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2013 Arctic Cat Turns Up The Heat

Published online: Mar 30, 2012 Feature LANE LINDSTROM
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Man, is it getting hot in the West-and we're not talking about global warming. We're referring to some of the most innovative and kick-butt sleds anywhere to be found.

By now you've maybe read about what Polaris, Ski-Doo and Yamaha are bringing to the mountains for 2013 and that is some pretty darn good hardware that will be shredding the powder next season.

So what about Arctic Cat? The Thief River Falls, MN-based sled maker lit up the mountains in 2011-12 with an entirely new mountain lineup of two-strokes, four-strokes and four-stroke turbos.

You might think with all those new models Cat would take a season to catch its breath. Not hardly. While there are no new models for the mountains in 2013-Cat does have new crossover sled in the ProClimb chassis, the XF High Country-there are more than a few noteworthy changes.

Some of those changes to Cat's 2013 lineup come from necessity while others come by the choice to continue refining its mountain offering.

There are two significant changes to the Cat mountain lineup but it's a toss up for us which is the most significant: the new deeper lug track or the narrower ski stance. Each will greatly impact how the sled handles deep snow. Tough choice, isn't it?

Let's start with the deep lug track PowerClaw track, which is now an incredible 2.6 inches deep, the deepest stock track in the industry. For 2013, the 2.6-inch deep lugger will be on all Sno Pro and HCR M models in either 153- or 162-inch lengths. The lightweight, single-ply track still comes with a 3.0-inch pitch and 15-inch width. The stagger-set, curved-forward paddle towers won't fold over or take a set and are matched with Attack 20 paddles for deep snow flotation.

The key difference between the 2.6-inch lug height track on the Sno Pros vs. the HCR is the stiffness of rubber durometer. On the Sno Pro and Limited models the durometer is 80 while the HCR gets a stiffer 85 durometer rubber for increased traction while hillclimbing.

Moving on to the ski stance, Arctic Cat has narrowed that on the M sleds by two inches, making it 38 inches now instead of 40. The ski stance is still adjustable between 38-39 inches. Cat made this change to "enhance" sidehilling performance of the Ms as well as the sled's ability to carve and countersteer in deep snow. In short, the narrower ski stance should make it easer to pull the sled up on one ski.

To get the narrower ski stance, Cat shortened up the upper and lower A-arms, redesigned the tie rods and has new shock lengths. All 2013 Arctic Cat M models get the narrower ski stance except the M800 HCR, which stays at 42-43.

Here's another significant change. If you've read the SnoWest Deep Powder Challenge story yet you probably noticed one of the complaints against the 2012 M sleds is the turning radius, which isn't very tight. To appease riders and fix that issue, Cat has dual steering or mounting holes in each spindle. One hole is for a "regular" turning radius while the other hole is for a tighter steering radius. The hole for the tighter turning radius is closest to the spindle while the other hole is farther back. The farthest back hole is what you'd find currently on the 2012 models. Additionally, if you make the change from one hole to the other, you don't have to make any adjustments to the tie rods.

Another change to the ProClimb chassis is the steering on some M models, more specifically a vertical steering post on all 2013 Sno Pro 4-stroke powered M sleds (except the naturally aspirated M1100). The vertical steering post is somewhat similar to the 2-stroke models and delivers a more natural handlebar turning arc for a standing rider who wants to countersteer on steep sidehills. All other M sleds, including the M1100, get the laydown steering. Telescoping steering, which allows the rider to quickly adjust the handlebar height within a four-inch range (12 positions with 3/8-inch increments), returns on the M800 Sno Pro, M800 HCR and the new XF800 High Country.

For 2013, the HCR will have no rear heat exchanger, although there is still a heat exchanger up near the front of the track in the tunnel. Because of the minimal heat exchanger, the HCR comes stock with ice scratchers.

Cat has designed a vented panel that fits between the steering post and the gauge to close off the opening that is on the 2012 models. This vented panel will also retrofit on the 2012 models.

Those riders wanting a little extra bling should look at the Sno Pro limited edition models, with come with electric start, a rear storage bag, goggle bag, hand guards and the choice of black or white color schemes. The 4-stroke limited edition gets a heated seat as well.