Arctic Cat Refines their Firecat Series and Comes Up With the All New M Series
by Scott A Sumner
Justin Corbeil is District Sales Manager for Arctic Cat covering the territory from Thunder Bay to Val Dor Quebec in the north to Hearst to Port Carling, Huntsville in the south He even has a remote dealer on Baffin Island. There are 27 snowmobile and 26 ATV dealers in his territory of which 2 dealers are snowmobile only and another 2 ATV only.
"The SNO Pro package has gone to a springless fox floater shock so its a total air system. The consumer can adjust their ride at the side of the trail by just using an air pump. There's a gauge that comes with the sled and they can change the rigidity of the ride of the snowmobile in seconds. It's just a quick little releaser. Before you used to have to turn the spring by hand to release or increase the tension. I had a opportunity to ride the 05 models in Lake Tahoe three weeks ago. I'm a fairly big guy (240 pounds) and they handled the bumps really well, no sweat at all." states Justin Corbeil. "Arctic Cat has invested a lot of money in noise reduction. In order to conform to the standards that are coming they have put an automotive style dampening under the hood which reduces noise quite a bit. We are trying to meet the standards before they come. It's just one of the things we try to do at Arctic Cat." "We have gone to a three wheel system at the rear. Consumers want to see the three wheel system as compared to one on the 04 Firecat. It doesn't add much weight. A big change for 05 is we have gone to the ACT drive system. We have done away with the chain case versions which reduces the weight by 11 pounds. ACT worked well with the ZR 900 last year with only a few wrinkles to be worked out as it was new. Our Quebec dealers are great because they get the snow so early they can help us out with some ride experiences. There old rail beds and logging roads are perfect for high performance riding," says Corbeil. "We have raised the seat position 1 1/2 inches so the rider feels good. Basically it brings you up and forward so your knees are not up as high. A person with a long inseam are in a much more comfortable position. You don't feel like your knees are up around your ears, its more comfortable. The seat is the same width as last year. They did go away with the little pad that was there last year. The tool kit is still in the same place."
"Most people want the SnoPro suspension but don't really need it. You can adjust the system softer though and it really is incredible. The only way you can believe it is to experience it. This new FOX system does really work well. There were a few racers who had prototype Fox Floater shocks this season and they did do some races with them. The new F 7 is the same weight as last year at 460 pound with the standard suspension or 470 pounds on the F7 Sno Pro. Other things were done on the sled to make it stronger." smiles Corbeil.
"We have our M7 on display here. It is new from one end to the other. Everything you can imagine is new on this unit. Visually they have based it on the Firecat hood, but it is a 15 inch wide track. They have gone to the ACT drive on these sleds as well. When you pull the hood open they have changed the position of the oil reservoir to keep the centre of gravity down more into the belly pan. The whole tunnel has been redesigned. They did tests on every width possible and found the 15 inch width worked the best. For the mountains you need the width and length. You can go 141 inch, 153 inch or 162 inch lengths on the track," said Corbeil. "If you look at the stirrups, you can hook your feet in or even get up on top of the stirrup if you are doing some boondocking. They have put a little lip on the sno flap so if your stuck so you can get your hands in. Little things that make you know the design guys are riders, not just some bean counters on a CAD system. We are expecting big things with this sled. It's really unique to see the passion. It is lighter than last years version. Weight on a 141 inch M7 is 460 pounds. The 153 inch is 465 pounds and 162 inch is 470 pounds. The engine is the same mill as the Firecat version. If you look closely you can see changes in the position of the oil tank. The electrical harnesses have been tucked away in different positions and the air intake is changed, as on the Firecat it is right at the front but when you are carving the deep powder they have put them up to the sides of the headlites to get the clean air."
"Arctic Cat have simplified the line up by not offering as many colour options, as it was getting hard to manage. The 04 year has been fairly good for us. Many markets got real snow conditions for the first time in a few years. It is important for the dealers to get a good spring order. We have the Jokers Wild program with a limited build Jokers flush sled and $50,000 US to get people out to the shows. Anyone at the show can get a third year warranty on their new sled as well," smiles Corbeil. "I love snowmobiling and I've been doing it since I was a little kid. It's always been a passion for me."