Arctic Cat has always had this incredible knack at creating new sleds out of existing technologies. Follow us here – for 2010 they came out with the 144” Z1 Turbo EXT. Up to that point the F-Series sleds all had a 128” track length in the performance class. Longer tracked sleds had been on the M-chassis, either M-sleds or Crossfires. The M-chassis is a derivative of the 2003 Firecat so it is light and nimble, best suited for deep snow and maneuverability. In comparison, the F-sleds are built on the rigid Twin Spar chassis, so it is a stronger frame for bumps and staying flat through corners, thus it was what the trail sleds were based on for superior handling and bump capability.
So when the Z1 Turbo EXT came out last year, it demonstrated how good the Twin Spar F-chassis was with a longer track length. The ride quality is unreal, possibly as good as it gets from an OEM. While a Crossfire would be a better choice in deeper fresh snow, the EXT was a better choice for on-trail use. But with all of that Turbo hardware and plumbing under the hood, it was heavy.
2010 also brought us the blistering 800 H.O. two-stroke with 162 HP. That’s only 15 HP away from the Z1 Turbo, but so much lighter. What if we dropped the new 800 into the EXT and came with an F8 EXT? Here it is.
The result is breathtaking. This machine is so much better than the Crossfire on-trail. Hands down it has better handling, flatter cornering, more rigidity through the bumps and superior ride quality. Off in the deeper snow the Crossfire is still more agile and responsive, so if you spend more time in fresh snow or off trail go with the Crossfire. But if you spend more time on trails or forest roads and want superior ride quality, traction, handling, and bump capability, the F8 EXT is truly superior.
Up front is a stable 43” ski stance and Fox Zero Pro shocks. Out back we have a 144” track, the outstanding Cobra for superior loose snow performance (not quite as glued to hardpack as the Ripsaw). She hooks up and launches with authority. Another set of Zero Pro shocks and coupler blocks gives us a sweet package for trail and cross country duty. A mid-height windshield, adjustable seat and handlebars makes it even more versatile.
An F8 Sno Pro is going to handle better through the tight woods and a Crossfire is going to work better in fresh snow, but the F8 EXT can do it all with better ride quality and versatility. We like this sled, a lot. It sells for $11,599 and will likely be in short supply.