The 2-ton elephant in the room for 2011 is Arctic Cat’s resistance to widen the scope of the Sno-Pro 500 race chassis introduced last year.
We had been speculating the last twelve months that Cat would offer more engine variations in this slick, lightweight chassis that comes with a proven racetrack pedigree – just what the Cat faithful have been wanting.
Alas, there is no further commitment to this platform, at least in 2011. No, there’s no new EPA compliant 600 and no 800 either, at least for another year.
On the upside, the Sno Pro 500 has enjoyed a spectacular season winning cross country races everywhere across the snowbelt and has verified its position as one of the best low-cost race sleds you can buy.
Its tightly wound 500 has been more than adequate in this environment and the sled is proving to be both durable and consistently competitive.
The sliver of the market that wants a race-bred snowmobile for competition purposes is grinning ear-to ear. If Arctic Cat’s intention was to build credibility with this segment, it has succeeded in a big way. But, what about the panting masses?
On the flip side it makes some sense to hold off for another year on this platform. Why? Well, 2012 is a big year for snowmobile engines.
There’s another hurdle to be gapped with EPA compliance and it looks like most 2-strokes will need to be built with Direct Injection technology to meet requirements. For all we know, there may be some other way to get a 2-stroke to comply but, so far, it looks like there’s a very strong possibility both Polaris and Arctic Cat will be coming with some new 2-strokes next year.
It’s a practical corporate decision to hold off for a year and then bring out fully tested and debugged engines at the same time a less known but fully evolved chassis is introduced to more segments. We’re betting that’s the idea behind this strategy – and so are several thousand Arctic Cat customers.