Every year, the manufacturers give Snow Goer a fleet of brand new demo snowmobiles to ride all season long. And I’ll come right out and admit that, yes, it is one helluva sweet deal that three of the manufacturers sets us up with two sleds of our choosing, Yamaha loans us one, and its people determine the model. We use the sleds for product testing, machine evaluation stories, tour stories and generally promoting the great sport of snowmobiling.
It would be really difficult to write a snowmobile magazine that talks about all the great, new technologies the sport has to offer without actually riding and using those new machines and the associated apparel and accessories. And I can assure you that it would be impossible for a snowmobile magazine these days to purchase eight sleds, trailers, a few hundred studs, suspension packages, aftermarket skis, fancy new jackets, more than 25 gallons of injection oil, spare drive belts, wear bars and the like in one season and still turn a profit. Some snowmobile magazines printed their own money 15 years ago when the sled business was booming, but economic conditions have changed, dramatically. But I digress …
For 2012, we ordered from Arctic Cat a F 800 Sno Pro in the orange color scheme because the body-color spindles and A-arms on the green one were too bold for your quiet Snow Goer staff that prefers to make a more subtle entrance at trailside shelters or lunch stops …
Here are a few reasons why I’m excited to ride our 2012 Arctic Cat F 800 Sno Pro:
Twin Spar F8 machines always felt big to me. The seat is wide up near the gas tank and so is the console. It’s no secret that the F’s were big and heavy, but the new F 800 is built on the lighter, simpler ProCross platform that has fewer parts. I’m small, so I prefer light machines because they’re easier to ride and control, and they don’t tap as deeply into my energy reserves;
The Suzuki H.O. 800 has been a strong runner since it came out in 2009, but now that it’s been dropped in the new chassis, the 160-horse ‘Zook feels especially quick on its feet at clutch engagement. Not only does it feel more responsive, but the exhaust sounds cleaner and crisper, contributing to a better overall riding experience;
I’m curious to see how, or if, the production F 800 Sno Pro setup will differ from what we rode last spring, specifically its ride and handling. The front end didn’t carve as well as I’d hoped it would and low-speed compression damping from the suspension was too firm. I’m really confident that the right parts are there, but it’s probably safe to say chassis and suspension calibrations weren’t nailed down yet. Will the final version be dialed in? I can’t wait to find out in about five months when I ride our demo.
Keep checking back here to read why I’m excited to ride the other 2012 Snow Goer demo sleds. We have seven machines on order, so there’s fodder for me to write about.
— Andy Swanson, Snow Goer magazine managing editor