It seems the Powder Special troubles of not too long ago really motivated some folks in Thief River Falls because in the past couple of years Arctic Cat has been bullying its way to the top of the mountain.
First it was the Mountain Cat 800 1M. Then came the Mountain Cat 900 1M.
Now enter the King Cat.
There might be some quibbling about the King Cat being the most powerful production sled available, but there can be little argument that the King Cat is the lightest of the big (800s and 900s) sleds. We've seen the numbers.
For the record, the King Cat tips the scales at 500 lbs. (dry), compared to the MC 900 1M, which is 13 lbs. heavier.
It appears that Cat is back. And if preseason orders are any indication (which they are), the King Cat, along with the Summit Rev, are the two best- selling models in the West for 2004. That means you're going to see lots of orange and black King Cats roaming the western mountains this winter.
Again, for the record, the King Cat is not the biggest stock sled ever to be made for the masses. But Cat produced that sled, too. You remember the Thundercat don't you? For those who do remember the Thundercat, there is an awful temptation to compare it to the King Cat.
Don't even go there. First off, the King Cat is 90 lbs. lighter than the Thundercat. Second, the Thundercat, at 1000cc, had only six more horsepower. Numbers like that sure do catch your attention.
So the question is: has Cat answered the plea from mountain riders who want a lighter and more powerful sled?
Hop on a King Cat, take it up a mountain or two and then you tell us. Of course we'll have to wait two or three more months to get some snow for your little test ride, so in the meantime, we'll give you some of our thoughts about what sets the King Cat apart from the rest of the herd.
We think it boils down to four key areas: power, weight, the track and the price tag.
Power To The King
While there are sledders who are always craving more power, the King Cat has plenty enough for most and more than enough for others.
So is this an all new sled or just a pumped up Mountain Cat 900? The King Cat and MC 900 share the same motor-an 862cc liquid-cooled twin with twin 40mm flatslide carbs. Cat estimates the horsepower to reach about 150. Some SnoWest
Weight A Minute
The actual weight of the King Cat has more to do with how powerful the sled feels than many might give it credit. We rarely heard anyone who owned a Thundercat complain about the power produced by the mighty triple. The weight was another issue. The simple fact of the matter is that most snowmobilers weren't buff enough to handle the sled's weight.
That's what's so different about the King Cat. You need not be intimidated by this machine, which is 21 lbs. lighter than the 2003 MC 900.
A big chunk of the weight savings compared to the MC 900 is due to the use of titanium springs in the front and rear suspension as well as in the clutches. Weight savings: 6-7 lbs.
Titanium springs are not only light, but they're tough. Tough enough to be used on the space shuttle and in other aerospace applications, as well as in motorbikes and race cars. The company that supplies the springs to Cat custom makes springs for all these applications and more. Titanium's low density and high strength combine to make a spring which is about 40-60 percent lighter than steel. Titanium springs can also store more energy than steel springs, which essentially means they can provide more travel.
The other big chunk of weight savings can be found in the track, which shaves another 5-6 lbs. off, compared to other MC tracks.
Those are just part of the weight savings. The King Cat also gets in on the weight savings that many of the other big MCs will see in 2004. This includes: flanged hardware (-.5 lbs.); a spoked bottom gear in the dropcase (-.5 lbs.); redesigned pipe saddle (-.5 lbs.); six-post wide pocket clutch (improves durability, -.5 lbs.); redesigned rails (-2.5 lbs.); different heat exchanger brackets (-.5 lbs.); new heat exchanger (features a triple channel design, -2 lbs.); and a composite dropcase (-1.5 lbs.).
Lighter weight does a lot of things to a sled, most noticeably making it more nimble and easier to maneuver through tight spots. It's also easier to lay over in the powder and makes it a little easier to turn out while highmarking. Most importantly, though, a lighter sled doesn't wear you out as fast as a heavy one does. That seems like pretty simple logic, but it can make a lot of difference as to how long your riding day will be.
The track is one area of the King Cat that we're going to keep our eye on. Now the longest track-15x162x2.25 inches-in the industry, the Attack 20 track might just be one of the best new innovations for 2004-on any mountain sled.
The all new Attack 20 is made by a company named Soucy, based in Quebec. Soucy makes military tracks for 15 different countries, as well as manufactures other snowmobile tracks for select Arctic Cat sleds.
The track was named the Attack 20 because the negative angle of the track is minus 20 degrees. So, rather than trench (or displace) the snow, the track packs the snow instead of scoops, helping propel the sled on top and not through.
Much of the weight savings on the Attack 20 results in Cat making the distance between the paddles 3 inches instead of 2.5. That eliminates nine bars, which saves weight.
*The footprint was measured from the center of the rear wheel to where the track leaves the ground.
One SnoWest SnowTester said, "The track's unique design gobbles up the snow."
Also helping the sled get up and on the snow is a dropped and rolled chaincase.
If you want his bad boy, then you're going to have to pony up for it. Only the serious need apply here. With a price tag of $10,099 you have to really believe in your riding skills to buy this sled.
Polaris proved when it released its 800 RMK a few years ago that some snowmobilers were willing to pay to play. Some of the thinking going around back in those days was that the price would scare lots of folks away. So how many RMKs do you see on the snow these days? Gobs.
As mentioned previously, the King Cat is proving to be a hot seller. So price really isn't an issue.
Just exactly what would you have to do to make the claim that you have the biggest and baddest production mountain sled available? If you're going to make that kind of claim, then you'd better be able to back it up.
We believe the King Cat does.