Manufacturers deliver with the latest in innovation
While snow lovers across the state wait for the wonderful whiteness of winter to arrive, dealers and manufacturers are waiting to deliver the season’s newest and best in innovation. From slick new colors to better fuel efficiency to lightweight design, this year’s offerings promise to get you out into Alaska’s wilderness in style.
“The most exciting thing with Ski-Doo that I believe really sets them apart is the development in the mountain segment,” said Alex Reimer, head of sales and finance at Team CC in Wasilla. “Ski-Doo is constantly pushing and not settling to be just good enough. The new 850Etec and the Gen 4 chassis will truly speak for itself this winter.”
Reimer said the backcountry will be lit this year with the new Ski-Doo Summit 850, with its Gen 4 chassis.
“It’s truly a redesigned machine from the ground up,” he said. “New chassis, motor, clutch, front end, track, etc. We are beyond excited to see these machines in the backcountry.”
Not to be overlooked, Reimer added, is Ski-Doo’s accessories, which are ever-changing to meet the demands of users.
“There is no question that you enjoy your ride more when you are comfortable,” he said. That’s exactly what Ski Doo’s Helium Gear lineup gives us: comfort. Always dry, always warm.”
For Yamaha enthusiasts, there is the Sidewinder R-TX, named Snowmobile.com’s 2017 Best High Performance Trail Sport Sled.
The series, said Snowrider in its August review of the Sidewinder, “kicks butt. That’s owed to a new 998cc turbocharged four-stroke that conservatively puts out a claimed 180-something horsepower.”
Reviewers also gave props to Yamaha’s own YSRC clutch, a feature expressly tuned for the new engine. The Sidewinder also boasts three-stage Fox QS3 shocks up front and in the coupled dual shock rear suspension.
The testers clearly had fun with this one: “Let’s just say that getting to triple digits presents no problem,” they wrote.
The Sidewinder can be checked out at Anchorage Yamaha on Spenard Road.
Tony C. Gatts III, business manager for Alaska Cycle Center, said the buzz in their shop is the release of Polaris’ 800 Pro-RMK 155. At a feather-light weight of 408 pounds, this new sled is making maneuverability a challenge no more.
“Polaris wanted the design of their sleds to put the rider in a neutral position on a chassis and motor combination that led to nimble handling and superior ‘pop-on-the-snow’ characteristics,” he said. That shift in began back in 2011, when their innovation brought the sled down to a then unheard-of 431 pounds (it was 472 pound the previous year). “Since then, Polaris has optimized this design and engine, making it the sled to beat.
Also worth bragging about, Gatts said, is Polaris’ 800 Cleanfire H.O. engine, which reduces throttle effort and has a lightweight crankshaft for quicker throttle response.
No matter what the weather has in store for snowmachiners – Gatts said Polaris can deliver a sled to match conditions. After several less-than-ideal winters, he said Bush clients have started leaning a bit on fan cooled sleds that can accommodate poor trails conditions. Mountain riders have been opting for models like the 800 SKS 155.
“It features additional cooling through a bulkhead cooler to better maintain proper engine temperatures,” he said.
Arctic Cat is gearing up for a hopeful season with the ever-popular Bear Cat series of sleds that are as utilitarian as they are smooth and fun on the snow.
“The Bear Cat is my biggest seller,” said Paul Hughes, owner and general manager of Eagle River Polaris and Arctic Cat. “It has an all-new Yamaha four-stroke motor on it and a shift-on-the-gear that people like. They’re tough and it’s fairly tough to overheat these things.”
The Bear Cat 570 XT is particularly popular, as is the lighter 700cc 70-horsepower model.
“It has great gas mileage, has a rack on the back – it’s just a good sled,” Hughes added.
And finally, there’s the Bear Cat Groomer series, designed for those folks who take care of trails and use their sleds for work.
“We call it the Bear Car Groomer Special,” he said. “We sell to a lot of folks in town who use them for trail maintenance – the folks in Girdwood, and out in the Bush. It’s a good sled with a 17-gallon tank.”
Also worth mentioning, Hughes added, is Arctic Cat’s M series, which underwent huge improvements in the 2016 and 2017 models to make it a smooth, yet powerful ride.
“They revamped the front end and that has added a strong base to make it durable,” he said. “It’s not as light as other models but it is strong.”
The Arctic Cat M900 King Cat, reviewed by Snowmobile.com, balances power smoothness and has three injectors to produce maximum horsepower in deep-snow conditions. And hey – we can all dream about deep snow, right?
“The King Cat features narrower running boards, forward foot position and the lowered driveshaft, all of which ease laying the sled over in deep snow as well as side hilling performance,” the review continued.