Much has been written this year about Arctic Cat’s new ProCross platform and frankly, we’re still in awe of it ourselves.
However, if you step back in time and look at the evolution of the former Twin Spar Cat chassis, you have to give kudos to this year’s F5 LXR.
This is a truly unique model, not just because it’s based on an older platform but because it fulfills the needs of a unique market.
There are substantial numbers of riders who like the power range of a smaller 2-stroke in the 80-horse range and its inherent lightness and agility when plied at trail speeds.
There just isn’t anything else around that fills the bill in this range and it’s what makes the F5 so unique.
Arctic Cat hasn’t tried to “budget-out” the LXR in any way. It offers many amenities not available on the new ProCross models and the list is substantial.
Fully adjustable seating and handlebars come to mind immediately but a standard touring bag, electric start, run-backwards reverse and a really nice digital gauge package are all items we appreciate but don’t necessarily initialize a sled in the 500 category.
The F5 LXR takes full advantage of Cat’s unique coupled Slide-Action rear suspension using gas cell shocks to deliver ride results comparable to much larger displacement (and more expensive) Cats.
With the countless tweaks performed over the years to this chassis, the fully evolved Twin Spar is a very good handling snowmobile, especially considering it uses a 128-inch track with one-inch deep lugs.
Its 500 twin is by its very nature and size a bit high-strung but Cat has proven it to be incredibly durable in multiple usages and, as long as it’s not plied like a hypersled, it will deliver decent gas mileage and oil consumption.
Some big-mileage riders would scorn a sled with a “mere” 500cc EFI engine. We think they’d be missing the point. The lightness and maneuverability of this sled, equipped with this motor, completely justifies its displacement.
In trail applications, its spool-up from engagement up into the mid range is very lively and although it will not pull the numbers on lakes we’re used to with big-inch sleds, it’s an absolute blast to ride on trails.