If you compare the specifications for this 4-stroke utility Cat, you can’t help but notice its dimensional similarities to Yamaha’s Viking. Stand back and squint, though, and you’ll see it’s a completely different animal.
With the rider in position, the Bearcat XT pretty much looks like any good red-blooded touring sled. It’s a real tribute to Cat’s stylists that only on closer inspection do you begin to notice its extra length, height and wider tunnel.
Power is provided by the Z1’s naturally aspirated (EFI) 4-stroke twin but the Bearcat doesn’t use a sub transmission for the clutches to drive through. The engineers are relying on the big 1056cc twin’s ample torque output for heavy duty towing chores. For trail riders, the real bonus is the weight reduction when you lop off the heavy, cast gearbox required for low range.
Underneath, the Bearcat uses a time proven skidframe with some tricks you won’t find anywhere else. The 156-inch skid has fiberglass helper springs and a torque sensing link – both very helpful when the rider is applying power in deep snow with a load on.
The slide rails articulate at the rear for better bite going both forward and backwards in deep snow – a useful feature if you’re mired. If you don’t want the articulating feature, for instance, when purely trail riding, you can tighten the rear spring adjusters to eliminate the flip-up feature so you get straight rail suspension.
The rear seat and backrest setup on the Bearcat is very much a touring design. Its roomy, sculpted contours are downright posh and the amenities for a rear passenger are as good as any luxo-tourer on the market.
The big bonus is you can remove the passenger part of the seat, go solo and end up with a huge flat-bed cargo area for hauling your mother-in-law’s sofa or just stowing your whole group’s touring bags. The front part of the seat flips up to reveal even more space for secret goodies.
The Bearcat is built on a wider version of Cat’s rigid Twin Spar chassis and it integrates the double A-arm front end design with a big aluminum cage surrounding the engine and reaching up to the steering head.
The design isn’t a lot different than Cat’s F-series sleds and thus, the handling of this behemoth is very good. Believe us, you can trail ride this sled all day and never feel cheated in the corners.
The engine is a strong 123hp performer with good EFI throttle response and the Bearcat’s lower gearing enables it to be surprisingly spry in the midrange. We’ve gone on trail rides with a mixture of sport and touring sleds and found the Bearcat keeps up fine and its accurate handling and stellar ride soon endears it to even the most critical riders.
See, there’s another level of fun here. You can ride it… or spend all day impressing your friends winching and towing less capable sleds around. Weird, but entertaining.