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If you pay attention to the ArcticInsider social pages, then many of you know I recently had the opportunity to give the new 2024 pre-production CATALYST models a shakedown in Thief River at a special snow media event. I joined others like SnowTech, SnowGoer, OSM, SnowTrax TV and SledHead 24/7 Television. During my drive home last night, I played some mental tennis trying to figure out how to share my thoughts…I have many, and all of them positive, but yet, there is soooo much new on CATALYST platform to share. Ill get to it all, but I think I’ll share my initial impressions randomly and follow up with more of that tech insight after. 

If you have THOUGHTFUL questions, leave them in the comments section and Ill try to answer them. – Kale

Our media ride began and ended in the front courtyard of the Arctic Cat factory in Thief River Falls, MN. This is Jeff Fischer from Sledhead 24-7 television setting up the RIOT for some beauty shots that would be captured by cameraman, Brody Boese.

To set the scene, we rode from the front yard of the Arctic Cat Factory on a roughly 160 mile loop consisting of groomed, and often times drifted ditchlines, twisting wooded sections and even got to play in a little deep snow. As if riding a brand new snowmobile platform wasn’t thrill enough, we even got the opportunity to stop at Roger Skime’s ranch for lunch! 

The departure to Rogers was relatively cold with temps hovering in high teens and low 20s with blustery winds and snow.

Don’t panic. If ya don’t like low windshields, Arctic Cat will offer tall ones too! And they work for big Galoots like me!


Ill set minds at ease right away for those wondering…You’ve probably only seen studio shots of new CATALYST models with low windshields, but rest easy, Arctic Cat will be offering multiple heights. Im tall (6’4) and windshields typically don’t help me one way or another as most wind hits me from the shoulders, up. I can tell you, the tall windshields attached to several of our CATALYST models did a great job of deflecting air higher, and up and over my helmet, and also provided great hand protection. 


ONE of my favorite parts of the new CATALYST platform is the interface the rider has between seat, footwells and handlebars. The rider cockpit is narrow, and the footwells give ample space (forward and aft) to move. (Your feet aren’t locked in). I love being able to have room to move during active riding with sitting/standing quickly, or sliding from one side of seat to the other for corners.


Upon your first good throttle pull, you’ll notice the significant weight reduction and the platform’s free-wheeling nature. Skis can lift at will and paired to the perfect balance of rider placement, this platform responds quickly to rider input…I got to experience this flying down the ditchline and hitting the first road approach…you can stand up quick or lean forward/back or side-to-side and the CATALYST responds. I hate the term, but if you like “Flick-ability” this platform does it really well.


I’ve always been a fan of the 600 C-TEC2 – it’s been a sweetheart of an engine in the 125hp-class. (For 2024 it gets a new performance crankshaft, optimized fuel management system and exhaust servo) The performance magic and smile-making happens when this engine is paired to the ADAPT drive and driven clutches and all-new belt drive system. The new belt drive system eliminates the rotating mass and weight of a traditional chaincase and allows the C-TEC2 engine to spool up quicker providing better throttle response, instantaneous acceleration and frees up horsepower. On our ride, I personally enjoyed speeds around 60mph, then hitting the throttle and feeling the quick-acceleration to 75mph. Drivetrain is quiet and feels seamless and I didn’t feel any vibration in footwells. It stands out to me, that Arctic Cat is so confident in this belt drive system, it makes a statement that they are running it in ALL models, not just the mountains. 

It’s always fun being around, or riding with, Jeff Fischer from Sledhead 24-7. He’s not just a watercross champion – The guy can absolutely rip on snow.


There was a time the snowmobile industry thought the Trailing Arm front suspension was the ticket, but Arctic Cat went a different direction and introduced the world to an A-arm front suspension – Then eventually, every other OEM transitioned to it. The Arctic Wishbone Suspension (AWS) name is back in 36-, 39- and 42-inch widths for M, RIOT and ZR models respectively, and the adjustable ski stances on all remain. In the rear, the names ALPHA ONE, CROSS-ACTION and SLIDE-ACTION remain for those models, but many of the components, geometries and locations have changed. The end result are suspensions that work through the rough stuff, flatten out trail chatter and corner much, much flatter inspiring far more rider confidence.  


Arctic Cat designed and launched a rack steering system years ago on their ZR snocross sleds and have incorporated a version of it on the ZR and RIOT.  The rack steering provides the same great attributes of Electronic Power Steering without the added weight – Light and precise steering with flat cornering greets you on every trail while bump steer and tiresome feedback through the handlebars are eliminated on every ride. It’s important to note, the rack steering effort allows you to run my favorite, more aggressive, dual off-set 4 bolt runners up front without the penalty of heavy-steering. The rack steering also provides a tighter ski turning radius which is noticeable in tight corners. 

I absolutely love the Medium Green on the ZR RXC models. They’re damn sexy.


My personal opinion, I love the new styling of the CATALYST models. As we should expect, the fit and finish is great. Side panels go on/off quickly with quarter-turn knob fasteners much like the GENII bodywork on Procross models and Im loving how easily the top pod removes/fastens with what Ill call an automotive-style handle/latch in front. Access to the front end is easier than ever for serviceability. Ive seen plenty of comments asking about the LEDII headlight, and more specifically, its design. Arctic Cat wanted a signature look, plain and simple. That’s it. We didn’t have a night ride opportunity to see focal beams, but I do like the fact it is easily adjustable. Other styling things I like…there is an area underneath the top pod to attach a spare belt, and I like the addition of a storage compartment on the front dash for goggles, phones etc. Standard equipment on all models includes a 12V plug-in as well as my new favorite, a helmet shield plug-in. 

Arctic Cat High Performance Engineer and Team Arctic Cross Country racer, Ben Langaas walks you through how easy it is to remove bodywork for serviceability.


All the CATALYST models come equipped with quick-attach/detach mechanisms on the rear tunnels and Arctic Cat is calling it ATACH. (Clever) Our models were equipped with varying rear storage bags including three size offerings: Lite, Mid, Large or High Country. Saddlebags and Fuel Caddy will also be available.

We captured the whole media group, members of engineering, and even got Roger, in front of his machine shop. Thank you Skime family for hosting us. This was a true honor for me and I know everyone else was appreciative.


From what we’re told, the 2024 model launch will happen on February 28th, which will also begin the order period for CATALYST models. I don’t say this as a sales ploy, but if you are interested in a CATALYST model, don’t wait til last day of order period…These will sell out fast. 

Also, there will be demo rides from Factory Arctic Cat, and Ill share those dates as soon as they become available.  Don’t forget to visit the other media outlets for their reviews as well. (SnowTech, SnowGoer, OSM, SnowTrax TV and SledHead 24/7 Television)

Arctic Cat Legend, Roger Skime, thanks all the snowmobile journalists for visiting him at the ranch, and if you wait for it, he calls me (Kale) out for “Chasing Ladies”! LOL Made my day! Troy Halvorson, Arctic Cat Product Mgr, Snow, follows up with some heartfelt thanks for Roger and the legacy of engineering knowledge he’s instilled them at the Factory. This is one of my favorite moments of the entire day.
This is the new Sport Gauge that will be on CATALYST models without ATAC. ATAC models (and the ZR RXC) receive the Deluxe Gauge.


    • I just uploaded a couple videos JimR. Might need to refresh your screen to watch them. They’re pretty good…not taking anything away from Langaas, but my fav is the one with Roger. He makes me laugh!

  1. Roger is such a class act. His beliefs and thoughts about the consumer are so spot on. I can only hope people never ever forget his way thinking. Cat is so blessed to have him for all these years!

  2. Kale, can you tell us some of the details of the things Cat was keeping “secret”, and was going to slowly leak out to us? They made it seem like a big deal, but nothing really transpired. Was it just hype?

    • Larry V – I can understand your sentiment. Arctic Cat has done something no other OEM has by introducing a new platform so early and releasing information. Its refreshing to see some change in the industry and Ive enjoyed the rollout, and give AC kudos for blazing new trails. We first got a look at Catalyst through the unveilings at Haydays and the record crowds who came to see them, then they shared nice studio photos, then shared more new model color/styling studio photos, then most recently, “deeper dive” info was shared with the media outlining things we all wanted to know about underhood. This week they invited media to the factory to get first rides on them and share impressions, and on February 28th, the entire 2024 model line-up will be unveiled both on Arctic Cat’s website and media outlets like ArcticInsider. At that time Ill share info on all models.

      • Still seems like Arctic Cat marketing department can’t connect with the consumer. I guess that’s what happens when you are in Georgia.

        Yes, the Catalyst will sell out, but marketing should be trying to bring more folks to the brand by sharing the details about the product. Pictures with captions just don’t do it for me.

  3. Loved the video at Roger’s.
    The excitement for this new Arctic Cat snowmobile is unlike any other I can remember in snowmobiling. What a cool time and exciting snowmobile.

  4. Great initial feedback on the this new platform and opportunity! But I swear, Roger Skime is the Carol Shelby of snowmobiling. Every time he speaks, it is impossible not to give your full attention.

  5. Looking forward to throwing a leg over these Catalyst Cats! The excitement in the initial media reviews is palpable and something I haven’t heard in awhile.

    I feel for you Kale, if I have to see one more facebook comment about the windshield options…

    • I’m guilty, and apologize. You won’t see me complain, though. I just like to make a sled the way I like it. In a sense, it’s a form of thinking past the sale – they sold me already, and I’m looking forward to accessorizing.

      • You have an excuse Bob since your photoshoot didn’t have a high windshield on site to my knowledge?

        I was more referring to ACi’s post on Facebook that featured a photo with several Catalysts and tall windshields…it got a ton of comments many of which moaned about the bikini windshield. Clearly they posted before really even looking at the photo haha.

  6. I’m a cat guy but I’m doing a 23 blizzard with a 600r and it flat out works. 1800 miles and zero complaints. I wanted to do an in season buy on a Polaris but they chased me away. I guess they value me

    • I rode an MXZ 600r a couple of years ago and liked it. The only thing I couldn’t get used to was the throttle by wire being very sensitive. Hopefully Ski Doo made that a little more forgiving since then. Otherwise, great engine.

  7. I love the old-school, Arctic Insider deep dive Kale. These are exciting times! One question comes to mind, and that revolves around the “they’ll sell out fast” narrative. I don’t doubt that demand will be incredible. That being said, have you heard any updates about exactly why we should still expect such limited production of new snowmobiles?

    I feel like the spring-order-only system was great, initially, for cleaning up excess leftover machines, and raising values on all of our used machines. I also understand that a global pandemic then kept it necessary, due to historic supply chain problems. That said, it sure feels, to me, like we have largely emerged from that now, and yet, I keep hearing about how Arctic Cat expects Catalyst machines to sell out quickly?

    I would argue that Arctic Cat has done an incredible job eliminating a lot of their backordered parts issues in the last year or so… so it seems like it would then follow that they could actually produce enough machines to meet demand on spring orders, and dare I say it, even allow a few extra machines to be ordered by dealers to stock in-season? I would think that they too, would like to increase sales, and make a lot of happy customers? Just wondering if you have any insight on why this uber conservative build-number issue seems to persist… whether by poor circumstances, or by choice? Thanks as always!

    • That would be so cool, to have sleds in showrooms again. I hope Cat can build extra. Maybe they could have enough for dealers to each have an in-season demo unit?

      As far as parts, my F150 has been stuck at a body shop since October 31, waiting for parts. I don’t understand why, but parts shortages continue to be making a huge impact on all manufacturers.

  8. Has there been any mention of offering higher end displays? I hope they don’t leave out GPS and or other 21st century features on a new platform.

    • A high-tech display has been available for Arctic Cat snowmobiles for years! It is called the NS1 and it is available from Next Stage Gauges in Vadnais Heights, Minnesota. I have one on my 2020 Riot and it works great!

    • Vroomvroom – There will be “higher end displays” on the Catalyst platform, but not on the 600 models. For 2024 you can expect the Deluxe Gauge on ATAC models, and a new Sport Gauge, which is quite nice. As a GPS accessory offering, Arctic Cat has partnered with Garmin TREAD, which Im sure you’ve seen. If you want to know what the future displays will bring, there’s a nice 8-inch surface area on the dash. 😉

  9. Eric – Great question! If you’re familiar with the kids movie, Shrek, he says, “Ogres are like onions…they have many layers” This topic to me is complex. A lot of the answers are either beyond my knowledge, or far above my pay grade, but its like an Ogre…has many layers. Ill give you some of MY basic top layered thoughts and observations which in no way shape or form are official information/statements from Arctic Cat.

    Fast-forwarding to the end of your question(s), I think the short answer falls in the “poor circumstances” category. I say that knowing, if Arctic Cat could build 200,000 Catalyst models, they’d choose to build, sell and make profit off that number. (What company wouldn’t?)

    Like you, I feel the world has moved beyond the supply chain issue, but that’s not entirely true. We may have been able to shed our pandemic masks long ago, but the ugly germs of parts supply still linger. For anyone who is brand loyal and thinks this is an Arctic Cat issue only, it may feel that way because you (like myself at times) are focused on one brand and may visit Arctic Cat-only related sources. While spending time with my media peers this week, I was reminded this isn’t just an Arctic Cat-only problem as they shared stories of OTHER BRANDS whose customers haven’t received, or finished building, their 2023 models, many of which were spring-order only models.

    The parts supply chain isn’t the only problem for where we are at today…it is though a culmination of many complex things stemming from the past couple years which has turned the snowmobile market into what Ill call, an imperfect storm. I see a lot of negative internet comments directed toward Arctic Cat for late build dates or deliveries…This bums me out, and I truly feel bad for those customers who are patiently waiting while the snow flies. I want anyone reading to know, this lateness also bothers Arctic Cat, whether you choose to believe it or not. When I visit the factory, I can read the sadness and stress on the faces of ALL employees over this topic, but I also know they are working diligently on solutions to get product out the door for us both now, and in the future, as quickly as possible.

    So, Eric…I think Arctic Cat is also making a choice to commit to a certain number of Catalyst models knowing they can build and deliver on time, but yet, not over-promise, even though demand may be higher than that number. That’s why I say, these will sell out quick.

    • Thank you for the thoughtful response Kale! It is so good to know more about the reasoning behind limited build numbers, etc. This kind of communication is so valuable, and reassuring to Arctic Cat enthusiasts like myself!

      I have a theory, that many people (myself included) may still be adjusting to again being able to trust that the current configuration of decision makers at Arctic Cat really do care about stuff like that (or, more accurately, the people in charge of the people working at Arctic Cat). To me, it felt like it was easy to doubt motives, and question logic-defying decisions that were made when Textron first took over.

      That, combined with a seemingly bottomless vaccum of communication from the company about what was going on, or any plans for the future (again, early in Textron’s ownership), seemed to make for a very ripe environment for the formation of conspiracy theories, assumptions, and general down-in-the-mouth keyboard-warrior-ing… thus undercutting trust in the company that so many of us had spent our lives caring about.

      From my outside perspective, it seems like many of those “bad days” may be behind Arctic Cat, in that regard. I feel like the more constant the updates, and the more information that gets shared (like this article), the more healing and enthusiasm will be restored to an Arctic Cat fan/customer base that has been absolutely starving for a reason to get excited. Keep up the good work Kale. This is awesome!

  10. Great read!!
    Still awaiting a “naked” view of this chassis. Is it like twin spar, patent infringement pyramid? Whats in there?
    And this tunnel, since 97 or so we’ve been riding on a dual angle(ett) design as some of us older riders would remember a time when extreme launches would result in tunnel contact at the rear.
    How will this not happen here?

    • Im expecting some quality photos of the one-piece front end soon. Reminds me of a tube chassis race car the way its packaged. The tunnel is angled, and on models like the M’s, the tunnel is shorter at the rear for all those tail-stander rider types.

  11. Great article on the new sleds. Looking forward to more “in the weeds” details of the design.
    SnowTech magazine posted a fairly detailed “first ride” report on Facebook; it was a very positive assessment overall- but I was disappointed to hear them say the rear suspension wasn’t on par or better than Ski Doo’s r-Motion skid which is widely regarded as the best rear suspension in the industry (the author stated it wasn’t Cat’s target which is a head scratcher). Also, no comments regarding the front suspension vs the Polaris front suspension which is generally regarded as the best in the industry.
    SnowTech also gigged them on not having a gauge package on par with the competition.

    • I have nit compared Ski Doo’s rear suspension, but the Catalyst never punished me for riding it. They’re still working on, I know that for sure. So, initial impressions may change when the snow mags get more seat time during their annual photo shoot trip.

  12. I have been riding Arctic Cat sleds since the age of ten when Dad surprised us with a ’76 Jag 2000. Now 35 years later, I am still on team green. Why? The reasons are many. But first and foremost is the passion. A small company in northern Minnesota who stops at nothing to deliver such amazing products. Always taking changes (for better or worse). Then there’s Roger. So humble. I love this company and will be a supporter through thick and thin! Kale, thanks for keeping the passion alive brother!

  13. Where’s the ? or ? button for this site?

    This ranks as my third favorite article ever published on Arctic Insider… the Sno Pro 500 articles still get the top slots because I still adore that sleigh.

    Can’t wait for a ride…

  14. Kale, were you able to see 100 mph when on the test ride? Also do you have a picture of the sport gauge? Was it easier to read then the deluxe gauge?

    • I never really went far past the 75mph mark…conditions for visibility were pretty poopy. I do have a photo of the Sport Gauge. Its smaller than Deluxe gauge, but has nice digital readability.

  15. Kale, do you have any thoughts on the future 4 stroke sleds for arctic cat? Do you see any way the 998 could fit into the catalyst? Also what do you see coming for arctic and Yamaha? Maybe Yamaha builds a smaller engine that fits into this chassis, turbo a smaller twin 4 stroke?

  16. So far the Catalyst looks great and all the people who have worked on it should be very proud.

    Is there any talk of a Norseman style sled coming on this chassis? Following the “3 old guys” is making me rethink what I really want/need in a sled.

  17. Question: I read in other articles that the Catalyst will come in 129 track version. Can you confirm? Would love to see a pic of it too if true…

  18. Belt drive will never work for reverse on a four stroke, correct? But everything looks and sounds great so far with these new sleds. Interesting that the bigger cc engine will wiegh the same as the 600. Also interesting that cat reworks the 600 for the catalyst but keeps it a 600. My wife got a 23 650 polaris, and that is a very smooth,powerful and quiet engine that runs on 87 octane. So it is a little odd to me that cat keeps the 600 and goes opposite with more of a louder growl and more snappy. Most trail riders want smooth and less sound i feel like. I just got back from 800 miles in northern canada and a guy in the group has a 22 600 rr, he loves the sled it keeps up for the most part but he has that sled pretty wound out most of the time and at gas stops I’m amazed how much more fuel the 600 takes compared to 850s, and turbos… I’m really hoping cat has more info on the future of this sled when the feb 28 release happens. Great article kale!

  19. In the snowtrax video luke says guys on a 850 try the 600 for the year. I’m just thinking not many will. And in the case of cruising canada like I just was cruising 70-80 mph on rail beds and powerlines the 600 was screaming compared to my turbo or other guys on 850s. And at gas stop it showes because I’d pump 6 gallons and the 600 pumped 8

  20. And I made mention of the 650 cause that’s the new benchmark and I’m not a Polaris guy at all but it is a sweet engine, and cat wants to pull people away from that and back to cat just like I wanna see

    • Pump the brakes on the praise of the 650. My wife has one that’s been down for a month due to a cracked piston skirt and a cylinder cannot be found until March. Single instance? Its the 11th my dealer has dead, and in a vacation destination town, they service from all over the Midwest. In general there is a rumbling amongst all 650 riders that a problem is brewing with general fuel mapping of that motor. In regards to our 650, Polaris will not pause the warranty or extend the warranty as, “delayed parts do not justify a warranty adjustment”. I’ve had three phone calls with them and my dealer has had two with me on speaker. Needless to say it’ll be the first one sold for a Catalyst – to make matters worse, her previous sled was a 7000 which was bullet proof.

  21. Saw/ sat on the sled at Eagle River. First glimpse was at Friday Night Thunder and out of respect didn’t sit on it. Sunday it was parked at the entrance and got up the nerve to do so. At 6’4″ I am finally at peace with ergonomics on a snowmobile. The footwells are absolutely outstanding. The feel is very Blast/ SX/ almost SP5000-ish. The short seat is outstanding. The positioning of the skid is immediately noticeable as well as the position of the center shock in relation to the rider, I am surprised there isn’t more chatter about this. I want to directly address the comments about Cat’s marketing and take my two cents for what its worth. Most companies like this work heavily with a branding/ PR agency for releases and model year releases. Major players in the space like Swanson Russel. Yes, its on Textron/ Cat to vet these suitors, however, what you’re seeing is an agency or multiple agencies that are not connecting with the end user. Obviously there is a bigger picture here and I hope they are able to connect the dots as this rolls out. The key stakeholder is the Brand Manger in this position and their continued evaluation of the launch which we’ve only seen a glimpse of thus far; it’s their job at stake. Finally, for anyone else trucking along the next generation of our sport behind them, I can confirm there is an attachable second seat coming to the platform. I feel the lack of information, especially about these types of accessories, are another miss for the release/ or something we just haven’t seen yet… I hope.

    • Ryan , thanks for the marketing 101lesson! My question for you after seeing one is if this sled will bring you back to the cat family after wondering away to the dark side?

  22. So Kale. I am assuming, and that can be dangerous, but what about the Garmin Tread? Looks tight for space. Not stopping me from my order.

    • JimR – A new accessory mount kit allows the 5.5″ Garmin Tread GPS to install on CATALYST dash replacing the factory garage door for the heated storage compartment. The mount is designed to serve both trail and mountain riders with simple installation and in a protected position easy to interact with.

  23. Great review of the ride! I was wondering if there were any discussions on when the 800 will be available? Is it a sure thing for the ‘25 models? Thanks!

  24. Referring to the revised 600. Did the crankcase need to be redesigned to accommodate the 800 crank? Did the motor mount system change due to the fact the motor is lowered 25mm and moved rearward 25mm?


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