Dear Ralph: How come the sled manufacturers never made a fuel-injected triple 2-stroke (not counting the lethargic Polaris RXL triple)? The Arctic Cat ZRT...

Dear Ralph:
How come the sled manufacturers never made a fuel-injected triple 2-stroke (not counting the lethargic Polaris RXL triple)? The Arctic Cat ZRT triples (or Thundercat) could have been the darling of triples if built in FI form….
Mike Slepsky

It was pretty much a matter of supply and demand. Polaris started the whole triple craze with their XLT, and this evolved into the triple-piped triples that most everyone bought into for a while, but riders soon discovered they could get similar power levels from the new breed of big twins with not as much of a weight penalty. Riders loved the power and the sound of the triple-triples, but the added weight was a determent when it came to handling and horsing the thing around in the tight woods. Out on the lakes and on the big wide open spaces the big power could be utilized to a greater degree.

When a model offering sees declining sales figures, it goes away. Riders were buying the big twins instead, and this was then the basis for the next wave of development, which included fuel injection. Why spend the time and money to add (expensive) fuel injection to an engine family that is declining in sales?

So how is the current offering of 4-stroke models different? The 4-strokes add to the formula a host of benefits that, in many rider’s consideration, makes up for the weight penalty. Things like quieter operation, clean emissions, extended range and fuel economy, no injection oil, greater long-term reliability and durability. Add to that better chassis and suspensions and the mass centralization trend, and the current 4-strokes, while they are heavier machines much like the triple-piped triples were, simply perform way better.

OK, so why not do all of the same to a triple-triple 2-stroke? Logically it could be done, but we’re now seemingly past that. Evolution of the species pretty much killed that duck. If we can do the same thing with a big cc twin, why not? Case in point, Mach Z. A semi-direct fuel injected 1000 that produces 170 HP…so why do we want a triple with even more weight? The sound? The modification potential (triples have better volumetric efficiency at higher [mod] RPM levels)?

Curiously, for the past few years there has been a direct-injection ZRT triple at the SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge. Hmm…

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