As Snow Goer celebrates the 50th anniversary of its founding, we’ll occasionally share articles from the magazine’s colorful past. The review of the 1976 Massey Cyclone snowmobile came after the Massey-Ferguson company (a) dropped the Ski-Whiz brand name and went simply with Massey and (2) started contracting with Scorpion to build its sleds. And, it came after Scorpion bought Brutanza, it’s a truly a sled that has parts from three brand. It was published in the January 1976 issue of Snow Goer, with opinions based on the magazine’s tests of pre-production models the previous spring in Colorado. Also a part of the Snow Goer 50th Anniversary celebration is the Get Up & Go Sweepstakes. Make sure to enter to earn a chance to win a 2017 Ski-Doo Renegade Adrenaline 850 E-TEC snowmobile, a two-place Triton trailer, power tools from Makita, a helmet from BRP, Dennis Kirk gift certificates and other great prizes. Click here for details.
Massey Cyclone 440
Massey Builds A Liquid-Cooled Sports Sled
This year the original Brooten water pumper of snowmobile history is available from your local trustworthy Massey dealer in the Massey Cyclone. The history of the Cyclone’s liquid-cooled Brooten engine stretches back about four years. The first liquid-cooled production snowmobile engine was the work of a group of snowmobile engineers at Brutanza Engineering in Brooten, Minnesota. Developer of the Brut and later president of Brutanza, former Polaris engineer Gerry Reese, was among the first to envision the inherent advantages of liquid cooling. These included being able to lay the engine forward for lower center of gravity, stretching engine life by eliminating temperature extremes and last, but not least, as an aid in reducing sound levels.
A liquid-cooled engine was developed by Brutanza with help from Japan and a sled was designed around it in the tradition of the best cross-country engineering available. What resulted was a unique machine, somewhat temperamental, that made an occasional win in the cross country competition it was designed to wipe out.
Most dealers handling the Brut also handled one or more lines and rarely counted on Brut sales to pay the overhead.
Then a couple of years ago, the small struggling Brutanza, Inc., ran into a clutch warranty problem that virtually put them out of business. The company, some of its key personnel and all engineering designs, were bought by Scorpion just a little more than a year ago. Gerry Reese became Scorpion’s director of engineering.
As you run through the ’76 offerings, you’ll note the Cyclone name is also used for this season by Deere, who ironically is also offering a liquid-cooled sled for the first time. [The John Deere] Cyclone for ’76 is a fan-cooled, and the Deere liquid is called the Liquifire. Meanwhile Rupp is also producing ifs top-of-the-line high performance Nitro in a liquid-cooled version for ’76.
Less than a year later, Massey and Scorpion signed an agreement whereby Scorpion would build to Massey’s specifications the agricultural giant’s entire line of ’76 snowmobiles. In addition to the revamped liquid-cooled Cyclone, Massey offers a 340 and 440 version of the Para-Rail equipped Whirlwind, plus a 295cc, an economy lightweight, the Chinook.
With a thoroughness typical of Massey-Ferguson, the company incorporated important changes in the Cyclone before putting it in the Massey line-up for ’76. Its engine – offered in 340 and 440cc sizes – has newly calibrated dual Mikuni float carbs; cooling hoses have been relocated to correct some old interference problems, and in place of the Brooten’s temp gauge is a temperature warning indicator light.
On the rest of the sled, skis have new French-made tapered leaf springs; steering geometry has been altered to improve handling, and its Power Pac clutch has a new generation of internal working parts. Plus a wheel kit for its steel slide rail suspension is now standard equipment, and the whole sled has been given a once-over by Massey stylists. It has new handlebars, plus a new styling complete with new color and accents.
Massey representatives do not consider the sled a high performance snowmobile. Rather, they prefer to label it a “performance-plus” sled. The Cyclone did make a rather respectable showing in SNOW GOER mechanical tests this year. It was clocked at 59 mph in the quarter-mile; churned out 15.8 maximum horsepower, delivered to the track at 52 mph; and displayed extremely stable tipover readings of 45 and 42 degrees left and right.
A quick check of the machine revealed: a low, forward-slung, twin-cylinder, liquid-cooled engine mounted on an all-aluminum chassis, fired by breaker point ignition and transmitting power through an engine-mounted, stress-reducing jackshaft to a Gates Powerbite poly-track 15.5 inches wide, running under a rigid steel slide rail.
It also had floating caliper disc brakes, fiberglass belly pan, 5-gal. mid-mounted gas tank, adjustable handlebars and standard lighted tach and speedo. With improved showing for ’76, we were anxious to see if the sled’s trail handling capabilities were likewise improved. On heavily moguled mountain trails, the Cyclone displayed the same strong-minded tendency for straightahead “go-for-hell” performance which was bred into this set of iron right from the start.
We found the Cyclone’s steering relatively hard. This was coupled with rather uncivilized handling to all but flat running, plus a shortage of leg room. However, with 77.4 db(A) full throttle from 50 feet, the sled’s sound level has improved. Also it demonstrated itself to be a miser on fuel. Its 19 mpg was almost twice as good as a number of other high-performance sleds in Colorado tests.
For ’76, the Cyclone will be offered equipped not only with the Brooten twin cylinder 340 we rode, but as before, with a 440cc three cylinder with CD ignition and three Mikuni carburetors. As a reflection of its history, most of the options offered for both Massey Cyclone models have cross-country racing in mind. You can get an 8 rather than 5-gal. tank, enduro seat and performance gear packages. The one thing you can bank on getting with the Cyclone, however, is a fairly unique set of liquid-cooled engineering.
When the cooling concept was first introduced by Brutanza Engineering, this sled employed an auto-type radiator for cooling which was later abandoned and replaced by extrusions both under and outside the tunnel, a system reportedly patented by the Brooten engineers. Interestingly, the Rupp Nitro for ’76 uses the auto-type radiator which the Brooten engine started out with, while for the Liquifire, engineers from Deere have opted to use under-tunneI extrusions only for cooling. Which cooling principle will survive as “the best” is an engineer’s argument at this point.
Simply put, the Cyclone, because of its basic trail personality, is not our favorite sled of all time. Regardless of how we view its trail behavior, the Cyclone offers a time-proven, liquid-cooled Brooten powerplant that may not be ahead of its time as it was four years ago, but remains even with contemporary designs through Massey’s careful updating . The biggest point in the Cyclone’s favor is Massey’s superior reputation in the area of parts and service. Whether you opt for the performance-plus Cyclone, the smooth riding Whirlwind, or the economical Chinook, you know that you can count on your Massey dealer being in business with parts and service in the years ahead.