Reviewed: The 2017 Arctic Cat ZR 6000 RS

Arctic Cat ZR 6000 RS
The Arctic Cat ZR 6000 RS — a.k.a., the Roger Skime edition.

Will the 2017 Roger Skime Edition Arctic Cat ZR 6000 RS go into history as an “instant classic” and thus an automatic collector’s sled? Only time will tell for sure, but we know we’d love to have our model back and store it away for safe keeping!

                The following review appeared in the January 2018 issue of Snow Goer in the Full-Season Test department, based on our riding of the machine the previous winter (2016-17).   

Arctic Cat ZR 6000 RS: An Instant Classic

It should have come as no surprise that the cues to future Arctic Cat body designs would come wrapped in a package that honored a man who helped produce more than 55 years of the brand’s glorious past.

The 2017 Arctic Cat ZR 6000 RS in our demo fleet was a truly special machine – one that we sometimes felt guilty for riding hard, and then felt downright remorseful when Arctic Cat made us give it back to one of its dealers. 

For the uninitiated, the “RS” on this machine stands for Roger Skime – the truly legendary Arctic Cat designer and engineer who helped invent the first slide rail suspension back in the 1960s, and who has been a part of pretty much every Cat snowmobile built since he started with the company in 1962.

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Skime, 74, is now mostly retired (though he still drops by the factory to test drive machines), but to honor his incredible career Arctic Cat unveiled the “very limited” special edition ZR 6000 RS at its dealer meeting in March of 2016. The 2017 model was the only short-track machine last year to feature the narrow bodywork and fresh look that Arctic Cat was unveiling on its mountain sleds for that year, but it didn’t take a genius to guess that this look would be more widespread in model year 2018. Indeed it has been; owners of the RS just got a jump start.

To make a regular ZR into an RS for 2017, designers utilized the aforementioned new bodywork, Fox Zero QS3R Kashima-coated shocks, oversized Pro-Mountain front bumper, floppy hand guards, tunnel flares that knocked down flying snow chunks, an angular Sno Pro brake handle and a large rear storage bag – essentially, they decked it out with the best add-ons from Cat’s accessories catalog. Most memorable, though, might be the hand-written autograph on the windshield from Skime himself – he signed every machine after it came down the assembly line before it was crated for shipping.

That made our demo ZR 6000 RS quite the draw when Cat fans would see us out riding it. It also made us nervous to leave the machine alone outside during lunch stops, lest somebody be tempted to snatch the windshield, if not the whole snowmobile!

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When it wasn’t turning the heads of strangers, however, it was putting smiles on the faces of our test team. This was one entertaining machine, with its crisp 600 C-TEC2 engine responding quickly through TEAM Rapid Response clutching, a roomy layout and suspensions that were easy to dial-in perfectly. It was described by test riders as “sporty,” “racy” and “light-feeling” for the way it rode and “stylish,” “classic” and “incomparable” for the way it looked. 

The ZR 6000 RS was most at home on tight and twisting trails, where a rider could get into a rhythm and move with the sled. The front end stayed planted and flat except for occasions when the Rip-Saw track would get a bit too much side bite and cause a ski to lift. The machine was also at home in ditches, where in typical Arctic Cat ZR-fashion it showed impressive composure when being aired out over field approaches.

The new bodywork was appreciated in many different ways. From the cockpit, it made the machine seem smaller and allowed the rider to more easily wrap a knee around the body panel when leaning far out for a turn. Most valued, however, was the way the new body panels synched with one another, and how they allowed easier access to the two-stroke oil tank and various under-hood components. It gave a higher level of fit-and-finish to the machines than what had been found on previous Arctic Cats.

Pretty much the only thing we didn’t like about our ZR 6000 RS was that, while it sometimes made us feel like Johnny Ditchbanger, we didn’t always feel like pushing it to its limits – what if we rolled it and cracked the hand-signed windshield? It almost felt just we were driving somebody’s daddy’s classic, ’59 Caddy… yeah, it would be fun to see what she’s got, but the possibility of ruining a piece of history makes you think twice before taking a risk!

Editor’s Note: Every issue of Snow Goer magazine includes in-depth sled reports and comparisons, aftermarket gear and accessories reviews, riding destination articles, do-it-yourself repair information, snowmobile technology and more — including our Full-Season Test department that recaps season-long tests we had on demo sleds. Subscribe to Snow Goer now to receive issues delivered to your door 6 times per year for a low cost.

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