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Ride Report: 2015 Arctic Cat ZR 4000 RR


(3/13/2014)

Ride evalutation of the 2015 Arctic Cat ZR 4000 RR. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Ride evalutation of the 2015 Arctic Cat ZR 4000 RR. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

This winter I’ve had the good fortune to ride two different ZR 4000 RR models in three distinct conditions.

The first was on the Day 2 route of this year’s USXC I-500, which included river and ditch. The second occured this past Saturday, when I rode a lap of the severely whooped, 6-mile USXC racecourse in Walker, Minn., following the day’s racing events. The third experience was last Sunday, during a 75-mile trail ride in the Walker/Hackensack area (photo on the tight/twisty Snoway #1 trail above) with my son, Team Arctic Race Manager Mike Kloety and his son Derek.

Those are three very distinct conditions that reflect where most people will ride.

For those who want the nutshell review and don’t want to read the nuance, here’s the skinny: The 4000 RR is a laugh-riot to ride. It’s light, it goes through the bumps like a dream and it has a level of power that makes you feel like a hero in most conditions. For cross-country racers wondering how it compares to the venerable Sno Pro 500, the 4000 RR far more comfortable and plush; is more predictable in the bumps; but it gives up a little bit of precision while cornering under power.

Read on to get the more complete story.

 

2015 Arctic Cat ZR 4000 comparison

If you’re considering an RR instead of the LXR, you probably already know the differences. But if not, the above chart illustrates them.

If you’re not a rider who likes to blast the bumps and you have no intention of racing, the LXR is the better choice of the two. Softer suspension calibration, reverse gear, tall window and lower price make that choice pretty easy.

If you are a hardcore/aggressive rider, the 4000 RR is pretty dang sweet. First of all, it feels light. I haven’t seen an actual weight, so this is based on perception, but the front-end feels like it’s 15-20 lbs. lighter than my El Tigre ES.

Second, this is a chassis and suspension package that goes through the bumps very much in control and in comfort. I’m a huge fan of FLOAT ski shocks’ ability to soak the sharp and big hits. And with the FLOAT 3 EVOL versions on the RR, the bumps are absorbed, it offers excellent manners through the chop AND minimal compression roll while cornering.

Third, the 4000 Series engine makes me feel like a hero. Because it accelerates and runs fast enough to provide great thrills, but it doesn’t scare the crap out of you with dumb speed. In other words, I can truly ride this engine to its limits and still be in control.

The comments on the first ZR 4000 story I wrote make it clear that some people are not happy with 85-hp. I get it, and fortunately there’s a 125-hp version of this same sled, called the ZR 6000 RR.

Having owned a Sno Pro 500 since 2010 and having paid close attention to what others owners say about the sled, I’ve noticed that people who actually own or ride the 4000-Series engine are not the people complaining about it. On the contrary, they’re perfectly satisfied and know that a lightweight 85 hp engine is an advantage in many situations.

Speaking of the Sno Pro 500, that’s where I’d like to devote the next couple hundred words, because many of you are pondering if the ZR 4000 RR is a good replacement for your SP.

The answer is maybe.

If you’re a trail rider, no question in my mind, the RR is a better overall machine. It has a way more comfortable seat; a more plush and predictable rear suspension; better fit and finish (without the annoying shin protrusion on the cowling); is quieter; has a larger oil reservoir; doesn’t vibrate your feet; has far better headlights (and tail light); and comes with better shocks.

Ride evalutation of the 2015 Arctic Cat ZR 4000 RR.

If you’re a cross-country racer, I also believe the RR will be a slightly better option, at least in the ditches. It tracks straight with no twitchy nervousness when going through the bumps. The seat is far better for me, as I sit as frequently as I stand when racing XC.

For sure I could have raced the Walker USXC course faster on the RR than I did on my Sno Pro (which also has EVOL ski shocks), because of the better handling in the bumps/holes.

Arctic Cat ZR 4000 RR and Sno Pro 500 Comparison

We raced the RR against my Sno Pro 500 a half dozen times on Sunday and they were straight up even every time. And as I noted in my first story, top speeds on snow will be in the 80-85 mph range depending on snow conditions.

I don’t yet know which sled is better for lake cross-country racing. If we look back at the lake races during the 2012 season, those first-year ProCross sleds were better than the handful of Sno Pro 600s that also competed. Perhaps that’s an indication of what to expect with the 4000?

Two areas that the Sno Pro 500 continues to excel are cornering and braking. It stays flatter while cornering under power, with less push than the RR. And I still prefer the braking performance of its jackshaft-mounted system.

My son will continue to race our 2010 Sno Pro 500 in the Jr. 10-13 class next season instead of getting a new 4000 RR, for financial reasons as well as the fact that the SP500 is still a great sled. He’s bummed out about that, having spent some time on the RR last weekend. He likes the RR better.

If you’re a snocrosser and wondering which sled is best, I can’t offer much insight. The Sno Pro chassis offers a bit more of an attack position, with the rider a little bit closer to the ski spindles as well as a better view of the skis. I know that difference was a challenge for some Team Arctic racers during the switch to ProCross in 2012. And certainly some people like the Sno Pro chassis position better while others prefer the ProCross.

[It should be noted that the 2015 ProCross RR chassis is slightly different than the 2013-newer race sled chassis, with the latter getting a tipped-down front bulkhead; longer front arm on the rear suspension; slightly different steering system; and slightly wider A-arms.]

The Sno Pro 500 has been a fantastic snowmobile during its five-year run. For me, it ranks as an all-time great Arctic Cat. It entered the arena to a chorus of grumbling for only having 85 hp and not being an 800, but it quickly won the hearts and minds of many, many owners. It transformed cross-country racing by offering bulletproof performance; that only needed studs to be race-ready; and that offered sane speeds for young and old riders alike. Plus, the fact that Arctic Cat made no significant changes during it’s five year run meant that you could race the same sled for several seasons.

The ZR 4000 RR isn’t the purebred racer that the Sno Pro 500 was. It bridges the gap somewhere between pure racer and high-perf consumer sled. I believe it will be every bit as successful.

Thanks for reading.

2015 Arctic Cat ZR 4000 RR

Far more refined and comfortable than the Sno Pro 500 that it replaces, the 2015 Arctic Cat ZR 4000RR delivers a more predictable ride.

Ride evalutation of the 2015 Arctic Cat ZR 4000 RR. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Running prototype ZR 4000 RRs along the race route on day two of the USXC I-500. Four of us rode that day, and each remarked that the 4000 is the perfect amount of speed and performance for ditch racing... and more fun than a 600 race sled.

Arctic Cat ZR 4000 RR and Sno Pro 500 Comparison

Swapping between a couple Sno Pro 500s and the new ZR 4000 RR during a day of trail (and some lake) riding near Walker, Minn.



Comments (16):

Shannon W. says:
3/14/2014 7:19:00 AM

Cat pretty much has an engine package in the PROCROSS chassis for everyone at this point and several different suspension packages to match. I would love a 4000 for my son and I would spend plenty of time on it too!
One thing I have noticed over the years is that a normal day of trail cruising consists of speeds between 30-60mph depending on trail system, the larger the group the slower the riding. I have had 440's-1000cc sleds over the years and now own a Crossfire 800 because I like to play off trail a bit more now. My point is that unless you have to be first across the lake the 4000 would be a suitable sled 80-90% of the time and in my case I need a sled that won't scare the crap out of my 12yr old son, but I could jump on and run the trails and have a blast! I will really consider one for next season. Unless John wants to give me a smokin' deal on his sno pro 500!!!
John Zanon says:
3/14/2014 7:25:00 AM

John, I agree with Cal...I think your son needs a new ZR 4000 RR!
"Can't you pick up another part time job, maybe a paper route or something, to help him out?" LOL
Great articles on great machines, and I enjoy all the stories.
John...you go above and beyond!
Johnny Skeptical says:
3/14/2014 8:13:00 AM

This sounds like a great sled from a entry level, to performance trail rider. If there was one complaint I had after riding the SP500 was that it was unpredictable. To hear that there is a noticeable difference between the two chassis may just put one into my garage of 4 strokes :-O
Jeff says:
3/14/2014 9:12:00 AM

Being an owner of a Procross 1100 and a snopro 500 its hard to give a comparison because of the huge weight variation of the two.
As Johnny says unpredictable for the sno pro, the first couple rides i would have to agree. but after some good seat time it's unreal how well you can control that chassis. My all time favorite. Beside's the procross being a better looking sled, softer seat and more area for the Knees, thats where it ends.
The snopro has better lower/mid body wind protection, the tried and true Wilwood brake and old style chaincase, Team secondary, flatter running boards, and easy access to everything under hood.
Cat seems to have fallen in the same pattern that doo and polaris have had for years, almost the entire lineup of sled looks the same.
The sno pro was different, and for that I'm gonna miss it from the line up.

Maybe the Yamaha brand could take it, paint it blue, put the Phazer motor in it(maybe even turbo it) and we would have quite the ride.

Long live the sno pro
I Bleed Green! says:
3/14/2014 11:46:00 AM

I think they should bring back the SnoPro chassis with the Ctec 600 in it, and the RR rear suspension. BEST SLED MADE BY ARCTIC CAT EVER!! BAR NONE!

Joe says:
3/14/2014 12:03:00 PM

I just spent a couple days riding a variety of sleds including the ZR4000 LXR, ZR 6000 and some ZR 8000s and I have to say that the ZR 4000 is one of the funnest sleds I have been on in a while. I don't ride much but have put on almost 600 miles in the last couple weeks and for what we ride in in NW MN I see no need for anything other than a ZR 4000 or ZR 6000. I thought that I would also mention that on an 80 mile stretch of trail riding around that 60 mph avg the ZR 4000 got an impressive 16 mpg! This is just a novice riders opinion.
taperk600 says:
3/14/2014 12:55:00 PM

John, THANKS for the review. I've picked out a couple points in your write-up:

Your comment : "Having owned a Sno Pro 500 since 2010 and having paid close attention to what others owners say about the sled, I’ve noticed that people who actually own or ride the 4000-Series engine are not the people complaining about it. On the contrary, they’re perfectly satisfied and know that a lightweight 85 hp engine is an advantage in many situations."

I agree 200%. I shocked people when I ordered mine in 2009, going from a 170 hp F8 to "85 hp". Then, as friends rode it the next season, every one of them was "WOW !!! That doesn't feel like 85 hp!" I still have my 2010 that I pre-seasoned and it's still all stock except for suspension mods. Have also has 3 720s, a ported, and a shim kit 500. But I still like my original all stock best. Gonna hate to see it go when fall comes.

For those who still complain about 85 hp, grab a 6-RR. I'm loving mine this season. It's light, nimble, and has the extra hp that the 500 motor is just shy of needing once in a while -- like on wide open trails and lakes.

Your comment: "Two areas that the Sno Pro 500 continues to excel are cornering and braking. It stays flatter while cornering under power, with less push than the RR. And I still prefer the braking performance of its jackshaft-mounted system."

I have seen this also comparing my current 14 6-RR to my 500SP. In tight, twisty trails, I like the front end performance of the 500 better. More exacting and confidence inspiring. And definitely FLATTER. I've been working all season to get my 6-RR to corner as flat and as precise as my 500. I'm getting closer, but the 500 still does it better. Maybe it is being more forward over the spindles like you mention. I didn't pay attention to that to be honest. On the brakes, I noticed a HUGE difference between my 2 previous ProCross F8s and the 500. But on the 6-RR, the brake is much closer to that of the Wilwood on the 500. Not sure if it's the "race light weight" brake rotor or what is different. Maybe the weight of the sleds ? But the RR brake is much better then the regular Procross brake.


Anyway, as always, great report John. I have ordered my 4000 - LXR not RR though as posted in your other 4000 report. If my wife likes it, we'll sell her F6LXR and I'll order a 4-RR.
Paul Hein says:
3/18/2014 4:31:00 PM

John, have you ridden the ZR4000 LXR ? I'm wondering what they have setup differently between the LXR and the RR as far as clutching and gearing.
I may sell my 2011 500 SnoPro and go with the LXR for a back up sled.
Thanks !
taperk600 says:
3/19/2014 10:49:00 PM

Paul, see John's report : http://www.arcticinsider.com/Article/Feeling-the-Love-2015-ZR-4000-Review on the 4-LXR
Paul Hein says:
3/20/2014 4:37:00 PM

taperk600 Thanks but I have read that a couple times, and the comments. Maybe I'm missing something. I'm thinking everything like the ECU setup , gears and clutch are the same on both models ? Owning a 500 SnoPro that's not what I'd expect when I see LXR ! It would be fine with me, just wondering.
John Sandberg says:
3/21/2014 11:01:00 AM

Paul, I'll have some answers for you about clutching/gearing in a bit (purposely vague deadline... nice, huh?).

I haven't ridden the LXR. Talking to someone who did ride it this Wed., the verdict is that it's suspension calibration very plush and comfortable, probably great for most mid-sized riders or anyone who goes slow-med pace. Too soft for pounding.

Beauty is on 2014 and newer LXR models is that they have rebuildable Cat IFP shocks, so you can stiffen up the valving (as well as change springs) if it's too soft.
yamahabandit says:
3/23/2014 8:33:00 AM

Did I miss something????????????
Paul Hein says:
3/25/2014 5:11:00 PM

i think there's a glitch in the system. I sure hope so ! WTH
Mark says:
11/16/2014 3:45:00 PM

John, Do you know who the suspension was setup on the 4000 RR you rode? PSI and compression and rebound settings? Thx
brad says:
1/10/2018 10:53:00 AM

the 4000 RR is awesome
brad says:
1/10/2018 10:54:00 AM

really fast

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