March 27, 2009

Challenges Of 2008-2009 Affect 2010 Models



Economy has ripple effect on new snowmobile releases

As this winter unfolded, the snowmobile industry found out something that many of us probably believed could never happen—if we had snow, snowmobiles would sell and people would be out riding.

The sorry state of the economy has shot that theory right down—almost in flames.

“We used to say if it snows, we’d sell snowmobiles,” Scott Swenson, vice president of the snowmobile division for Polaris said in mid January. “We found the economy trumps snowfall.”

Swenson’s analysis of the present world economic situation was echoed by Roc Lambert, vice president and general manager of Ski-Doo, Sea-Doo and Evinrude for Bombardier Recreational Products. He said, “The economy remains a challenge.”

So what exactly does that mean for the 2010 model lineup from the Big Four—Arctic Cat, Polaris, Ski-Doo and Yamaha? Things have been scaled back, model lineups scrutinized and cut and a cautious approach taken for the future.

That doesn’t mean, however, the industry has come to a screeching halt. Sledders are riding. Snowmobiles are selling. People are enjoying the winter.

It’s just not what many industry insiders expected, what with the great snowfall in many parts of the country.

And the snowmobile manufacturers, while trying to figure out how to survive in a battered economy, certainly aren’t hanging their heads, taking their ball and walking off the playground. We just finished up our Sneak Peek tour of the 2010 models and they continue to be optimistic about what the future holds. We are snowmobilers after all—eternal optimists.

Lambert said, “2009 will bring some challenges but we look forward to these challenges.”

And while most of us are still enjoying the winter of 2008-09, we’ve got an eye on 2010 and what the industry is offering—especially for those of us in the West.

While there aren’t any real new from the track up sleds for 2010 there are a truckfull of improvements and refinements on nearly every mountain model from each of the Big Four. To some, that might be disappointing, but we consider the economic climate and are just excited to see that the manufacturers continue to bring us good sleds for the deep snow and steep mountains.

The western market continues to be an important segment for the manufacturers as 32.4 percent of snowmobile sales take place in the West. That’s a pretty healthy figure and we don’t see any reason for it to change dramatically once the 2009 models sales figures are released.

While we’d all like to see gobs of new technology and hence, new models, that’s just not in the cards for 2010. Having said that, we think we’re pretty fortunate to have some great hardware on the snow right now that will help soothe those newer technology yearnings—for a while.

The upgrades for 2010 will help tide us over.

THE BIG FOUR

Arctic Cat made huge strides in the M Series lineup for 2009. That just gets better for 2010 with the release of its new 800 H.O., which promises to pump up the horsepower of that powerplant. The Ms also come with a new spiffy seat for next season and new skis. The HCR, announced last September, is also more widely available for 2010.

Engine sizes available for next season on the Ms include the 600, new 800 H.O. and the 1000.

Polaris trimmed its mountain lineup by one model for 2008—the 700 RMK is gone (much to our dismay; that was one of our favorites)—as well as dropped the Shift models. That leaves the Minnesota snowmobile manufacturer with the 800 Dragon RMK, 800 RMK, 800 Assault RMK, 600 RMK and Trail RMK in varying track lengths.

All liquid-cooled RMKs get a new seat material and all RMKs with 155- and 163-inch tracks will have a single layer track for 2010. The Dragon models were the only sleds with the single layer track in 2009. Finally, the 600 RMK and 800 RMK with the 144-inch track will now feature the Switchback seat, which is lower and wider.

Ski-Doo continues to be No. 1 in terms of sales in the West and perhaps has the most curious—at least on the surface—release for the 2010 season. The lineup from Ski-Doo remains relatively unchanged for 2010. If sledders act right away (like this Spring), they can purchase a Summit X-RS Hillclimb, which is a racer’s version of the Summit X.

Ski-Doo dropped the Summit Fan model, making the Summit Sport, with a 600 carb engine, the new entry-level machine for the company.

Ski-Doo also refined its SC-5 (now called the SC-5M) rear suspension as well as the Summit’s handling to help it roll up better in the powder. There’s also a new seat on the Summits.

In addition to the 600 carb, Summits are available with the 800 PowerTek and very cool 600 E-Tec motors.

Yamaha comes to the mountains with a reworked Nytro MTX, now the Nytro MTX SE with a 153- or 162-inch track, new front suspension geometry, less weight and ProMountain Air rear suspension. There’s a new tunnel as well on the Nytro MTX, along with a single-ply Camoplast track.

Also returning for 2010 are the Apex MTX and Phazer MTX.

We’ve had a chance to throw a leg over most of the 2010 mountain machines, but mostly on a somewhat limited basis. We’ll get more of a chance to ride those new bad boys by the time you read this and will give you a full report in next season’s issues. For now, we’ll update you more in detail on the latest from each manufacturer in the following pages.

 

Looking At The 2010 Yamaha Lineup


A little western swing

by Jacob White

YamahaCurrent statistics show that the western mountain segment is the largest growing segment in the snowmobile industry.

Yamaha Motor heads into the 2010 model year hoping to take an even bigger chunk of that market with the release of the new Nytro MTX SE—a completely redesigned and more mountain-friendly version of the 2009 Nytro MTX that has already begun to show that 4-strokes do have a place on the mountain.

Engineers at Yamaha have done their homework and have started seeing exactly what it is the western market wants more of—or should we say, less of. Plain and simple, that’s weight. One of the largest deciding factors a buyer looks at when purchasing a new snowmobile to conquer the deep powder here in the West is overall weight.

NYTRO MTX SE

With the potent 130 hp three-cylinder Genesis 4-stroke motor under the hood, the 2009 Yamaha Nytro MTX came on strong this past season as a very capable backcountry machine. More western market consumers are looking at Yamaha for its class-leading reliability and ease of operation. Because of that, Yamaha is banking on the Nytro MTX as a way to gain its share of the market with a host of improvements for the 2010 season.

Starting up front, the all-new 2010 Nytro MTX SE comes equipped with an all-new wider stance and all-new front end geometry. You’ll find all-new A-arms, tie-rods, spindles and even ski rubbers up front. The 2010 models will see a new caster angle, reduced four degrees from the 2009 model, for overall improved handling. Yamaha spent countless hours testing the Nytro MTX’s deep snow maneuverability. After trying numerous different setups the 2010 MTX SE will come with an adjustable 41-inch ski stance and no sway bar. Fox Float 2 shocks also find their way onto the 2010 model Nytro MTX SE, offering flatter cornering. The new FXG2 front suspension offers the ultimate in predictability and stability through rough trails and in deep snow, all while shaving 3.5 lbs. off the ’09 model.

Out back the Nytro MTX SE is sitting on a completely redesigned rear skid. There are no more heavy control rods, steel torsion springs or coil springs this year. Engineers knew there was room for improvement. While the ’09 Nytro rear suspension worked well in all conditions, there was definitely some weight to be lost. With an all-new semi-coupled design, the new ProMountain Air is equipped with dual Fox Float shocks. The front features the Float 2s and the rear new Float 2 XV shocks, co-developed directly through Yamaha and Fox engineers.

Through extensive testing Yamaha and Fox feel they’ve designed the ultimate lightweight suspension system for the 2010 Nytro MTX SE. The all-new Float 2 XV improves upon the already ultra-performing Float 2 by adding an extra air cylinder. You’ll also notice the lack of idler wheels with ice scratchers now a factory option from Yamaha. The idler wheels that remain in the rear skid have been upgraded with replaceable bearing and improved visual appeal.

The rear skid has also been updated with a new machined rail design for better durability and looks. Yamaha was also able to decrease the track approach angle substantially with the Pro Mountain Air. The approach angle changes from 24 degrees on the 2009 model to 18 degrees on the 2010 version, helping the sled stay atop fresh snow with a very relaxed attack angle. A lower approach angle means better deep snow mobility and improved soft snow performance. Sledders should find far less trenching and fighting through deep snow with the 2010 Nytro MTX SE, which can now get up on the snow and stay there.

You’ll also find a newly designed Maverick track under the Nytro MTX SE, offered in both a 153- and 162-inch version for the upcoming season. The new single-ply Camoplast Maverick is not only lighter, but Yamaha and Camoplast changed the track’s durometer. The track has fought memory issues since its release on the early Apex models as lug tips would fold over and stay folded over, decreasing its performance in all snow conditions. That will no longer be an issue with the new 2010 design.

Yamaha has also upgraded the Nytro’s tunnel with a lighter, narrower design. Running boards have been improved with bigger, more aggressive boot grips along with larger snow evacuation holes. Yamaha has also improved the overall tunnel angle from 9 degrees to a much more aggressive 11 degrees. Bringing the running boards up out of the snow improves sidehilling ability, decreases the chances of getting hung up in deep snow and lessens the trenching effects the 2009 Nytro MTX fought with. Tunnel stiffeners have also been relocated to the bottom side of the running boards.

Yamaha has also installed a better handlebar grip heater system, with a new insulator and warmer element for improved rider comfort.

Offered in either the standard Yamaha blue and white scheme or all-new stealth Yamaha black, the 2010 Nytro MTX SE will definitely turn some heads on the mountain this next season. After all the improvements, upgrades and changes, the 2010 162 model comes in a pretty impressive 17 lbs. lighter than last year’s 153-inch model Nytro MTX. Go to the new 2010 153-inch MTX SE and it’s an even better drop, down 24 lbs. in all.

Overall, the new Nytro MTX SE shows vast improvements in deep snow maneuverability and mobility. Early testing shows the 2010 153 model should easily climb 4-6 sled lengths higher on the hill than the ’09 Nytro MTX.

If you choose the 162 Nytro MTX SE that hillclimbing ability further improves itself, showing it could put the highmark on a 2009 Yamaha Apex.

PLEASING MOUNTAIN RIDERS

Again looking at how important the mountain segment has become in the snowmobiling industry, Yamaha spent a lot of time looking into what mountain riders want and need. Knowing that most mountain riders want nothing but the best in rider comfort, Yamaha has also teamed up with Klim USA and released its very own line of sledwear.

Klim has long been committed to meeting mountain rider’s needs as far as clothing is concerned so Yamaha owners will be pleased to find their local dealer carrying exclusive Yamaha branded Klim gear, with everything from their Tomahawk jacket and Extreme pants, to Gore-Tex Adrenaline boots and F4 helmets.

SPRING PROGRAM

Yamaha understands that economic times are tough and with the entire country struggling, everyone’s purse strings and wallets could be a bit tight this spring. Making your final sled decision for next season by April could be tough this year, especially if you’re required to put some money down. Seeing this and knowing consumer cash flow could be tight come April, Yamaha came up with its own Spring Order program that should satisfy every potential buyer.

Yamaha knows that putting hundreds of dollars down this spring on a snowmobile you won’t be able to ride until late fall could be tough and wants to do its part to help. With its new Spring Voucher program, the consumer can still put in an order this spring on a 2010 model, but won’t be required to put a down payment until mid-November.

Stop by the local Yamaha dealer, check out the new 2010 model lineup this spring, pick out the one you want and you’ll be given a voucher to be turned in when receive your new sled. The spring-only voucher offers you a full 4-year transferable bumper-to-bumper warranty. While Yamaha’s warranty claims are the industry’s lowest out of all manufacturers, it knows consumers find peace knowing if a problem with their snowmobiles should arise, they’ll be covered.

The 2010 model year brings many changes that the SnoWest SnowTest crew are happy to see. Not only will Yamaha come to the mountains with a lighter weight 4-stroke, it also comes in with a more capable deep snow machine—something the entire Western segment will appreciate.

 

Now What Is Ski-Doo Up To?


Is Ski-Doo teasing us?

by Lane Lindstrom

Ski-DooOkay, this one might leave you scratching your head.

Ski-Doo has staked its claim on having the lightest mountain sleds on the market. It’s worked for years to achieve that distinction and it paid off as it shot to No. 1 in western sales.

So what does Ski-Doo unleash for the mountains for 2010?

Well, it wasn’t something we thought the company was going to. We actually rode a Summit 1200 4-Tec in late January. As in a four-stroke Summit.

Yea, you’re scratching your head right now.

However, we’ve been told that Ski-Doo isn’t ready to officially release that model to the consumer. Will it be ready for next season? Or 2011? We can’t seem to nail that down, but the thought is intriguing.

All this begs the question: Does the possibility of Ski-Doo adding a four-stroke to its mountain lineup (the 1200 4-Tec was released last season in select trail sleds) validate Yamaha’s four-stroke efforts in the mountains where Team Blue has been much maligned for its heavier mountain snowmobiles? Indeed we suspect some in the Yamaha camp will feel vindicated by the potential release of the Summit 1200 4-Tec.

We should probably stress that Ski-Doo made a point to tell us the Summit 1200 4-Tec is not slated for release for 2010—maybe even never.

Those Ski-Doo guys—what a bunch of teasers.

While you chew on that for a while, just know that Ski-Doo is heading into the 2010 model season with a full compliment of Summits—minus one, the Summit Fan, which was a victim of the chopping block.

OTHER CHANGES

Ski-Doo has made several changes across the board that will benefit the entire lineup. One change we’re particularly interested in is the new handling package, which, Ski-Doo said, is aimed at making the Summit Rev XP easier to roll up on the snow and sidehill better. The SnoWest SnowTest staff felt the Summits were harder to lay down in the powder compared to the Arctic Cat M Series or the Polaris RMKs.

Ski-Doo has addressed that concern (voiced by others as well, not just us here at the magazine) with several changes. One is that the sway bar is “softer.” The 2010 sway bar has a smaller diameter, which allows it to twist easier instead of grabbing spring pressure from the other side of the front suspension. That allows the rider to pull the sled up and keep it up easier. On 2009 Summits, the bigger sway bar would help the sled stay flatter, a nice trait when you’re blasting down the trails or busting through deep moguls.

Several other changes help helps with “roll up,” including a longer center shock, reshaped rails, new rocker arm and recalibration of all four shocks. The center shock is 35mm longer, which changes the approach angle of the track, making it steeper. That meant Ski-Doo had to bend the rails differently to accommodate the new approach angle. The difference between where the 2009 rail (really the track) would lay on the snow and 2010 approach angle is two inches. The rocker arm change had more to do with accommodating the longer center shock rather than anything to do with changing the geometry or leverage ratios. The net effect, as Ski-Doo explained, was to provide more travel and pressure at the front of the rails, which in turn, allows an easier transition to sidehilling and/or laying the sled down in the powder. Those changes also help the sled stay there once you’ve got it tipped up.

As for the shock valving, the changes included reducing high speed compression damping, increasing low speed damping and reducing the rebound damping.

NEW PLACE FOR YOUR REAR END

Next on the list of what will make the Summits even that much better for 2010 is the new Rev XP X seat, which is 1.25 inches taller than the 2009 seat and .75 inches narrower. We had a chance to ride the 2010 Summits and like the feel of the new seat. The seat material is still the same—which is a bit sticky for us but we like the height and width.

Ski-Doo has dropped the Summit Fan from its lineup and renamed the Summit Everest with the 600cc carb engine the Summit Sport, which now becomes the new entry-level snowmobile for the company.

So, for 2010, engine choices include: 1200 4-Tec, 800R, 600 E-Tec and 600 carb. The Everest and Sport snowmobiles (available with all four engine choices) will continue to be the in season models of choice for Ski-Doo while the X models will be spring-only buys. X models feature an upgraded HPG Plus shock package, multi-function analog/digital gauge, race-style brake lever and various lightweight parts.

If the X package isn’t quite enough and you like to pound the heck out of your mountain sled, then Ski-Doo will have on the table the X-RS Hillclimb Edition, which was introduced last fall, primarily as a racing machine for hillclimbers but available to anyone who wants pony up for reinforced rear suspension and premium shock package. The X-RS is available only with the 800R. The X-RS also features a premium gauge that offers a 10-minute record mode, which record 10 minutes of gauge readings that you can play back. The steering post has also been moved two inches forward as Ski-Doo assumes those who buy this sled will mostly be riding standing up.

RENEGADE BACKCOUNTRY

Ski-Doo did make some changes to other segments in its lineup but the other one we want to touch on is what is happening to the Renegade lineup. In the past, Ski-Doo has always considered the Renegades as part of the MX Z segment. Now the company has created a segment just for the Renegades and put the different sleds in that lineup into trail and off-trail categories. The Renegade Adrenaline and Renegade X are designed for on trail riding while the Renegade Backcountry (available with the 600 E-Tec only) and Renegade Backcountry X (available with the 800R engine only) will be for off-trail use. According to Ski-Doo research, those riders who consider themselves in the “crossover” segment spend about 70 percent of their time on trail and the other 30 off trail.

Those choosing the Backcountry version of the Renegades get a 16x137x1.75-inch track, adjustable ski stance and Pilot 6.9 skis.

 

The Upcoming Rush


Polaris unveils 2010 sleds

by Ryan Harris

PolarisPolaris is focusing on refinements to the RMK lineup for 2010, with no new models and cutting several models from the lineup. The biggest news from Polaris is the new 600 Rush Pro Ride trail sled, which is the most radical departure from conventional snowmobile suspension design in decades.

The most notable absence from the 2010 RMK lineup is the 700 RMK. This model ushered in the “raw” style and changes to the RMK platform in 2007. The 700 RMK was the first Dragon RMK and has led to the introduction of the 800 RMK and Dragon 800 RMK in 2008.

The 600 RMK Shift and 800 RMK Shift have also been cut from the lineup for 2010. That leaves these models:

800 Dragon RMK 155
800 Dragon RMK 163
800 RMK 155
800 RMK 144
800 Assault RMK 146
600 RMK 155
600 RMK 144
Trail RMK

The 600 RMK is only available with the fuel-injected Cleanfire 600 twin. And the 800 RMK is only available with the 4-injector version of the 800 Cleanfire twin. Dropping the 600 carbureted engine and the 2-injector 800 twin had more to do with emissions compliance than anything else. But the cut means fewer budget-priced models.

For the remaining lineup, there are a few main changes aside from new graphics and color combos. The changes focus on rider comfort and ergonomics and sled weight.

The biggest change is the move to a single layer track for all RMK 155 and 163 models. This track is the same single layer track found on the 2009 Dragon RMKs. The change brings down the overall weight of the base RMKs. The single layer track has a year of production time on it without any issues from consumers.

The second change to the RMK lineup is the switch to a new seat material. The new material is textured and offers much better grip than the previous seat. The STX seat material provides a more consistent grip in wet and dry conditions. For mountain riding, that means you have a better grip when you put a knee on the seat, even if it’s covered in powder or slushy snow. The new STX seat material is found on all liquid-cooled RMK models (sorry, not happening for the Trail RMK).

Speaking of seats, the third change comes to the 600 RMK 144 and 800 RMK. These two models will feature the lightweight Freestyle seat, with is used on the Switchback. This seat is lower and wider. More riders from the Midwest and East Coast are buying these models and the Switchback seat better accommodates the sit-down riding style with a few open meadow play sessions in between.

For you Assault fans, there are some appealing aspects to the 2010 model year. If you order your Assault RMK in the spring, you have the choice of three tracks: the stock 2.125-inch competition track; a Series 5.1 2.4-inch track (like that on the Dragon RMKs); or a 1.352-inch Cobra track, which would better suit the sled in the Midwest and eastern snowmobiling regions. If you choose one of the optional tracks, you still get the stock 2.125-inch track when the sled is delivered in addition to the other track.

The Assault RMK and Dragon 800 RMKs get the premium Phantom brake with the lightweight Sawtooth rotor. The Sawtooth rotor has 56 percent less rotating inertia and operates cooler for better braking performance.

The Trail RMK and 600 RMK both feature the P2 secondary clutch for 2010. The P2 clutch delivers improved performance and reliability by lowering belt operating temperatures. The P2 also has wider bearings for better alignment. The 800s and the four-stroke models all have the LWT secondary clutch.

Twenty-ten model year 800s will also feature a refined Cleanfire calibration.

THE RUSH

While the RMKs stay mostly the same for 2010, there is one model in the Polaris lineup that is all-new. The 600 Rush and the Pro Ride chassis is getting a majority of the lime light for 2010.

Designed to closely mimic the suspension ability and dynamics of a motocross bike, the Rush features a new concept in snowmobile suspension design.

The 600 Rush features the 600 Liberty Cleanfire 2 engine, the P-85 primary clutch and the popular P2 secondary. It has PERC reverse, a 15x121x1.25 RipSaw 2-ply track, 42.5-inch ski stance and claimed 459-pound dry weight.

The Pro Ride rear suspension has 14 inches of travel. Its dampening control comes from two Walker Evans premium shocks. The front track shock sits inside the skidframe. The second rear suspension shock sits above the skid frame outside of the track. The rear suspension has a linkage system that connects to the chassis and the rear shock.

This Pro Ride progressive rate rear suspension transfers bump absorption energy forward into the chassis rather than upward and to the rider. It takes a more involved initial setup that centers around rider weight and riding style, but the end result is a suspension system that absorbs rough terrain incredibly well.

The 600 Rush’s chassis is largely composed of tubular framework, which makes it extremely rigid for precise handling. The IQ Adjustable IFS front suspension features a stiffer sway bar for flat cornering. The steering system is designed to keep most of the components above the engine for a more precise and accurate feel.

The 600 Rush is more like riding a suspension than like riding a typical trail sled. It corners flatter than an IQ Dragon and handles bumps and rough terrain better than any Polaris short track sled we’ve ever thrown a leg over.

Rounding out the news for 2010 Polaris models is the new 600 Widetrack IQ. This new utility sled features the 600 Cleanfire 2 engine with the P2 secondary clutch.

 

Pumping Up The M Series


New engine highlights 2010 changes for Arctic Cat

by Lane Lindstrom

Arctic CatHonestly, what do you think of when you hear Arctic Cat?

We know what corporate Arctic Cat wants you to think: fast—as in the fastest snowmobiles on snow. Cat pounds that theme home just about every chance it gets.

That’s all fine and dandy but in all the hubbub about the World’s Fastest Snowmobile—take your pick between the CFR 1000 or Z1 Turbo, the latter of which has 177 turbocharged poines—sometimes Cat’s mountain segment, the M Series, has taken a backseat.

The Ms had a pretty good reputation when they were first introduced not too long ago but last season had to be considered a breakout year after Cat unleashed the telescopic steering, reworked suspension, redesigned running boards and new track. On the rides we’ve had so far on our M8 Sno Pro this season, we’ve been impressed with all those changes.

So what’s left? How about a bump in horsepower? We’re all for that. We’ve felt for a couple of years now that of the three 800s in the mountain segment, Cat’s horsepower output was second or even third, depending on which SnoWest SnowTest rider you were talking to.

THE CALL IS ANSWERED

Cat heard the cries and here comes a new 800 H.O. for 2010.

“We’re confident we can push the 155 hp mark,” Joey Hallstrom, Arctic Cat snowmobile product manager, said. That would be about 8 hp better than the ’09 800 and put the Cat 8 right in the thick of things in the mountain 800 segment. We’ll have a better feel for that number once we get the M on the snow during the photo shoots in March.

In addition to the new 800 H.O., the M Series sleds also get new skis, a new seat and Frogzskin vent covering.

Back to the powerplant, though, which comes in 4.5 lbs. lighter than the ’09 engine, thanks mostly to a lighter crankshaft. And, as Greg Spaulding, Performance Engine group leader at Arctic Cat pointed out, that also means less rotating mass, too.

The crank on the 800 H.O. is the same as what you’d find on the ’09 800, as is the recoil and stator. What is new is the crankshaft, pistons, pins, cylinders, head, exhaust valves, Y pipe and all the mapping. So just where does that extra 8 horse come from? “The extra horsepower comes from all those things,” Spaulding said. “It’s a balance.”

EYES ON THE EPA

While Cat was motivated primarily to gain some extra power out of its 800, it also had to keep an eye on looming EPA regulations, including new regs in 2010 and even stricter rules coming in 2012. First released in 2007, the current 800 met 2010 EPA regulations so that wasn’t a problem, but it needed work for 2012 rules. The new 800 H.O., Spaulding said, “is almost there for 2012.” Cat continues to work on the emissions arena with Spaulding commenting, “As a company we need to keep advancing in this area.”

One way Cat is working to accomplish meeting EPA’s stringent rules is to make all of its engines more efficient, which usually translates into cleaner emissions. “The 800 H.O. is more efficient so it looks like it will be cleaner,” Spaulding said.

Then a caveat from Spaulding: “There’s potential for more, even from this engine.” That will keep our interest peeked for the long term.

The 794cc, liquid-cooled laydown 2-stroke 800 H.O. retains the batteryless EFI system, APV electronic exhaust valves, Exhaust Pipe Temperature System and twin spark plugs per cylinder design.

NEW SEAT

Outside of the engine, the M Series seat might be the next most exciting feature for 2010. Gone is the low-rider seat the Ms have become infamous for. Cat did work with Boss Seats to equip a select few models (2009 spring-only Sno Pro mountain sleds) with the lighter weight and taller seat but that relationship is over. Cat has designed its own seat and it looks and feels pretty sweet. The M Series Seat is three inches taller than on earlier M sleds, which will make it so much easier to transition from sitting to standing. The seat is also shorter and lighter, coming in between 3.5-4 lbs. lighter than the previous seat.

And one advantage that Cat has over other mountain sled competitors is that it still offers underseat storage and with this new seat, the storage is waterproof. The inside of the seat is like a blow-molded milk jug, which is how it stays waterproof. As an added protection, Cat has installed two small drain holes in the cavity so just in case any snow comes in from the outside on say, gloves or a water bottle or something, there a place for it to drain out.

There’s also a plastic barrier between the foam and the seat frame so that water won’t soak into the foam.

The seat can be retro fitted to earlier model year Ms, too, making it an attractive option to get rid of the low rider.

The new skis are stiffer than previous versions because the ribs are taller and a bit wider. The ski itself is also a little wider—by a half-inch—making it six inches wide for 2010. Combined, the skis weigh 1.9 lbs. lighter than the ’09 skis.

Now the M8 HCR uses a different ski than the other Ms. The back of the HCR ski is radiussed more and kicked up a bit more for better steering. Remember, the HCR is a Hillclimb Racer so that’s why the ski was designed that way, to turn better in hillclimb competition on the really nasty hills those racers face. Basically, the ski is more aggressive in the corners, courtesy of a deeper keel.

For those not keeping track, combine the weight savings of the new 800 H.O., new seat and new skis and the Ms should come in just about 10 lbs. lighter in 2010.

FROGZSKIN

Turning to the Frogzskin, you’ll see that on the front of the nose on the M Series machines. This breathable nylon mesh allows air to go through but prevents snow dust and water from entering the engine compartment. Anyone who owns a 2009 or earlier M knows how the snow would collect inside the nose of the sled, which the Frogzskin should keep from happening. A word of warning, though, Frogzskin is not puncture proof so you guys who like to ride the trees might want to take some extra along. It’s easily replaced. Just peel it off the machine and replace it. You’re looking at about $20 for a three-piece kit if you need to ever replace your Frogzskin.

Returning this season will the very impressive Power Claw track. The track work works the snow and is a definite asset to the sled.

If you want the telescopic steering in 2010, you’ll have to pony up for a Sno Pro version of the Ms. If you do go the Sno Pro route, you’ll also get the Fox Floats on the front suspension and premium gauge.

The only way you can get the M1000 for 2010 is in the Sno Pro version. Why? “The customer who is going to buy a 1000 wants the biggest and baddest,” Kevin Schindler, Arctic Cat’s mountains sled team leader, said. “He’s going to want the shocks, the telescopic steering and 162-inch track so that’s why we offer just the one model.”

So, for 2010, here’s the mountain lineup from Arctic Cat:

M6 153x2.25-inch track
M8 153x2.25
M8 162x2.25
M8 Sno Pro 153x2.25
M8 Sno Pro 162x2.25
M8 HCR 153x2.25 (spring only)
M8 Sno Pro LE 153x2.25 (spring only)
M1000 Sno Pro 162x2.25

We briefly mentioned the M8 HCR, which was available pretty much only for racers in 2009 is available on a spring-only purchase for 2010. Cat is billing the HCR as a hillclimb racer but also as a freeride machine. The is designed for the big bumps and to help cushion those you’ll find coil-over IFP gas shocks in the front and Fox Floats and Fox Zero Pro gas shocks in the rear. The track is a Power Claw but has a harder durometer for extra bite.

SNO PRO 500

“Our whole industry is jam-packed with big horsepower,” Hallstrom said as he introduced Cat’s all new Sno Pro 500 “mogul masher.” Hallstrom and Cat ought to know, they’re the ones who claim to have some of biggest horsepower on the snow.

But in introducing the Sno Pro 500 trail sled, Cat is hoping to attract younger riders with a manageable machine at a decent price—$7,995. The engine is a 500cc, 2-stroke with batteryless EFI and oil injection cranking out about 85 hp. This 500 is a direct descendent of Cat’s 600, which has proven to be a formidable challenge of the snocross track this season. Hallstrom stressed that while the Sno Pro 500 is race ready, it’s also trail ready.

Another new intriguing model for 2010 from Cat is the Z1 Turbo EXT with its 144x1.25-inch track and adjustable ski stance. Imagine taking that bad boy off into some powder.








RSI
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