The new Catalyst chassis platform from Arctic Cat got a rousing introduction Saturday, September 10, with its unveiling before the crowd at the 2022 Hay Days Grass Drags and Swap Meet near North Branch, Minnesota, in front of a monstrous crowd.
Deemed as lighter, more responsive and more centralized than the previous ProCross chassis, the new Catalyst chassis will be available for model year 2024 in trail (ZR), crossover (Riot) and Mountain (M) machines, Cat officials said, with an interesting catch. For that model year, it will only be available with a 600-class twin two-stroke between the narrow body panels.
The 2024 models will utilize an updated version of Cat’s 600. “We have a higher displacement engine that will follow the next year,” said Troy Halvorson, Cat’s director of snowmobile product strategy, referring to model year 2025. “When it comes out it’s going to be the best two-stroke out there but it’s not ready yet.”
Friday evening, Cat officials gave assembled snowmobile media members a sneak-peek, up-close-and-personal introduction to the long-awaited chassis platform. Frankly, there are things at this moment we can’t share – Arctic Cat slapped a hard embargo on certain information and boxed-in what we and others at the meeting can talk about at this moment. They plan to trickle information out to consumers over a period of time.
So, we’ll tell you what we can below.
Interesting New Features
The three sleds we saw in the Catalyst platform looked angular, compact and highly refreshed. Yet they were also familiar, with a slightly update versions of Cat’s current signature widely spaced A-arm front suspensions, along with carryover switches on the handlebars and – particularly for the green ZR R-XC and red and black Riot – some traditional-looking colors and graphics.
Our eyes were drawn, though, to what was new. As a glance the front profile of the sled looks narrower, with tighter fitting body panels, a sleeker nose and even a narrower windshield/gauge area. The headlight design is also new, featuring what Cat officials referred to as a “raised eyebrow” that sticks up about the rest of the light on the driver’s left side. The models were wearing a smaller, single-screen gauge.
Moving up the side of the sled, the running boards grabbed our attention. The part riders stand or rest their feet on is made of a sturdy composite material instead of aluminum. That material attaches to the tunnel on the inside, with an outer tubular rail that we’re guessing is made of aluminum holding it up on the outer edge. The running boards feature wide evacuation holes.
More secrets are found under the hood, but we can’t talk about any of them. Cat is allowing us to let you in on its use of a belt-based final drive instead of a chaincase. That’s something that’s been done on mountain sleds by Polaris for some time now, but this will be a first in the modern era for trail and crossover sleds.
Walking around the back of the sleds, they feature version familiar looking suspension systems – basically a Slide-Action replica in the ZR, a CrossAction in the Riot and a Alpha in the M – with carryover track designs as well. Cat assured us that weight was taken out of the suspensions and pretty much ever other system on the sled, though.
On top of the tunnel in the rear are new accessory attachment brackets, called Cat’s ATACH system. At a glance, they are basically a unique take on what Ski-Doo has now long offered with its LinQ brackets and what some aftermarket companies have also been doing recently.
Cat engineers and designers at the media event talked in broad terms about a big weight loss, but numbers were not released. We’re told it is a substantial amount, however, and the steps taken to centralize mass are also impactful, they said.
The 600 engine being used is an updated version of Cat’s current 600, with a new EFI system as well as a new crankshaft, but it retains Cat’s basic laydown engine geometry.
The Cat Claims
Cat had a couple of their engineers and racers at the media event to sing the praises of the new machines that they tested. Ergonomically, the rider was moved forward a bit while the engine was moved back a bit – that goes to the mass centralization.
Below are the bullet points Cat used to tell us what we can share with you at this point, complete with marketing spins. We are eager to check out the claims for ourselves in the future.
CAT OUTLINE BELOW:
Centralized Design for More Responsive Handling
- The centralized design makes the operator the active force and requires less rider effort to corner and carve, giving riders more control than ever before.
- The laydown engine design allows for mass centralization
Lightweight for Maximum Maneuverability
- The optimized design with fewer parts utilizes different composite materials, providing a drastic weight reduction for Trail, Crossover, and Mountain, making it one of the lightest platforms available.
Durable and Easy to Service
- The new drive system is belt-driven, unlike the current chain drive, resulting in fewer parts and allowing more power to the track with increased durability.
- The plastic panels’ toolless design allows for easy removal and greater access to key components such as the belt, oil reservoir and coolant.
- The new seat is easily removable with a quarter turn for easy battery access to.
Improved Ergonomics for a More Comfortable Ride
- The ergonomics, coupled with a narrower and centralized design, provides an agile, easily maneuverable sled that minimizes rider fatigue and makes the operator a more confident rider. A more ergonomic design allows the rider to become one with the sled.
All-New High-End Styling
- The platform’s aggressive exterior continues Arctic Cat’s heritage of creating state-of-the-art, cutting-edge snowmobiles. Its sleek, aerodynamic, and agile look with a unique LED headlight complements the innovation found inside.
- Sliding lap joints provide seamless transitions in plastic for better fit and finish.
Optimized Suspension and Steering for Different Riding Styles and Segments
- Optimized suspension and steering provide use-specific systems based on segment.
- The suspension and steering systems are differentiated based on Mountain, Trail and Crossover segments where needed to provide better performance in varying conditions, but commonality was kept where it made sense, so the platform works for all segments.
- The geometry changes, paired with the new suspension, give the rider a more position-reactive sled and improved cornering for a more confidence-inspiring, agile ride experience. The sled works in tandem with the rider instead of the rider muscling the sled.
First Integrated Accessory Mounting System for Added Security
- Available for the platform is the new ATACH the first integrated accessory mounting system that allows for a quick and easy lockdown. To prevent theft, the system comes with a set of keys that will allow you to physically lock your accessories to your sled.
Editor’s Note: 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! This story is from the November 2021 issue’s Cold Tested department. Subscribe to Snow Goer now to receive issues delivered to your door or your computer for a low cost.