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Christmas Came Early: First Ride of the Season

(12/23/2017)

Pre-Christmas first ride of the snowmobile season. On Arctic Cat. ArcticInsider.com

Christmas came a few days early for me and a few friends, with each of us hitting pause on the myriad work and life responsibilities during the gnarly prelude to Christmas, to instead enjoy our first ride of the 2017-2018 snowmobile season.

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Join the Club and Wear the Pride: 2018 Cat's Pride Club Kit

(12/22/2017)

2018 Arctic Cat Cat's Pride Club kit

Cat's Pride Club is the oldest snowmobile brand club in the world. I'm also pretty sure it's the largest snowmobile club in the world too.

The value of these kits is pretty awesome. It's also awesome to have club gear going back 25 years... jackets, hats, drinking glasses, decals, Pride magazines, pins, and more... all fun reminder of years gone by.

Check out this year's kit (and wear the pride if it suits you).

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Part IV: (Not All) Snowmobiles Are Too Expensive

(12/19/2017)

Snowmobiles are too expensive? Arctic Cat comparison by ArcticInsider.com

I want to thank everyone who's read, considered and/or commented on the stories in the "Snowmobiles Are Too Expensive" series. It's been an interesting ride parsing out fact, fiction and the price we pay for the stuff in our lives.

This is the last of four parts: the conclusion.

Let me know if you agree.

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Part III: Snowmobiles Are Too Expensive! (Just Like My Phone)

(12/7/2017)

Snowmobiling on a smartphone.

Do we enjoy the same earning power today that we did in 1994?

If snowmobiles are too expensive, what does that say about our smartphones, internet and cable television?

These are some questions that are worth answering, which is what I try here in Part III of the series, Snowmobiles Are Too Expensive.

Click for a dose of my family's reality.

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Snow-Covered Arctic Cat

(12/5/2017)

Winter at Arctic Cat in Thief River Falls. Photo by Mike Baker.

Winter returned to Arctic Cat (above) yesterday, in a blowing, howling whiplash of weather that went from 40s and rain to 20s and snow. This is how things look today, captured by Mike Baker.

The same storm coated a large swath of Minnesota, the Dakotas and parts of Manitoba and Ontario.

And the 10-day forecast says "winter," with overnight lows that dip down into the low-teens and the possibility of more snow.

December...as it's supposed to be!

I'm hoping the same comes soon to everyone in snow country.

Carry on...

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Part II: Snowmobiles Are Too Expensive! (How about Trucks?)

(12/3/2017)

Price comparison of trucks compared to snowmobiles.

Last week we launched into a great discussion about the price of new snowmobiles.

Today I want to talk trucks.

I was curious how its price has changed over the same period of time that we compared snowmobiles in Part I. 

Jump to see some interesting numbers.

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Part I: Snowmobiles Are Too Expensive!

(11/22/2017)

Snowmobiles are too expensive? Arctic Cat comparison by ArcticInsider.com

“Snowmobiles are way too expensive these days.”

 “I haven’t bought a snowmobile for (fill in the blank) years because they’re so much more expensive than they used to be.”

I’ve heard these two statements enough times over the past decade that they’ve become cliche. People utter them and believe them without actually thinking about them. When I ask how much more today’s sleds cost compared to 20 years ago, the answer is always “Thousands.”

Which is complete bullshit. I know this because I just did the math.

Click to read why some new snowmobiles are priced thousands lower than famed machines from a couple decades ago.

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TBT: 1990 Arctic Cat EXT Special

(11/16/2017)

1990 Arctic Cat EXT Special. Photo posted by ArcticInsider.com

At this moment 27 years ago, Team Arctic racers and mechanics were busy puting wrenches and hope into a snowmobile that would ultimately re-aim the trajectory of Team Arctic's race results.

The machine: the 1990 EXT Special. 

By the end of the season (and in the capable hands of growing contingent of Team Arctic racers), the machine would claim wins in the Jeep 500 cross-country, Eagle River World's Championship and dozens of other key races.

It would mark the beginning of a loooooong line of race-focused, limited-built "specials."

And it would launch the success (and fortune) of FOX Shox in the snowmobile arena.

Click to read more about this iconic machine.

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Happy Birthday CJ Ramstad (and Thanks For All You Gave)

(11/14/2017)

CJ RamstadIt's been 10 years since legendary snowmobile journalist CJ Ramstad and his son J.J. died in a tragic automobile crash.

Today would have been CJ's 72nd birthday. I’m remembering his life by sharing this awesome column he wrote for the Dec. 13, 1975 edition of Snow Week magazine.

It’s a column about subjects dear to his heart: cross-country snowmobile racing; the workingman racer; the independent spirit.

Like much of CJ’s writing, it captures the subject with honesty and insight.

Happy Birthday CJ. And thanks for the gifts you gave us.


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Exit Interview: Team Arctic's Dale Lindbeck, World Champ and Regular Guy

(11/9/2017)

Team Arctic's Dale Lindbeck, the ultimate independent.

When the sun set on this past summer, so too did the career of a truly remarkable snowmobiule racer who has competed for more than 35 consecutive years: Dale Lindbeck.

If you grew up going to races in the Midwest or reading Snow Week magazine, you know Lindbeck as a Team Arctic racer who raced in snocross, ice LeMans, cross-country and watercross, where he’s a 4-time World Champion.

At 57 years old, the married father of one who lives in Chisago City, Minn., will stop chasing checkered flags and start chasing new life experiences.

Dale has been one of my all-time favorite personalities since I started covering this sport as a journalist in 1989, and he was gracious to let me interview him about his career.

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Sunshine Makes Me Happy! The Gift of a Generous Spirit

(11/9/2017)

Sunshine Oelfke gets her Arctic Cat ZR 120 snowmobile.

Oh man, sometimes it's a story of human greatness that puts everything into perspective.

Five-year-old Sunshine Oelfke, who had been saving to buy a ZR 120 but then gave all her money to buy milk for her classmates, is one such story.

Yesterday Sunshine received a BIG surprise: a brand-new ZR 120, courtesty of Arctic Cat and Textron Specialized Vehicles.

Awesome!

Click to read one really, REALLY cool story.

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The Winds of November Bring Winter

(11/2/2017)

Winter arrived in Bergland, Mich., for snowmobiling in November 2017.

Winter arrived in Bergland, Mich., for snowmobiling in November 2017.

So far I REALLY like what Ma Nature is giving us for November!

These pix were taken yesterday near Bergland, Mich., where 12 inches of snow brought beauty (and a bit of a mess) to the Gogebic Area Groomers.

Right now there's snow on the ground on a large swath of snowmobile country. It's early, of course, and the probability is that some of this snow will melt before winter begins in earnest.

But so far, the winds of November bring winter!

Winter snow report for 11-1-17

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Extra-Extra!: 2018 Arctic Cat Snow Accessory Reference Guide

(11/2/2017)

2018 Arctic Cat Parts and Accessory Guide for snowmobiles

The annual Arcticwear clothing, parts and accessory catalog is an awesome source for all the newest and coolest snowmobile gear. But because of space limitations, it contains only a fraction of the accessories available through your local Arctic Cat dealer. Which is why Arctic Cat also produces an annual POGA supplemental guide.

This handy piece has it all, including ALL the accessory items that are in the annual color catalog, PLUS a whole bunch of items NOT in that piece. For example:

* Products (with associated info) for non-current Arctic Cat models

* Replacement pieces for past and current products (including the various straps, clip-attachments, buckles, straps, etc... for bags and covers; helmet lenses and hardware

* ZR 200 accessories such as a speedo, track (for racing), wheel kits

* Tools

* High-altitude kits

* The answer to whether or not Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone

In other words, it's seriously worth checking out.

CLICK HERE to download a 10MB PDF of the Catalog.

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Lifetime Memory: Ride Along with Your Kid at the USXC I-500

(10/27/2017)

Team Arctic's John Sandberg follows son Calvin at a race in 2011.

This is a story about USXC’s Ride-Along class for parents whose kids will compete the 2018 I-500 cross-country race.

Parents who desire to can literally ride behind their kids for the entire 150-mile Day 3 portion from Thief River Falls to Bemidji, Minn., that comprises the Junior class. For those that do, I can pretty much guarantee that you'll have the time of your life.

I know because I unwittingly did something very similar back in 2011, which is captured in the photo above.

Click to read the story of that race, and what it could mean for parents of junior class racers this winter.

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TBT: Tom Porter Snowmoto Oval Racing

(10/26/2017)

Team Arctic Sno Pro Tom Porter, 1973 EXT.

This throwback is to 1973 (or 1975, see comments), with Team Arctic's Tom Porter roosting away on his factory EXT Sno Pro sled.

Such a badass photo!

It's a reminder that yes, even 4-plus decades ago, winter could be cruel and the races could be as much moto as they were snow.

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'17 October in TRF: A Couple Days at Arctic Cat

(10/18/2017)

An October trip to Arctic Cat in Thief River Falls. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

The air was brisk and the activity bristling at Arctic Cat last week.

The two days I spent there were a strong reminder that winter is coming, and that the energy here is infectious.

Click to see what was happening.

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TGIF: The Original Wildcat Edition

(10/6/2017)

Hollywood goes big on a 1988 Arctic Cat Wildcat.

I'm thankful for the evocative Wildcat, a name that entered Arctic Cat lore for the 1988 model year in the form of a twin-cylinder, twin-pipe, 650cc beast that would ably serve as the company's flagship snowmobile until it was supplanted by the 1993 Thundercat.

I'm thankful that when the camera came out, an open-face-helmet clad Hollywood Hallstrom hucked this first Wildcat off some badass cornices, a show of force that hinted at its capability as well as the pilot's.

I'm thankful for the wild ride that's occurred in the nearly 30 years since.

And I'm thankful it's Friday, Oct. 6, 2017.

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Brutiful! 1970 Arctic Cat Panther 793

(10/5/2017)

1970 Arctic Cat Panther 793 from the Ische Family Collection. Photo: ArcticInsider.com

Arctic Cat has a long, wonderful history of producing beautiful beasts that reflect the brand's go-for-it attitude.

One such example is this stunning 1970 Panther 793 that's part of the Ische family collection.

Packing the sound and fury of a open-piped Hirth 793 triple, this magnificent Panther was one of just 94 produced for the 1970 model year.

I can almost feel the thunder, see the tremor and gasp at the bloody ears of those few owners who fired-up these beasts!

Click for a few more delicious pix.

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ZR 200: ArcticInsider's 2018 Snowmobile of the Year!

(9/28/2017)

2018 Arctic Cat ZR 200: ArcticInsider Snowmobile of the Year.

I have seen the future of snowmobiling.

It’s a 7-year-old kid from Toronto, a 10-year-old from Old Forge, and a yet-unborn child from Grand Forks.

And it's a 200cc, mid-sized machine that will be ably ridden on trails and every condition that winter offers.

Click to read why the Arctic Cat ZR 200 is the ArcticInsider 2018 Snowmobile of the Year.

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Q&A Part II with John Collins, VP of Textron Specialized Vehicles

(9/18/2017)

Arctic Cat's Roger Skime (L) talks with John Collins of Textron Off Road. Photo by ArcticInsider.

Four months ago, John Collins, vice president of the consumer business for Textron Specialized Vehicles, talked with us here about Textron's purchase of Arctic Cat.

In terms of what Arctic Cat would look like under Textron ownership, that first interview offered only a few broad-brush strokes, and less specific detail.

Now that we’re nearly six months into the new Arctic Cat and Textron Off Road, Collins (above right, shown talking with Arctic Cat legend Roger Skime) offers new insight into the integration; what they’ve learned about Arctic Cat and its loyal customers; the just-released model line of ATVs and side-by-sides; and more.

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