2018 Arctic Cats: New 800, Revised Ms & A New Tweener Sled

2018 Arctic Cat M 8000
2018 Arctic Cat M 8000 Mountain Cat in the Ascender platform.

On February 1, Arctic Cat released news on two new models featuring its new domestic 800 C-TEC twin. Today, news of the full 2018 Arctic Cat lineup is out, clarifying exactly what the brand has up its sleeve for the coming year, and it includes great news for mountain riders, those looking for “tweener” sleds and people who want less maintenance responsibilities.

The new 800 signals the near-end to the Arctic Cat/Suzuki partnership, as the 500cc Suzuki two-stroke twin and the 1100cc four-stroke Suzuki triple were both dumped for 2018. Only the fan-cooled 565 Suzuki twin remains. Click here to read the full story on that engine.

Meanwhile, Cat gave its mountain sleds a fresh look, is bringing out a new utility beast, and has revised bodywork for many models and clutches that automati­cally set belt tension. Plus, there’s a new 200-class “tweener” sled that Cat hopes will keep youth engaged in the market when they outgrow their 120s.

Let’s start with a deeper dive on that new 800 twin engine with dual-stage injection (DSI), which Arctic Cat says is in the 160 hp class.

The New 800

To review the DSI fuel system, gasoline is injected between the piston crown and cylinder head at low RPM, but when the engine load increases and more fuel is required, fuel also shoots through a slot in the side of the piston.

2018 Arctic Cat ZR 6000 El Tigre
2018 Arctic Cat ZR 6000 El Tigre

The new laydown engine – which has the intake and exhausts ports on the same side of the cylinders – displaces 794cc, with the same 85 mm bore, 70 mm stroke and overall weight as the Suzuki engine it replaces, Arctic Cat officials said.

New-to-Cat technologies on the 8000 Series engine include a three-stage variable exhaust system with each cylinder sporting one main center valve and a smaller, drum-shaped valve on each side of the center valve. The exhaust valves cycle during engine shut down to release cylinder pressure and make the engine easier to turn over during start-up. The intake has “W” shaped fiberglass reeds and 50 mm throttle bodies, while the exhaust features a stainless steel Y pipe and a ceramic-coated silencer that debuted on last year’s M 8000 models.

Also unique to the new 800cc C-TEC2 engine is a fuel damper on the fuel rail to help balance pulsations for more-consistent fuel pressure and better overall run quality. The new 800cc powerplant gets oil from an electronic oil pump, which is passively lubricated by oil that is gravity fed from the reservoir.

Arctic Cat snowmobile product manager Troy Halvorson described the 800cc C-TEC2 as a more-refined engine package than the Suzuki 800 H.O with a 36 percent increase in torque when running less than 5000 rpm and an 18 percent boost when running be­tween 5000 and 6000 rpm. Fuel and oil consumption should be better, too, with Halvorson claiming up to a 30 percent reduction in oil use when riding slower than 35 mph, and 27 percent less oil con­sumption between 35 and 65 mph. That all results in crisper and better all-around performance from the engine.

2018 Arctic Cat ZR 6000 129 Sno Pro
2018 Arctic Cat ZR 6000 129 Sno Pro

ZR 200: The New Transitional Youth Model

“The grassroots of the snowmobile industry starts here,” said Halvorson during his presentation about the all-new ZR 200, aimed at creating “new space” for riders ages 6 to 12 years old.

Thanks to a taller steering post, among other features, the ZR 200 is de­signed for kids who have outgrown their 120cc sled, but aren’t yet ready to ride a full-sized adult sled.

2018 Arctic Cat ZR 200
The 2018 Arctic Cat ZR 200 leads the way — it’s a small, trail-legal snowmobile.

Power from the 9 hp Yamaha engine transfers through a set of small but conventional-style RPM- and torque-sensing clutches that were specifically designed for the little ZR. The 200’s gearcase has a belt so there’s no chain to adjust or oil to change or leak. Top speed is about 35 mph, Halvorson said, and hand warmers are standard.

Traction is provided by a 10- by 93- by 1-inch Cobra track. The ZR 200 will meet the same Snowmobile Safety and Certification Committee regulations as full-size sleds, meaning it will be legal for trail use.

Updated Clutches, New Bodywork & More

Changes to all 2018 high-perfor­mance and mountain sleds with 6000, 7000 or 8000 Series engines – except for the Bearcat 7000 XT – include the Rapid Response II drive clutch that features a bearing on the center post. It allows the belt to be pulled tight without the sheaves grabbing the belt and making the sled creep forward. This system debuted on 2017 Arctic Cat 9000 Series models.

Belt tension is automatically con­trolled within the secondary clutch, relieving owners and mechanics of this maintenance procedure. This means the belt deflection will always be within spec, enabling the optimum starting gear ratio for peak low-end per­formance, plus smooth engagements and reduced belt wear.


All 6000 and 8000 ZR and XF models also get new bodywork, and El Tigré, Limited and RR models will have an LED headlight – features that also debuted on last year’s 9000 Series machines. The body offers better fit and finish, improved airflow to the clutches, easier removal and installation and a fresh appearance. The tip-out panels also make it easier to access the oil reservoir and clutches.

For The Mountains: Skinnier, Lighter M Series Ascender

Arctic Cat has something new for deep-snow riders, too.

In addition to the new engine and TEAM Rapid Response II clutches, all 6000 and 8000 Series M models will have a narrower body along with a new platform label. It’s called Ascender and it features Next-Gen Mountain bodywork, which is different than the new plastic used on many 2018 Arctic Cat trail sleds, and 3 inches narrower than the original ProClimb plastics.

The new body was incorporated not only to clean up the fit and finish and refresh the styling, but also to improve performance by keeping the body off of the uphill slope when sidehilling.

Engineers took features that debuted on the 2017 Arctic Cat M 8000 Moun­tain Cat and M 9000 King Cat to build the Ascender platform. They include narrower running boards, a driveshaft positioned 1 inch lower and 0.75 inch farther back and a revised nosepan shape.

The Fox FLOAT 3 rear track shock was lengthened 1 inch to provide more air volume for a suppler ride quality early in the compression stroke, and the FLOAT 3 ski shocks also were re­vised to gain more air volume. Moun­tain Cat models will have an all-new Fox FLOAT QSL rear track shock that has three compression settings: Setting 1 is for light compression re­sistance; 2 is firmer and the “L” setting significantly limits compression to help keep the skis down and improve overall performance in deep-snow conditions. The switch is similar to the one used on Fox Quick Switch 3 (QS3) shocks that debuted in 2016, allowing for fast and easy adjustments.

2018 Arctic Cat Norseman
2018 Arctic Cat Norseman

Sleds For Work & Play

Arctic Cat’s factory in Thief River Falls, Minnesota, has been building full-sized snowmobiles for Yamaha since 2014, but the roles will be reversed for one 2018 model.

The new Bearcat XT will be built in Japan and powered by Yamaha’s 540cc, fan-cooled twin with flat-slide carbure­tors. The machine, which is virtually a twin of the Yamaha VK540 workhorse, features a transmission with high/low range and a 20- by 1.6- by 156-inch Co­bra track. Also new in the utility category is the Norseman, but like the Polaris Voyageur and Ski-Doo models like the Tundra Xtreme or Expedition Xtreme, Arctic Cat officially classifies it as a sport/utility snowmobile designed for work and play.

Norseman models feature the same track as the Bearcat XT, but with an ar­ticulating rear suspension for better off-trail maneuverability – especially when traveling in reverse. Other features include a rear rack, mountain handlebar with strap and tall riser. Engine options are the 3000 Series four-stroke or the 6000 Series two-stroke.

Other Lineup Updates

In typical fashion for Arctic Cat, there is a list of updates for model year 2018 that don’t necessarily grab the headlines, but are worth mentioning. They include:

  • All front bumpers on ProCross-and ProClimb-based models will be the same with the simpler, single-tube design.
  • 600 and 800cc models will have belts with a new compound referred to as “high-modulus” that will help reduce heat.
  • No changes were made to the suspension packages, but ZR 3000 models will have less-costly twin-tube steel shocks. These shocks replace the aluminum monotube dampers.
  • The small bag that was barely big enough to hold a spare drive belt is gone from all models except for those powered by 3000 and 7000 Series engines. A larger, semi-rigid tunnel bag will replace the oval-shaped bag.
  • The ZR 6000 RR has been replaced by the ZR 6000 XC, which will be Arctic Cat’s official cross-country race sled for 2018.




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