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HomeFeaturesInside Look: 2022 Thundercat and EPS Interview with Ben Langaas

Inside Look: 2022 Thundercat and EPS Interview with Ben Langaas

I’ve always maintained “Snowmobilers” and the Snowmobile Industry are a unique bunch. I truly can’t name one other powersport category displaying as much raw emotion for their brand(s) every year. This was displayed yesterday on the 2022 Arctic Cat model overview post. That emotion came out in the form of good, disappointed and indifferent comments. I respect all your opinions, and most I can understand.

By sharing new model information and insight here, I hope you can read it and make your own informed buying decisions. Some of you may buy Arctic Cat, and others will explore a new brand…that’s ok. I’m just happy you’re snowmobiling. It’s really quite fun.

I’m fortunate enough to be able to swing a leg over most all new 2022 OEM models. I truly appreciate and respect all of the manufacturers for allowing me to do so. At the end of the day, I typically conclude all snowmobiles are nearly equal. (A track, two skis and an engine) There isn’t a bad choice whatever, and however you ride. Find a snowmobile checking off all YOUR needs and make it yours. Hopefully the information on this site makes you want to buy an Arctic Cat. 

So, let’s look at the 2022 Thundercat…

2022 ZR9000 Thundercat in Dynamic Gray

The ZR 9000 Thundercat is the World’s Fastest Production Snowmobile. For 2022, the King of turbocharged 4-strokes leads the high-performance speed and handling category with addition of the all-new ADAPT CVT System and Electronic Power Steering.

The 2022 Thundercat is available with three different ride packages. Two of them include Electronic Power Steering (EPS) 

The 2022 Arctic Cat ZR 9000 Thundercat is one potent snowmobile, and it’s available in three handling levels — choose between FOX QS3 shocks with a dial mounted on the remote shock reservoir for easy hand adjustment, or two models with new Electronic Power Steering (EPS) – FOX QS3 or ATAC. The result is three technologically advanced snowmobiles in the High Performance category.

The devil is in the details...If you look close, I love the nod to past Cat Heads ghosted into the cowl graphics.

The ZR 9000 Thundercat with ATAC and EPS achieves the ultimate level of premium ride performance. The innovative ATAC suspension system utilizes a thumb-operated button on the left handlebar controls to operate the FOX ZERO iQS3 ski and the rear track shocks, allowing the rider to instantly switch between three factory compression settings (Soft, Medium and Firm), with two additional settings (Driver 1 and Driver 2) allowing you to customize your own calibrations between front and rear shocks.

Arctic Cat’s new variable assist Electronic Power Steering provides assist based on the input load and the Thundercat’s speed. The varying levels of assist translate into a light steering effort in all snow conditions for fatigue-free riding corner after corner.

The C-TEC4 Turbo Triple-Cylinder is hands-down the most powerful turbo snowmobile Ive ridden in stock form.

The C-TEC4 9000-Series DOHC Turbo triple-cylinder sets the highest standard for power, smoothness and reliability, with an intercooled turbo delivering 200-plus maximum horsepower at any altitude.

New for 2022 ADAPT Drive and Driven Clutches for all full-size Arctic Cat Snowmobiles

Backed by the new Arctic Cat ADAPT CVT System, New Drive and Driven clutches are lighter-weight and employ a compact design with advanced idler system. ADAPT maintains constant belt tension throughout the RPM range resulting in minimized wear and maximum throttle response throughout your drive belts longer life without fade.

2022 Thundercat with ARSII front suspension

Like all ZRs, the Thundercat is built on the race-proven ProCross chassis matched by the Arctic Race Suspension(ARS II) front suspension, offering 9- in. of bump-eating travel.

2022 Race-Proven SLIDE-ACTION suspension

The coupled SLIDE-ACTION Rear Suspension has 13.5-in. of travel, 137-in Ripsaw II track with 1.25-in. lugs adding a masterful blend of speed and traction.

Handguards, heated seat, mid-height windshield and LED headlight are all standard equipment on the 2022 Thundercat 

As premium models, all feature handguards, a comfortable heated seat, the enhanced nighttime performance LED headlight, rear tunnel flares, 11-in. medium-height windshield and a goggle holder.


The performance-inspired bodywork comes in Dynamic Charcoal and includes a commemorative 60th anniversary badge.

2022 Thundercat shown here with Trailblazer Accessory Kit: Pro Front Bumper, Handlebar Bag, 15-in. Mid-Performance Windshield and Large Rear Storage Trail Pack 

Snowmageddon Ordering and Accessory Kit

During the Snowmageddon Order period you’ll get your best deal of the season. All Thundercat 9000 models are available in Dynamic Charcoal with an Accessory Trail Blazer Kit option including Pro front bumper, handlebar bag, large rear storage trail pack and taller 15-in. mid performance windshield.

Additional Thoughts

I had the opportunity to throw a leg over the new 2022 Ski-Doo Mach Z for a day. I know this is a unit competing in the same category as the Thundercat and Yamaha Sidewinder, and some of you are interested in it. Ill say this – Ski Doo did a nice job. Ride quality is great, fit/finish is great, but if speed is your master, the Thundercat still retains the World’s Fastest Title. Here’s something else to think about…

2022 ZR 9000 Thundercat with FOX QS3 shocks $15,695

2022 ZR 9000 Thundercat with FOX QS3 shocks and EPS $16,595

2022 ZR 9000 Thundercat with ATAC and EPS $17,195

2022 Ski-Doo Mach Z starts at $19,699 



AI: Hey Ben, I understand you’ve done all the design, FEA, and calibration work on the EPS system for the Thundercat.

Ben: I can’t take all the credit. I’ve had plenty of help. Jeff Olson has been instrumental in ride calibration and supporting the EPS calibration itself. Jeff has been a longstanding employee at AC. His knowledge and feel for suspension tuning is incredible. 

(L-R) Ben Langaas and Jeff Olson

AI: Why Would I need/want EPS on my Thundercat? It handles just fine.  

Ben: (Smiles) You’re right, the Thundercat without EPS does handle “just fine”, but we’re not settling for fine – with EPS, it’s great! At the end of the day the Thundercat is a lot of machine, with a lot of power, which makes it one of the most exhilarating in the industry to trail ride or lake race. When equipped with electronic power steering (EPS) a rider experiences no fatigue, which means longer rides and more miles in a day.

The 4-bolt staggered runner on 2022 Thundercat helps with positive cornering and nearly eliminates trail darting

We also developed the calibration using a more aggressive 4-bolt dual runner which allows the front end to bite more to aid in cornering performance. When the trails get the rolling 6-12-in. bumps from heavy trail traffic, EPS does a great job at settling down the feedback to rider from the handlebars. The reasoning is simple as the turning output is not influenced by the terrain, but only the speed of the vehicle and the input torque from the rider.

AI: Who designed this EPS system? Arctic Cat or just a unit off the shelf?

Ben: The EPS motor itself is the same motor used in all of Arctic Cat’s dirt product. (ATVs and UTVs) The system was designed by AC engineering. When you look under the hood of a Thundercat, you think nothing else could possibly fit underneath. But in all honesty, the EPS unit ended up packaging quite nicely, and we were able to adjust our assembly processes slightly to accommodate. The calibration was also developed by AC engineering to deliver enough assist to create ease, but subtle enough where the rider can still feel the front end on the snow and be confident in cornering.

AI: How does this EPS work? What can riders expect when they demo it? 

Ben: The EPS system works just like most other EPS systems in the vehicle industry today, the assist output from the motor is dependent on two variables, vehicle track speed and rider input torque through the handlebars. At lower speeds the rider will feel the most assist, and as track speeds increase, the assist level will fall off and actually go to 0% assist. The faster the vehicle goes, the less assist is desired, not only for rider safety but more rider comfort and stability. Think of it as driving your car around town turning quite often at low speeds, this is where you want the majority of the assist. Cruising down the interstate at 70+ MPH, you don’t want a lot of assist where you might get an uneasy feeling from wind pushing you around or the slight movement of your hands on the wheel causing the vehicle to swerve. In tight twisty trails, when your speed is 20-50 mph, the rider will feel the Thundercat’s EPS work its magic.

Ben Langaas wringing it out at a M.I.R.A enduro this season

AI: Thanks for taking the time to give me and others a little insight into EPS. And good luck with the rest of the Cross Country race season!

Ben: Thanks Kale. Im happy ArcticInsider exists to share this info with everyone.



  1. Thank you, Kale!

    My wife and I own a SxS with EPS and QS3’s, and an ATV with EPS. It’s amazing how effortless that makes handling in general and I’ve been impressed. I’d like to see it become optional on all ZR’s and Riots.

    I got to test ride a 2020 T-Cat and have never felt anything like that – truly awesome!

  2. Love the Thunder cat. Going to ask for your assistance in this one as the other thread has become a disaster. Will Cat be willing to offer the 6000 limited with atac? I cant believe they would not offer it on that model. I have zero use for anything bigger. Get the ball rolling Kale. Work your magic! Other than that, I can live with the lineup. Was not expecting much when you think back on how the 50th kind of bit them in the butt with new product growing pains.

  3. Love the Thundercat. Just too much power for me. I would like to see a triple c-tec2 in it though. Something to maybe look forward to.

    Same here. I am looking at the 6000 Limited and could not choose the ATAC. Is it just an oversite on the Cat site? Thanks.

  4. Well then Cat needs to re think that. That is the only way I am buying in this year. Best engine they make and to go cheap on that (Not cheap as it has to make them a little more jing.

  5. I’d like to read Kevin’s question answered too — I thought I heard last night the ADAPT CVT was similar to what Blast used last year? Did I mishear? Does the Blast maintain constant belt tension throughout the RPM as well?

  6. Kevin and Clutch Newbie – Ill share an interview here on new ADAPT clutches with drivetrain engineers. Kevin, I don’t know who builds the clutches, but design is all AC. ADAPT is nothing like CVTech TrailBloc clutches on Blast, Clutch Newbie.

  7. All these “buyers” complaining about the gray. I gave my dealer $750 for a new Thundercat with EPS today. Its gonna look awesome in the back of my graphite gray RAM Limited! I want to find one of those Tucker windshields with the RAM logos for it. Kale, you nailed it with things to think about. $4000 more for the Mach Z. No thanks.

  8. Kale, what was your opinion of the eps? Also I’ve had time to relax and breathe after the reveal. And I’m going to order a thundercat. How does the lowered ride height affect the thundercat when the trails get rough. I’m riding a 14 xf 9000 limited now.

  9. Ordered my Tcat today with Atac and EPS, had a 21 with Atac, ordered the 22 with the green bumper, this is the perfect sled for Quebec trails, only thing I would like to know is if we still use 112 belts, as far as the reveal last night yes it was disappointing no bigger 2 strokes, no 2 ups or utility sleds or smaller 4 strokes but hopefully next year we start seeing some newer products

  10. I’m still happily riding my spring check 50th turbo at over 10’000 miles! I always said over the years o wished this thing had power steering especially with aggressive skis like powder pros.

    I think right now is the best time in the history of the sport to be in the sport. So many solid choices from every brand.

    Reminds of the early-mid 1980’s at the height of the three wheeler craze!! Anybody that remembers that knows what I’m saying!!

    Turbo cats are proven and have tons of aftermarket support. If I was in the market for a new sled I’d for sure be on the t cat.

    I hope cat never stops making snowmobiles. I like all brands but cat is dear to me.

  11. Regarding the question about where the new ADAPT clutches are manufactured.
    Per Brian Dick “It’s fully designed, engineered and tooled by Arctic Cat”. I interpret “tooled” as manufactured.

  12. This has to be one of the best looking sleds on the snow. Kale-dumb question: Is there ever a chance to test drive a Thundercat?
    Thanks for the write-up!

  13. Long live the King!
    I don’t mind the gray colour and the detailing by the windshield is neat. The whole sled looks great. I’m sure power steering is a good add.
    As much as I would like to own one Thundercat in my lifetime, it is just too much power, too much money.
    It is a shame that Cat does not sell some other chassis variants with the turbo engine – a turbo touring sled might do well and also a crossover version.

  14. Great comments on here all!

    Jason – Here’s my personal opinion on snowmobiles competing in the High Performance category like the Thundercat, Sidewinder and Mach Z. For where I ride (moderately tight wooded trails) these snowmobiles are a handful. They all ride beautifully, but Im mentally wore down by end of day shooting corner-to-corner trying to keep all that power in check via a big snowmobile and small brain. EPS takes away that type of fatigue. In most basic explanation, you’ll ride EPS, get off the snowmobile and say, “I really didn’t notice anything”. Thats kind of the point, and success of EPS. Like Ben says, you won’t feel the trail feedback through the bars, and your cornering efficiency is improved with larger ski runners and ease of turning.

    Mike – Correct me if Im wrong, but I don’t think anyone at AC said they “invented” EPS. “Development” though, means exactly that, and Ben mentions it in interview. The EPS motor itself derived from AC’s dirt products and was developed to work on Thundercat. My memory blurs on product intros, but I believe AC introduced EPS on the 2010 or 2011 550 ATV.

    Eli – Regarding demo rides of Thundercat. I know participating dealers ordered and have received 2022 models for demo purposes. What I don’t know, is if the Thundercat was included? For you and anyone else reading, PLEASE follow the AC Snowmobiles Event page for corporate demo ride locations. Ill list those stops here as I learn of them.

    Snowowl – Based on recent history (sales) the touring market died way down. And sales weren’t particularly strong when four-strokes broached the crossover deep snow market, and really dipped off the map with mountain.

  15. It makes me happy to read about young guys like Ben Langaas and this is why I stick with Arctic Cat. Ben’s background reminds me of guys like Brian Dick who raced and engineered at same time. Kale, thank you for sharing that type of inside story. Id love to see and read more. I was so happy to see Arctic Cat come back with new race sleds this year. The company’s dedication to racing and innovation through it has kept me buying performance models since I laid eyes on 93 ZR440. Sorry to derail these comments guys. Im also a proud owner of 2020 Thundercat. Keep up the good work here.

  16. Kale,

    Great job running this site. There’s more good info here than any snowmag (what’s left of ’em) and I love reading about the folks behind the scenes and how stuff gets produced.

    Good forums like this have such knowledgable folks commenting. It’s a real service, so thanks for doing this. I know you ain’t doing it for the big bucks. LOL. And I know AC folks read this. A few days after you posted your story about adding pennies to add weight to the clutch for the Blast, I took my Blast in for that stumble I had written about here. The mechanic said “AC just told me they need heavier weights and are shipping me some”. Two days later: fixed. I didn’t know you had written about this til I got the sled back.

    So, to the Thundercat: it is a very cool machine — but it’s not for me. Most of the lakes I ride on are too rutted with ice-fishing trucks and the trails are too tight and the nice flat straight ones seem to have a DNR cop sitting in the woods. I almost never use the power of my 800.

    But…I like that you can order this sled with the options like EPS.

    My question to AC is this: Why not option the heck out of every sled in their lineup? If it’s mostly snow check, it should be possible to add all sorts of doo-dads to a sled. Seems AC is missing out on some $$$ here.

    They should offer option of better gauges (that’s just plug n’ play), EPS on all their bigger sleds, custom color options, heated seats, what have you. Hell, offer a lambskin-covered heated cup holder with dimmable LED accent lighting. If it costs a thousand bucks to make it, charge two grand. If some knucklehead wants to order a $15,000 blast with all the trimmings, serve it! Porsche has been making coin for decades doing this.

    My point is: offer all the sleds in base models. Then give customers a MUCH BIGGER CHOICE in configuring them. I mean they have six months to build ’em. Seems Cat is leaving money on the table by not doing it with their entire business model going to advance orders.


  17. After owning 50 Arcticcat sleds and a no of Thundercat especially since 2017 which I still have I bought a second thundercat in 2018 -2019-2020-2021 and now hoping the 60th thundercat would be totally all black.what a disappointment for 60th that primer gray does nothing for our top line sled could you please paint mine totally all black with green decals so I don’t have to wrap the sled . It’s only older people that buy these thundercat and your gray looks like ****. It don’t belong on Arcticcat pride and joy please make some option for colour . Please and thank you.

  18. I think the eps system will be a home run and will probably be offered on most 4 strokes in the future just like atv/SxSs. The only draw back of this sled is the driveline! It’s an awful design and needs to be updated. Hopefully 23 will bring a new chassis and a new drive system. I agree the Mach Z is not going to have the top end of the TCat or Sidewinder and once tuned the 998 is king! Glad Cat is still in the game and hopefully goes all in in 23!

  19. Hey Kale, thanks for responding to my comment and I realized after reading it that I had not fully developed my idea!
    So more directly, now that we have PS to allow for more ski bite is there a chance people might buy a longer tracked trail sled (146 or so?) for better bump bridging, more carrying capacity on the tunnel and possibly better off trail. I guess it could be any motor.
    When I bought my ZR7000 I really wanted a cross tour but could not get past the lack of black and green on that model. Same with Pantera at the time.

  20. Steve-O- Your comment gave me a good chuckle. The answer to your question is one I cant answer easily, or really answer 100%. Im happy to see AC offer the Accessory Kits for their models. Thats a step in correct direction and includes items that are most often purchased. (tall windshields, storage or bumpers) With this, I also like to see the configurator AC introduced on their website. They aren’t quite to the level of optioning a fleece thong if you want one, but again, steps in right direction.

    Id like to do a story on the costs involved in a new snowmobile. Historically, the biggest development/tooling costs revolve around Headlights, Gauges and Bodywork.

  21. I wish AC offered the Tcat motor in the 2020 Wildcat XX when I bought it – could have a cool RR type model, but these machines are getting expensive.

    I am really torn between the Blast ZR and the ZR Limited 6000 for the classic tighter trails, rutted lengths others commented on.

    I know probably won’t win any manly points with a Blast, but just looks like good fun with trimmed down machine. Just sparks me a difference in fun of a whipping around a dirt bike versus fun of burly Harley.

    Hard to deny too that you can buy two Blast sleds for the price of a Tcat. I guess I could have nearly bought two Wildcat Trails for the price of an XX. But the difference between the dirt machines seemed further apart than the entry sleds and the speed demons.

    I agree with others — for those whom pre-order machines, got to open up the custom order selections a bit. I would really like to order a Green tub like the RR machines have. I don’t mind Graphite or Black. I just like a brighter color for low light conditions. It figures, the Blast had bright color tunnels last year, and this year they don’t.

  22. I wish AC offered the Tcat motor in the 2020 Wildcat XX when I bought it – could have a cool RR type model, but these machines are getting expensive.

    I am really torn between the Blast ZR and the ZR Limited 6000 for the classic tighter trails, rutted lengths others commented on.

    I know probably won’t win any manly points with a Blast, but just looks like good fun with trimmed down machine. Just sparks me a difference in fun of a whipping around a dirt bike versus fun of burly Harley.

    Hard to deny too that you can buy two Blast sleds for the price of a Tcat. I guess I could have nearly bought two Wildcat Trails for the price of an XX. But the difference between the dirt machines seemed further apart than the entry sleds and the speed demons.

    I agree with others — for those whom pre-order machines, got to open up the custom order selections a bit. I would really like to order a Green tub like the RR machines have. I don’t mind Graphite or Black. I just like a brighter color for low light conditions. It figures, the Blast had bright color tunnels last year, and this year they don’t.

  23. Hey Kale,

    Although, I hope Cat/Textron read the comments on the release, because I believe it is a real good assessment on how Cat customers are feeling and I think one more year of this and it will be all over but the crying.

    I do like the changes to the Thundercat, but I am not sure about the price increase from last years program and the year before. Again, that is NOT the way to help keep the current and/or create new customers.

    I just hope the TCAT is going to take care of the Mach as it will definitely NOT help any returning customers for new TCATS if it loses to the Mach. I hope Yamaha and CAT are confident that it can beat it. I think their is a lot riding on this, more than they think!

    I also don’t understand why CAT cant offer a Track Option program. I for one like my 2020 TCAT with a 1″ track.

  24. Andy – Ive spent some time riding the new Mach Z. BRP did a nice job with it.
    My two takeaways if comparing to a Tcat. Its nice, but Id have a hard time paying $4k more than a Tcat, and it doesn’t have near the speed and exhilarating acceleration of a Tcat.

  25. I have been a long time customer of AC I have had several T-cats over the years all three cylinders they were my favorite. The four strokes are more reliable but are heavy, power steering seems to be a good idea for the added weight good idea. The only complaint is the flat gray color were did this come from? Why don’t AC stay with there traditional black and green? I have been thinking of putting some money ?? down on a new T-cat but not liking the flat gray. I am waiting to see what the SRX has for color options before I decide.

  26. Kelly Gambsky – The dynamic charcoal is pretty sweet looking in person. (Thats strictly my opinion) Im guessing the color is stemming from the auto industry where its trending heavily now.

  27. Kale, What else can you tell us about the new clutches. Do the clutches increase acceleration and top speed over last years setup? Do they help to obtain full shift? Is the clutching calibration much different over the 2021?

  28. Kale, I was hoping to get a riot 9000 this year. Any idea why cat doesn’t offer it? The Yamaha xtx le is the same sled, but I think the riot looks better and I’d prefer to stay with cat.

  29. Kale, why doesn’t the TCAT come with the QS3’Rs? Premium flag ship sled should get the best shock offered, like they have on the RR?

  30. I can not stop thinking about purchasing this Thundercat. I have always said I will not purchase a 4 stroke snowmobile. I have always purchased the 8000 and was looking to go to the 6000 this year because I drove one at Country Cat last year and fell in love with the 6000. I can’t get ATAC on the 2022 6000 trail sled. I have iAct now and will not purchase a new Cat without it.

    So back to the the Thundercat. I am 62 and do only trail riding. It is a combination of twisty trail and straight railroad bed riding. I usually cruise at 30-50 mph. More on the low end. Occasionally I push the throttle but not for very long. I never use the total power of my 8000s. At my age now I prefer to relax and enjoy the scenery while riding. I have a feeling this Thundercat is just way too much for me being it is over 200 hp. I realize that throttle control is on me. Just like in a vehicle you do not drive around with the throttle wide open. But it’s there if needed or wanted.

    Serious question. Based on the above is the Thundercat an option for me or is it just way too much? Will I hurt the engine if I don’t use all of it’s potential? Is it Ok as a cruising machine for my riding? I’m really falling for this sled but wondering about the 4 stroke and whether this is too much for me. Put a 6000 triple C-Tec2 in there and it’s sold. Help sell me on this 4 stroke powerhouse or tell me it’s too much for my type of trail riding. Thanks.

  31. Ken, this sled is in the back of my mind as well. I had a 2014 7000 limited and ran it up to close to 10,000 miles, then traded for a 20 6000 limited iAct.The 6000 is a beautiful sled for sure. My wife’s 13 1100 is getting high miles on it and sure would think that Thunder Cat would be a fun replacement. The only thing is changing oil is kind of a pain. It’s only once a year but it’s one of the things I don’t enjoy. I will say the Yamaha engine is easier and less messy then the Suzuki in the 1100, filter change on the 1100 sucks ????. One of the nice things on the new cats,17 and up is the hoods and side panels are much nicer to deal with.
    I just think the Thunder Cat would feel pretty exciting on a nice cold hard pack day. I would have to say that there probably isn’t anything like it. And they do have a beautiful sound. And now with that power steering this thing is going to be a pleasure to ride all day. I know I would never need all of that power either but, for guys like us a quick shot to 70-80 mph would probably be safer on this then say a 6000 because it would happen in less time so you would back out of it sooner, LOL! I do think that it is a pretty sharp sled as well. I’am the same type of rider as you Ken, and I wouldn’t worry one bit about riding this thing all day the way we ride. Good luck on what you decide.


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