Some buying decisions aren’t based on top-end speed. Many people don’t spend their Saturdays snowmobiling in the attack made. Sometimes, an affordable price is one of the most important factors.
A solid core of the snowmobile-owning audience wants a sled they can spend countless hours on in comfort; a sled that won’t beat them up or leave them overly tired; a sled that’s agile and light, comfortable and full-featured.
For all of these reasons and more, Arctic Cat offers the Jag 440 Deluxe. With its suggested retail price of $4,699, it offers common trail riders an affordable choice, but it’s certainly not a “cheap” sled. Sleds that most would consider cheap wouldn’t include electric start, the latest suspension technology, a cutting- edge body style and comfortable ergonomics.
An Attitude? Try Polite
With a twist of the key, the Jag 440 Deluxe burbles to life. It doesn’t roar like a ZRT, but it isn’t intended to. Instead, it hums and chug-a-lugs, idling quietly while patiently waiting for its turn on the trails.
‘Polite” might be a good way to describe the 431cc fan-cooled Fuji twin. Arctic Cat officials claim they get 42 HP out of the engine, which is fed by a single 34mm carb and cleared through a single tuned pipe. After testing the sled, that number seems a bit optimistic, but anybody who buys in this class doesn’t expect tendon-stretching takeoffs.
Instead, this motor specializes in good gas mileage and dependable power delivery. For 1999, Cat cleaned up both the intake and exhaust to provide a slight improvement in power. CDI delivers perfect timing of spark, and the power is sent through Cat’s own drive and driven clutches.
The motor may not be on the cutting edge of technology, but the chassis certainly is. Cat used the Jag models as a test bed for the factory’s new look and feel two years ago, and they aren’t about to let these models fall behind the times.
The base of the machine is the all-aluminum-framed AWS V chassis. This rigid design has been tested in race applications, so you know it’s not just tough, it’s also light.
The front suspension carries the same moniker: AWS V. On the Jag 440 Deluxe, the fifth generation of Cat’s double wishbone suspension offers 7.3 inches of travel controlled by gas cell shocks. The steel skis are set apart at a 39-inch center-to-center stance, offering a ride more stable than some sleds in this class but not as stable as some of the wider-stanced (and higher priced) sleds further up the food chain. The skis come without carbide in their runners, meaning this sled won’t carve like a ZR or ZL, although the AWS design is still a joy when on a twisting trail. Personally, we’d add a bit of bite to the front end if we bought a Jag.
The rear suspension is the FasTrack Long Travel system. Thanks to the kink in the rear of the tunnel, known as the Extra Travel Tunnel, Cat is able to squeeze a ton of travel out of its FasTrack. They claim 13.5 inches of travel. The power is put to the ground through a 15- by 121- by .75-inch Camoplast track.
Standard equipment includes electric start, speedometer with hip meter, hand warmer, thumb warmer and a low oil light. The package does not include a tachometer, and the brake is a quick- adjust mechanical unit with a short flipper-type handle. The Jag Deluxe weighs in at 485 pounds, which makes it 18 pounds heavier than the standard Jag 440, thanks to the electric start.
Let’s pretend you’ve walked into Jake’s Arctic Cat, and we’re the sales people. Here’s our approach to this sled:
“How important is electric start to ya? Well, if it’s an important pail of your snowmobiling experience and you want a decent trail sled, then the Jag 440 Deluxe might be for you. If it’s not vital, however, would you ever consider a Z 440? The price is the same, and the performance and handling of 440 are exponentially better”
That’s it, in a nutshell. The Jag 440 Deluxe is decent sled and we’re sure Cat dealers will sell plenty of them. They serve their market well and can provide countless hours of snow fun.
But, by comparison, Cat’s Z 440 is a far superior sled. It has a much more powerful 440 motor (56 HP compared to 42), it has wider ski stance (read: better stability and handling), its rear suspension gets Cat’s Torque Sensing Link (which aids in coupling and improves overall ride quality), the secondary clutch is a roller-style (better back- shifting), the brake is the Wilwood hydraulic unit (a far superior brake) and you get plastic skis with carbide runners (lighter yet more precise). The Z 440 will be faster, more fun and better handling.
All of that being said, if you truly wanted to drop electric start out of the equation, the standard Jag 440 costs just $4,399 and, like the Jag 440 Deluxe, it’s a very nice trail machine that is worth some consideration.
What do we like about the Jag 440 Deluxe? The handling was fairly good, the ergonomics were near perfect and the rear and front suspensions gobbled up bumps admirably.
Dislikes? The narrow stance made the machine rather tippy, and the power was slight, to be polite. Also, the flipper-style brake handle has to be replaced — we found ourselves grabbing air far too many times.