A fellow editor here at the Good Sam Family (or Affinity Group, Affinity Powersports Media, Ehlert Publishing Group or whatever we call ourselves these days …), Tom Kaiser of ATV Magazine and Snow Goer, recently wrote a blog about his dream ATVs. In it, Kaiser tells what he thinks each ATV manufacturer should realistically build and bring to market. Call me lazy for not coming up with my own topic, but I can’t pass up this opportunity to sit behind the product manager’s desks and dream about the sleds I think the Big Four should build. Thanks for the idea, Tom. This week I’ll cover Arctic Cat and Ski-Doo; come back next week to read about my wishes for sleds to come from Polaris and Yamaha.
Cat’s 2012 lineup has an obvious void without a 600cc two-stroke, so I have a hunch we’ll see an extremely limited number of F600 DI Sno Pro sleds this winter (though one reliable source tells me not to get my hopes up). Arctic Cat is riding a wave created by what is arguably the company’s biggest snowmobile product launch in its 50-year history. Rightfully so. People are richly excited about the new Cats because they, without question, more closely match the lightweight performance for which the Arctic Cat snowmobile brand is known than did the Twin Spar chassis it replaces. The new F600 should feature a new 600cc two-stroke engine — the Suzuki Cat has used in its Sno Pro 600 for the past few years or a version of it — and a new direct-injection dino juice system. Graphics could be the 50th Anniversary package that was available on some models this spring, or maybe because this sled will be so hot and so special it will get it’s own vinyl? It could be suspended by Fox FLOAT R Evol shocks, but with a new engine and fuel induction system, there already are two MAJOR reasons to buy, so why overfill the applecart? This sled could come out in December or January as a late 2012, or perhaps it will be an early 2013. If you want one you’ll need to hustle and don’t expect a deal. I’d bet that Cat will limit production to 300 units, and every sled will pull absolute top dollar.
Ski-Doo sleds represent the most diverse portfolio, with sleds to suit every rider. Finding a hole in its lineup is difficult because its model list is 60 lines long. But my solution to improve the Ski-Doo brand lies within the ACE powerplant. I admit that a prediction to expand this four-stroke platform isn’t original because Ski-Doo came right out and said the ACE 600 was the first of a family of engines, but the question is how will it expand? That 60 hp engine that came out for 2011 is quiet, it gets incredible fuel economy and it’s a good runner, but, like many other snowmobilers, I’m a guy who likes to feel performance when I squeeze the fun flipper, so I want more torque from the ACE platform. With more horsepower, I’ll feel more torque. We speculated in the Spring 2011 issue of Snow Goer that Ski-Doo would come out with a charged version of the ACE or perhaps an 850. I’m going to stick with that as my wish to come from Ski-Doo, though if I had my choice I’d prefer a normally aspirated engine, because bolting on turbo or a supercharger is almost like cheating. I want “honest” horsepower. So hopefully we’ll soon get a quiet and economical twin-cylinder, four-stroke Rotax with more torque that makes riders giggle in their helmets.