No matter how you look at it, there’s just no way around the
argument that the Arctic Cat M1000 is the best in its class.
Never mind that it’s now the only snowmobile in its class.
The fact is the M1000 is the king of the mountain as far as
stock sleds go. It has the biggest engine displacement and that alone gives it
the title of king. And while the king title may have happened somewhat by
default, we think the M1000 was more than up to the task of earning the title
outright with no strings attached even before the demise of the other sled in
There were two bits of information about the 1000 class that
came out last winter and early spring that shaped this class going into the
First, and probably the most noteworthy (at least in some
camps), is that Ski-Doo was dropping the Summit
1000 from its mountain lineup. Ski-Doo also dropped the trail versions of its
1000—the Mach Z and Mach Z LT—weeks later.
SnowTest crew thought it was curious that Ski-Doo didn’t bring the Summit 1000 to the annual
media photo shoot session in March. That’s the yearly event where we get to
ride, test and photograph all of the new snowmobile models. Yet the Summit 1000 was MIA.
Now, it’s not unheard of that a snowmobile here or there is
missing from the media event for whatever reason. But Ski-Doo has always prided
itself on having the first of this or the biggest of that so to not have the Summit 1000 at such a big
event raised some eyebrows.
Then it was confirmed that the Summit 1000 is out of the lineup—we presume
because not enough units were being sold.
So that brings us to Arctic Cat, the lone contender in the
1000 class. And it brings us to our second bit of news.
Cat is back with a lighter M1000. Still the same power but
in a lighter package. Now that’s good news sledders will appreciate.
We’ve ridden the M1000 several times since its creation a
season ago. And we’ve ridden with sledders who own a M1000, including a couple
different guys last winter. They couldn’t say enough good about their M1000.
They like the balance, the power and the relative ease of swapping out parts to
save even more weight. They had no complaints about the overall package offered
in Cat’s biggest sled.
Not For Everyone
Having said that, let’s get it down in black and white that
the Arctic Cat M1000 is not for everyone. It has more power—it tops the
horsepower charts at about 162 ponies—than most snowmobilers need or even want.
It’s big, it’s bad and it takes some effort and skill to ride a sled of this caliber.
This is a pure bred hillclimber that can also double as a decent boondocker
when called upon. The bottom line is the M1000 can do most anything any other
mountain machine can do, it’s just that if you take it trail riding or putting
through the meadow barely cracking the throttle, you’re wasting a lot of good
machine. Think of it as taking a Dodge 6.7L Cummins and driving it 25 or 35 mph
on a paved road in the middle of suburbia. Yea, you can do it, but: a) Why? And
b) What a waste of machine.
The M1000 is designed and built for big horsepower off-trail
kind of riding and that includes the biggest mountains you can find to climb.
Those bulging ponies also like the kinds of deep snow that stretches the limits
of the sled’s power and ability.
In the horsepower department, there were no complaints from
the SnowTest crew on the M1000’s power, just praises. This Suzuki 999 keeps
giving and giving, stretching its 160 plus horsepower legs up and over most
Last year we mistakenly labeled the Arctic Cat M1000 as having
a Liberty twin
engine. It’s most definitely a Suzuki. Comments like “strong off the bottom,”
“keeps pulling on the top end” and “power to spare and then some” were just a
few of the comments from the SnowTest crew. Several of us also commented about
the torque, which is a handy feature to have, depending on your circumstances.
Say you’re riding the trees and you have a high horsepower
sled but not a great torque curve. You come to a point where you need to blip
the throttle to get around a tree in deep powder or up a small incline with
trees all around. You blip the throttle, the track spins and you go down. Or if
you blip the throttle and hit a slick spot or hard spot, you’re picking
splinters out of your hood. A high horsepower, torquey motor like on the M1000
provides more useable power, meaning, in those same conditions, when you blip
the throttle, it won’t cause the track to trench as you build power but will
work it in the deep snow, helping you to inch along if needed or get up that
incline without tail walking because the track is trying to auger in.
Cat claims the M1000 has 120 ft. lbs. of torque at 7200 rpm.
That’s 10 percent more peak torque than Cat’s ’05 ZR 900 engine. Okay, that’s a
nice figure, but what’s more impressive is that the M1000 engine produces that
torque while using less fuel than the 900 when operating at the same rpm.
Meeting The Regs
These days lots of talk is centered around fuel economy and
emissions. Cat, along with the other snowmobile manufacturers, has to fall in
line with EPA regs for emissions. One way Cat engineers accomplished this was
to incorporate a twin spark plug design in the Suzuki 1000. More accurately, a
set of twins—one set in each cylinder head. Cat’s 800 motor also features the
twin spark plugs, but the configuration is a bit different in the 1000 vs. the
Those who have followed Cat through the years know this
isn’t a new concept for Arctic Cat. It first appeared more than 30 years ago
but for different reasons (mostly to reduce plugs from fouling). Today, Cat’s
aim was to improve fuel efficiency while lowering emissions. In big bores like
the 800 and 1000, there is less turbulence of the air/fuel mixture at lower
rpm. That’s means an incomplete burn in the mixture, which leads to higher
emissions and not so hot fuel economy. With the twin spark plugs a couple of
things are happening. First, the spark plugs fire simultaneously, achieving a
more complete combustion at lower rpm and second, by incorporating sequential
firing, all the ignition’s spark energy goes to the pair of plugs that needs
it. Hence, better fuel economy and lower emissions.
Cat has continues to work on the mapping, trying to find the
most power the engine has to give. From what we can tell, the M1000 is pretty
darn close to spot on.
One SnowTester commented, “The engine is electric-smooth
(I've heard it referred to as a Cummins before). There is plenty of power,
though it's a low-revving power that doesn't have the typical two-stroke hit to
A Balancing Act
One side note to the engine topic. There are no
counterbalancers on this big 999cc motor. Counterbalancers are used to minimize
vibration but they almost always come with a weight penalty, usually about 10
lbs. There is some vibration on the M1000—there’s just no way around it when
you’re dealing with an engine that big. However, from our experience riding the
bigger sleds which were equipped with counterbalancers, it didn’t seem to make
much difference in the vibration department. So, we say save the weight and do
as Cat did. The vibration is noticeable but it won’t shake your molars loose. And
once you get on the throttle, much of that vibration is far less noticeable.
Now, on to other things. When you’ve got 162 hp roaring
through your twin engine, you’ve got to pay some serious attention to your clutch
system, not only to ensure that it’s up to the task of getting the power to the
snow without losing much of that power but that it can hold up to those kinds
of horsepower numbers.
In the M1000, that meant changing from a four-post to a
three-post clutch, using a different belt that works better with the three-post
drive clutch and changing to heavier weights. The 2007 M1000 sled came with 65
gram weights. Later, it was suggested that those be bumped up to 70 gram
weights for a harder pull. Now, for the 2008 model, Cat has gone with 80 gram
weights with a new drive belt (0627-060). Cat’s mountain sled guru Kevin
Schindler said the new belt has a higher coefficient of friction and requires
less cam arm weight than the previously used 0627-046 belt. (Previous four post
times 65 or 70 equals 260 or 280 while new three post times 80 equals 240.)
Also, by going to the 3-post clutch, that means it’s a little lighter and
therefore will turn quicker and have a better bottom end.
As most anyone who follows this industry knows, Cat uses its
exclusive ACT Diamond Drive
planetary gearcase, now with six years under its belt. This drive replaces the
jackshaft, chaincase, chain and gears and continues to be refined for better
Up to this point the changes made to the M1000 (all the Ms
for that matter) are minor. It’s in the suspension where 8 of the approximately
10 lbs. in weight savings from the 2007 model to the 2008 model were saved.
The weight savings puts the M1000 back to its pre-reverse
weight. Adding reverse to the Ms cost Cat 10 lbs. but all that is history with
the new rear skid.
Cat is calling its new suspension the Float Skidframe, after
the named of the shock that carries most of the weight in the rear, the Fox
Float. The Fox Float replaces the Fox Zero Pro that used to be the rear shock
(although a Zero Pro is still used for the center shock and on the front) as
standard equipment (Sno Pro versions get the Fox Floats in front). That
eliminates the need for steel coil over springs (and the resulting snow
buildup). And there’s no doubt the Fox Floats are a premium shock. Its rising
rate in the deep moguls helps minimize the jolt you feel with lesser shocks.
The Float Skidframe also gets new rails, which have a more
open, lightweight look. The center wheels also have knockout holes and the rear
arms have been painted. A new front arm has three-position limiter straps.
A Welcome Change
The new skidframe is a welcome improvement in the ride
department on the M1000, but we think there’s still room for improvement. One
SnoWest SnowTester said, “A sled this fast should have a better suspension.” Is
that too honest?
We do think the Fox Float in the rear has solved some of the
problems of the old FasTrack Long Travel suspension from a year ago. “Still a
bit happy but much better than before,” is how another SnowTest staffer rated
We’re anxious to ride the M1000 again—this time in powder.
One specific area we’ll be looking at is the snow buildup—or lack thereof—on
the new running boards. The old running boards just didn’t let enough powder
fall through the holes. The new design has five times the open area compared to
a season ago and that should really make a difference. The edge rolls were also
redesigned to take out the 90-degree angle and put a slant from the edge to the
running board so snow can’t wedge in the outside edge of the flat part of the
Another reason we’d like to get this M in powder is the
Power Claw track. You won’t find it on any of the Ms for 2008 but we got the
chance to try it in March in Grand
Lake. The conditions were
less than ideal for this track, which is why we’d like to try it again.
Schindler told us the track has changed some since we rode it in March. With
this new track, Cat took the Attak 20’s best features and added some
stiffening, loosely resembling a finger kind of stiffener on the paddles. The
Attak 20 was great in powder but left something to be desired on hard pack. For
2008, Cat will continue with the excellent Camoplast Challenger with length
options of 153 or 162 inches (both have 2.25-inch deep lugs).
One change in the Ms the SnowTest crew was really happy
about was the move to the race spindles, which increased the sled’s turning
angle by 10 degrees. Generally speaking, Cats have the biggest turning radius
out of all the mountain machines but this new change will help a bunch,
especially in the trees.
You probably can’t have a discussion about the M1000 without
talking about weight. In 2007 the M1000 was lighter than the Ski-Doo Summit
1000 by nearly 25 lbs. Now Cat has lopped 10 more lbs. off so it comes in
around 521 lbs. dry (153-inch track). To get the absolute lightest versions of
the M1000 you have to get the Sno Pro models (518 lbs. for 153 and 521 for
162). One SnowTester summed up our feelings about this model’s weight. “The
M1000 has a heavy nose feel to it, but that is easily diminished by
applying a little pressure with the right thumb.”
The M1000 should enjoy the limelight knowing it’s the best
sled in its class, regardless of how many others may or may not be in this
segment. The sled stands ready to defend itself as the biggest stocker on the
M1000/M1000 Sno Pro
Age of this model Second year
Carburetion 50 mm
throttle body batteryless EFI
Primary clutch Arctic (rpm
sensing)/Arctic (rpm sensing) with titanium
Secondary clutch Arctic (roller cam) ACT drive system
Drive sprocket 8-tooth drive
Front suspension AWS VI
Front shocks Fox Zero
Pro gas/Fox Float air
Front travel 9.2 inches
Rear suspension M-Series slide
Rear shocks Fox Float
Rear travel 18
(153), 19 (162)
Center shock Fox Zero
Dry weight 521
lbs. (153), 523 lbs. (162)/518 lbs. (153), 521 lbs. (162)
Ski stance 39-41
Fuel capacity 11 gallons
(153), $11,899 (162)/$12,299 (153), $12,699 (162)