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Initial Thoughts: 2021 Blast Break-In


(1/4/2021)

With enough snow hitting the surrounding Minneapolis area just in time for a white Christmas, our family got to spend some quality time breaking in our new 2021 Blast. Here are a few observations on this right-sized ripper: 

The right-sized 2021 Blast vs 1993 Yamaha Ovation

Our 1993 Yamaha Ovation is about as clean as they come, and has been an excellent snowmobile for both my son and daughter. Its size and ease of use are fantastic for new riders. Same can be said for the Blast. Thing is, the Blast has far lighter steering, ride quality and handling is far superior, and the Blast's snappy 400cc CTEC2 single-cylinder engine is a true smile-maker for ANYONE who throws a leg over it.

Last spring I shared a few spec comparos between these two units if you are curious:

 

2021 ARCTIC CAT Blast ZR 4000

Engine: Arctic Cat 397cc CTEC2, single-cylinder, EFI, Electric Start and Engine Reverse

Front Suspension: Dual A-arm with AMS spindles, 7.2” Travel

Ski Stance: 37-39” Adjustable

Rear Suspension: Slide-Rail, Dual Shock and Adjustable Torsion Springs, 10.7” Travel

Track: 14” wide x 121” length

Overall Chassis Length: 115”

Overall Chassis Width: 44”

Overall Chassis Height: 38”

Fuel Capacity: 11.7 gallons (US)

Crated Weight: 415lbs.

 

1993 YAMAHA Ovation
 

Engine: Yamaha, 337cc, piston-ported, radial fan-cooled twin, electric start 

Front Suspension: Telescopic Strut Suspension front; 5.5 inches of travel

Ski Stance: 34.3”

Rear Suspension: Yamaha modified Pro-Action, trailing arm and link arm, two shocks; 5.5 in. travel

Track: 15” Wide x 98” Length

Overall Chassis Length: 100.4”

Overall Chassis Width: 40”

Overall Chassis Height: 43.8”

Fuel Capacity: 8.1 gallons (US)

Dry Weight: 368lbs.

The Blast has new "rubber" vibration dampeners on the exhaust pipe springs

When I got the Blast home for set-up, as you can see in first photo, I stripped off the hood and side panels. The first thing I noticed was the "rubber" vibration dampeners in/around the exhaust springs. I believe these to be unique to the Blast, but if you have them on your 2021 full-size, put a note in the comments.

 Probably overkill, but I added some RTV high-temp gasket maker to the exhaust springs.

Out of habit, I went a step further and added high-temp RTV gasket maker to all the springs. Why? Its an old cross-country race trick to minimize the chances of those springs breaking. Its probably overkill, but it can't hurt. 

I installed a ROX Speed FX seat cover to our Blast Seat

I added a ROX Speed FX seat cover, which really helped improve a "richer" look, but also improved durability. The ROX cover comes standard with a gripper top and carbon fiber side panels. The fit and finish is top-notch, a trademark of their products. Price is $199.95.

When it comes to seat foam density preferences, the topic will range in rider opinions like asking, "What type of oil should I run?" My initial impression of the early build Blast ZR seat last spring was the foam being too firm. The production version feels slightly softer but Ill have to ask engineering if indeed it is. Regardless, I do like the narrowness of this seat, and the height is about perfect for young-to-adult riders.

I swapped out the single-runner carbides with these dual runners from Arctic Cat

The Blast comes standard with a single-runner ski carbide. And although single-runners typically add a few mph on the top end of any snowmobile, the drawback can be trail darting. We put roughly 100 miles on the single-runners before swapping out with these dual offset runners with 4-inch carbide from Arctic Cat. Trail darting was minimized, precise cornering was better, and rider confidence improved. All wins in my book.

It's important to note if you buy these, there are Left- and Right-hand sides.  (PART# 2703-598 Right, PART# 2703-599 Left)

BELT BREAK-IN

One of the things I learned from Engineering during my time at AC, was the proper way to get the most life out of a new drive belt. The first 25 miles should be at speeds of 3/4 throttle or less with occasional revving the engine up and down (but not exceeding 60mph). I can't tell you how many belts, and countless miles Ive traversed breaking them in for marketing events. It works, and at $130(+) per belt, its worth the little bit of time.

HEADLIGHT

For my preference, the headlight was aimed lower (towards the ground) than I like. One of the greatest things about the Blast is how simple it is to access the engine. The side panels are the same narrow GEN 2 versions found on full-size M-Series models, and remove via the same two quarter turn fasteners. One 30mm torx head bolt and two quarter turn fasteners remove the very lightweight hood. Access to the headlight adjustment is simple.

The headlight can be adjusted for vertical aim. When you adjust the aim, its important to have an average rider weight on the snowmobile. Use the LOW beam to adjust aim. Adjustment can be made via the screw on the bottom of the headlight until correct aim is obtained. Its so simple (as it should be) it reminds me of working on my 78 El Tigre. 

THE WRAP-UP

Ill keep sharing our family experience with the right-sized Blast over the winter. So far, its been nothing but smiles for anyone who gets on it!  



Comments (23):

Travis says:
1/4/2021 11:12:00 AM

AC should put a 600 or 800 in that Blast! Maybe a 60th Anniversary edition?
Daddy Mac says:
1/4/2021 11:22:00 AM

Does switching from the stock single wear bar to the dual runner set up require the entire case of liquid knowledge or no?
JimR says:
1/4/2021 11:57:00 AM

It has happened to me in the past Daddy Mac. Waiting for snow has been tough on the liver.
Kale says:
1/4/2021 12:28:00 PM

Travis - Crated weight on a Blast ZR is 415. Once you add a 600 or 800, figure out an air intake (that meets emissions and sound), I don't think you'd be any further ahead (weight-wise) than what is already offered in a Procross chassis. (Fullsize ZR) I would love to see weight taken out of the ZR though, but not enough to compromise its durability.

Daddy Mac - Switching runners was a one Keurs project. Admiring the whole sled once set-up, involved 35, and a bathroom break.
TripperCat says:
1/4/2021 12:34:00 PM

You don't actually believe that a single runner carbide adds speed do you?
Kale says:
1/4/2021 12:42:00 PM

TripperCat - I DO believe a single runner carbide adds speed. In the past, AI did a story on squandering speed...here were some tips to gain speed (per Arctic Cat engineers) that still apply today.

1. Low windshields consistently deliver 2-4 mph higher speeds than mid- or tall-height versions.

2. Use 91 Octane fuel (on models that require/suggest it).

3. Compared to unevenly-worn units, new hyfax add 2-3 mph in most conditions.

4. Drive belt alignment (offset, parallelism and deflection) can play a HUGE role performance loss/gain. Overlook these critical tolerances and you’ll never know what you might be missing.

5. Cold temperature and low humidity will produce more hp (and higher speeds); a factor to remember when you’re speedo is registering fewer mph one day than it did the week prior.

6. An over-tensioned track will drop 2-3 mph compared to one that’s properly tensioned.

7. The taller the track lug, the better the loose snow acceleration but the slower the top speed. The 1.375-in. Cobra track is an excellent all-around track, but it’s not as fast as the 1-in. Hacksaw on ice or hard pack. The 1.25-in. Ripsaw is best for quick acceleration and good top speed ON FRESH/MEALY SNOW.

8. Single-runner wear bars are faster than dual-runners.
brian says:
1/4/2021 12:49:00 PM

Any feed back on how well they have sold?
Kale says:
1/4/2021 12:57:00 PM

Brian - Im not privy to numbers, but I know from talking to dealers, far more could have been sold based on demand, and if dealers had more in-season inventory. That said, Im not sure if demand was increased because of Covid and families looking to get outside, or consumers realized how cool the sled was, and tried to buy one in-season? This is a weird (highly successful) powersports sales year. In hindsight, I wish I had ordered two ZR Blasts.
GSafford says:
1/4/2021 1:12:00 PM

My 2021 ZR8000RR has the same spring dampeners.
BogBoy says:
1/4/2021 2:48:00 PM

Daddy Mac...you should know that hydration is key for clear thinking and lubrication is required to get the wear bar lined up with the bolt holes in the skis. I'll drink to that...burp!
Snonut says:
1/4/2021 6:42:00 PM

My dealer recommended using a single carbide on one side and a dually on the other. It pretty much eliminates the darting and saves a little bit of money
Steve-0 says:
1/4/2021 7:18:00 PM

Kale,

Love the info. I just bought a Blast Long Track. Great sled, and everything you report is true. It is a little dartier than I like for my kids so I'll prob throw some different runners.

I have one issue tho: The engine has been a bit stumbly at constant throttle at about 6000 rpm. That works out to about 30 mph on the trails, which is where my kids and I often ride when it's bumpier. Runs well but then cuts off fuel just a split second before recovering. No issues when accelerating...only when riding at constant speed or decelerating slightly. I thought it was just break-in fueling, but I'm past 200 miles now and about ten hours so I would assume I'm into normal fueling mapping?

Any insight? Anyone else notice this? It's not terrible but if it continues I'll bring it back to dealer to look at.

Thank,

BTW the dealer I got it from was sold out. I had put deposit down on mine in early December and didn't get to pick it up til after Christmas. My kids (and wife) love the thing, stumble and all....
SteveC says:
1/5/2021 7:43:00 AM

Steve-O: 6000 rpm could be where the exhaust valves start to open? Just spit balling.....

Maybe try going to 6500 or below 6? See if it still does it?
Kale says:
1/5/2021 8:01:00 AM

Steve-O - During my initial ride, I didn't feel any weird spots in the map, but that's not saying much. Usually you can find those after riding any model a few times. Ill pay closer attention when I can pry the Blast away from the rest of my family.
krom says:
1/5/2021 8:56:00 PM

Sales would have been much better if they built enough units in the spring for dealers to have one or 2 on the floor, during the order period.
Its one of those things that people need to see, sit on, to buy.
JimR says:
1/6/2021 7:28:00 AM

Krom: Dealers here in Minnesota have these sleds on the floor or I should say did have as they are about sold out. Betting there were sleds on the floor at most dealerships.
Kale says:
1/6/2021 8:41:00 AM

Krom - I don't disagree with you at all. I wish AC woulda built more to have on the showroom floor in season. JimR is right though...AC did a great job getting Blasts in the hands of sales reps last Spring and into dealerships and events for display and demo rides. (Then COVID entered the mix) There were plenty of opportunities to see, sit on or buy if anyone who was interested searched a Blast out. But even with those efforts, you don't reach everyone with a new model launch. Not sure where you are located, but I know if you went to Country Cat or Thomas Sno Sports, they recently had Blasts for sale on the floor, plus they have some demos they'd let you try.
Krom says:
1/6/2021 9:21:00 AM

Kale,
My dealer here in NY said their rep had 1 single blast ZR last spring, they got it for 2 days. When I stopped in Christmas eve, they hadn't even gotten all their snow check blasts yet.
Dano says:
1/6/2021 12:44:00 PM

Took my Blast LT out for a spin at the lake last weekend. Bought it to pull my portable ice house out on area lakes and ride around to the local watering spots. Sled feels good and 400 engine is entertaining. Arctic has something here! I'm 6ft and to heavy to publish the number after Christmas but I feel good on the sled. As mentioned above its the "right size" sled for what I'm using it for. Longer runs I'll grab my ZR but I can tell you already I'm going to grab the Blast LT for some of these runs. Calling the Blast a 'Kids sled" isn't correct. New era I guess!
Robert Klapperich says:
1/6/2021 4:07:00 PM

Krom, I agree with you. While I was able to ride the ZR and M last spring, not everyone did and I feel really lucky to have that experience. This year, of all years, I think an opportunity to boost sales was missed by not having more of them on at dealers last spring AND this fall. Hindsight is always 20/20, but I'll bet they could've doubled Blast sales this year with inventory.


As far as the Blast goes, I can't remember if I've said this on AI or not, but that sled embodies all of the good things from the past and none of the bad. I remember sleds that were light and nimble, not as powerful but still fast and easier to move around the garage or trailer. But, those old sleds were miserable to ride under anything except ideal conditions, and the Blast doesn't have any of that old baggage. They're a lot of fun, and I think if Cat stays the course on those, things will work out well.
Fred says:
1/6/2021 6:38:00 PM

Cat ppl thrilled with a kids sled ?
Mr. Green says:
1/9/2021 12:48:00 PM

Thanks for this thread-keep them coming! I wanted to buy a Blast ZR, but chickened out on it being first year and wanting to see what AC does for anniversary.
Steve-O says:
1/10/2021 11:42:00 PM

Kale, thanks...

So I put another couple hundred miles on my Blast LT.

Bad news: stumble is still there at that 6000 rpm light throttle mark. I took it out for an aggressive 70 miles of ditch riding today and it kept doing it. I'll take it into the dealer. It feels like a fuel mapping issue....just barely on the throttle or going off the throttle at about 30 mph. Irritating because it causes a stumble that keeps me a bit off balance between bumps.

Good news: I'm hopeful my stumble can be corrected because this is a sweet motor. Anyone who thinks this is a "kid's sled" should ride one. It's a much better motor than any 550 fan I've ridden, better than a 500 twin Cat liquid I had a few years ago. The thing has tons of low end torque, and great midrange. It will lift the skis pretty high on accelerating and it beat my ZR800 on a zero to 20 race (on mediocre traction -- the long track helped, a lot). Hit top speed of 66 mph today on a trail. And this is a long track. Also I checked speedo against one of those radar signs outside of a town. Speedo was exactly accurate.

Point is, the motor is great. Chassis is fun. Steering is too darty for me, so I'll go with different runners. Rear suspension is set too soft now. I'm 200 lb and ride pretty hard and I was bottoming the rear a lot. Front was good, never had an issue. I was running some very bumpy ditches pretty hard, mind you. Way faster than when riding with my kids.

Better: This thing is a great sled for new riders. Clutching is super consistent with zero lash on take-off. It's like an auto trans in a car. Barely off idle it just creeps forward. No lurches, no jumps. Engine runs with very little smoke. My wife, who is a newbie, loves it.

Best: I tried to see if I could overheat it today. Very dry trails that were almost solid ice in places. I was on the full throttle a lot, and coolant temp never budged over half. I even rode hard and let it sit idling for five minutes to see if it would overheat. Nope. I love that. My 800's both are hot blooded and if I'm going across a long icy lake they can get hot, even with scratchers. I like that this one seems to be fine no matter how much snow you throw at the radiators. I ride in Minnesota and I'll go in low snow, so that's good to know.

Oh, the grips and thumb warmer are insanely hot. They're like little Chernobyls. Wish Cat had toned them down a bit. Most people don't ride at 40 below. I turn them on and off a lot.

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