Track-Tested, Trail-Approved: Arctic Cat vs. Ski-Doo

When Ski-Doo introduced its MX Z X-RS E-TEC 800R for the 2011 season, it was the latest manufacturer to respond to siren call of aggressive trail riders who claim they want to ride sleds just like their racing heroes.

Such a tactic had certainly been tried before, most often with limited-at-best success. While it’s true that many trail riders might think they want a rugged, edgy sled with a beefy suspension that can tackle anything, truth be told the vast majority of buyers aren’t tackling snocross-style moguls at wide-open throttle, and that has previously left a long line of dissatisfied customers. So, when the X-RS was relaunched, some skeptics said it would never work, just like it hadn’t in the past.

The skeptics were wrong.

Ski Doo says the X-RS was its best-selling sled in MY2012, and reports from the field show that customers truly enjoyed the experience. Thanks to modern suspension and shock technology with easy adjustability, trail riders no longer have to sit on top of a rigid setup to enjoy the racer appeal. The other benefit? When racer specials were released to consumers in the ’90s, they featured peaky, finicky, hard-to-tune, 440-class engines used in stock class racing by the pros. Now? This racer replica uses the same engine found in other 800-class MX Z models, meaning there is no tradeoff in performance or reliability.

With this success story, two things were guaranteed. The first? You knew Ski-Doo wouldn’t own this class for long. For 2013, Arctic Cat wants a piece of the action with the introduction of the ProCross F 800 Sno Pro RR. Since Cat has arguably the most high-profile racer in recent history in Tucker Hibbert, it makes sense that they’d want to reach the Ricky Racer crowd.

Cat used a familiar formula, ala Ski-Doo. The chassis and suspension setups are race-specific, but the engine is the familiar 800-class Suzuki twin found in other F, XF and M sleds.

Like the X-RS, Cat’s new RR carries a knee-buckling pricetag, but Ski-Doo’s success with the X-RS proved one thing: A certain group of consumers will pay extra to get exactly what they want.

The other guarantee? Snow Goer would do a shootout on these two sleds as soon as its editors could get their hands on them.

Click on the images below to see how the sleds performed!

AC ProCross F 800 Sno Pro RR

Ski-Doo MX Z X-RS E-TEC 800R

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