Lots of new stuff for Arctic Cat in 2019.
Here’s the abridged version of the 10 most significant technologies on tap for next year.
ONE: ALPHA ONE Rear Suspension System
For sure the biggest news from Arctic Cat for 2019 is its innovative ALPHA ONE rear suspension and track system for the mountain segment.
It uses a single beam (with a pair of hyfax) positioned in the middle of a specially designed Power Claw track featuring a single row of windows running down the middle.
Unlike traditional two-rail systems that we’re all used to, ALPHA ONE’s single beam allows the track to flex and conform to the snow.
There were three goals for Arctic Cat when developing ALPHA ONE:
* Improved maneuverability of the sled
* Improved traction
* Reduced sled weight
I’m pumped to report that ALPHA ONE delivers on all three. The improved maneuverability is astounding. Leaning the ALPHA ONE-equipped Mountain Cat on its side is significantly easier for novice and expert riders alike. Same for holding a line on a sidehill.
Traction is significantly better, whether it’s creeping through the trees or blasting wide-open up a mountain, all because the track conforms to the snow far greater than traditional systems.
As for weight, the ALPHA ONE skidframe is 4.5 pounds lighter than an equivalent length traditional suspension, while the track is 6.5 pounds lighter. Better still, without two rails to trap snow like traditional skidframes, ALPHA ONE sheds snow while riding, which means it rides lighter in real-world conditions.
ALPHA ONE is the real deal, and it comes as the M 8000 Mountain Cat ALPHA ONE in 154 and 165-in. variants.
TWO: iACT Suspension System for ZRs
Arctic Cat and FOX redefined what “quick and easy” meant for snowmobile suspension adjustment when they partnered to deliver QS3 shocks a few years ago. Gone were the days of counting clicks and dealing with small dials (or even flat-bladed screws) for adjusting shock performance, replaced by the quick and simple 3-position QS3 system.
Of course, being human beings, that still wasn’t good enough. We wanted adjusting shock control even easier.
Welcome to iACT, an interactive and instant shock adjusting system. Using a thumb-operated button on the (new) left-hand controls of the handlebar that controls the ski and rear track shocks via a wiring system, riders have on-the-fly adjustability to instantly switch between three compression settings corresponding to Soft, Medium and Firm.
CLICK: Instantly optimized suspension performance for varying conditions and riding styles!
This is what the ultimate in quick and simple suspension adjustability looks like, and it comes on ZR 6, 7, 8 and 9000 models for 2019.
THREE: Norseman X Models
The quest to build a do-everything snowmobile grows more intense with each passing year. For 2019, Arctic Cat adds the X designation to two Norseman models, the 6000 and 8000. They take the mountain handlebars, articulating rear suspension, rear pivot hitch, ProUte tapered skis and adjustable 35.5-41.5-inch ski stance of the regular Norseman models, then add a MEATY 153 x 2.25-inch Power Claw track, a reinforced rear rack, Deluxe Digital gauge and Arctic Cat IFP shocks. Think of them as Norsemen on steriods.
This is a sled that blurs the lines between mountain, utility and even trail. Not going to be a huge seller, but it’s going to make those who do buy one very satisfied.
FOUR: New Handlebar Controls
The wait is over…Most 2019 Arctic Cat snowmobiles feature new handlebar-mounted controls that are easier to use while riding, with much improved ergo’s, and that transmit visible information on the digital instrument gauge. A button on the handlebar controls now toggles the display screen on the gauge (press the handwarmer button, and the gauge shows which of the five levels it’s set to).
A new push-to-start button (that doubles as the Reverse button) on 6000 and 8000 Series models allows the rider to keep both hands on the handlebars while starting models equipped with electric start. Momentary-style hand and thumb-warmer switches provide more heat level settings and also prevent unintended setting changes.
The throttle lever is also new and nicely improved, with a smaller and easier to use shape. All this PLUS the controls and housing are smaller and more integrated, with a kill switch that’s separate from the throttle block so it can be easily rotated forward and out of the way.
Oh, and most models now come with fancy new magnetic tether switch that’s light years more user-friendly (when plugging in) than the old tether.
FIVE: Hardcore for Mountain
2019 marks the first time that the M 8000 Hardcore model will be available in North America (it was previously a Scandinavia-only model). It’s aimed squarely at big air hucking and mountain racing, er, the “hardcores,” offering FOX ZERO QS3 and QSL shocks that provide maximum adjustability; suspension rail braces; and the option of 153- or 162-in. track lengths.
SIX: Stealth Lightweight Master Cylinder Brake System
Arctic Cat is calling it the Stealth lightweight master cylinder brake system. It starts with a new shorter lever design for increased braking power with less required force compared to the previous design. The new master cylinder is more protected and robust than the previous design, and is less likely to be damaged in extreme situations. The new lever shape is more ergonomically comfortable, and its composite construction feels warmer compared to aluminum levers. It’s still not as powerful as driveshaft-mounted Wilwood unit of yesteryear, but it’s an improvement that’s noticeable and “getting there.”
SEVEN: ZR 200 ES
The absolute hit snowmobile of 2018 (and that sold out pretty much pronto) is back for 2019 with the addition of Electric Start, which is a no-brainer and something that families will appreciate to no end.
I named the ZR “Sled of the Year”, as did a few other magazines. Even without the E-start, I would have put it on this year’s list of 10 Things to Know About Arctic Cat for 2019. It’s simply that good and fun and awesome and everything you want in a sled for young riders. Oh, one more thing: it’s available in (proper) green for 2019, as well as purple.
EIGHT: Next Gen Bodywork (almost) Everywhere
With its inclusion on the 7000 and 3000 series models for 2019, Next Gen bodywork is on practically every model now. Easy on/off side panels and hood, improved airflow to the powertrain and a comfortable interface with your knees. All good.
NINE: G2 ProClimb-7 Skis with Foot Traction
The mountain men reengineered the skis for improved balance in deep snow, improved flotation, and easier steering and overall more consistent performance. Then they added molded-in traction bumps on the top the skis for sure-footed control for the hardcore set.
TEN: Details, Details
Arctic Cat added a whole bunch of little improvements that won’t garner headlines, but that will make better snowmobiles in 2019. The rear Tri-Hub wheel system has been replaced with a 3-wheel rear axle system and are matched by new side idler wheels on most models. ZR and Cross Country models get 9-tooth drivers for more consistent, smoother performance. New ECM calibration on 6, 7 and 8000 Series engines delivers what Cat is calling “enhanced performance” (and what I’ll call “cleaner feeling”). New handlebar pads and nicer handlebar wiring cleans things up aesthetically on many models. The mighty Thundercat gets a 1-in. lug Ripsaw track and single ski runners to eek out another 2-3 MPH on top end.
I’ll have lots more to say about the 2019 sleds and technology in future posts.
If there’s something YOU want Arctic Cat to change on its future sleds, please jump TO THIS POST from a couple days ago and tell us your wishes.
Thanks for reading.