Earlier this week I had the opportunity to spend a few days at the Arctic Cat Factory. The sole mission was to ride the 2023 Arctic Cat Off-Road product with members of the marketing and engineering teams. I walked away reinvigorated about the brand, got to know more of the talented people behind it, and experienced one of the most fun ATV rides in near perfect conditions. Ill cover the people in this story, and give you my thoughts on the Alterra 600 models next week. Enjoy – Kale
We started our early morning at the Factory with an introduction and overview of the 2023 Arctic Cat Off-Road product line from (Head of Table, Clockwise) Lindsay West – Marketing Associate, Trenton Munsell – Director of Off-Road Product Strategy, Peter Keppler – VP Powersports Sales and a few talented members of the media including (Not in picture) Pat Bourgeois- Midwest Rider, John Arens – ATV Illustrated and Graham Adams and Mike Lester from DirtTrax TV. If you haven’t already, go check out these media outlets. These guys can all ride, and have great perspective of the industry and products they test.
Trenton made us sign our lives away, so I can’t share Next Steps, but I can tell you its good for all of us to know Arctic Cat is focused on a product plan and is investing into R&D. I was particularly interested in learning about the ATV market, as Ive felt its been overshadowed by UTVs. Ive heard this from other sources recently, but Trenton reconfirmed, ATVs have made a comeback, and the heart of the sales market is the 450-600cc class.
This is a classic photo of Pat Bourgeois (L) not knowing what to do with his hands (Sigh) while Derek (red vest) gave us a Factory tour pointing out investments made into paint and assembly lines, robotics, welding and other processes.
On this day, the snow line was being loaded with 800 CTEC2 engines and parts.
This photo of Arctic Cat’s new 600 4-stroke engine was waiting (I assume) to be loaded onto the ATV assembly line to be housed in a new Alterra. Shortly after this tour, we would be testing this engine in the 2023 Alterra 600 models. It’s mighty fine. 🙂
On our way to Bemis Hill from the Arctic Cat Factory, I had to stop in Skime, MN to visit the Skime Store, owned by Roger Skime. For those reading who don’t know, Roger Skime (now retired) started working at Arctic Cat in 1962 under the founder, Edgar Hetteen, and has been one of the keys to the success of the Arctic Cat brand from the engineering side.
I picked up a new sweatshirt to compliment my signed Skime Ranch hat. A handful of years ago on a visit to Roger’s ranch (story here), he signed my hat, “Kale, Thanks for Your Support of Arctic Cat” -Roger
Located in Beltrami Island State Forest, we arrived at the Bemis Hill Trails offering more than 96 miles of riding. The trails travel along pine-covered ridges, large areas of low flatland and near peat bogs. Trails are provided by Roseau County and maintained by the Roseau/LOW Sportsman’s Club and Northstar ATV club. I missed the pretty shot of all the 2023 Alterra 600 models lined-up proper, but awaiting us, we would ride Alterra 600 EPS, XT, LTD, Black Hills Edition, Mud Pro and TRV. In the huddle, Pat Bourgeois discusses the plan to grab a handful of trail photos, then join back up as a larger group for a spirited trail ride so we had the opportunity to try out all the models back-to-back.
Behind me, Chuck Simenson (Engineering Tech) and Trenton Munsell joined for a few trail photos. After our little photo session, these two proved they can really haul the proverbial mail on our group ride and they were fun to watch in action. After spending the day with Chuck, I realized he hasn’t been highlighted on the pages of ArcticInsider with an interview, and has some serious history with the company spanning back to his time working with Tigershark watercraft. Engineering Tech’s like Chuck and Chris Evans have some incredible development talent and it makes me happy knowing they are working on current and future Arctic Cat Off-Road product led by passionate team members like Trenton and others pictured below.
We assembled a great crew for a nice long afternoon ride with a spirited pace. Along the way, Pat Bourgeois, stopped to take a group photo. (L-R) Lindsay West-Marketing Assoc, Kale-ArcticInsider, Austin Sandel-Engineer, Trenton Munsell-Dir Product Strategy, Derek Sorenson-Engineering Mgr Offroad, Chuck Simenson-Engineering Tech and Brent Gilge-Engineer
Before our last stop, I had to capture a photo of Austin putting the all-new Alterra 600 Mud Pro through its paces. Not only is the new Mud Pro fun in the thick stuff, it has nice trail manners too! I was quite pleased with its all-around crossover performance.
Our ride couldn’t have been more perfect for conditions. A bit cold (47 degrees) but once riding, you warmed up and there was NO dust, traction was awesome and we didn’t encounter anyone else out on the trails. Before heading home, our last stop was Winners Silo. The area surrounding Hayes Lake State Park and Beltrami Island State Forest is rich with history. The area was extensively settled during the early twentieth century as European Americans continued to move west. At first, the area was popular with small towns established and loans for ditches to drain wetlands credited. However, because of the short growing season and inadequate soils, the land was difficult to farm and many settlers went broke attempting to farm and relocated. The Great Depression was the final straw. Many farmers, unable to pay back loans for the ditch construction and their taxes, fell in to foreclosure. In 1934, the US Government began purchasing remaining lands under the Land Utilization Program. The Government then restored the farmland to its natural wooded state. Today, many of the former homesteads and town sites are still found on maps. Examples of the remaining standing remnants include the Winners Silo.