I shared a trip report at the end of October and focused on some of the employees on the snow side of the business. The faces on the dirt side of the business are equally important, and here’s a few paths I crossed during that trip shortly after taking a lap around the off-road production line.
I was excited to see the all-new Alterra 600 in production. This was my first time seeing the new 600 engine as a stand-alone piece in-person, and mated to its new drivetrain. The set-up is reminiscent of units like the Wildcat Trail/Sport 700 engine/drivetrain combos.
Because of availability, I haven’t been able to spend as much time as Id like on the Alterra 600 for longterm loaner rides, but I have spent some time riding one. My 40,000ft overview…Arctic Cat engineers did an incredible job with this unit. The chassis/steering is predictable, the new engine is an overachieving 600 with bigger-bore power, it has great throttle response, and the overall ride itself is more playful for recreation riding.(I myself enjoyed riding wheelies) If I have a disappointment, I wish our current supply chain situation wasn’t holding back production, and more of these new Alterras could get in the hands of dealers/consumers quicker, and on a more widespread basis. It’s one of Arctic Cat’s best ATVs to date.
Back in the Off-Road engineering development area, I had the pleasure of talking to two longterm Arctic Cat employees – Charlie Simensen and Chris Evans. I caught them in the midst of prepping a 2022 Prowler Pro XT for longterm engineering evaluation and they walked me through some of the unit’s features including the CVTech clutches and where the increased ground clearance came from. Both of these guys played instrumental roles in the development of units like the Wildcat X and XX, as well as Prowler Pro and the all-new Alterra 600.
Why the photo of a Kawasaki KX125? Most probably don’t know that Chris Evans was a Factory Kawasaki wrench for Bubba Stewart in his early motocross years. (Now you know)
While talking to Charlie and Chris, Brian Harris, Director of Engineering-Off-Road (photo above) stopped by. Brian showed me some of the future products they are working on, and this show/tell conversation left me with a permagrin.
“I DON’T POO WHERE I EAT…”
I can’t share what those products are, but here’s the takeaway – Arctic Cat is in fact working on cool stuff! I wish I could share, but I don’t poo where I eat, so you’ll have to trust me. Do I wish they introduced these snow and dirt products yesterday? Of course I do, Im excited like all of you. Regardless, let’s start ending the talk about “Textron” doing nothing – The topic is nauseating, the company is moving forward and they are knowingly investing into new products for snow and dirt.
Seeing the above 2022 Wildcat XX waiting for shipping reminded me of Brian Harris’ development contribution to the unit much like Charlie and Chris. At the time, Brian was Project Manager for XX and saw it through from concept to launch.
On my way out of engineering, I stopped in the Styling Dept to visit Jordan Johnson and Nathan Blomker (Photo above). Jordan oversees the graphic designs on all Arctic Cat products and has done so solely for the past few years even though he’s worked in the department more than twice that duration. I was given a quick sneak peek at the 2023 line-up and some of you will be happy to hear, I didn’t see any “Gray”.
Next to Jordan, is Nathan Blomker. For you longtime ArcticInsider readers, Nathan has been featured several times here as the lead Industrial Designer behind a variety of Snow and Off-Road products. Between the two of these guys, I personally think they have some of the coolest jobs on the planet.
I enjoy what people surround themselves with in terms of inspiration/decoration by their desk. Nathan has a love for high performance sport motorcycles. I know he owns/owned several, if not all, featured on his wall above. As you can imagine, he’s also a very talented artist. My favorite Nathan originals happen to be the Ed Roth-inspired “Wild Cat” prints, which some of you may be lucky enough to own as a t-shirt.
I was standing next to these framed bluish photos and was giving them a once over as I enjoy seeing concept sketches. This particular one featured a Cougar and the year 1988 located by the artist signature. I didn’t pay attention to the signature, but Nathan pointed it out as Camilo Pardo – a name Ford GT fans will recognize, as Camilo was the designer behind the supercar. Nathan informed me Camilo was one of several commissioned to concept “the next Arctic Cat snowmobile” in 1988, and this was one sketch that has clung to the walls for many years, and Im glad it was preserved and survived this long.
Below is a video from Jay Leno’s garage featuring Camilo and the Ford GT. I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I did. (Id like to see a few updated Camilo sketches for concept snowmobiles now.)
This was a fun trip…one that left me with a smile on my face upon departure and I look forward to going back soon. -Kale
Kale, today I called my dealer and was told my thundercat cat has a jan 12 ship date. This is not what I’ve been led to believe until today. I thought thundercats were made already. I called arctic cat and was told only some thundercats were made, and more will be made later. I was also told that all ship dates are being delayed because cat is doing a week long factory shut down. So that they can do a full inventory of everything they have.. this seems completely insane to me. How would this company not know what there inventory is. And how do they shut down production when ppl are waiting for there sleds. And the season is around the corner.
They may be doing a physical inventory before the year end. This is common for many manufacturing facilities to do. No inventory system is perfect and there can be adjustments for a variety of reasons. If they can’t get parts or materials to build enough product then it probably won’t make any difference to shut down for a few days to do inventory.
Ever hear of Covid? Nothing makes sense but they always shut down for Christmas. Waiting for my 6000 RR but realize bitching is not going to change the shortages. Great article again Kale. As usual.
I get it, I’m not bitching. But I was told by jan 1st I’d have a sled. And I get the xmas shut down. But that would have been know and I would think, that was taken into consideration when they said jan 1st. I called cat and they said they have to shut down for inventory. And zero machines will be shipped during that week. I’d be fine waiting, but like an idiot I sold my sled expecting the new one. And also kale great article.
All businesses do inventory. One of most important things done each year. Not insane. Insane not to do it.
I think Arctic should offer an option to spring order buyers, cancel with deposit returned(+ interest) or first in line for ’23 with 3 year warranty and guaranteed delivery by 10/22. If I’m going to get my order in February, I don’t want it. At least I can go and sell(at a loss) the $1200+ in accessories I have collected all summer.
Great article Kale! Definitely worth the wait. Very excited to see what Cat has up it’s sleeve in the coming months and years ahead. A perfect response, to not only my negative rambling, but to all that seem to think that Arctic Cat is on it’s way out. Thank you for informing us of the fun stuff and keeps us all excited for the up and coming offerings from Cat!; even if not in detail. The future sounds very bright for TRF in both snow and dirt, and it looks like Textron is the real deal. This is a very special company to many, including myself, and I hope this article squashes the negativity towards the future of AC for once and for all.
I truly feel for those who ordered in April, and will not see their new sleds until well after the first of the year. I think this may be the new normal for a while, however, it does not make it any less painful.
The “Insider” is alive again! Love it.
Thank you Kale
Thanks for the article and positive outlook. Optimism for Cat has been in short supply for the last few years. Maybe we can finally feel like we’ve been through the worst and better days are ahead. I can’t help feel we may see something exciting for 2023. 73 brought us el tigre. In 83 the Cat is Back! 93 Feel the Thunder! In 03 we broke out our fireproof suits for the Firecat. Now 20 years on…….maybe something to get really excited about?? Thanks again and let’s be hopeful for a snowy winter.
That’s awesome to hear they are investing into new products. Hopefully some of these hit the market soon.
In this environment, taking orders in March/April is too late. It’s easy to blame COVID but this is really hurting a lot of buyers – many who are being left in the dark making a bad situation even worse. The manufacturers have to come up with a plan that adjusts to this reality for next year and years afterward and find a way to make it right with buyers this year who don’t get their sled with enough time to actually enjoy it.
Sandberg level article, nicely done! Dirt and snow both need some love and like most long time fans we are anxiously waiting. My new Canam is waiting for it’s gauge before I can bring it home but I was shopping the Alterra600 pretty hard too. Which is a huge deal because other than the XX I haven’t been interested in anything on the dirt side in years!
Prowler Pro is legit! Could care less if it can do over 50. Quiet, smooth and comfortable with incredible handling is what’s important.
We shall see.
BLa BLa Bla, we will see.
Just saw a Thundercat, and looked at the spec sheet. Gas tank Rated at 8.9 gallons,. someone please tell me me it’s 9.9 like it should be.
Thanks Kale for the update. I really enjoy the factory stories and what’s going on there. What I don’t understand is why always all the secrets. Is it so the competition doesn’t find out? To me that’s nonsense. Cat should be advertising and telling the consumer what they have in store with any new products or updates coming. When you say, “Arctic Cat is in fact working on cool stuff”, what is it? Cat should be telling us and stop these crazy secrets.
That would be great Ken, but I don’t see/hear Polaris, SkiDoo or Yamaha sharing anything. And I already shared future info with you…I didn’t see any Gray in the 2023 line-up.
Maybe there aren’t any secrets. Maybe just more smoke and mirrors to buy the exsisting products. After 5 years, not much has changed. Think there might be a reason?
Its December and they are still building 2022’s, and you expect a carrot? All I can say is WOW!
Because then consumers will hold off buying product to wait for the new stuff that’s coming. Some of that stuff they are working on may never make it to market and then there would really be a lot of bitching from consumers who didn’t buy a sled or ATV. Buy what’s available now and trade up if something better hits the market.
coming home from Tigershark filming, Charlie S rear-ended a semi in Nashville. Boats and wetsuits were laying all over the highway. When asked how fast he was going when he hit the semi he said “i looked down and the speedo said zero.” Then his suburban started on fire. We put it out with a bunch of mini fire extinguishers from the boats. Always a character, funny guy!
That, is a story Ive never heard about Charlie! Funny stuff! I wish I could write a book about all those types of engineering tales.
me, Bucky, Mikey K and Chuckwheat in 2 suburbans (one was Chris Twomey’s personal rig) with 20 ft enclosed trailers loaded with Tigersharks coming back from filming. i rear-ened Chuck & Mike after they hit the semi. They had a couple hundred $$ of fireworks in their suburban and were more concerned about that going off in the fire than anything else, LOL. We called Ole to let him know, got emergency flights home to Grand Forks the next morning and proceeded to rack up a helluva bar bill on the plane, could barely stand up when we got to GF. Then had the 2 suburbans and 2 trailers shipped back from Nashville to Arctic on 2 flatbed semis. The entire plant came out to see the carnage as it pulled into the parking lot. It was a crazy event for sure.
Why do I feel this is aimed at me? Paranoia?
I feel your pain Jason. We ordered a garage door in May or June. Still isn’t here. Probably won’t be here til spring. I’m betting on next fall myself.
Yes Jim, we have heard of it. The ones who wanted the vaccines got it, and should be forced to GET BACK TO WORK, like the rest of us, not paid to loaf around at home.
I’ll take that bet CCZ, Nick, and Mark. 2023 will be BNG, which I’m not against at this time, in fact I look FORWARD to it, but nothing big. 5 bucks says. I will stop griping like you CCZ, when I have a reason.
I agree with TP and Randy. We SHALL see. Better be a 650 or 700 engine, and an 850, 900, or 950 engine in the near future, or people will not buy. I don’t desire a new chassis, and I don’t see a need for one. The ProCross is “heavy”? I don’t think so. I KNOW it’s durable. Some things need addressing yea, but on the whole, it still wins. Also Randy, it’s a typo. Cat never checked, and textron doesn’t either, and probably never will check, their writings. I’ve found many errors in service manuals too.
I agree with Ken. textron could give us a little hint, not sunshine up our…well, you know. Also, who cares about Doo or Poo? Their diecast and glued bulkhead lightweight sleds shatter when they hit a bump on the trail. And Yamaha is probably being told what to do by textron, but I remember teasers for what would be revealed as the sidewinder back in 2016. Good stuff done well.
Hopefully those who decided on gray have learned their lesson, and won’t do it again. Also, I thought the dynamic gray was ugly as a main color, until I saw dynamic charcoal. God, it looks worse every time I see it in person. I’m pretty sure it’s the tunnels. At least the dynamic gray sleds had black tunnels…
I love the gray Downer. My Jeep is Gray. My next pickup will be gray. It is a color. If you don’t like it fine, but again, you do not ride color. Had an issue with my better half. She as the jeep. They sent the wrong colored license. Pissed! Can you see them when you are driving? I don’t think so. My $5.00!
That was a great article! I’ve not been checking into Arctic Insider very regularly for years as the Textron take over seemed to be all bad news. It sounds like they may be on their way to living up to the potential that people originally thought the purchase would bring.
I love that Cougar concept drawing from ‘88. I had no idea it was a 33 year old concept. I initially thought what a cool looking sled! I can now see how that morphed into the Prowler which… let’s just say that body style didn’t really age well IMO.
I’ve been holding out hope they will bring their patented snowbike design to production. I’d snowcheck one as soon as they became available. I’m really looking forward to seeing what Cat comes out with this spring. Being down to just 2 OEM’s bringing out new stuff the past few years has been boring. I really like Cat’s Blast sleds but wish they offered a cheaper, fan cooled version. I ended up buying my kids an EVO as the Blasts were too much money for what they are.
Hey Ramstad, I KNOW I can’t see it ALL while I ride it, but what about when I’m NOT riding it? You know, the majority of the time? Put the cover on and look at it like that?
Also, don’t Jeeps, trucks, etc come in OTHER colors, for those who DON’T LIKE a certain color?
Akrider, the snowbike ain’t coming. Nor is anything big. I’m BETTING on it.
Great article. Hopefully the new stuff pushes the envelope relative to what Cat’s peers are offering or have in development (vs BNG).
If you can’t give us specifics, what about when we can expect to see this new stuff?
Ive been receiving emails, calls, texts from friends and followers of the site that relay info they won’t be receiving their 2022 XYZ brand and model snowmobile until Jan/Feb/Mar (including myself), which has made me think about the following:
We all know Arctic Cat is overdue for a new something (Chassis, bodywork, engines, or all the above)…given the goofiness of “supply chain issues”, lack of available new inventory in dealer channels and build delays, would you rather have a replay introduction of the 2022 line for 2023, or an all-new something?
There’s a lot to think about when answering that question…
It’s time for an all-new something !!!!!!I will be snowchecking in spring and i really want it to be a cat.
Kale, i just was told today that my thundercat date moved from jan12 to jan 26. At what point does cat contact customers with some options like polaris did. If my sled isnt ready for pickup at my dealer till sometime in February do I even still want it? Especially if 23 has something new to offer. And I know the snowmageddon price was good but, not good enough to pay 18k for sled I cant ride till next year.
I wish cat would just be honest and say “ur sled needs this part and we have no idea when were getting it”. Instead my dealer just tells me nov. Then dec, then jan1, then jan12,now jan26. So every couple weeks it moves out and I’m left sledless, riding season is underway. My dealer says they have no other information, and multiple calls to arctic cat, only to be told they cant provide anymore information.
Hey Jason, we just got our garage door! Beat my spread! Hope your new ship comes in soon!