When people talk western riding, they cite deep powder, steep slopes and wide-open spaces. So naturally they talk long tracks, big horsepower and light weight.
But if you take a step back and re-evaluate western riding, you see more than 20,000 miles of groomed trails and countless miles of packed trails. Then, if you factor in that the average western rider logs about 1,000 miles a year on his sled, you start to realize that it would take more than 20 years just to cover all the groomed trails—not to mention those packed routes that wind through our national forests.
So we would like to introduce you to the newest of our western sleds—the Arctic Cat Firecat.
Okay, we realize this is a shorttrack designed to cruise the twisties and flatten the bumps. But hey, even in the SnoWest Top 15 riding locations we have more than 5,000 miles of trails well worth exploring. You don’t plan to do that on a longtrack, do you?
When we say Firecat, we’re talking about a trail sled. Yet during the last couple of years we noticed more Firecats being converted to longtracks for western riding—a very popular base sled. But why change a great thing?
High Mileage Possibilities
The Firecat is light, responsive and powerful. It’s so refreshing, it can turn a 100-mile day into a 200-mile day. It can expand a 1,000-mile season into 3,000-5,000 miles. It can transform a family that only rides together a couple of times a year into one that sees more country and enjoys winter vacations throughout the winter.
Why? Because it’s just that enjoyable to ride. And it takes trail riding to a whole new level.
The Firecat is different from other performance trail sleds. It has some unique features that increase the level of pleasure. And with 10 versions to choose from (four motor packages—500, 600 EFI, 700 EFI and 700 carb) and with manufacturer’s suggested retail prices ranging from $6,899 to $9,299, there’s definitely something for everyone.
First, it has the industry’s only 13.5-inch-wide track. This makes for easy cornering … and trims some excess weight off the sled. Most models feature the 128-inch-long track with a 1-inch profile. However, if you feel you need a little more for those occasional powder days where you actually break trail on the trail, the Firecat EXT comes with a track length of 144 inches with a 1.25-inch profile. (And we’re not too sure this sled doesn’t offer the best western trail ride anyway.)
All Firecats feature Arctic Power Valves and tuned pipe and canister for crisp instant performance. Air-forced induction delivers a solid flow of cold, clean air (you should be out in front of the pack) to the fuel system.
No Boxy Feel Here
It has a box construction engine compartment that is simple, lightweight and extremely rigid to allow the engine to be mounted lower in the chassis. With the lay-down engine design (intake and exhaust ports located on the front side of the engine) the entire package can sit deep in the chassis, centralizing mass.
The EFI models are batteryless and provide an easy start (guaranteed on the second pull or … you pull a third time). An easy throttle pull reduces thumb fatigue.
But here are the things that really make the Firecat the perfect western trail sled:
• FastTrack Long Travel rear suspension using ACT gas IFP shocks with 13.5 inches of travel. This features a suspension coupling system. The four-way coupling blocks on the rear suspension reduce ski lift and excessive transfer. Cat also went back to its three-wheel rear axle assembly. (Too many people couldn’t get used to the inner-wheel design … it just looked like something was missing.)
• AWS A-arm front suspension in its 6th generation (AWS VI has been around since the 1980s). It comes with ACT gas IFP ski shocks and adjustable coil springs.
• ACT Quiet Track technology that uses small wedges on the inside of the track to reduce vibration and noise caused by the idler wheels drooping into the valleys and rolling over the internal track reinforcement rods. The Firecat hoods feature a one-piece foam hood liner to deaden engine noise, reducing sound emissions. Cat has spent a lot of time testing sound, vibration and emissions. The company has built a state-of-the-art, 3,500-square-foot NVH facility (noise, vibration and harshness) in Thief River Falls. Cat realizes that in the past its sleds have had issues that needed to be addressed. We are now seeing the results in the new products rolling off the assembly line.
• ACT Diamond Drive—leaving the traditional values of jackshaft, chain and gears for an all-new drive system, Cat has eliminated 11 lbs. while lowering the center of gravity. This system requires less maintenance, provides more gear ratio options, and eliminates rotating mass.
• Redesigned seat that sits an inch higher, features stiffer foam and is more ergonomically-shaped for the rider. Sitting more upright reduces the amount of knee-bend, making it easier and more comfortable to ride aggressively.
• Fox Float Ski Shocks that use pressurized air inside a unique sealed inner chamber for reduced weight (eliminates the coil-over spring) and a more adjustable design. They are less susceptible to fading and are easily tuned with a small air pump.
• Digital/Analog speedometer that integrates the tack and speedometer and reads either digital or analog at a touch of a button.
• Integrated Heat Exchanger and Running Boards—it’s been a couple of years since it was introduced by that other snowmobile manufacturer, so enough time has elapsed to make the sensible change to reduce weight while improving rigidity.
• So why spend half your riding season stuck in some big drift when you could be logging miles on a great sled across some fantastic countryside? After all, there are 20,000 miles of groomed trails to cover and only four good months of winter. e