The past 10-plus days have been fun as I’ve taken four separate road trips to ride in northeast Minnesota – near Lake Superior – where there is enough snow for snowmobiling. My first ride of the season was on December 20, and a few days later I returned to near Two Harbors, Minnesota, and rode our 2016 Arctic Cat XF 6000 CrossTrek demo sled. Here are a few initial impressions about that sled.
• The new suspension calibrations that Arctic Cat engineers crafted up for 2016 really, really work and have made a noticeable improvement in ride quality. The rear suspension feels smoother, more compliant and generally more comfortable when the front arm encounters a bump or the upward slope of a hole. I encountered about a dozen bridges on the trail, and at most entrances and exits of the bridges, the trail was dug out slightly, so there was a small hole. I’d usually wince a little bit when riding through these holes with earlier ProCross-based sleds we’ve demo’d, but our 2016 CrossTrek gobbles up the holes very well. Engineers plugged in a dual-rate front track shock spring and new torsion springs with a lighter rate to achieve this better ride.
• Handling is mostly good and there seems to be the right balance of traction between the skis and the track. As usual with the ProCross chassis, our 2016 XF 6000 CrossTrek does a nice job of keeping its inside ski on or near the ground through turns, but there were occasions, like when leaning my thumb back into the throttle after riding through the apex of a turn, when the skis would get too light and they’d lose their positive connection with the snow. I have a new set of C&A Pro XCS skis queued up and ready to install on the sled, so I’m excited to see if those will sharpen up the front end without increasing steering effort. I will also stud the track.
• If a rider weren’t informed ahead of time that the 2016 XF 6000 CrossTrek has an all-new set of clutches, he or she wouldn’t know it by riding it. My point being: at this point, I haven’t noticed any distinguishable performance changes with the new TEAM Industries Rapid Response CVT System that was implemented on this, and many other 2016 Arctic Cat snowmobiles. I think the big advantage of the new pulleys will come after the sled has a few thousand miles and they can be inspected for wear. The previous clutch setup – especially the primary clutch – isn’t known for durability, but the new clutches appear to be well built. And since the system’s unveiling last winter, Arctic Cat engineers have said they are confident it will last for the life of the machine.
Happy new year! I’m planning to ride a few days over the holiday weekend, and hopefully you will, too. Next week I hope to spend some time at the SG shop to install studs and accessories on a few of our demo sleds.