Note: This is a companion piece to THIS SET-UP story I posted earlier today.
Midway through last riding season and now again this season, I’ve worked to calibrate my ProCross-chassis Arctic Cats to handle exactly the way I want. Last year I had an F800 Sno Pro. This year I’m riding the ZR 6000 El Tigre, which is also equipped with the Sno Pro shock package.
In my opinion, the Sno Pro machines come calibrated to absolute perfection for bombing through bumps and down the ditch, which is maybe 15 percent of my total ride mileage. I probably spend another 10 percent of my ride time boon-docking in the backcountry along the Minnesota-Canadian border. The remaining 75 percent is spent riding groomed trails.
For groomed trails, I want “flatter” cornering than how the stock Sno Pros handle. I want more positive cornering, with less push and less inside ski lift.
So on my own, with my dog Bella and with some guidance by Arctic Cat’s suspension department, I’ve experimented with some changes to hit the handling sweet spot I’m aiming for. I tried everything I write about below last year on my 2014 F 8000 and again on this year’s ZR 6000. I’m still experimenting with some new things and will update this report when I’m ready.
The calibrations I’ve made are to these components:
1. Limiter straps on the front arm of the rear suspension [stock is hole #1: most front arm travel]
2. Coupling blocks on the rear arm of the rear suspension [stock is position #1: least coupling]
3. Ski carbides [stock is a single round bar with 4-in. carbide]
4. Rubber ski blocks for adjusting the ski stance [stock is 42-in. stance]
I promise there’s no BS in this story.
As of now, this is my preferred set-up:
1. Limiter straps: #3 or #4 hole
2. Coupling blocks: #3
3. Ski carbides: Deep-host bar version of the dual-skag runners (P/N P/N 2603-930/931) for cold hardpack conditions; Stud Boy 6-in. Shaper bars for loose snow and/or springtime snow
4. Rubber ski blocks: Repositioned for maximum 44-in. ski stance.
5. Torsion spring preload: #2 position
6. Stock skis
The stock ZR skis (bottom) have a 7/8-in. keel. The HCR mountain skis (top) have a 1-1/4-in. keel. Beginning next week, I’m going to experiment with the standard M skis.
I experimented with the Arctic Cat HCR mountain skis last year. These have the deepest keel of all Arctic Cat skis (the stock ZR skis come with a 7/8-in. keel; the standard M Series ski has a 1.0-in. keel; and the HCR ski has a 1-1/4-in. keel). While they definitely provide more cornering bite, the tradeoff is that the steering effort is too much for my girly-man arms during a long day’s ride.
Beginning next week I’m going to evaluate the standard M ski on my ZR and see if that’s a happy middle ground.
Flipping the rubber ski/spindle blocks to space the skis to their widest stance (44-in. compared to the stock 42-in.) is a quick, simple and effective mod for improving cornering. All that’s required is to remove the ski; turn each block so that the raised rib (see red arrow above) is on the outside each ski; and swap the plastic bushing on the outside of each hole for the ski/spindle bolt. Voila…two more inches of ski stance!
Friend Jim, above, claims this “situation” that he got himself into on my sled was the result of my trail set-up in conditions that required a stock calibration. Fortunately, after Jim’s incident, it took by 5 minutes of wrenching and the sled was calibrated for the rough.
There are consequences to my favored set-up, namely handling in the big bumps. Frankly, with the front limiter pulled up to the #4 position and the coupling blocks on #3, it’s too harsh in big bumps.
I can change the front limiter straps and the coupling block position in about five minutes, without pulling the skidframe. Last spring during a ride on a GNARLY North Shore State Trail in April, I made the switch to a bump-oriented set-up, from my cornering set-up, while our riding group BSed for a few minutes during a break. Other than those knuckleheads giving me crap about being Ricky-racer, it was simple change that was easy and worthwhile.
This brings up my last point for now: It’s SO easy to experiment with any of these tweaks that, if you’re not experiencing the ride characteristics that you expect, I suggest trying some of this stuff.
I know from talking with some of the people who read this site that many of you have experimented with different skis and calibrations.
I’m curious what kind of handling you prefer and your preferred set-up. Please tell!
Thanks for reading.