2021 Arctic Cat Blast – Hit or Miss? 2021 Arctic Cat Blast – Hit or Miss?
Time for the truth. Will the new 2021 Arctic Cat BLAST models be a huge hit, lukewarm performers or a total flop? Several have... 2021 Arctic Cat Blast – Hit or Miss?

Time for the truth. Will the new 2021 Arctic Cat BLAST models be a huge hit, lukewarm performers or a total flop?

Several have tried similar approaches. Sleds like the Ski-Doo Freestyle, Yamaha Phazer, Yamaha Sno-Scoot and Polaris Indy Lite are some of the first that come to mind. Actually, a single cylinder 2-stroke 400 with a 3-stage power valve is pretty gutsy in this day and age. Where the others have failed this one could succeed simply due to the power to weight ratio. It has to be FUN or else it is dead in the water. New sleds that are BORING don’t last long, nobody wants to buy boring.

2021 Arctic Cat Blast

But if a new sled is truly a BLAST to ride and isn’t priced at an insulting price for what you’re getting, then we might have a complete and total winner. Depending on the model, pricing is $7,699 to $8,199 on pre-order. Roughly twice that of a ZR 200 and half that of a full-powered 8000-Series machine. In this context, the current pricing appears to be close to where it should be.

For comparison, a 2020 Ski-Doo MX Z Sport with the 2-stroke carbureted 600 with over 100 HP on the XP platform retails for $8,499 – admittedly more sled for more money – where a 2020 Polaris Indy EVO with the 550 fan-cooled engine, Pro-Ride (old RUSH) platform and similar power (but no electric start) retails for only $5,499 – perhaps our closest rival. In that sense, perhaps the BLAST should be under $7,000. They’d sell a whole lot more of them at $6,999. Either way, you’d want to see one before buying it, right? You’d want to ride one before buying it, right?

When Arctic Cat tells us “midsized” they are referring to both the engine power and the entire machine. They say it is a lighter weight, mid-sized chassis with easy handling and maneuverability, with a size that lets more riders capture more thrills. If it truly is a 3/4 sized machine it should logically be perfect for the rider needing something bigger than a ZR 200, but just how big of a rider (size and weight) can one of these machines accommodate? We’re told it is far more than just a big kid sled, and is truly adult-capable as well. How about a big-guy over 200 pounds? We’re told it is surprisingly capable and truly a blast to ride, thus the name.

2021 Arctic Cat Blast
The secret project for the BLAST was originally referred to as “BLD” for Brad’s Little Darling, a reference to former Arctic Cat executive Brad Darling who would have been one of the driving forces behind the initial development of the project during his tenure. Another strong advocate for this machine was Joey (Joel) Hallstrom, former Arctic Cat Product Manager and industry visionary.

We don’t yet know exactly how big this sled is. Arctic Cat says, “The compact size is less intimidating for novice or smaller riders.”  The tracks and tunnels have to be normal sized if we are using 121” and 146” track lengths. The front end widths are narrower. The dimensions listed in the specs show a smaller sled – slightly – possibly more of a 7/8 than a 3/4 of full-size. The image here seems to give us the best idea of how it compares in size. Not quite full-size, but pretty close. It’s not a kid sled by any means. 

2021 Arctic Cat Blast
Left to right: ZR 200, Blast M 4000, M 8000 Alpha One

Point is, not everyone wants or needs to go over 100 mph. Not everyone needs to go straight up a steep hill at blistering speeds, either. Think back to how much fun we used to have on a 1989-92 Polaris Indy 500, or a 1990-91 Arctic Cat Prowler 440. That might be our closest comparison, the original Prowler. Power to weight should be close? Actual physical size might be surprisingly close as well. Not exactly a kid’s sled at the time, but easily a “big kid” sled by today’s standards. Today’s teenagers would be far better off on a sled like this than a full-sized 600cc. Big sleds intimidate, where smaller sleds can be easier to be the boss of.

One other consideration is going to be how user friendly the machines are. How much do they vibrate – a big single is going to vibrate, so let’s see how well the counter balancer works. How comfortable are the seats – one way to make sleds cheaper is to use a cheap seat. How smooth is the suspension – hydraulic twin tube shocks are standard issue, so being adequate might not be good enough. It does have electric start and push-button reverse, which in turn raises the cost. So many decisions to make along the path of development.

2021 Arctic Cat Blast

            The sleds have to exceed our expectations, but we also need to be realists as well. At over 400 pounds and under 70 HP how much performance can we truly expect? If properly geared and set-up it should deliver fun all-around performance with the trade-off being at the top end.

How much sled will we get for the money – something called “value”? The use of hydraulic twin tube shocks all around should be an indicator an initial low cost, low price strategy. Other than that we don’t immediately see where other obvious corners have been cut to lower the cost. You know full well there will very quickly be high-pressure gas shocks and all kind of add-on accessories – so the escalation begins all over, yet again. Brilliant.

2021 Arctic Cat Blast

Arctic Cat could have something huge here, but by limiting availability to pre-orders only, they will truly limit the numbers of first year riders. Only then, when people get to see how they really work next winter, will the wick get lit and we will see how big this might become. The potential is great, as is the risk – but so is the reward.

Links to all five feature articles on the 2021 Arctic Cat Blast:

Arctic Cat’s Single-Cylinder 2-Stroke EFI Engine

2021 Arctic Cat Blast 400 engine

2021 Arctic Cat Blast – First Ride! Betting on the Future – Big Time

2021 Arctic Cat BLAST Power to Weight Ratios

2021 Arctic Cat Blast Power to Weight Ratios

Hit or Miss? The 2021 Arctic Cat BLAST

2021 Arctic Cat Blast

2021 Arctic Cat BLAST M 4000 A true Mountain Sled for Anyone.

2021 Arctic Cat M 4000

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  • Christopher Russell

    December 12, 2019 #1 Author

    Sorry but the problem is you in the magisine business you got what you wanted all mountain no trail your comments of it way down on power it’s to heavy handling is quirky needs new skis compared to other brands your constant view points have caused the down fall of all introduction caliber sleds just an oppion .

  • Steve

    December 12, 2019 #2 Author

    Yes COST! If I am to upgrade to a Blast from my daughters ZR200 to another “step up” skedt has to cost effective. Here in Canada $10,000 predicted? No thanks. Now talk 7-8, you’ve peaked my interest and my wallet just opened.

  • Martin

    December 12, 2019 #3 Author

    like Steve said 10k is too much in cad. we got the rmk evo for 8k tax in and my son and my wife love it

  • Derek Bailey

    December 13, 2019 #4 Author

    I own 2 ZR 6000’s and would have been interested in a Blast if they were not so overpriced. A indy evo will be joining my Cats in the future

  • howard c Beasley

    December 20, 2019 #5 Author

    400 cc liquid cooled engine, 3 stage variable exhaust, good on gas wide torque band, 146 inch 1.6 inch cobra track, roughly 400 lbs, Did these features get your attention fellow mid life riders? Remember how much fun it was to carve fresh snow, not thinking about getting stuck or unstuck? Carving with abandon through the trees not worrying about staying on the power band to keep moving? An afternoon ride with friends, no hurry about how long it will take. Sign me up for a 4000LT and lets have fun again!

  • Zack

    January 7, 2020 #6 Author

    The sport needs to return to simpler times when we had 65 – 90 HP machines that weighed 425lbs or less. These machines cooked across lake and through trails in ways that put big smiles on our faces. They were reasonably priced, simple to operate and easy to service. An entire family could join the sport because they were affordable. Yes, the suspensions were crude, but today’s suspension technology and use of aluminum in place of steel have provided smoother rides while keeping weight in check.

    Only the magazines have been demanding/supporting the $15K, over engineered, deep-lug ultra long-track, computer controlled heavy behemoths we’ve been forced to accept. These machines are not fun. They are big, heavy, and exhausting. They are too expensive and keep many from joining the sport. We used to be able to pay cash for a new sled. Now we have to finance it like a car. WTH?

    Real riders have been asking for Evo/Blast and similar machines that hearken back to the days when snowmobiles looked like snowmobiles rather than angry cartoons and chainsaws for years. We have asked for affordable, fun, simple machines. They are here now. We need to buy them if our sport is to grow and survive.

  • Sirspamalot

    March 14, 2020 #7 Author

    The big problem with the Blast is the price. At that price the used market will clobber it. People forget the Lynx from past years offered single or two up riding for less money. It put out slightly less power than a Blast from an air cooled engine that didn’t need ice scratchers for low snow running and it was a twin. There is still so much carryover out there. Also the total lack of snow out here in the east this year was a real ride killer. My sled sat in the barn. That sled is a marvel but it needs to be closer to five grand list.

  • Ethan

    March 17, 2020 #8 Author

    I want to know exactly how much power they have

  • Sledhead

    March 22, 2020 #9 Author

    Add a lightweight EFI 340 lc turbo engine option with a plush MXZ Race style ride, 14 x 144 x 2 track, keep it under 400lbs and I bet you would sell a ton of these with the 7k price tag. Just a thought…..

  • Sledhead

    March 22, 2020 #10 Author

    Correction, 340 twin that is…..

  • TP

    March 29, 2020 #11 Author

    Has potential but is overpriced. Cat missed the mark but not by much. Need to add another with the 340cc twin for under 5k. Certainly has appeal, but used will offer greater value.

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