-SnoFest last weekend , Thundercat got a lot of traffic. How ever this single purpose built machine is not going to help the AC Flag move forward .X- HI-PO multi purpose are the future!
John Swan says:
3/14/2016 10:30:00 PM

BRING ON THE CTEC-2 800 BECAUSE FAST MATTERS!
Bulldog says:
3/18/2016 9:12:00 AM

Right... every time I hit the lake I race for AC. Give me a sled I can bring home the gold with without having to be a master mechanic or buy a bunch of aftermarket go fast parts. I am interested in racing stock for stock against the competition and my buddies and to me the fastest, best looking sleds are the ones people buy. They all handle and ride pretty well now so it's more about being the best performing with the least amount of mechanical issues.
mike says:
3/19/2016 1:23:00 PM

do I care about who's fastest across the lake? well depends. I drive a 600cc sled. yes it will get beat across the lake. no 2 ways about it. if you want to beat me across the lake, then your gonna have to beat me 2 the lake. and good luck with that. trail speed is what matters. not some guy no talent guy that can hold the throttle.
tim says:
12/4/2016 10:29:00 AM

I have not owned a sled in over 10 years. In the past I have had 800 storms 900 thundercat ,F5, zr 580, 440 snow pro , 440 red rocket,440 prowler, edge 600, zrt 600 and a few more. I look on craigslist for a nice used sled under 3200 bucks. I live in Minnesota and lake runs and ditch riding is what we do. I have zero interest in a 4 stroke and it seems like everything has a paddle track. I want speed I want power and I want fun. I see a ton of F7 in that price range but most seem to have high miles and rode hard I understand why there has been no reason to replace your F7 because they rip they are fast and why spend big new money when your old sled for a less then half the price will smoke you across the lake. I am happy to report that there are a handful of nice thundercats T 1000 under 3000 miles well cared for out there and I am going to but one this week. For me and most the friends I ride with the first and most important question is HOW FAST IS IT ??? All I can say is its faster than yours and everyone knows this.

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