Arctic Cat did most of the hard work in model year 2012 to bring its best effort to the 2013 fight. You know, introducing an entire new chassis/suspension/body/control system for one of the most popular big-mountain brands out there — not easy. In fact, the ProClimb series was so fresh during testing last year that our impressions showed fit-and-finish miscues and rapid-growth hiccups. For 2013, Green aimed to clean up the finish and function of the M-Series leader — it’s amazing what a little block-off screen or goggle storage box can do to a first impression — and dialed in the machine for more off-trail joy.

Test riders across the board seem to constantly enjoy riding the M 800 Sno Pro and for 2013 that’s no different. The engine makes big power, the suspension is easily the most flat steering for transfer sections that lead to and from play areas, and it soaks up the bumps quite well. We’ve wanted cleaner fuel delivery to take the blubber and stench of oil and gas out of our ride experience from Arctic Cat for a while now. And that want is no different this year — it still needs to improve. We were also a little confused about where spare belts go as our test sleds were given to us with the spare stuffed between the windshield and the gauge. Arctic Cat has since announced that all 2013 snowmobiles will include a place to store the extra belt.

The Power Claw track gets on top of the snow quickly to claw out of trenches.
The Power Claw track gets on top of the snow quickly to claw out of trenches.

However, accessories like the telescoping steering system and integrated goggle bag near the steering post are without-a-doubt class leaders. But compared to the rest of the top-performers in the 800cc class, where does it fit in terms of its all-around performance?

The guys from Arctic Cat summed up their position clearly as they introduced the updates and improvements for 2013 before our test ride. They know the M Series isn’t the lightest, but what Arctic Cat does put out there for debate is bragging rights on power, traction and maneuverability. Arctic Cat claims the updated M 800 Sno Pro is more flickable than the Polaris RMK thanks to the M’s narrower ski stance.

A tall, short seat promotes stand-up riding and allows good mobility.
A tall, short seat promotes stand-up riding and allows good mobility.

Dropping the width of the ski stance to 38 inches (adjustable out to 39 inches) is responsible for all the hype. In theory, this will make the sled tip, roll and dig into those heavenly powder turns and cut into the sides of hills with more ease. More control is key in the new school of mountain riding and Arctic Cat definitely improved its crank-it-over performance compared to last year’s ride. Effort required to throw it on its side is decreased for sure.

Likewise, it’s hard not to enjoy a deep-lug track and the traction it provides. Not only is it giving more bite, but the track approach angle seems to immediately get this sled up and on top of the snow. Fear no hole or trench with the Arctic Cat M 800 Sno Pro — it loves to claw its way out. The combination of easier turn initiation and ample traction is nice. Most testers agreed the M 800 Sno Pro felt lighter than last year thanks to these improvements but we had split-decisions on the nitty-gritty agility.

ProClimb running boards retain more snow than Polaris or Ski-Doo’s mountain sleds.
ProClimb running boards retain more snow than Polaris or Ski-Doo’s mountain sleds.

As mentioned before, the Arctic Cat suspension system likes to stay planted. While on the trail and even through some of the bumps that come up when boondocking across rough patches, this trait is genuinely beneficial. It’s easier to stay pointed straight so the hidden hard parts of snow don’t knock you out of balance, as long as you’re not in a counter-steer lean. However, even though the narrower M 800 is easier, its stable bias clearly hinders the initial ease of lean and desire to stay on edge. Yes, it’s improved from last year in tip-initialization, but it wants to set the skis down sooner than its competition in the most technical terrain. Improved, yes! But it’s not the most maneuverable and predictable mountain-class sled in the class for 2013.

Arctic Cat ProClimb M 800 Sno Pro 153  / $12,349
CLAIMED DRY WEIGHT: N/A ENGINE: 794cc liquid-cooled twin, throttle body EFI, bore/stroke 85×70 mm TRACK: 15x155x2.4 Power Claw


See how the Arctic Cat fared against other sleds in its class at the 800-Class Shootout!

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