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    2019 Arctic Cat Sleds Announced!

    Posted by Tyler Nelson
    on Friday, February 23, 2018

    Cat the New Alpha Dog?

    Getting back to the top spot in the mountains is no easy task. Becoming the leader, the Alpha, takes years of right decisions. Also, finding the compromise between handling and ride quality is a timeless crusade for suspension systems engineers. Arctic Cat has met this challenge by raising the industry bar for their 2019 lineup. Cat engineers with the full backing now of Textron levied automotive technology to transform both the trail and mountain experience, finding the balance between maneuverability and comfort.

    ■ Mountain Maneuverability: Alpha One Suspension
    Cat didn’t stop with trail sleds, or ergonomics, or basically anything else when innovating for 2019. Possibly the biggest news is that the mountain sleds received a major suspension makeover called the Alpha One. This is the coolest mountain innovation we have seen in some time.

    The Alpha One has a patented single beam design and it boasts an 11-pound weight loss, reduces snow accumulation, and requires less rider input for cornering and boondocking. Essentially, it makes the beginner rider feel like an intermediate, and takes the experienced rider to a new level. It does take some getting used to though, and it is NOT for trails.

    In addition, a 3.5-inch pitch x 3-inch Power Claw track was developed to increase traction (it comes in a 154-inch and 165-inch option). This track was developed to flex and conform to the snow giving the long tracks more finesse and shorter tracks more peppiness in deep snow.

    This may sound similar to Ski-Doo’s tMotion and flex-edge track, but just imagine all of that opportunity but with only a single rail down the center. It will be interesting to see how those riders out there that do not like tMotion or the flex-edge tracks receive the new Alpha One. I can certainly see it being a potential deep powder “game-changer” (that’s OEM marketing speak). We are also interested to see how it reacts in harder spring snow.

    Having ridden it, the skid really does shed the snow and ice, so weight from build-up in the suspension will be greatly reduced. Also, like the Gen4 from Ski-Doo, it is easy to over-ride it. That competing sled had its own learning curve and so will the Alpha One. Once you get use to the way it rides you’ll feel invincible in the deep powder, but be ready to turn on a dime! The Fox lockout shock in the rear suspension is part of the package too, just don’t forget to change it back when headed down the trail!

    The mountain G2 Proclimb 7 Ski has a new shape that delivers improved flotation and easier steering. The keel changed position on the spindle and is moved back for better balance; we noticed this right away as there was less chatter in the ski at high speed. Dealers may not like the harder installation, due to a stiffer rubber, but the position provides the ideal operating range for  performance in a variety of snow conditions. It is not the most aggressive stance, but good for all-around riding without the worry of the tip of the ski kissing the top of the spindle in a hard hit.

    ■ Reducing Trail Turbulence
    Every once in a while, a new technology comes along that changes the way we operate, and we can’t imagine that it was ever another way. For example, it’s hard to explain to my kids that there was once a time when we took pictures and didn’t see the results for days or weeks as it was being developed. This is how I imagine my kids will feel about the old trail suspensions. I can hear them now, “You mean you had to GET OFF the sled to change the suspension?”

    Cat’s iACT Suspension is one of the newest innovations for the manufacturer, providing interactive on-the-fly control. They have partnered with FOX to create the Fox Zero iQS coil-over gas shocks that can be changed from soft, medium, to firm with your thumb on the control block, all while still braaping down the trail.  

    The button (on the left hand controls) is wired to the ski and rear track shocks and allows the rider to adjust their steed from stiff to cushy and back again without stopping. You can easily see the settings on the gauge. Also new is a push-to-start button on the left hand controls. Cat is finally making what the consumers want. This starter works great!

    The crossover sleds get updates as well. The new XF High Country gets the improved handlebar controls and push-to-start button. Also, it gets an involute lightweight nine-tooth sprocket (6000/8000 motors only), an  eight-inch lightweight rear idler wheel, new oil tank cap for better rollover protection, and the 6000 model comes with a ceramic coated muffler.

    The big ZR 9000 trail sled lineup sees improvements as well including some new models, namely the ZR 9000 Thundercat iACT 137 and the ZR 9000 Limited iACT 137. Both models have the new suspension giving riders the instant and interactive on-the-fly control of the FOX ZERO IQS gas shocks. They both also receive the new handlebar mounted controls that are easier to use, the new Hayes Stealth lightweight master brake cylinder, and new short-throw brake lever. You haven’t ridden with non-metal and easy pulling brake levers like these! Other features include, new magnetic tether, an eight-inch, three-wheel lightweight rear idler system and 5.5-inch side idler wheels, and a new rear shock pivot on the slide-action rear suspension relocates the idler wheels to the outside of the slide rails to prevents the pivot from over-rotating during installation.

    The ZR 9000 Thundercat iACT is built for maximum lake performance and comes with single carbide runners, the ultra-fast Ripsaw track with low 1.0-inch lug, and hand guards. The ZR 9000 Limited iACT comes with easy-steering dual-runner carbides and a Ripsaw II track with 1.25-inch lug. The ride height is lowered on this too and dual rate springs up front make this a race-car like ride. A new torsion spring in back also has less initial pre-load, again making the Thundercat a dropped down, corner hugging, top speed animal!

    ■ Ergo Changes and Handlebar Headway
    Arctic’s 2019 lineup made great changes to the look and feel of the sleds, particularly to the bars. Cat has been criticized for clumsy controls. The old design was easy for riders to accidently hit the emergency stop switch. Finally, it was impossible to customize the throttle control rudder independently of the on/off switch. This is not the case anymore.  

    Cat separated the emergency stop switch from the throttle control rudder so riders can customize their throttle independently of the kill switch. The switch type also changed to momentary (as opposed to on/off) for the hand/thumb controls making it harder to accidentally engage knobs.  

    The new stealth lightweight break master cylinder was added to all models. It is more durable and this is great news for mountain riders as the old cylinder was vulnerable to breaking if you rolled over in a bad spot or got pinned against a log or rock. Additionally, the new master cylinder has a shorter throw, making it more responsive. This was one item that we immediately recognized as a positive change while riding.

    The redesigned handlebar controls also include a transmit visible information on digital gauge, a new push-to-start button on the left-hand control (for 2-strokes), a magnetic tether, and a flexible rubber handlebar cover. These changes make for a sleek design, additional safety, and less clumsy knobs to overcome. Did you catch the part where we said tether! Yep, we were all glad to see Cat stepping up and making a tether standard, on the 2019’s we have always said that every snowmobile on the market should have one. This is not a keyed tether, so it will work on your buddy’s 2019 as well.

    This article was written by Ryan Thompson. Check out the March/Spring issue of American Snowmobiler for more from Arctic Cat and the rest of the OEM releases for 2019.

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