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The 2013 Arctic Cat Snowmobile Engine Family


(3/2/2012)

My original plan was to post an image of each of the six engines that power 2013 Arctic Cat snowmobiles. So I'll start with that.

 

2013 120 engine for Arctic Cat Sno Pro 120 snowmobile

The 120cc 4-stroke for the Sno Pro 120. This baby produces 125 hp, 95-ft.-lbs. of torque and... oops... wait a minute, I'm getting ahead of myself.

 

2013 570 engine for Arctic Cat snowmobiles

For adult-sized snowmobiles, the introductory/lowest-hp engine is the 570cc fan-cooled 2-stroke twin. Rated at 62-63 hp, it's found in the F570, T570 touring and Bearcat utility machines.

 

2013 Arctic Cat 500 engine for snowmobiles

Next up, the 500cc liquid 2-stroke twin, which produces something in the neighborhood of 80-85 hp. I've been a big fan of this non-APV-valve engine since it came in the Sabercat. Other than at elevation, it's powerful enough for half of all Arctic Cat riders.

Half of all Arctic Cat riders???

Yep. Meaning most youth, most family-type riders and even hard-chargers who ride the Sno Pro 500. Granted, the Sno Pro-riding hard-charger is able to ride with the bigger iron due in large part to the capability of the chassis, but the fact that the 500 is light and decent in the mid-range means that it'll go toe-to-toe with nearly anything when in the woods.

 

2013 1100 engine for Arctic Cat snowmobiles

There's a 40-hp jump from the 500 to this, the 1100 naturally-aspirated (NA) 4-stroke twin. As everyone here knows (and has an opinion about), this is the 120-hp option for Arctic Cat, going up against both 4-stroke and 2-stroke options from the other brands.

Thanks to improvement in nearly every category of performance from the ProCross chassis (compared to the Twin Spar), I've grown to enjoy this engine for its inherent strengths: quiet; good mpg; 120-class hp; wonderful reliability. As a 4-stroke its significantly heavier than a 600 2-stroke. And because of the 360-degree firing order, the sound quality isn't inspiring.

It got something of a bad-rap when it debuted in the Z1 in part because that whole sled was too heavy, and a lot of people just dismissed it from that point onward. I think if it had debuted in the ProCross, a WHOLE BUNCH more riders would embrace it.

Like the 500 twin, I believe it's a great engine for a huge portion of all Cat riders.

 

2013 800 engine for Arctic Cat snowmobiles

The 800 H.O. 2-stroke is truly a sweatheart, which is a conclusion that took me a couple years to arrive at. Its 160 ponies can be truly intoxicating, in part because they hit instantly. I ponder the future of snowmobile engines and wonder: will we really want/demand MORE performance than this? I know history would answer "yes," but... really!?!

The reason I fell in love with this baby is because for all its outstanding thrill factor, it can be equally tame and easy to ride for non-hardcore riders. I know this because both my wife and son loved riding the 2011 F8.

As others have commented on this site, the 800 gets decent mileage, is light (nearly as light as 600 twins) and is seamless in operation. For the 125-hp rider who won't ride anything but a 2-stroke, yet who worries about this having too much power, I can assure you that it's manners will erase that fear.

Yet, as others have written, it does come with additional costs compared to a 600 twin, both in terms of up-front cost and insurance.

 

Arctic Cat 2013 1100 Turbo snowmobile engine

From the hp standpoint, this is the mac-daddy of the entire snowmobile industry. And as anyone who has experienced a 2012 Arctic Cat will attest, it's amazingly-fast. Maybe even crazy-fast, at least at lower elevations and on hardpack.

The numbers 177 hp/121-ft.-lbs. torque sound impressive, but it isn't until I actually felt them for the first time that I truly understood. And even after many days of experiencing this engine over the past few years, I'm still as impressed and WOWed as I felt the first time.

Is it the perfect engine? Not for me. As a 4-stroke that gets the extra heft of the inter-cooled turbo, it definitely weighs enough. The hit of power isn't as instant as the 800 2-stroke. And, in the ProCross/ProClimb, the turbo waste-gate sound is too loud for my liking.

I was thinking about this and was reminded of the 900/1000 triple-triple 2-stroke that powered the old Thundercat. I had pretty much the same complaints about that engine that I do the 1100 Turbo. It's true that I loved riding these engines for a day or two, but they weren't the kind of engines that I wanted to spend my own money on.

Back in the late 1990s I always opted for the 500/600 twins. And that's still the engine category I'm most attracted to. So while pondering this recently, I grabbed my 1998 Arctic Cat snowmobile brochure, just to look at the power choices available 15 years ago.

Here's the list:

60 fan (Kitty Cat)

340 fan

440 fan

440 liquid twin

500 liquid twin

550 liquid twin

580 liquid twin

600 liquid twin

600 liquid triple

800 liquid triple

1000 liquid triple

 

That's 11 engines, compared with the six we have for 2013.

Of course we can thank (or despise) the EPA for that, as the onset of emissions requirements has all but forced the consolidation of resources to produced fewer, cleaner engines.

Yes, economics plays a HUGE role in the reduced selection of engines. The snowmobile industry is currently selling about half as many snowmobiles as it did in 1998. It wouldn't be financially viable to develop/certify/produce 11 different engines for the current market size.

Yet even if the market were back to 1998 numbers, it still wouldn't make sense to have 11 different engines. There's too much overlap (there were four engines in the 500-600 category alone... which I think we can agree is at least two too many).

Were I the Grand Wizard in charge of all things Arctic Cat back in 1998, I can see grabbing the red marker and cutting the engine options. Here's probably what I would have been left with:

 

60

440 fan

500 liquid twin

600 liquid twin

600 triple

1000 triple

 

That's six engines total, the same number we enjoy today. Yes, compared to the original list of 11 engines, there would be some slight gaps in the line-up, but nothing detrimental.

The same is true today. Were I again given the green light to be Grand Wizard, I'd add a 600 2-stroke twin to the current line and call it a day.

These are interesting times for Arctic Cat. It will be fascinating to see what unfolds in  2014 and 2015 in the wake of Cat divorcing themselves from Suzuki engine supply. And I think the effort that's in place for that is why we haven't seen more, new engines to date.

The days of whipping up hair-splitting engine displacements to satisfy niche categories are over, at least as far as I can see into the future. I'm okay with that.

Likewise, when I look around the entire snowmobile industry, it seems clear that both 2- and 4-stroke engines will be part of the model mix, at least in the mid-term.

I'm happy about that.



Comments (27):

John Ethelweisner says:
3/2/2012 3:55:00 PM

Were I again given the green light to be Grand Wizard, I'd add a 600 2-stroke twin to the current line and call it a day.


Get 'er done!! LMAO
Greg Hallstrom says:
3/2/2012 5:46:00 PM

While I was disappointed that Cat did not come out with a direct injected two-stroke 600 last year, I am more than happy with the 800 I ended up buying. Like a big bore Harley, it only has to work half as hard as the old 600 I had in my '09 Crossfire. That alone should make it last longer. And, at cruising speeds it doesn't seem to burn any more gas or oil either. The 800 also seems to idle cleaner. Yet, the extra power is there when you need it or want it. Maybe Cat is on to something with the 800 for us two-stroke fans and the 1100 NA for the four-stroke fans.
dann says:
3/2/2012 5:52:00 PM

98' was the first year for the 1000 triple thundercat , was no 900 in 98.
ram rambler says:
3/2/2012 7:26:00 PM

Bring back the Jag 340!
akrider says:
3/3/2012 12:12:00 AM

I think it would be in both Cat and Yamaha's best interest to partner up. Yamaha has the 4-stroke expertise and Cat knows how to build great chassis. The Cat 2-stroke program can focus on DI 2-strokes with help from Yamaha. A Procross f1100 with a Nytro or Apex motor wold be very cool and easily be the best NA 4-stroke sled around!
jeff says:
3/3/2012 7:24:00 AM

For all you guys that cry about not having a 600, you must put a few hours in riding a sno pro 500. I came off a Crossfire 7 to this, and other than some top end this sled feels like a rocket ship from 0-60. It tops out at about 85mph, but really how many places can you average speeds higher than that anyways?
John you need to drag your 500 against the 1100 your currently riding, and give us your opinion.

Dave 800 HO says:
3/3/2012 4:29:00 PM

Glad you are not the grand wizard. I am not a four stroke fan. DI the 800 and develop a DI 600.
Brian Manderscheid says:
3/3/2012 10:02:00 PM

Hey Jeff...I'm one crying about the 600's, and bought a 500 Snopro new in 2010. I really think they would sell a lot of 500's in the Procross chassis. The 500 snopro just needs a few things for the average rider. I hated having to remove the entire hood, and HATED the headlights.
Brian Manderscheid says:
3/3/2012 10:04:00 PM

The more I think about it I'd like a fuel injected version of the power valve Firecat F5 engine. With engine reverse. They were like 105 HP if I remember correctly.
jerry says:
3/4/2012 12:39:00 PM

Ahmen Brian, you hit the nail right on the freakin head. I've had both 500, 600 firecats and the 500 kicked the 600's butt.
Jason Currier says:
3/4/2012 5:52:00 PM

Yep F-5 500 w/ power valves would make most 600's blush...
how hard would it be to make this into the new platform? hmmmm...
John Sandberg says:
3/4/2012 8:56:00 PM

I too would like a 105-hp 500 fuelie, but I doubt the volume of that category would justify the cost of producing an emissions-compliant engine.

Any new engine built now and in the future needs to be clean. The current 85-hp 500 can stick around because it's not terribly dirty, and because it already exists. But it will have to be replaced by something when Cat splits from Suzuki.

So, if your Arctic Cat and you've determined that you need an engine smaller than 120-hp... what hp should it be? 100, 85... what?

Jeff: If I get a chance, I'll drag the 500 and F1100. That'll be interesting.
N/A says:
3/4/2012 8:59:00 PM

Or we can all just wait until the already patented DI engine comes out next year.
flintstone says:
3/5/2012 5:12:00 PM

I prefer the reliabilty of the 4 strokes.. so much less worry and hassle then the 2 strokes,more power, can hold them to the bar forever and they last the life of the chassis pretty much mainteance free!!
Chris B says:
3/5/2012 8:35:00 PM

John,
What are the test procedures of an engine to qualify it as a "clean" engine?
I heard it was a timed event.
John Sandberg says:
3/5/2012 9:26:00 PM

Chris: To make a long story really, really short... snowmobile engines are tested to an EPA procedure to determine its emissions of carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbon (HC) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx). A manufacturer cannot exceed prescribed levels based on their entire sales fleet. The testing protocol is done on an engine dyno, with emissions-monitoring equipment.

If you want to get really confused, read more about it here:
http://www.epa.gov/otaq/recveh.htm
racekid says:
3/5/2012 10:49:00 PM

Even though my family is die hard AC people, we just got back from a week long vacation in the Michigan UP and a couple guys that went along had rented ski doos with the ace 4 stroke motor.
They sure made us look foolish at the gas station even with the 440 ZL as we were gassing up and all they needed was the bathroom and a candy bar. These sleds performed well on the groomed trail but were under powered in the 20 plus inches of fresh snow.
In my opinion, AC is still missing out on the economy end of the sport and should focus on a few sleds that limit the horse power in favor of 25 to 30 mpg.
John Zanon says:
3/6/2012 7:25:00 AM

Love to read everyone's coments! I think that speed turns heads and sells sleds! However, I'm Arctic Cat's 2nd oldest snocross racer and at 53, when I want to trail ride, I jump on my 1968 Panther. I can putt along, it gets me where I want to go on short distance trips, gets a lot of attention, and I also get to see snow covered trees and wildlife along the sides of the trails!
I'm retired from my full time work and I'm thinking about dropping racing and getting back to trails. I'm more interested in economy than speed when it comes to trails. One thing everyone has to have is a vintage sled in their garage...you won't be sorry! ...John
Greg Hallstrom says:
3/13/2012 4:41:00 AM

Interesting note about fuel economy. On our 50 mile ride from the Northwest Angle of Minnesota across the Big Pond (aka Lake of the Woods) to Kenora, Ontario, this past Sunday, my XF800 Sno Pro actually used one liter less petrol than the Cat Girl's F570. Of course, it cost me one Canadian penny more as my kitty uses premium and her's uses regular. But, it shows the big 800 can be a docile feline with good manners as long as you don't peg the throttle to the handlebar.
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Snowmobile designer says:
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I enjoyed reading about the engine. Oh boy, I remembered those engines in 1998 or even before that!

I have my own lineup as if I have my own company and has been doing that since age 8 (1972). My engine line-up is listed below this paragraph is for modern times. It still range from 60 (Kiddie sled) to 1600cc LC 4-Stroke (for workhorse). This line-up is just fictional and not following EPA. I am a designer and futurist. The ranges are..

60
120
250
440 Liquid
600 Liquid
600 4-Stroke
900 Liquid
1300 4-Stroke
1600 4-Stroke

That is my 9 different engines for 65 different models to choose. Yes, some sleds I designed are NOT found in any line-ups today! Quite a bit of same as other line-ups but added sleds like what Sno-Hawk was, and the old Ski-Doo side by side, twin-trackers, different kind of utilities, covered, Indy-style Manta type of snowmobile, wheeled, ATVs types, you name it. Also had two-ups, covered two-ups, side by side, street legal all-year, etc., etc.

Just please bring back the cat names!! Panther, Pentera, Jag, Eltigre, Puma, etc. Not alphabets!! So, I am going to stick with Classic Cats, not modern! Besides, I am short at 5' 3", I feel those sleds today are TOO big! They need to reduce to classic length of between 96 and 104 inches. Not larger, please!! It is also too high! Ha. Man!
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