Now that the 2016 snowmobiles have been released by Arctic Cat, Polaris, Ski-Doo and Yamaha (as well as the Scandinavian Lynx), it’s a good time to flashback 20 years to the 1996 models. The Snow Goer Snowmobile Of The Year that year was the Ski-Doo MX Z 583 — click here to read that article. Below are some of the Snow Goer Top 10 sleds from 1996. Which did you own or ride?
Click here to read Part 2 of the 1996 Top Sleds series.
1996 Arctic Cat ZRT 600
It’s the hottest Arctic Cat on the snow this winter, with a high tech engine, a sharp new look and the hard-earned and fast-growing reputation of a winner. We’re talking, of course, about the ZRT 600 from Arctic Cat.
The ZRT 600 is a hard-driving trail runner’s dream, with an aggressive setup and a super powerful engine that should dominate its class in drag racing for some time to come. The setup includes the precise steering of the A WS IV double-wishbone front suspension, with its 6 inches of travel, and the trail taming of the FasTrack rear, with 8.5 inches of travel. Combined, the system can carve up any trail and make the rider feel like he or she is in the seat of a sports car.
That sporty feel is enhanced when the person in the saddle pushes the throttle toward the handlebar. This sucker smokes, with 125 HP out of the box and a seemingly infinite ability for those who like to build horsepower from there. The engine is a Suzuki special, a reed-valve inducted three holer with the cylinders canted 15 degrees forward and flat top pistons. A trio of 36mm carbs are there at feeding time, and a set of triple pipes clears away the exhaust.
Yamaha Vmax 500 XT
We’ve been singing the praises of the Proaction Plus rear suspension all year, and now we make it official. The Yamaha Vmax 500 XT is a very worthy addition to the Snow Goer Top 10, based largely on the rear suspension alone.
Yes, we’ve always liked the 500cc Yamaha motor as well as the fit and finish of this machine. The motor is incredibly smooth and now transfers power through the equally smooth YVX clutching system. If quality had a sound, it would sound like this.
The fit and finish also stay in the “top notch” category. Yamaha officials say they want their machines to gain the reputation of being the Lexus of snowmobiling. With the many quality features and great looks of this machine, they are gaining on their goal.
Where Yamaha has lacked in recent years, however, is in the ride quality department. But now they have created a terrific rear suspension that stands above anything else being produced by the snowmobile manufacturers. The Proaction Plus rear suspension is really that good, offering a superior ride at any speed on any bump size. More than 10 inches of high quality vertical travel keeps the rider in control and the track in contact with the ground.
For a trail rider seeking high quality, Yamaha now has a strong contender in their Vmax 500 XT.