Arctic Cat’s 2022 lineup that may appear familiar to green enthusiasts, but if you look beyond the side panels you’ll see that virtually every sled has been improved in some way for Cat’s 60th season – and there are quite a few new options as well.
There are new, lightweight clutches on all of its full-sized snowmobiles – from trail to crossover to mountain – plus electronic power steering on the Thundercat. There will also be more choices for spring buyers – as more folks get the option of push-button-control for their shock absorber settings, plus an array of “ship-with” kits.
There arealso new models to consider – including two new mid-sized Blast snowmobiles, a new M 8000 Hardcore option and more. Even the diminutive ZR 120 gets notable upgrades.
Cat will still be trying to get customers to spring-order their snowmobiles, yet there will be some in-season, base-level models available next fall at dealerships.
New Clutches For 2022
The new clutch system is referred to as the “ADAPT CVT system.” The main difference is in the primary clutch, which is more compact – both lighter and narrower.
“This is really an evolution of the CVT system,” explained Brian Dick, Cat’s director of product development. “It’s fully designed, engineered and tooled by Arctic Cat. It’s a lightweight clutch shaving more than a pound of weight from the current design, which results in less inertia, quicker revving and better throttle response.”
The design carries over many design features from the previous TEAM Industry clutches, including maintaining constant belt tension thanks to a roller bearing in the primary. The secondary clutch is also a new Arctic Cat design, though it is quite similar to the clutch it replaces. The new clutch will be on all of Cat’s 6000-, 8000- and 9000-series engines.
Thundercat With EPS
In a first, an Arctic Cat snowmobile is available with electronic power steering – and it’s the brand’s machine that could use it most: the ZR 9000 Thundercat.
The Thundercat and its sibling at Yamaha has caused quite a stir in the snowmobile market for its roughly 200 horsepower, turbocharged engine and lowered ride height that has made it a lake-racer special. However, having that big 998cc, three-cylinder, four-stroke and its hairdryer in it nose definitely affects the machine’s handling and steering effort when on a tight groomed trail. Power steering is a wonderful elixir – it notably lightens the steering and makes the sled easier to drive.
Like in the ATV market, a power steering mechanism is added within the steering system that provides varying levels of assistance based on the twisting force in the steering system and the speed of the vehicle – with more assistance at slower speeds when it needs it most and less assistance as speeds increase (and steering, by the nature of physics, gets lighter).
The power steering system adds weight to an already heavy vehicle, but in our recent testing at the 2022 Rode Reports, the machine actually feels lighter due to the lighter steering. Asked for specific specs, Dick didn’t have an exact figure on the system’s weight, “But what I can tell you is that personal experience makes it feel about 100 pounds lighter.” That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but the difference is notable.
The Thundercat can be ordered with or without power steering. The buyer also can choose between two shock packages – either Fox QS3 shocks that you’ve got to get off the machine to adjust or the Fox iQS3 shocks that are part of the Arctic Technology Adjustable to Conditions (ATAC) system that is control through the handlebar and gauge.
Other ZR Models
Shock choices find their way deeper into Cat’s full-size ZR trail lineup – which will all feature 137-inch tracks, Slide-Action rear suspension and ARS II ski suspensions in the ProCross chassis for 2022.
The ZR 8000 Limited powered by Cat’s second-generation 800 C-TEC2 engine can be ordered either with the aforementioned ATAC adjust-on-the-fly iQS shocks or the standard Fox QS3 clickers. The ZR 6000 Limited, meanwhile, is only available with manual QS3 shocks to go along with its 125-hp, 600-class C-TEC2 engine with dual-stage injection. Colors for ’22 are charcoal and orange or charcoal and green.
The hard-charging ZR 8000 RR is mostly unaltered except of course for the new clutches. A year after changing the ZR 6000 RR mid-stream to a 129-inch rear end and the original Arctic Race Suspension (ARS) front suspension geometry, Cat says it’s going back in 2022 to what it originally planned for the model for 2021 – a 137-inch rear and ARS II geometry up front. Both have highly adjustable, high-end Fox 1.5 Zero QS3-R shocks with Kashima coating on the front suspension and skid’s front arm, and a 2-inch bore version of the same shock on the rear arm. A higher-performance race brake, handguards and a short window complete the RR package.
From the youth segment, the popular ZR 200 returns unchanged except for three interesting graphics package options. The smaller ZR 120, though, gets the machined suspension rails and adjustable torsion springs introduced a year earlier on the ZR 200.
Shock Options For Riots, Too
After thinking about it, Cat officials realized their cross-over focused Riot snowmobiles might be perfect location for the ATAC adjust-on-the-fly suspension, so they added them as an option for 2022.
Utilizing not just the Soft, Medium and Firm settings that were originally available through the handlebar controls and gauge but more importantly the programmable Driver 1 and Driver 2 settings, a crossover rider can pre-tune to changing riding conditions, Dick said.
“I think these settings are really critical for what a crossover customer wants,” Dick explained. “He’s now going to be able to adjust that suspension for on-trail capability and then a separate off-trail capabilities. So he’ll have a couple of different choices there so he can make it stick on the corners and then when he gets off trail he can adjust the suspension so he’s on a setting that gives him the transfer and the playfulness when he’s in the backcountry. It’s pretty cool technology that really works very well in the crossover category.”
It’s be available on both the Riot X 8000 – which features Arctic Mountain Suspension (AMS) front end and the powder-driven Alpha One 146 single-beam rear suspension – and the base Riot – , runs a trail-width ARS II from end, a dual-rail CrossAction rear suspension and can be ordered with either the 600- or 800-twin.
There will be options for other shock package (IFP shocks or manual QS3s) as well on 800-class Riot and Riot X models; the Riot 6000 buyer it stuck with baseline IFP shocks.
M and Hardcore 8000s Mountain Sleds
The single-beam Alpha One single-beam rear suspension continues to dominate Cat’s deep-snow lineup for 2022. Aside from that, the most notable news is the new ADAPT clutching system plus new options for buyers.
In the M 8000 Mountain Cat lineup, the 154 now joins the 165 in having the available push-button ATAC shock control system – which in mountain sleds is particularly important because the Lockout mode for the rear shock is integrated into the system, helping prevent unplanned wheelies up steep grades. The Mountain Cats can also be ordered with standard QS3 shocks, plus either electric or manual start. All Mountain Cat tracks wear 3-inch lugs.
The M 8000 Hardcore lineup expands with a new 146-inch track option, which is essentially a Riot X with a narrower front end. It is only available with manual start. The hill-bashing, big-air M 8000 Hardcore 154 and 165 returned with the new clutches and the option of electric or manual start.
Blast Line Grows To 5
The Blast lineup – which features a roughly 7/8-size chassis and the surprising power from the 400-class, two-stroke single – grow from three to five models for 2022.
After unveiled the short-trail-burning Blast ZR 4000, utility-focused Blast LT 4000 and entry-level dee-snow Blast M 4000 for 2021, a new Blast XR 4000 and Blast XR Touring 4000 expand the lineup for ’22.
The XR – dubbed a “mid-sized crossover” – features a 146-inch track with 1.6-inch lugs that wraps around a long new rear suspension that is based upon the CrossAction geometry. It’s a dual-shock setup with adjustable torsion springs. Up front, the XR utilizes the same 38-inch front suspension found on last year’s Blasts (without an anti-sway bar).
The also-new XR Touring also utilizes a similar 146-inch rear end, but with overload springs and an articulating rear section so it can potentially carry a second passenger. Also to accommodate the challenges of twin-passenger riding, Cat designers gave the Touring the wider A-arms and an anti-sway bar – stretching the ski stance to 40 inches. These changes made the XR Touring a bit of a sweetheart sled at the 2022 Rode Reports – it handled surprising well riding solo or 2-up, but it might be rather cramped for two adult riders depending on who they are.
More details are available on the Arctic Cat website.
Editor’s Note: This review was originally published in the October 2020 issue of Snow Goer. Every issue of Snow Goer magazine includes in-depth sled reports and comparisons, aftermarket gear and accessories reviews, riding destination articles, do-it-yourself repair information, snowmobile technology and more! Subscribe to Snow Goer now to receive issues delivered to your door or your computer for a low cost.