An old framing carpenter once told us, “If some is good, more is better.” He was being sarcastic (he said it after 15 nails were shot into a board where three would have sufficed). But his advice might carry over to the big mountain sled segment, where riders look to challenge steeper mountains, deeper powder and longer runs. If a 900 is good, a 1000 must be better.
For some, it must be true. Both of these two mountain sleds—the 2007 Ski-Doo Summit RT 1000 and Arctic Cat’s all-new M1000—create the highest horsepower numbers available in stock machines. At 165-plus ponies, both of these two machines have power to please any former-900 rider. But which do we think will come out on top by the time the snow melts? That’s not such an easy question.
First off, both machines exhibit a few similarities. Both have twin-cylinder power plants. Both feature their brand’s latest rider-forward chassis geometry. Both brands claim horsepower just over the 162 mark. Each features advanced injection technology—Arctic Cat’s battery-less EFI system and Ski-Doo’s prove Semi-Direct Injection (SDI).
But the Summit and M1000 are still two wildly different animals on the snow. Track configurations, suspension, drive train and skis separate yellow from green like a fire extinguisher separates Richard Simmons and Dave Letterman.
Arctic Cat hit the ball out of the park with the M chassis. But the suspension has been a little off-key. Luckily, most of the issues were worked out in 2005 and 2006 model years, and the M1000 gets the latest and greatest versions of the FasTrack Long-travel rear suspension. This skid frame is about as light as a stock skid can get—and it works, transferring the machine’s weight in deep snow and soaking up rough bumps along the way.
The M’s AWS-VI double-wishbone front suspension is the sled’s shining Medal of Honor. This front suspension is a direct derivative of the race-winning front suspension found on earlier models of the Sno Pro race sled. Arctic Cat plowed the way for the current crop of A-arm suspensions and the version 6 AWS setup is still cutting edge for a non-racing machine. As for shocks, Arctic Cat still offers Fox Float air shocks if you upgrade to the Sno Pro package.
The twin-cylinder engine is all-new for ‘07 and is only shared with the F1000 trail machine. Following with laydown design technology, the 1000 twin is designed to fit in tight quarters. That’s why you don’t see any extra girth in the chassis and body work between an M8 and the M1000 (the same can’t be said of the Summit 800 and Summit 1000).
If you thought the old King Cat 900 twin had torque, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the new 1000. It has 120 ft-lbs. of torque at 7,200 rpm—12 more ft-lbs. than the 900 twin. Arctic Cat states that the 1000 uses less fuel than the 900 did at high rpm, too.
A new coolant pump impeller was designed specifically for the big laydown twin. It is designed to provide maximum coolant flow and is less likely to trap air inside the system.
One look under the hood reveals the big twin’s most unique characteristic—dual spark plugs. Each cylinder has two spark plugs, which, as Cat claims, increases the spark energy for a more complete fuel burn. The twin-plug design also improves combustion at low and mid rpm ranges.
The 1000 has a larger high output magneto that produces 50 percent more wattage for the electrical system.
An exhaust pipe sensor works in harmony with the battery-less EFI system to provide optimum fuel delivery, ignition timing and exhaust valve function.
Engines aside, the M1000 features all of the M-series accruements, such as the ACT Diamond Direct Drive system. The M1000 (and all 2007 M-sleds) come standard with Arctic’s new push button ACT Drive reverse. Not quite the electronic reverse that the Summit 1000 features, where the engine is stopped and restarted in reverse direction, the ACT Drive reverse is more mechanical. It features a servo-activated gear within the ACT Diamond Direct Drive unit. The thumb-depressed button activates an electronic engagement system that throws the reverse gear. The beauty of this system is that the engine is not stalled to engage reverse. Which means the ACT reverse system can be engaged on steep downhill descents and used as an override braking system—we’ve done it and it works. However, the ACT Drive reverse system comes at nearly a 10-pound weight penalty. But the M1000 with the 15x162 track weighs in at a claimed 525 lbs. (the Sno Pro version, with Float shocks, is 5 lbs. less). That’s not bad for such a big machine.
Although the 2007 Summit 1000 appears unchanged, it did go through yet another weight reduction.
The largest chunk of weight came off with the new Challenger Lite track. The Lite, which stands for Low Inertia Technology, is nearly 8 lbs. lighter than the Summit tracks on the ‘06 models. How’d they do it? The windows punched in the center belt of the track are larger, which removes weight and allows for more snow to exit the skid frame. The every-other-clip guide clips are drilled out to make them lighter. The lugs are of a new profile, which reduces material used but retains the functionality. And the track band itself is thinner.
Aside from the track, Ski-Doo focused in on several small areas that amount to noticeable weight reductions. The skis now have a single square carbide on the center keel only. The rear suspension’s upper idler wheels no longer have rubber on them. The front shock springs are lighter (and the XRS package features titanium springs). The handlebar riser block has been redesigned to reduce its weight by 138 grams. If you get a Summit that’s equipped with electric start (uses the RER button), Ski-Doo even lightened the battery box by a pound.
It may seem like a few grams here and a couple ounces there won’t do much, but the final figures put the 2007 Summit 1000 Highmark X with the 162 track at 539 lbs. That’s 15 lbs. lighter than the 2006 model (which was 15 lbs. lighter than its 2005 predecessor).
The Summit 1000 is available in two trim packages—the Highmark (base package) and the Highmark X. Since even the standard Highmark is considered a premium package for Ski-Doo, both versions get the 15-pound diet. Both versions also get the 440 racing seat, extrovert drivers, RT-type racing brake (the X gets braided brake lines) and Pilot 6.9 skis.
Now, this is where it gets confusing with the weight numbers. Both the Highmark and Highmark X dropped 15 lbs., but the X is still 10 lbs. lighter than the standard Highmark. That 10-pound difference is attributed to several differences between the two packages. For instance, the Highmark has the standard mountain rack; the X has a bare tunnel with a small LED tail light. The X also has a low mountain windshield as standard equipment. The X’s shocks are the premium racing HPG take-apart aluminum units in both front and rear suspensions. Both versions are available with 16x151 and 16x162 track options.
Taking a look at these two machines without riding them might leave you with a couple of conclusions. One, the Cat’s M1000 is lighter and should handle easier in the hills. Two, the Summit 1000 has been around the block and the motor is dialed and proven, so it would probably perform better. Three, this is going to be an interesting year.
Unfortunately, we never could get these two machines out on the snow at the same time. So any head-to-head comparison is going to have to wait until the Deep Powder Challenge results are in. For now, we can detail how these two machines operate and handle independently.
Power-wise, when you’re talking 1000s, you’re talking electric-like torque. It’s not that these engines don’t rip your arms loose—they do—it’s that they do it without you thinking they’re doing it. Power delivery from big engines is very smooth and very linear. Like we said, these engines have torque. The 1000 Cat twin has more torque than the old 900 mill and that motor had grunt. But a 1000 delivers power without a hard hit. They come on smooth and pull hard and strong until your eyes are watering. You’ll reach top speeds faster than you expect. Both the Cat and the Ski-Doo get high points in the wow segment.
The faster your machine goes, the more important handling is. Both of these sleds put high importance on that department. If you opt for the premium package on either model, you get shock upgrades (Fox Float air shocks on the M1000; HPG take apart aluminum racing shocks on the Summit Highmark X). And trust us, if you want to take full advantage of the 162-horsepower sled, these shocks are worth the money.
Even though we didn’t get the two sleds out side by side, we did spend time on each of them with each sled’s respective model family. We had the Summit 1000 out with the Summit 800R and the M1000 out with the M8. To give you an idea of what to expect, we can compare the big boys to the handling traits of the smaller-cc models.
The Summit 1000 does not share the same platform as the Summit 800R. It (the RT chassis) is two inches longer through the bulkhead, which makes for a bigger finished product. Similarly, the Summit’s big twin engine utilizes a counter balancer shaft, which requires more space in the engine compartment. Doo has also done more in the air intake and sound control areas, which creates the bulging side panels that set the Summit 1000 apart from the 800R in appearance.
Cat’s 1000, however, was designed to drop into the existing M-series chassis (albeit with a few minor changes). While they did have to fudge a few of the engine box’s members, they were largely successful in fitting a big twin (Cat does not use a counter balancer shaft on the new 1000) into the smallish chassis. It feels more like an M8 than the Summit 1000 feels like an 800R.
By the way, our official stance on counter balancers is that it doesn’t seem to matter if an engine has one or not—it’s still going to vibrate, so why add the weight?
Like we said before, these two machines, though different in color and country of origin, are eerily similar when it comes to crushing the throttle. Power delivery is smooth, strong and steady. You can use power from both machines at any point of a good mountain ride—boondocking with the first half of the throttle, quick bursts of speed through the mid range and long, steep pulls at wide open throttle.
If power is what you want, a 900 is good, but a 1000 is better.