A Staff Sled Review is usually doled out to the Snow Goer editor who rode the machine more often than anyone else, or, for one reason or another, had the most notable experience with it.
I spent several days late last winter boondocking through Michigan’s U.P. on board our 2006 Arctic Cat Crossfire 7 EFI Sno Pro, so it makes sense that my thoughts about the bright-orange sled end up on paper.
Engine performance was as expected from the 699cc, two-stroke screamer. The 140 hp engine ran strong and clean up top. Drivers felt that they could run down almost any sled if they just pushed the Suzuki twin’s throttle flipper closer to the handlebar. Low- to mid-range power wasn’t as sweet.
Like other laydown-powered Arctic Cats we’ve ridden since 2003, our Crossfire’s engine powerband was narrow. It didn’t have the snort down low. Throttle response out-of-the-hole was flat.
Some performance shops we’ve talked with think the malady is due to clutching, others say it’s fuel related. Still others say the characteristic is inherent in the engine’s design; one that sacrifices low- and mid-range power to produce a lot of peak horsepower.
If the air was brutally cold, the Crossfire served as our electric blanket. Its broad-yet-stylish windshield and protective cab kept riders out of the elements. The tall, wide, hooked handlebars with a mountain strap in the middle provided good control, especially during off-trail excursions.
More points on the comfort scale are awarded for the sled’s firm, supportive seat and sculpted fuel tank. Riders could easily slide from side to side to navigate through switchback turns.
In addition to the fact the Crossfire had a wide turning radius, the front end didn’t bite well enough to make tight, off-trail turns that another brand’s hybrid sled could. We often had to jump off and pull the front end around while the other guy took off down the snow-covered logging road.
Off-trail maneuverability at slow speeds improved a bunch after we bolted on a set of Slydog Powderhound skis. Front-end traction on the trails was OK with the stock skis but it was better with the aftermarket skis.
The sled’s long wheelbase not only made it more capable in deep snow, it helped make it more stable through rough trails. The 136-inch track bridged the bumps and helped offer a good ride.
Suspensions in Arctic Cat Sno Pro models are usually so stiff that full travel can’t be used. But the ACT gas shocks out back, which included the upgraded 2-inch diameter damper on the rear torque arm, worked well to absorb hard hits and provided progressive suspension action. We never bottomed its Fox FLOAT shocks up front.
The front and rear suspension worked well when shooting down logging roads and rough trails. The sled was stable and controllable through off-camber bumps. Curiously, this long-track machine proved to be Cat’s best trail sled for 2006.