We wanted to build a mountain Project machine this year and since Arctic Cat has an all new machine we decided it would be a great platform to test it, as well as other products. Since we already have good snow we went and found a 2018 locally as we wanted to begin the testing process as soon as possible. The machine is a 2018 Mountain Cat 8000 with a 153” track length and a 3” lug height. We managed to get it on the snow and were lucky to find another area with 4 foot of early season snow that surprisingly had a bit of a base.
We spent the first part of our ride on an easy trail section running the machine long enough to get the ECU out of its severely restricted break in mode. Arctic Cat programmed these machines to have reduced power by restricting the engine RPM to 6,500 for the first 1/3 of an hour. After that time the ECU will allow full RPM but the machine will remain in a “break-in” status running a richer oil and fuel mixture until it has reached 6 hours. It was very easy to tell the difference in performance and once the machine could operate at full RPM after 20 minutes of run time we bailed off the trail into the deeper snow.
The snow was mostly untracked and we fresh snow the entire time which meant for a rather smooth ride. We wanted to get a better test on the new Fox float3 QS3 piggy back shocks that Cat supplies on this machine but the soft snow made it tough to put the suspension through its paces.
Even after we had ridden the machine for an hour the machine remained a little sluggish however his is to be expected with the extra oil being injected during break-in. By the end of the ride it had started to come to life and become more responsive like what we remembered from the pre-production units last spring. The new 800 C-TEC2 is much more responsive off the bottom and feels like it has better grunt in the lower throttle ranges compared to the previous 800 Suzuki motor. It gets on top of the snow very quickly and didn’t trench even in the deeper bottomless snow conditions we rode in. We will want to see how the improved response affects its performance in other conditions but so far we are impressed.
This machine is very easy to sidehill and takes little effort to control. It is easy to initiate onto its side and holds a flat line without diving or washing. We could maneuver up or down the side hill with very little effort or without throwing a leg from one side to the other. It does not hang up on the spindles as much as the previous chassis did which is one of the reasons why it stays flatter when traversing across a sidehill. The narrower panels and running boards do help keep from washing out and again make it easier to hold a line
We will put a few more miles on this machine before we begin swapping parts. We will be installing a set of 163” rails and a Camso 163” X3 track. We also plan to install SLP Mohawk ski’s, a Boondocker Sidekick Turbo, and a few other goodies that will hopefully make it into an even more capable backcountry weapon.
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