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FREE RIDE PROJECT: Crossfire 800

FREE RIDE PROJECT: Crossfire 800

By: AJ Lester

We've been working on a 2009 Crossfire 800 this year, magnetizing it with all kinds of aesthetic and mechanical tricks to build an ultimate free-rider.

Before Jeff Devolin from Birchpoint Cats in Bobcaygeon, Ontario touched the 800 he put it on his dyno and noted an impressive 151hp, a sizable gain over last year's 800. While Jeff is widely known for extruding huge power numbers out of Cat motors we asked him to give our 800 a nice light massage, keeping the stock reliability while pulling out any extra horsepower he could find. Another requirement was a stock exhaust so we could be legal no matter where we rode.

To say we were blown away with the results would be an understatement. Final horsepower numbers were 163.9hp, with 109.4 foot-pounds of torque - enough juice to stand the 141" x 1.50 track on end and propel the 800 to big digits in deep powder. When we inquired as to what Jeff had done, the answer was surprisingly short, new reeds, a new Y-Pipe and some light porting was all that was required to gain the extra 12.9 ponies.

While just shy of 13 HP might not blow you away, the crispness and usable power range was increased tremendously. The 800 mill runs happier and smoother, and with strong traction, truly pulls like a cat on a screen door. Reliability has been perfect and while we knew the tuned-up 800 would run big numbers on the lake, with the current clutch and gear setup, it’s the most trail-rideable boondocker we’ve ever put our paws on. To get your Arctic Cat tuned from mild to wild, contact Birchpoint Cats at 1-705-738-2473 or online at www.birchpointmarina.com.

Stock shocks are getting better and better but it's no surprise aftermarket or factory modded suspension is more sophisticated and refined than what the manufacturers use. The Fox Float 2 Evol Rs we added to our Crossfire are as close to perfect as air shocks get.

While they don't have a big piggyback up top, they do have a smaller Evol chamber down at the bottom that allows thumb adjustable rebound control. While all Floats have a pump adjustable air valve, the Evol R's don't need it to give riders quick adjustments.

The difference between the stock Floats on our Sno-pro to the Evol's was one of the most noticeable suspension changes we've ever made. We call these shocks Float 2s because they have more technology inside than standard Floats. This includes a similar return spring used on all Yamaha Float shocks and eliminates shock shaft sticktion and sag when pounding hard through a long, progressive corner.

While the Float 2s with the Evol chamber dramatically improve ride quality, handling and the ability to quickly adjust to terrain, they also make great eye candy and grab attention from onlookers asking what the Evol chamber is all about.

In stock trim the Crossfire Sno-Pro offers a perfect-length 141-inch track, a 1.50-inch lug and a very handy, adjustable bar riser. The riser allows you to trail ride the sled to any free-ride area you want to session, jack the bars, then ride back again comfortably.

The deep-lug track on this sled was a dream to throw around in deep powder and really benefited from the extra ponies Birchpoint found. The 1.5 lug was deep enough to take you anywhere you needed to go in the powdery stuff and short enough to not feed back negative input on the trails.

The super-light 141-inch, air shock equipped skid helped huge in the flotation department allowing the 1.50 lug to do its work. On the downside, a 141-inch track sled does drive harder into corners but resists turning as quickly as 121-incher does.

The rear suspension consists of a conventional Fox on the front arm and a Fox Float on the rear with no torsion springs. This is the same as Arctic's mountain sleds and saves big weight. I wasn't sure how the rear would work, but soon found I was loving the buttery smooth ride. Whether dropping 20-footers or riding through trail whoops, this skid worked great, and offered the best of both worlds.

The front suspension was where we experienced the biggest change. The Evol Rs were ready for anything we could throw at them and performed beautifully on and off trail. They were plush enough to soak up stutter bumps at high speeds yet firm enough to handle big hits thanks to their trick inner return spring and Evol chamber. With these shocks, the CF wouldn't nose over in high speed corners or when maneuvering through technical off-camber hills in the backcountry.

At the end of the day, a stock Crossfire Sno-Pro is a great crossover free-ride-able sled. With a little work and a relatively small budget you can really alter the DNA of your Crossfire and morph it into something that'll not only make your buddies envious but change the way you look at a traditional crossover snowmobile.