Owners are the ones who truly put the machines through the paces in all conditions and riding styles.
We surveyed 2005 Arctic Cat M7 owners for their opinions of the sled after a season on the snow. We asked for ratings of all aspects of performance and solicited additional input.
What did owners have to say about the 2005 Snowmobile Of The Year, the 2005 Arctic Cat M7?
What Bob Helming of Wisdom, Montana, wrote seems to best capture what owners thought. “Anyone who has ridden an M7 knows they are years ahead in this class.”
Just because the 2005 Arctic Cat M7 is light, doesn’t make it a lightweight. The sled’s overall weight was one of the favorite feature of owners of this mountain sled. With a claimed 140 hp and 466 pounds, owners said they were able to maneuver well through the powder— with enough power.
“[The M7] is the best boondocking sled I’ve owned,” said an anonymous owner from Nebraska who described himself as mostly a boondocker and hillclimber.
Weight was at the top of Helming’s list as he added, “Less is best.”
Even better than light, the majority of owners said this sled had all the power they could have wanted when citing the power-to-weight ratio.
“It’s a strong, lightweight motor and sled with an excellent power-to-weight ratio,” said an anonymous owner from Minnesota.
When the 2005 Arctic Cat M7 hit the market for model year 2005, it was dressed with a new chassis and new styling.
Under the hood is the 698cc Suzuki case-reed twin. Its laydown engine design has its intake and exhaust ports on the same side of the engine for low placement.
Though the majority of owners commended the power of the M7, some noted low-end torque as a slight disappointment. On the 5-point scale with 1 as “poor” and 5 as “excellent,” the average rating of low-end power was 3.9. The highest-rated facet in the engine and drivetrain category was throttle response, which averaged a 4.8 rating.
According to the majority of M7 owners surveyed, the rider-forward positioning and overall ergonomics of the sled added significantly to the overall handling and maneuverability of the M7.
Theodore Mavencamp of Maple Lake, Minnesota, said the sled’s “excellent riding position” was the No. 1 best quality of the M7, followed by power and flotation in deep powder.
Attack The Track
M7 owners didn’t take many shots at their ride, but there was one jab that a large majority of them did hit the sled with.
More than 70 percent of owners surveyed noted the Attack 20 track as one of the things they liked least about the snowmobile.
“There is a lack of traction from the Attack 20 track on hard-packed trails and icy hills,” Mavencamp said.
Though Mavencamp was not alone in his criticism of the Attack 20 on the trails, there was an interesting flip side by owners.
On more than a few occasions, M7 owners listed the Attack 20 track as both what they liked best and what they liked least… depending on where they rode.
General consensus: The track was excellent in deep snow, and lousy on the trails.
“The Attack 20 track is somewhat unstable on hard pack trails, while great in soft snow,” said Al Born of Woodland Park, Colorado.
Another owner from Minnesota called the track “skittish” on the trails.
In deep, soft snow, owners sang praises for the track’s exceptional handling and reliability.
Some didn’t like the track in any conditions, though. “I’m not sold on the Attack 20,” said an anonymous owner from Montana. “I don’t like it.”
The Attack 20 Track is a conventional 15-inch wide shoe with a 2.25-inch lug. It is also reversible so as snow conditions set up in the spring, the track can be reversed for improved traction. According to owners, this feature proved useful in deep powder.
Arctic Cat seems to have picked up on the track issues as it has added the camoplast challenger as a track option for the 2006 models.
Most owners we surveyed listed powder riding as the type of riding they do the most. Additionally, trail riding was often listed as the second most frequent riding they do with the M7. While others noted that they own other sleds for the trail riding they do.
Powder and mountain riding being what most 2005 Arctic Cat M7 owners leaned on this sled for, the ergonomics and handling is very important to these riders.
“The M7 has a strong, lightweight motor, nice under-seat storage, and comfortable footwells and running boards,” said a Minnesota owner. “This sled was made for deep and steep and it does very well.”
On the 5-point scale, owners rated the M7’s steering and stability a 4.1 and 4.4, respectively. Handling at slow speeds (15 mph) received a 4.75 rating, the highest in the handling category. Handling at high speeds (50+ mph) got a 4.2 mark.
The front suspension’s shock adjustability logged one of the lowest scores with an average of 3.6. Owners seemed in agreement that adjustability must be improved in the suspension.
Some owners increased handling and steering by swapping out the stock skis. “The stock skis are acceptable,” said Born. “But the installation of Simmons skis markedly improved turning.”
Others wouldn’t have dared adjusting any element of the stock handling setup. “The M7 is light and turns on a dime,” said an owner from Alaska.
Head Of the class
Though there were a few kinks with the 2005 Arctic Cat M7, namely the Diamond Drive recall issue and some concerns with the Attack 20 track on trails, this machine is still the stand-out in the mountain class. It’s lightweight, agile and just plain fun. More than 95 percent of the owners we surveyed said this model met their expectations and that they would buy it again. The owners have spoken: If the 2005 M7 was looking at its report card, it would find an “A.”
25% — 16 or more years
13% — 11 to 15 years
25% — 7 to 10 years
37% — 4 to 6 years
50% — West
25% — Midwest
25% — East
Criteria Used When Purchasing
1. Own judgement
2. Familiarity with brand
3. Magazine reports
4. Dealer recommendations
Average Miles Driven Last Season
Top 5 Biggest Hits
2. Power-to-weight ratio
Top 5 Biggest Misses
1. Attack 20 Track on trails
2. Fuel consumption
3. Diamond Drive recalls
4. No electronic reverse
5. Low-end power
Most Desired Add-Ons
1. Better track
2. Electronic reverse
3. Adjustable front shocks
4. Better skis
Most Common Maintenance Issues
1. Diamond Drive recall
2. Clutch work
Riding comfort 4.3
Braking response 4.5
Standard instrumentation 4.4
Instrument positioning 4.5
Overall noise level 4.4
Styling attractiveness 4.6
Overall durability 4.1
Overall reliability 4.6
Fit and finish 4.0
FRONT SUSPENSION 4.2
Small bumps 4.5
Medium bumps 4.4
Large bumps 4.3
Shock performance 4.1
Shock adjustability 3.6
REAR SUSPENSION 4.1
Small bumps 4.5
Medium bumps 3.9
Large bumps 3.8
Rear suspension adjustability 4.3
Shock adjustability 3.9
Weight transfer 4.3
Cold weather starting 4.6
Cold engine starting 4.6
Fuel consumption 3.5
Oil consumption 3.8
Throttle response 4.8
Low-end power 3.9
Top-end speed 3.9
Clutch performance 4.4
Track performance 3.3