A Lightweight & Agile Go-Fast Firecat Replacement
Mention “Crossfire” to any Arctic Cat rider and they instantly know what you’re talking about. They know the Crossfire is the 136” track length crossover sled that looks like a Firecat under the hood, but has a chassis that is derived more from the M-Series mountain sleds than it is from the Firecat. That means the Crossfire has a bunch of lightweight parts, and most importantly, it has the rider-forward ergonomics and seating position. You can ride it with ease, making it far better suited for transition type riding where you go from sitting to standing. And even if you’re a sit-down rider, being centered on the sled has been shown to have all kinds of great benefits when it comes to handling, fatigue, and bump isolation. You simply feel better after a long ride.
So when Arctic Cat came out with their F-Series sleds a couple years ago to replace the Firecat, a good number of Firecat owners didn’t take to the F-sleds. Some didn’t like the looks. Some didn’t like how heavy it was. Some believed it was slower. Some just didn’t think it was the “right” sled for a Firecat owner to upgrade to. Despite the great ride quality, Twin Spar rigid chassis, and adjustable seat and handlebars, Arctic Cat didn’t see the Firecat owners flock to the F-Series sleds like they had anticipated
That bunch of snowmobilers at Thief River Falls always looks at things differently, and they did it again. They saw how many of the Firecat owners were buying their longer tracekd Crossfire models instead of their F-Series sleds. The Crossfire was more of a rider-forward Firecat, as it was light, agile, fast, and gave the Firecat owners most of what they wanted from a new sled. Except, having a longer track it wasn’t quite as agile, wasn’t quite as fast, and took a bit more effort to get it around corners. If it only had a shorter track…….
Sometimes the obvious solution is right under your nose. Why couldn’t they just make a short-tracked version of the Crossfire? Sure, it would take some development to make a shorter tunnel and get the suspensions calibrated, and then to dial in the gearing and clutching calibrations, but for the most part it would be an easy way to solve the problem. The problem? Arctic Cat riders who owned and loved their Firectas that wanted a rider-forward version of their sled that was light, super fast, agile, and cornered like it was on rails. Sure sounds like an Arctic Cat rider, doesn’t it?
So, we proudly introduce the 2009 Arctic Cat Crossfire R. This is going to confuse some people, but not savvy Arctic Cat riders. This sled is a Crossfire with a narrower (14” wide) and shorter (128”) track. Compare this to the Firecats with their 13.5” width and 128” length and you start to realize the capability. This is a full eight inches shorter than the 2006-2008 Crossfire models, and a whopping 13” shorter than the stretched 2009 Crossfire models that are now more deep snow capable with their 141” track length.
If you own a Firecat, the first thing you will notice when you ride a Crossfire R is the seating position. Your knees are no longer above your hips, which means you don’t have to bench press your entire body weight to get your butt up off the seat when you want to stand up, or just get your butt up off the seat for some big bumps. You’ll find yourself sitting in a more centered position. But, with the shorter track length and the narrow track, the Crossfire R gives you the blistering top speed and acceleration that so many Firecat owners love. And now you get an even better handling sled, despite the slightly taller seating position, along with more stability.
What do you lose? Compared to an F-Series sled, probably about fifty pounds. Maybe more, maybe less. You don’t have as stiff of a chassis as the F-Series models, so you don’t get that rock solid feel through the bumps. We don’t believe the Crossfire R (without the Slide Action rear) rides quite as well as say an F8, but it’s still pretty good. Better than a Firecat though. With the narrower track and a fast 1” lug height of the Hacksaw track, this sled is better suited for studding as well, but you admittedly lose some of the traction and loose snow capability.
The Crossfire R models do get some treats, in the form of adjustable handlebars like an F-Series. They’re lower than a normal Crossfire, to be expected. And, you can utilize the sweet accessory items that fit all of the new 2009 Crossfire models. High-pressure IFP shocks all around give you the resistance to bottoming you demand, none of the gas cell crap here. The windshield is low, more for top speed, but can be swapped for a taller one if you want some protection when the temps get down below zero. You’ll also find large cutout running boards, great for letting the snow fall down to the ground instead of building up ice, and the “about time” push-button electronic engine reverse that Arctic Cat has been working on getting for so many years. Better late than never.
The 2009 Arctic Cat Crossfire R comes in your choice of a throttle-body EFI 800cc two-stroke with about 145 HP, or the stunning 1000cc throttle-body EFI with 170+ HP for insane top speed and acceleration. While neither of these engines gets the fuel economy of a four-stroke or a transfer-port/direct-injection two-stroke, they are still respectable and provide turn-key performance with no choke to pull and no jetting to change; just start and go. These motors both have proven track records, so there are no durability/reliability issues to worry about. There’s nothing new that needs to get worked out for a season, and both sizes get a new ECU calibration for improved hot restarts. The 800 will use 20% less oil this year with improved cold drive away. The fuel map for the 1000 has been improved as well. Both engines work well, with thick power bands and great top end performance.
We keep talking about how fast these sleds are. When we went up to Thief River to do some testing with the prototypes, the Cat boys took us to a drainage ditch that was well protected and very flat and fast. They had a radar speed trap set-up so we could run the sleds through time after time, run after run, to which we obliged – with honor. We ran every single sled they had there for us to sample, from all of their own hardware to all of the competitive sleds as well. They wanted to not only show everyone how fast their new Crossfire R was, but also their new 4-stroke Z1 turbo and their F-Series sleds, which really are pretty fast. And, they wanted to show us how slow some of the competitive models were, despite their reputations.
We always approach tests like this with caution, as the competitive sleds are usually dogs and not true representatives of their brands, but we can rely on the data from the Arctic Cats that we were able to romp with. There was even a well set-up 2003 F7, which was the fastest year of the Firecats (in our opinion). Curiously, their F8 was actually faster than the Crossfire R 800 on top end, averaging 106.2 mph vs. 105.3, and 105.7 for the F7. But when it came to 1/4 mile acceleration runs, the Crossfire R 800 was the fastest with an average 1/4 mile ET of 12.72 vs. 12.87 for the F8 and 12.96 for the F7. Thus, the Crossfire R 800 will win a drag race.
In the 1000 class, the Crossfire R 1000 averaged a top speed of 110.7, compared to the F1000 at 107.5 with the F7 at 105.7 mph. The Z1 Turbo clocked an average of 112.6 mph at top end and would run them all down in a long run, but the Crossfire R 1000 is quicker; it averaged 12.44 seconds in the quarter while the Z1 Turbo averaged 12.52 seconds. For comparison, a Ski-Doo XP 800 averaged 13 seconds through the quarter with an average top speed of 101.7 mph.
The 2009 Arctic Cat Crossfire R 800 retails for $9,799 and the Crossfire R 1000 goes for $11,499. Both are available in your choice of Black with green and white graphics, or Orange with white and black graphics. There’s even a cool sabercat graphic on the side panel that lets your buddies know you’re going to eat them alive, just like an Arctic Cat should. Bring on the lakes.