Arctic Cat—M 8000 Mountain Cat Alpha One
One of the best-kept secrets in the snowmobile industry (perhaps even to the Textron marketing department) is the state-of-the-art design of the Arctic Cat M 8000 Mountain Cat Alpha One.
Introduced for model year 2019, the Alpha One was under-promoted, under-praised and under-reported. So it’s understandable that it has stayed under the radar and thus has been under-sold. But anything with this kind of deep-snow potential will eventually be uncovered.
I really liked the M Mountain Cat Alpha One with the 165-inch by 3-inch track length because it works so well in deep snow.
Here are the five features that top my list on this particular model.
1) Alpha One Single-Beam Rear Suspension. You can’t find a cleaner rear skid. The single-beam system leaves absolutely no snow traps on the track. There is no place for additional (tag along) weight to collect. And from our tests, this can equate up to 100 lbs. of hitch-hiking drag.
The Alpha One marks the first dramatic change to the rear skid since slide rails phased out the bogie wheels. Although there will certainly be a lot of room for improvement, Cat has done a great job in getting them pretty darn good right out of the box.
2) Fox Float QS3 Shocks. The Alpha One suspension matches up perfectly with the easy-to-adjust Fox Float Shocks. The QS3s offer three positions for ride adjustment, making it very easy to use in the soft, medium and firm settings.
This allows you to dial into a ride for the bumps, then quickly change it for the deep snow. Although some snowmobilers will argue that three settings don’t offer enough options, in our experience too many options become too confusing and most snowmobilers will not bother to use the adjustment features.
3) Power Claw Track. Again, matching perfectly with the Alpha One, the Power Claw track is built lightweight, with a single-ply design and a 3.0-inch pitch. The track pattern is stagger-set with curved-forward paddle towers that won't fold over and lose their grip in the snow.
We found the Power Claw hooks up harder than any track on the snow, yet still lifts you up on the powder for great flotation. With the single-beam rear skid, the track folds to conform to terrain, thus always maintaining contact with the snow and always propelling you forward up the slope.
4) AMS Front Suspension. This is one area where Cat engineers have done their homework and have mastered the perfect geometry with their spindles to maneuver in deep snow and extreme terrain.
These lightweight, forged-aluminum spindles feature a 27-degree caster angle that allows the skis to corner well on hardpack while delivering predictability during the counter-steer on steep sidehills. They are designed to be lightweight and reduce drag, yet are durable to withstand the abuse of hard trails.
5) Push-Button Electric Start. Electric start is designed to make life easy. Cat makes it that much easier by working it through a handlebar-mounted button. This moves the convenience of electric start to an easily-accessible location.
Electric start is growing in popularity in mountain riding due to the number of times (and unique locations) we need to start our sleds. And why do you need to wear yourself out pulling a rope when you can save your energy for when you need it on the mountain?