Sit down, shut up, hang on … and smile. That’s the best way to describe riders’ experiences last season on board our 2008 Arctic Cat F8 Sno Pro demo sled. The big sled was comfortable, relatively powerful and a sheer pleasure to cruise down the trail.
We sharpened up the sled’s handling early in the season with 144 Fast Trac studs and a pair of Starting Line Products skis. The stock skis wouldn’t hold their line well enough, so we went to the aftermarket. Once the skis were bolted in place with 6-inch carbides, the sled handled predictably while preserving the Twin Spar chassis’ light steering.
Rated at 145 hp by Arctic Cat, the laydown Suzuki two-stroke does a decent job motivating the machine. It’s not a class-leader. Instead, call it a good effort. Once the sled reaches faster trail speeds and gets on the pipe (in the neighborhood of 50 mph or more), the engine performs and responds well to input from the throttle lever. Low-end power delivery is soggy compared to other 800s.
The big cab and broad windshield offer the best protection available on a modern snowmobile, and its Texas-sized seat is big enough to accommodate any keister. Speaking of rear ends, the F8’s trunk has more cubic-feet of storage space than a grain silo. Difference in height of Snow Goer staffers ranges almost 12 inches. The adjustable seat and handle bar proved especially convenient, as it could be adjusted to suit short and tall riders alike.
Arctic Cats are typically the most trouble-free sleds in our fleet every winter, and this one backed up that reputation. It was a gas-and-go machine that didn’t give us a lick of trouble. We gave the chassis a few shots of grease throughout the winter, inspected the belt, added oil (a lot of it, and frequently), adjusted the track and rode it. It always started and idled perfectly and never broke a belt or fouled a plug.
Though its reliability was tops, our F8 had a few quirks that made routine tasks more troublesome than they should have been. The front bumper is incorrectly positioned and too big for a hand to grab, which made the sled difficult to lift and move in a tight trailer. The oil reservoir cap was too close to the nose pan, so we couldn’t get a good grip to twist it off. Our last gripe: the old school, fuel cap latch wouldn’t engage unless we used a precise, quick “smack” to make it re-latch after filling with fuel.
The sled is heavy, and that’s partially to blame for the anemic low-end response. But that weight is an asset for some riders who want long-distance comfort more than lightweight, bump bashing, corner-to-corner performance. Even though it has the Sno Pro package, this sled’s calibrations and ergos are more suited to handle moderate bumps and moderate speeds. The sled’s combination of a big, two-stroke engine and a stable chassis makes the F8 Sno Pro well suited for snowmobilers who want a good pull when they squeeze the throttle on a straightaway all while being warm, happy and sure to make it home.
Sled: 2008 Arctic Cat Sno Pro
Mods: Nextech FLOAT Reservoirs; SLP Straight Line Tracking Skis; Fast Trac Triple X Studs, Fett Bros. Performance Static Torque Kit