Product testing Speedwerx's clutch kit on Arctic Cat Crossfire R 8 snowmobile

Losing sucks. Especially after your mouth wrote a check your sled couldn’t cash.

Lake racing is part of the snowmobile culture, and it goes down every winter day between at least two competitive sled heads. Sadly for one of those guys, someone has to lose. But if that person is you, the difference between winning and losing might be as simple as a Speedwerx clutch kit.

Speedwerx has made a name for itself crafting exhaust components, engine packages and clutch kits for Arctic Cats. We spent a day last spring with Speedwerx General Manager Jeremy Houle at his shop in Forest Lake, Minnesota — and at a nearby lake where the company does a lot of its own testing — to see if he could speed up our 2009 Crossfire R 8 demo sled with a Hypershift clutch kit.

To make sure we’d get accurate baseline speeds and times to compare against clutch kit data, Houle checked clutch alignment and offset, and set the belt deflection before we ran the sled on the gun. In stock form, the sled’s best peak speed was 104.94 mph — hit on the first run. Its best quarter-mile speed was 99.99 mph on run 2, and its shortest time to go from zero to 60 mph was 3.35 seconds on run 3.

With the three passes recorded, we returned to the Speedwerx shop and installed the Hypershift Stage 2 clutch kit. The $410 package included Speedwerx adjustable machined weights, an H5 alloy drive spring, a Speedwerx compound radius helix and an Arctic Cat drive belt, which is “stickier,” Houle said, and runs 200 to 300 rpm lower at wide-open throttle than the stock belt. We used the stock secondary spring.

Just like it did with the stock clutches, our Cat registered its fastest peak speed of 109.02 mph during the first run with the Hypershift kit installed. Not only did we gain 5 mph over the stock setup, but it reached peak speed in less time! Quarter-mile, 1,000-foot, 660-foot and zero to 60 mph were best on run 1, too. Like most impromptu lake races, all of our passes were rolling starts from 10 mph to ensure a solid hook-up. Our sled had the stock track (14- by 128- by 1-inch) with 144 Fast Trac trail studs.

We used the clutch kit on trail rides for the rest of the season, too, and enjoyed a harder tug out of corners; an improvement that could be felt by the seat of our pants and is backed by data from the radar gun. Engagement was about 1000 rpm higher than stock, and with that came a harder “hit” at engagement that required a careful thumb to prevent track spin when maneuvering on bare, hard surfaces at gas stations or garages.

Clutch kits are popular modifications because snowmobilers can bolt them in and feel real gains for a few hundred bucks, and that’s a good return on investment; especially for smack-talking lake racers. If you want to increase your Cat’s odds to out run other sleds on a Saturday afternoon this winter, a Hypershift clutch kit from Speedwerx might help you cash more of the checks that your mouth so willfully writes.

— Andy Swanson

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