Google search engineGoogle search engine
HomeNewsRight Sized Ride Review ��� iRide the Blast ZR and LT

Right Sized Ride Review ��� iRide the Blast ZR and LT

A block away from the Arctic Cat factory, and two road approaches later, we pulled up to the Highway 59 stoplight on 2021 Blasts and I yelled at Pat with a huge smile under my helmet, “This isn’t a F’n kids sled!” 

Heading out with engineering on Blast ZR and LT (L-R) Pat Bourgeois, Lynn Berberich and Mike Conely

Arctic Cat marketing arranged a visit and ride for myself and longtime buddy and powersports wordsmith/photographer, Pat Bourgeois, on the all-new 2021 Blast (ZR and LT) with some familiar faces from engineering, Lynn Berberich (Engineering Manager), Mike Conely (Project Manager) and Brian Dick (Director of Product Strategy and former Team Arctic Cross-Country racer).

“Enter the Right-Sized Blast.”

Concepts of what a 65hp class snowmobile should be were built and shelved over the years, including this one which tried to encompass a "do-it-all" snowmobile for trail riding and utility. It also broke the internet circles when it was seen in some patent drawings.

Some enthusiasts on the internet wondered what Arctic Cat was up to when stumbling upon this patent drawing which also included drawings of a single-cylinder engine.

When starting employment at AC in 2004, I had heard references like pit-sled, entry-level, mid-size, three-quarter and transition thrown around the inter-sanctum of the product war room until my departure in 2019. And over that time, just as many concept versions of those sleds were built, and shelved, because the sled was never defined to meet a price point, styling, and size criteria for a given market – until now. Enter the Right-Sized Blast.

Cost has always been a factor to bring this type of snowmobile to market. If you don’t know, one of the biggest money suckers to build a new snowmobile is always the engine, followed by headlights and bodywork. If we rewind a handful of years ago, the chances of launching a 65-hp class snowmobile with a high rate of success would have been moderately low, given the amount of carryover units in the field. 

Not following? Would you buy an $8K entry level snowmobile during a time when a carryover with two-to-three times the horsepower can be had for the same price? Probably not. Now that the vast majority of carryovers have disappeared, and smaller horsepower snowmobiles (Z 370/440/570 and the like) are getting long in the tooth and harder to find and maintain, the Blast seems right to enter the market.

So, since I’ve written more copy than most of us have read since highschool, I’ll break my iRide Review down nice and simple:


 I’m envisioning the comments section right now saying $8k is too much (maybe so) but I don’t think it’s out of line (Blast ZR $7,695 MSRP US).  Some wish the Blast would be priced where the Polaris EVO is, and you have that rightful wish. I’ve spent a fair amount of time on the Polaris EVO, and it’s an admirable entry level snowmobile for beginners, but apples to apples, the EVO isn’t even close to the same excitement level, power, or feature category as the Blast, nor should the Blast be offered as a loss leader like Polaris is doing with the EVO.

The Blast is about 7/8 compared to a full size ZR as evidenced here pictured between ZR 800 and ZR200

SIZE – How big is Mid-Sized?  

  • If a ZR 8000 is full-size, a Blast ZR would be seven-eighths  and the ZR 200 would be a three-quarter sled. I’d prefer to think of it as Right-Sized considering the Blast fits a wide variety of riders in a lightweight package.

At 6'4" I felt just as comfy on the Blast (Below Photo) as I did on the ZR 800 in above photo


  • Blast ZR and LT ergos feel right. I’m 6’4” and plenty of room on the ZR. Knees weren’t cramped and space to slide my size 14 boots forward in footwells.
  • Narrow Blast ZR seat and texture of new thermo-formed seat cover provide easy side-to-side butt maneuvering when riding actively through corners.
  • ZR Seat Foam was a bit stiff, but I’ll give a hall pass considering units were fresh off the line and foam is characteristically stiff when new on any model, including LT.
  • LT seat adds 1- to 2-inches over the ZR. While I appreciated the taller LT seat and wind protection from the high windshield, the combo gave the Blast LT a slightly larger, full-size snowmobile feeling over the ZR. (Not a bad thing)
  • LT seat could retrofit over to the ZR and M models.

The Blast controls are moved from the handlebar controls down to the center console, are simple and work extremely well


  • Blast is well-equipped with Powersport digital gauge and turn-key electric start located on the console. 
  • Also located on the console is the handwarmer and thumb warmer switches and high/low beam switch. Important to note here, the handwarmers don’t have variable heat settings like a fullsize ZR. Instead, the Blast employs an “all-or-nothing” switch. Regardless whether you think you’d like that or not, I found it easy to use, and the handwarmers were nice and warm, which is often an under-appreciated characteristic of Arctic Cat snowmobiles compared to other OEMs. Also standard is a console-mounted tether switch.
  • Located above the thumb warmer switch on right side of console is a new rocker switch (Found on Blast models only) that engages engine reverse. Like the handwarmer switch, it took me a couple uses before adapting to the relocation from traditional handlebar location. All switches work as they should and I enjoy the look of a clean handlebar to add a high-quality handguard from Rox Speed FX.

The 65hp Class 397cc single cylinder CTEC2 with EFI, Electric Start and Engine Reverse


  • My biggest surprise! Expectation was a 570 fan-like power delivery. Which in my opinion is a flat and boring power-curve. [Insert Zzzzzzzzz here]
  • Cranking out 65hp class performance, the liquid-cooled power delivery with electronic fuel-injection is much more exciting. The all-new 397cc single-cylinder CTEC2 engine weighs under 50lbs and snaps to life via CV Tech clutches. Within the first few hundred feet after blipping the throttle, you know this engine and lightweight chassis want to play!
  • At 6’4”, 250lbs, my Samsquanch-sized arse saw speeds of 72mph on the ZR and slightly less on the LT, primarily due to the track lengths, widths and lug heights. (121 vs 146 length track, 14- vs 15-inch width and 1- vs 1.6-inch lug respectively). 
  • The engine has a new design on the exhaust pipe, but utilizes the same resonator (muffler) as its big brother 800 CTEC2 engine. (See -8.8lb Speedwerx lightweight muffler)

The new Blast has a 37-39 adjustable ski stance and AMS front suspension


  • The all-new lightweight one-piece flat top tunnel rides predictably as it should and feels nice and rigid.
  • The front end (bulkhead) is shared with full-size models, but utilizes an adjustable 37-39-inch ski stance with AMS spindles, attached to the 6-inch Trail Ski for planted, front-end cornering.
  • Single Runner carbides add a bit of speed, but I’m not a fan of the trail darting characteristics found with them. When I buy a Blast, I will be trading the single-runner out for a dual-runner set up and plan to lay off the cheeseburgers to make up for the minor loss in speed.

A look at the 121x1-inch lug track and Slide Rail Suspension on the Blast ZR that contributes to the major fun factor of riding this snowmobile


  • Not many snowmobiles employ a 121-inch skidframe anymore, which is a damn shame. The playful nature of this “shorty” slide rail suspension is new and works considerably well utilizing dual hydraulic twin-tube shocks with adjustable torsion springs. Again, with my large frame, the adjustable torsion springs were cranked up to highest setting and I never experienced the front or rear arm bottoming over multiple road approaches.
  • The Blast ZR track adds to the element of fun. At 14-inches wide, the one-inch lug track releases smiles and is a pure pleasure for controlled drifting around corners under power.
  • The Xtra-Action skidframe found on the LT is the same as found on the full-size Norseman but in 146 length and 1.6-inch lug. This Cobra track powers through surprising deep snow, and in my opinion, makes an ideal explorer/adventure snowmobile and light-utility performer.

A look at all three Blast models (L-R) M, ZR and LT utilizing skid plate and Ascender side panels from full-size ALPHA models, but employs an all-new hood an intake.


  • Arctic Cat employs the Stealth master cylinder w/lightweight caliper brake system on the Blast and performs just as well as it does on its full-size counterparts. 
  • The Blast utilizes the Ascender skid plates and side panels from full-size ALPHA mountain snowmobiles for its narrowness, but the hood, along with a new air intake w/under-hood air draw, are all new which aids in the seven-eighths scale.
  • Halogen 1-bulb headlight is the same found in the ZR 6000 R SX race sled.
  • 11.7-gallon fuel tank is borrowed from full-size models. It may be overkill, but this single-cylinder will give you quite the range with that large tank.
  • You can buy ready to ride accessory kits with the Blast which are: Blast ZR Trailblazer Kit – ProClimb Bumper, Trail Pack and Highwindshield. Blast LT Winter Essentials Kit – ProClimb Bumper, Hitch Kit and Handlebar Bag. Blast M Pro Kit – Pro Climb Bumper, Mountain Pack and Handlebar bag.

Brian Dick can flat out ride, and although this isn't us in the photo, he schooled me in the tight twisty woods sections where the Blast ZR shines


  • The Blast is the perfect Right-Sized snowmobile for anyone. I think AC did a great job coming to market with a unit that exudes fun in a lower hp class that has been absent for far too long.
  • In a tight twisty, wooded section of trail on our ride, Brian Dick opened my eyes to the true performance the Blast is capable of (and Brian’s riding ability). If you ride these types of trails, the Blast ZR absolutely shines with its smaller slotcar-esque handling that will make lesser riders on full-size sleds eat humble pie. I admittedly couldn’t keep up to Brian when I was riding the ZR 800 (and him on the Blast ZR) in the woods. I get my size from eating humble pie with a large fork. [sigh] 
  • If you want to demo ride a Blast or other 2021 models, check the Arctic Cat events page on website, and visit your local dealer to inquire.
  • Remember, if you want a 2021 Blast, you only have until April to order one under the Snowmageddon sales event, otherwise you’ll be left wanting if you wait.

The Blast LT with 146 Xtra Action rear skid frame and 1.6" Cobra track can rally the trail, but also navigate light utility work and adventure riding off trail with ease.

The Blast LT seat sits 1-2 inches higher than the ZR or M, and can be swapped over to those models.

A closer look at the Blast LT 146 Cobra track with 1.6-inch lugs



The 6-inch Trail ski is a solid performer, but for my personal taste, Id swap out the single-runner carbide for a dual runner.

The Blast ZR and its right-sizing is the ultimate fun sled in my opinion. Smiles for days due to its lightweight playful nature.

(L-R)2021 Blast ZR, Blast M and Blast LT



  1. I think it will sell well but if you really want to sell that bad boy, find a way to fit the 600 under that beautiful hood, give it the 43″ ski stance with a slight shock upgrade, put the controls off of the big boy sled on it and I am IN! I have a 2020 6000 Limited iACT and absolutely love it but the idea of a major weight reduction would only improve the experience. Either way I am pretty impressed.

  2. I got to ride the blast ZR at ERX this weekend. I think what you said is 100% accurate Kale. I was pleasantly surprised with engine power. I don’t think majority of people realize what a single cylinder engine is capable of, and I had forgotten myself. The ZR is very playful. Fun to slide that ass end around. I am now contemplating on buying the ZR version. Not sure if anyone from cat reads this but thank you for getting demo rides to ERX. The two dealers there (Dean and Tom) did an awesome job.

  3. I always like seeing prototype photos. Thanks for sharing the one in this reviews. I’m thankful they didn’t release that version. It’s pretty homely. I’m thinking of buying the Blast LT and like that idea of a front rack though. This would be my ice fishing rig.

  4. Are the front bumpers standard in the photos? Or are these part of the Accessory Kits? Photos on the AC website don’t show bumpers.

  5. Alex – The bumpers shown in all the photos are part of the Accessory Kits. Which are: Blast ZR Trailblazer Kit – ProClimb Bumper, Trail Pack and Highwindshield. Blast LT Winter Essentials Kit – ProClimb Bumper, Hitch Kit and Handlebar Bag. Blast M Pro Kit – Pro Climb Bumper, Mountain Pack and Handlebar bag. Costs for these kits are just under $400 each.

    Slappy – Dean and Tom were from UFC Farm Supply in Waconia, MN and Thomas Sno Sports in Ogilvie, MN respectively. And yes, I agree, both do a great job and are seriously passionate about Arctic Cat products.

    Paul – Im with you on the styling of that prototype, but the idea of incorporating a rack on the front end was for guys like you looking at light utility use, including ice fishing. You’d be very happy with the LT for ice fishing. Have you ever looked at some of the Arctic Cat ice fishing Bearcats the Clam Corporation/IceTeam have built? Pretty cool stuff!

  6. I’ve been waiting patiently for this info since October! Great article!

    I was wondering how would the Blast would compare to my old 1986 Cougar that had a 500 fan. I’m curious how it measure up on performance, weight, size and feel. Even though that was in a full sized chassis for the times IMO it was a 3/4 7/8s type of sled. I started on 1976 Jag moved on to the Couger, then El Tigres, EXT’s, and Wildcats. I’ve been out the sport since 1993. I have always purchased new. This sled is seriously fueling my excitement for returning to the sport. I would get reacquainted to the sport. I would the buy a second sled and keep this and then ad high performance second macbine just like I did with the Cougar in the 80’s. The Bast is exactly what the sport needs, I’m sure many will agree.

  7. Kale,
    Are they going to get these things out to dealers soon?
    If people don’t get the chance to see them in person, they aren’t going to buy them, and the demo rides are too few and far between for a majority of buyers.

  8. Kale,
    I’m looking forward to your review of the M version. When are you heading to the mountains for a rip? Maybe compare it to the Polaris EVO RMK and maybe an Alpha 600.

    Keep up the posting Kale! It’s great to have AI back.

  9. krom – I believe Reps have received, or are receiving their demos now to start touring around to dealers. And units should be arriving at participating dealers soon. For you and anyone else reading – Keep in touch with your nearest dealer and pay attention to the Arctic Cat events page on their website to see/ride 2021 units.

  10. Dom – I don’t have a comparo photo. But Indy EVO to Blast ZR size comparo is probably fairly close. What doesn’t compare, is the power and fun of the Blast engine. It far surpasses the EVO, and the Blast will live with your family for more years than the EVO considering it fits a wider ranger of rider sizes and skill levels.

  11. Quick question. Did the ZR dart or were you just saying it could have a tendency to dart with a single runner? I am thinking of getting this for my kid, however the combination of darting and 70 plus mph for a beginner is not good. I am a huge cat fan, but why did they put the reverse there for just the ZR model? I wonder if there will be issues over time with toggles, freezing, breaking, or being inadvertently hit by novice riders. Remeber the target group of this sled. I am on the fence. I love the idea and concept.

  12. I was anticipating throwing a leg over the ZR and had the chance this past weekend at the ERX Ride In. My son (6 yrs old) will eventually grow into a ZR Blast and has his eye on the blue version. At 6ft tall and 175lbs, I was pleasantly surprised at the playful demeanor of the chassis and very impressed with the power coming from that motor. This is a concept I can get behind. Purchase it for myself to go spend a handful of winters sharing great adventures with my son on his 200, as he grows, pass the Blast onto him and then dad gets a new sled to continue sharing these times together. Great job Arctic Cat on bringing a awesome fresh idea to market..

  13. Matt – Both ZR and LT models exhibited some darting on sections of trail that were really firm, but nothing “scary”. Adding a dual-runner would eliminate that completely, and is always my preference. The single runner adds speed, and Im guessing in AC’s eyes, keeps the costs down. As far as moving controls to console…I don’t see issue with hitting buttons accidentally there or freezing, no different than you would on the handlebars. Again, Id assume these style of switches keep costs down versus high end handlebar controls.

    Emenee- To be brutally honest, I don’t have a fuel economy answer to your question, and when it comes to buying power sport toys, Ive never really cared. The fuel mpg argument could go on for days since everyone rides differently in so many different conditions. When I buy a toy that I get to ride for 3 months, I just know Im going to fill it with gas and don’t care the cost.

  14. Does the blast have a radiator to keep it from overheating or just heat exchangers? One of the biggest selling points for me with the Evo RMK I have for my son is not worrying about him overheating it.

  15. There is only heat exchangers on these but I have not seen a pic of the inside of the tunnel to how big they are. My 20 6000 runs very cool compared to my 18 6000. I have scratchers on both but on my 20, I almost over heated it because of using the scratchers. Filled the tunnel with snow.

  16. Great review. I posted a quick review of the blast in another story on this site….but I agree with everything you said Kale. I rode all three models at Elk River and talked to other riders. I had some time to kill and enjoyed myself. During one ride around the track I switched models with another rider so we could get apples to apples seat time.

    One thing I was very interested in heat control (For you Jamie): I toggled the dash board to see what engine coolant was. At least during the test rides the machines never went above 50 percent. The day was about 28 degrees. It’s not a good sample I know but it’s a bit…. I ride in low snow areas sometimes and overheating my 800s is a real issue. ESPECIALLY with my wife or kids on the sleds. Anyone with more insight on this would be helpful.

    As I said elsewhere the engine power is great from this 400. WAY BETTER THAN I THOUGHT. I too thought it would be a droner and be kind of poky. Not true at all. During the test rides I was surrounded by some young guys on various ZR800s and I was ripping along with them no problem. The motor can throw a nice roost in soft snow. I was super impressed at vibration and smoothness, esp. the clutch. Just great engagement.

    This machine really got me excited. I often go riding with my daughters or wife or friends who aren’t that experienced. My old 800 is a wild ride for them, my 2019 zr8000 is easier for them to ride but still it’s a lot of machine.

    Oh one thing too: very little engine smoke. I didn’t see or smell any on start up. This thing simply does not smoke (but they were always starting warm).

  17. Again you’re promoting loud exhaust. That is irresponsible. I’m so thankful that our COs have begun ticketing sleds. We are getting tired of fielding complaints and moving trails because of loud exhaust. Join a snowmobile club and learn our pain.

  18. Maindihar – I understand your frustration, and know the threats of illegal exhaust, and Im a member of multiple clubs. I reference a lightweight Speedwerx muffler because it meets decibel requirements and they are a longtime supporter of this website. But you do bring up a good reminder: Know before you buy an aftermarket can…it may not meet requirements in your state, and if you do buy, don’t be a dumbass and Braaap Braaap irresponsibly.

  19. Rear end and suspension in general seems to be squatted quite a bit in the comparison pictures above?

    Once again I request them to offer a SnoPro 600 version of this sled with a 128 skid, 1.3 cobra track, IFP shocks/coils, no electric start, and full sized ZR front end. Simple and light trail riders weapon. Willing to provide address for shipping purposes for test mule. 😉

    Looking forward to seeing how the aftermarket will improve these, if Cat won’t.

  20. Have you met Kale? He’s built like a brickhouse. Lol. I’m sure the Blast ZR is squatting a bit, but it also gives up 3” of suspension travel to a ZR LTD. (10.7 vs 13.5”) I don’t understand people asking for upgraded “stuff” but then complain price is too high. Makes no sense. If you want to upgrade shocks, you can buy them outta the AC catalog.

  21. Prowler is right. A ZR 600 LTD is a little over $10k. If AC built your desired sled Crnr2Crnr, it would be at that pricepoint and a lesser sled. Now, if AC could build a lightweight, no frills 600 for $8k, that would be a diff story.

  22. Not necessarily, using all off the shelf parts they’ve already developed and used on previous Cat sleds. 600 which has been around since 2014 drops right into the bulkhead. Skip the electric start to shave weight and cost. 128/129 Skid was used for years, and they don’t have a 128/129 any longer unlike Doo & Poo. Simple Fox IFP shocks and coil over springs have been used for years and most recently in the 6000/8000 SnoPro’s which aren’t being offered in 2021. The new ZR front end used on all their trail sleds should bolt right on. One would also assume the sled I propose would also be lighter than a ProCross 6000. As for price, the 2020 SnoPro 6000 with Snowmaggedon pricing was $9,995 – so if they offered the sled I propose for say $9,000-ish how appealing would that be compared to what Doo & Poo offer for 600 class sleds? Sign me up please.

  23. Adding to my above comments: at elk river demo rides all of the excitement I saw was about the Blast. They had fleet of about 12 sleds and three Blasts and the thing most riders wanted to go on was the Blast. They were the first to get grabbed.

    I frankly love smaller sleds. I rode a tiny Motoski mini snow when I was a sprout and loved that thing. I’ve ridden motorcycles all my life and while I love my Harley Road Glide Ultra I also love my Honda 250 dirt bike. Had as much fun on a moped as I’ve had on a super bike…. Smaller is better for less experienced riders of course but I just like the lighter weight and handling of smaller machine.

    I think sleds have gotten so big and powerful that it’s sorta silly most of the time (Said the guy who has a zr8000….lol).

    I’m prob gonna buy one of these Blasts. But…I’m disappointed AC doesn’t have them for sale this year. I don’t care if they are only available in Feb, get them out there so customers can buy them.

    My favorite was the Mountain Blast, frankly. It was just a freaky fun machine. I don’t ride at high elevation and big HP doesn’t matter to me. I like exploring in Minnesota and a light mountain sled that can can be trail explorer? Win.

  24. I think the buttons on the dash will freeze up after the first snowfall. I have those on my lightbar on my Bearcat 7000 groomer special and they are causing trouble.
    Othervise great idea sleds.

  25. I am curious on the size of these sleds compared to the ‘full size’ sleds that were common in the late 70’S, early 80’s such as the Yamaha Exciter 440 or Arctic Cat El Tigre. Are the Blasts comparable physically in size to these sleds or smaller to those such as the Yamaha Enticer 340’s? What was once considered ‘full size’ has shrunk when compared to today’s sleds.

  26. It shows in the specs that the ZR is 10″ shorter than the 137″ skeds and the total width is at 44″ compared to 48″ on the 137’s.

  27. Great write-up and insights Kale, thanks for posting. I too think it is cool to read about where this project originally started, and where it actually ended up. I’ve put over 50 miles on the Blast ZR, and a little less on each of the Blast LT and Blast M. As others are saying here these things are over-the-top fun and seem poised to bring some new enthusiasm to the table that only comes along once-in-a-while. Riding this all-new model down the trail reminded me of the first time we ever had an all-new 93 ZR out riding, a new 98 ZR, a new Firecat, a new Jaguar, etc. It was awesome to be involved with the demo rides at ERX with these units and the other models that were present too. Hundreds of rides were given over the two-day event and it is always fun to be at an event hanging out with fellow snowmobilers, some of the greatest people on earth!

  28. I think they dropped the ball on the controls. Especially for beginners. Why would you want them to take there hand off the bars to find the high beams and hand and thumb warmers? Think they would have been better off using the same controls as the big sled. As for price point 8000 seems like a lot for beginner sled. Then again sounds like it’s more than a beginner sled.
    But the 200 is way overpriced for what it is.

  29. Not like it is a touch screen Dan. You wont hardly ever tough the controls to be honest. I prefer my2020 location but I get the simple look of this. If and (better be when) they drop bigger motors in these sleds, I am guessing the controls will be moved back up to the bars, at least on the trail sleds. Mountain riders prefer them at that location.

  30. I have ridden sleds with the thumb and hand warmer switches on the console, that worked ok as there were always times either on a straight section of trail or at a stop sign to flip them on or off and there wasn’t any concerns about taking a hand off the bars to do it.

    The headlight switch is more safety related than comfort related, there will be more times when switching them from high to low beams will be done in any section of the trail than turning on or off the thumb warmer.

  31. Oftentimes, it could seem unfair when you are unable to afford the basic things. not being able to acquire a home, car or loan. Simply because your credit score is low. I had suffered terribly due to a low credit score caused by eviction, late payments and hard inquiries. I had to contact LANX CREDIT SOLUTION a credit repair company. They literally saved me from my traumatizing experience. They increased my score and removed the negative and derogatory Items on my credit report. This review is in order to encourage you to do something about your bad credit. It took just 12 days for things to change everything. LANXCREDITSOLUTION at GMAIL dot COM


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular