Can we be honest here? First, most of you won't even read this story once you realize it's about fan-cooled snowmobiles. And second, the fan class of mountain snowmobiles may be the most underappreciated class in the West.
What a shame. Fan-cooled sleds are one of the least expensive ways to get into the sport of snowmobiling. We say "one of" because you can probably pick up a used sled somewhere for a pretty good deal-especially these days.
And while you may be able to get a steal of a deal on a used sled, fan sleds also have another advantage: they won't intimidate newcomers to the sport.
So what's more appealing? The price tag or the ease of use (or non fear factor, if you will)? We say it's a combination of both. On the average, fan-cooled sleds are about $4,000 less than most 800s. That's darn appealing. And, while it's not impossible, it's pretty tough to get into trouble with one of these sleds. That's what makes this class ideal for those new to the sport. Or for kids whose parents think anything liquid-cooled would be too much power for their youngsters. Or for older folks who don't want anything more than a mountain cruiser.
There are three offerings in the fan class: Arctic Cat Mountain Cat 570 1M; Polaris Trail RMK; and Ski-Doo Summit Fan. All three fan sleds are fairly comparable and won't do anything to scare anyone away from snowmobiling. And that's a good thing.
Here's a look at each fan model.
Ski-Doo Summit Fan
The Summit Fan is one of Ski-Doo's most basic sleds and, as with other machines in this class, doesn't offer a lot of frills or high ticket items; but then, as mentioned before, the price tag reflects that.
For example, the hand grips don't have the hooks the bigger Summits do nor does this fan have a tachometer or the new style handwarmers (big bummer).
But that doesn't mean the Summit Fan is a bare bones sled. It still offers plenty of amenities that will impress anyone new to the sport.
What about the power? One SnowTest staffer said, "Better than last year," when describing Summit Fan's power. That means you can be a little more daring in your off-trail adventures. In our book that also helps you to overlook not having some of the goodies the bigger sleds have.
Another SnowTest staffer made these comments, "The suspension performance is good under all conditions," and "The mountain ski's performance is the best in its class."
Polaris Trail RMK
One SnoWest SnowTest staffer tabbed the Polaris Trail RMK's X-tra Lite rear suspension with Indy Select rear track shock as the best in this class. The staffer commented, "This suspension package, with its adjustable springs and rear shock, is great."
Several SnowTesters commented that the Trail RMK wasn't as powerful as the others in the fan class but that's easily explainable-it has the smallest displacement (544ccs) of the fans. That's nearly 20ccs smaller than the Mountain Cat but still enough to be able to pound the powder off trail.
Polaris' altitude compensating system (ACCS) helps keep everything in balance so the sledder can enjoy this machine at most any elevation. This one single element of the sled was something each of the SnowTest crew noticed as we gained a couple of thousand feet while riding in the mountains around McCall with no noticeable change in power.
Across the board, the Mountain Cat 570 1M receives more of the same features as its bigger siblings than do its fan class competitors compared to their big brothers and that led most SnowTest staffers to tab this Mountain Cat as the best in its class.
Areas where the SnowTest staff put the MC ahead of its competition include power ("great fan power") and throttle response, powder riding characteristics, seat, handlebar package ("handlebar and grip package the best of any OEM") and running board.
While the MC 570 did receive lots of new features for 2003-like adjustable ski stance, detachable seat, removable hood, dropped and rolled chaincase, underseat storage and more-the best new improvement is the loss of 35 lbs. Most anything that goes on a diet feels better and this Cat fits the bill.