One week after Arctic Cat launched its 2019 model line of snowmobiles, the sport is buzziing about the mind-bending ALPHA ONE rear suspension system. Here are answers to frequently asked questions about the revolutionary new system.
What were the goals when inventing and designing the single beam?
There were three goals. The first was to shave weight. The second was increased and improved maneuverability of the sled…in other words, make it easier to lay down and sidehill. The third was improved traction. ALPHA ONE achieved all three goals.
The ALPHA ONE system is 11 pounds lighter than an equivalent length traditional skidframe/track. Where was the weight saved?
Of the 11 pounds of total weight savings, 4.5 pounds came from the actual suspension and 6.5 pounds came from the track.
Where does the weight savings come from?
Look at ALPHA ONE compared to a traditional skidframe. All of the shafts that span between the rails no longer exist. That’s where most of the savings comes from on the suspension. On the track, the savings comes from a 3.5-inch pitch on the ALPHA ONE’s PowerClaw track compared to the 3-inch pitch of standard PowerClaw tracks. The longer pitch means there are fewer track panels and thus fewer internal reinforcement rods, plus fewer metal track clips.
What does it mean that ALPHA ONE “rides lighter” than traditional systems?
Because ALPHA ONE is a single beam, it can’t trap snow like traditional two-rail suspensions. Snow sheds off both sides, resulting in a significantly lighter system while riding.
Why is ALPHA ONE easier to maneuver (including easier to lean over on its side) than traditional sleds?
When you stand on the side of an ALPHA ONE Mountain Cat and grand the handlebars and begin tipping it to the side, the entire machine tilts many degrees BEFORE the track itself begins to lever off the ground. The entire sled leans (around 20 degrees or so) before the track begins to also tilt. That’s the functional difference between ALPHA ONE and a traditional system, and it’s why ALPHA ONE is so much easier to initiate a lean-over to sidehill, plus it creates a much larger “sweet spot” for maintaining a leaned-over balance point.
How does ALPHA ONE achieve greater traction?
The same dynamic that makes it more maneuverable – the track’s ability to tilt independently from the rest of the suspension – is also why ALPHA ONE gets better traction. When sidehilling, more of the track is on top of the snow (rather than cutting into the side of the hill). And in all situations when the sled isn’t laid over, such as climbing or going downhill or on flats, the track’s flexibility to conform to the snow translates into noticeably greater traction.
What is ALPHA ONE constructed from?
The upside-down-V-shaped beam is constructed from extruded aluminum. Sections of magnesium are bonded to the beam wherever the suspension arms attach to it. There are two standard hyfax that are attached to the bottom of the beam.
What is unique about ALPHA ONE’s PowerClaw track?
Besides having a single row of windows in the center, the track features a 3.5-inch pitch compared to a 3-inch pitch. The internal support bars are stiffer than the traditional PowerClaw track.
What about the claim that ALPHA ONE is more efficient than traditional systems?
The larger 10-inch rear idler wheels on ALPHA ONE are more efficient, with less loss of power. When measured, ALPHA ONE delivers an efficiency that translates into a 3- to 5-horsepower advantage.
How’s the durability?
ALPHA ONE meets and/or surpasses the same durability requirements as all Arctic Cat mountain suspensions. Owners can ride it the same way they ride traditional suspension systems, with the same expectations for durability.
That said, like any production suspension regardless of brand, ALPHA ONE is not indestructible.
Arctic Cat built a 2019 mountain model specifically for riders whose primary style of backcountry riding is launching off massive jumps: the M 8000 Hardcore, which features a traditional rear suspension equipped with extra rail braces.
Will ALPHA ONE be available as an accessory kit?
Yes, for all 2018-and-newer Arctic Cat mountain sleds and for the 2017 Mountain Cat models. ALPHA ONE requires the dropped/rolled chaincase that is standard on these models.
The kit will include the entire rear suspension except for the shocks, as well as the PowerClaw track. Most OE shocks will bolt into the ALPHA ONE suspension. See your dealer for specific information.