We’re here to find out whether the 2008 Arctic Cat F1000 LXR will be a grand slam for Arctic Cat. Last season was the machine’s rookie year and it’s undergone a few updates and conditioning in the off-season to tune it up. The sled is exercising its $11,849 option this season.

Spring training is over, the season starts soon. Will the changes be enough to make this machine bat 1.000 this year? Last year’s model weighed in at 584 pounds, according to Snow Goer’s scales. Will its weight be a factor this year? Will it be able run the bases in a fluid motion? Does it possess the speed, the fun and finesse to make it an all-star? Let’s find out. Over to you, Lucky.

[Lucky] Thanks, Sparky. We’re reporting the notes and impressions the Snow Goer test crew gathered last March at Rode Reports in Grand Lake, Colorado.

The F1000 LXR comes back with a new swaybar mount, a recalibrated EFI, new clutching and a fancy new gauge. It wears No. 1000 on its side panels.

To tighten up the feel of the F1000’s front end, Cat engineers moved the swaybar mounts about an inch closer to the skis on each side. They did this, Sparky, to reduce body roll and improve overall handling … and it worked. The sled feels tighter and more precise than last year.

[Sparky] Well that’s good news, Lucky. Because the AWS VII front end didn’t handle very sharp last year, and I’m sure the Cat faithful will welcome a machine that feels more precise.

[Lucky] For sure. Other improvements up front include a new forged spindle. They look better and should be stronger, too. The suspensions get ACT IFP shocks all the way around.

[Sparky] Word out of the Cat factory is that a few updates were made to the F1000 LXR since Spring Training in Grand Lake.

[Lucky] You’re right, Sparky. Heavier weights are now spec’ed for the drive clutch to help the sled get out of the box quicker and the rear clutch has a new 46/40 helix. Not only has the drivetrain been re-worked, but the EFI system has been re-calibrated for better performance in any temperature or altitude.

[Sparky] OK. So the machine has received a few updates and it’s been fine tuned. Who is this machine’s ideal rider?

[Lucky] Well, Sparky, scouts said after extensive workouts and drills in Grand Lake last spring that the Twin Spar chassis is a great foundation for the LXR package and its buyer. The sled is big, it’s comfortable and it’s stable.

An F1000 LXR buyer is someone — likely a male — who wants a spacious, comfortable cab and lots of juice for the occasional squeeze to the bar that takes them well past the 100 mph mark. The 2008 Arctic Cat F1000 LXR is plush. Its ride, suspension and engine makes it a great cruiser.

[Sparky] Would you say the LXR package is more of a gentlemanly cruiser than, say, the Sno Pro package?

[Lucky] Oh, for sure, Sparky. For sure. The LXR has a softer ride and more creature comforts that many baby-boomer snowmobilers want.

This sled has electric start and the Infinite Rider Positioning system with the adjustable seat and handlebar. It also gets the less-aggressive 1-inch track, which should equate to a few more miles per hour over the Sno Pro’s taller lugs.

[Sparky] You said the machine is plush, Lucky. Are there specific attributes that make it so comfortable or is it the total package that makes it this way?

[Lucky] The sled is loaded with nice options, Sparky. From the custom-fit handlebars and seat to the mid-height windshield’s excellent wind protection. Fit and finish is nice, too. Going back to that word “plush,” Sparky. The seat is especially plush, but it tends to push riders too far forward. It’s too wide for smaller people, but it’s comfy against a driver’s back side — for sure.

The width complicates moving around in tight trails that require quick side-to-side transitions. Now, those transitions are still possible to do and owners will adjust to it, but it’s more cumbersome, without a doubt. As far as an overall feel, the sled feels big.

[Sparky] So from behind the bars of the machine, you say the F1000 LXR doesn’t have the typical compact “feel” of an Arctic Cat. But Cats have also known to drive and feel light. Does this sled feel clumsy like the Boston Red Sox’s designated hitter David Ortiz looks when he tries to beat out an infield hit?

[Lucky] Surprisingly not, Sparky. When underway, it feels light, especially for a 1000cc machine. The test drivers could have steered it with one finger, they said. But when they got into a few bumps, it wasn’t very willing to come off the ground.

[Sparky] Cat loyalists really beat their chests a year ago when the new Suzuki 1000cc twin came out. It did well at grass drags last fall and seemed to have a lot of promise. How do the testers think the engine worked this spring in Grand Lake?

[Lucky] They said the engine has grunt, which is expected from a big two-stroke. It doesn’t have the high-pitched whine and peakiness of other recent high-horse, two-stroke engines from Cat. This engine’s power is more linear with a steadier pull to high speeds.

It gets up there quickly, too, but at the same time there’s a lack of excitement in the powerband. Even though the test rides were at an altitude around 8,500 feet, the engine felt lazier and more handicapped than a 1000cc twin should have.

[Sparky] If I catch your drift, Lucky, you’re saying a few aftermarket steroids might be in order.

[Lucky] I don’t know, Sparky, but maybe the testers’ time spent with the Ski-Doo Mach Z the past few seasons has convinced them there needs to be a hard hit of arm stretch somewhere north of 5,000 rpm.

[Sparky] Another new feature we haven’t talked about yet is the new Deluxe gauge. It’s standard on the F1000 LXR.

[Lucky] I’m glad you brought that up, Sparky. This sled has excellent instrumentation that’s clear as a center-field scoreboard while underway and it includes an altimeter, which is a fun feature.

[Sparky] OK. We’ve talked plenty about the machine’s engine, its features and its creature comforts, but we’ve only touched on its handling capabilities. Give us a good feel for it on the trail.

[Lucky] At medium speeds, the handling is great. At high speeds, the front end pushes. A more-aggressive set of skis and shorter limiter strap would help, but it proves this chassis is a better cruiser than a trail scorcher. Keep in mind, Sparky, that a progressive front track shock coil spring will be on production machines to improve the sled’s turning ability, but it wasn’t on Snow Goer’s machine last spring, so they can’t say whether it made an improvement.

Back to maneuverability, Sparky, this sled needs lots of room to turn around. Its turning radius is downright horrible. On full-lock right turns the brake handle hit the windshield.

[Sparky] What about its ride quality. Is it calibrated correctly for its buyer?

[Lucky] It’s safe to say the suspensions are set up well. They were plush for about every condition the scouts put it through. The front end might be easy to crash through, but in terms of bump sucking it performed great.

There’s little to complain about in the rear other than it being slow to rebound when hitting bumps hard. But again, that isn’t where this machine is positioned in Cat’s lineup.

[Sparky] So in summary, Lucky, it sounds like the 2008 Arctic Cat F1000 LXR is a good sled, especially for folks who like to grab a handful of throttle when the trail straightens out. Now that the 2008 season will soon open, it’ll be interesting to see if this high-buck player will meet the expectations of its owners.

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