2017 Arctic Cat 2017 Arctic Cat
Arctic Cat faithful have anxiously been waiting to see what their favorite sled maker would be coming with for 2017, and it is indeed... 2017 Arctic Cat

Arctic Cat faithful have anxiously been waiting to see what their favorite sled maker would be coming with for 2017, and it is indeed full of surprises. Perhaps the biggest news is found in the replacement of the Suzuki-built Turbo for the 9000-Series models with an all-new Yamaha-built Turbo. All 9000-series models for 2017 will feature this new Yamaha-built turbo package. This new engine package is found in a host of models from the ZR 9000 Thundercat to various other ZR and XF packages, but it is not offered in any form of mountain sled as all 9000-Series M sleds have been dropped from the line-up.

Perhaps the single biggest question was if there would be a new 2-stroke 800 for 2017? The answer is no. Arctic Cat again indicated that while they are working on a replacement for their 800 twin, it simply is not ready at this time. They stated they were working through supplier issues and when it’s ready it will be released. Their current throttle-body 800 twin is a very solid engine as is right now. It is very reliable and very powerful and works well with power-up packages. It continues to get software upgrades and has been improving tremendously, so from a “need” standpoint it isn’t like Arctic Cat desperately needs a new 800. It is better to wait and get it right than it is to bring it out now and have issues.

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      Moving on, for 2017 Arctic Cat has brought back their XF Cross Country Limited models but this time around they are deep lug 137” machines instead of the longer 141” Fastrack models. They are similar to the XF CrossTrek sleds but with even deeper 1.75” lug tracks, aimed at the true Cross Country riders where the CrossTrek models are fitted with more trail-friendly features.

There’s also a new ZR 3000 fitted with the 4-stroke 700cc Kymco engine, first offered last year in the Pantera 3000 model. This new ZR will line up nicely against the Ski-Doo ACE 600 models, giving Arctic Cat a true turn-key entry level 4-stroke model. This engine excels in the Wildcat Trail and Sport side-by-sides, with proven durability and performance in the 65 HP class.

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      Arctic Cat continues to place huge amounts of development in their M-series mountain sleds, and rightly so with the continued strength of the deep snow segment. For 2017 Arctic Cat revives the Mountain Cat name as a new Spring Order model. Available only in a 3” lug configuration, the M8000 Mountain Cat will be offered with a 153” or 162” track length. Improved deep snow performance comes from repositioning the drive shaft 1.125” lower than the standard M 8000. This required a longer chaincase but allows larger 8-tooth drivers to reduce the approach angle of the track down to 9.7 degrees. These changes also result in better power transfer to the ground with an increase of 3 HP at the track.

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To reduce drag and improve off camber performance Arctic Cat narrowed the running boards and belly pan area by one inch per side. They also opened up the foot well area to allow the riders foot to slide forward another two inches compared the M 8000. This eliminated most of the side restriction placed on the rider’s foot and improved the rider’s ability to move forward on the chassis in extreme terrain. This new width allows the machine more lean angle on steep side hills reducing the chance of the track lifting out of the snow from belly pan drag.

Thinner gauge aluminum on the rear of the tunnel combined with smaller running boards and a narrower belly pan resulted in a 2 pound weight savings. Arctic Cat shaved weight from the entire M-Chassis lineup as they put all of their M-Series machines on a diet for 2017 while keeping durability a major priority. A revised Float Action rear suspension with lighter rails reduced weight by 1.5-2 pounds depending on the track length. A new Torque Control Link (TCL) plate cut .75 pounds of weight and is stronger than the heavier version. The air intake plenum is now 1.25 pounds lighter due to a new TPO composite compared to the previous nylon material. The handlebars are .5 pounds lighter. A new ceramic coated muffler eliminates the heat blanket as well as 1.45 pounds and new exhaust pipe mounting (8000 only) shaves another .25 pounds. These changes resulted in a total weight loss of 5.7 – 6.2 pounds.

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      One can’t help but notice how sleds of certain track lengths are moving to different segments. Where a 137” track length used to be a crossover it is now the new short track length, with 137” ZRs. Where a 153” length used to be a mountain sled, it is now a crossover machine. Arctic Cat is an industry-leader in this trend that continues to evolve each year, as their emphasis is clearly aimed at the crossover and mountain sled models. This is what their riders are buying, and a manufacturer will always respond to the market demands. Riders want more premium features, so Arctic Cat responds.

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      Other changes for 2017 include many upgrades in the shock absorbers on many models. Many sleds now have coil-over shocks instead of FLOATs. Many more sleds now have QS3 adjustable shocks, some with rebound damping. These new FOX ZERO QS3 shocks (used on the rear arm and up on the skis on several models) feature 3-position dial compression adjustability for quick and easy tuning for riding style and conditions. They are rebound adjustable and feature Kashima coating for the smoothest, most supple action, plus remote reservoir architecture for fade-free performance. Our experience with these shocks has been outstanding, giving riders the ability to quickly and easily tailor their suspension to changing conditions or preferences.

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      Calibration tweaks are found everywhere, improving suspension performance across the board and with longer front arm shocks for reduced bottoming. Continued refinement is found through the entire line-up for 2017, giving us better machines with improved performance and durability. And, we have the all-new 9000-Series turbo in a host of new models for 2017 sporting new bodywork and LED headlights for those who want the biggest, baddest fastest Arctic Cats ever built.

thundercat

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