Friday, January 29, 2010

800 E-TEC: Ski-Doo Messed Up This Time!

By Motorhead Mark Lester - Co-Publisher, Supertrax International

Yep, Ski-Doo messed up the 800 class in one swift move. Okay, I had a lot of preconceived expectations in anticipation of the 800 E-TEC's arrival. With the 600 E-TEC re-writing the rules in the 600 class and redefining the 2-stroke engine as we know it, I wanted to see the 800 do the same thing to the 800 class.

I didn't want to pen this short report until I had racked a few klicks on the 800 E-TEC which arrived here on Tuesday afternoon. The snow is back and the trails are superb so I've logged 151 miles on the 800 in two days and have to report I am more impressed than I had hoped I would be. The sled exceeds my expectations and it still needs another two hours of running until it hits the full advance map and cuts the oil pump back.


Everyone was anticipating more power from the E-TEC DI hammerhead injection system however, there's more than just a healthy dose of roost on tap. The way this thing spools power is amazing - Seamless, linear and in abundance. You can trail ride this 800 at easy speeds and it obliges with smooth engagement and nice lift off idle, with nary a surge.

The old Power-Tek frustrated me when threading it slowly down a tight portage or just maneuvering the sled. It was jumpy, edgy and irreverent at small throttle openings. Oh yeah, the E-TEC engine makes that crazy 3 stroke sound at low speed and the cleanest wail up top - short of a General Electric jet engine.

Once under way and setting up for a good carve the engine is electric motor like in its dispensation of thrust. Move your thumb a given amount and get that exact amount of juice. It is way too easy to rip trails with this kind of response. You are in control, in your office and it's a good day with the predictable and positive sensations this motor produces.


Okay, here's the beef. This motor is stupid fast. From 6500 to full shift at 8200 the sled literally leaps up onto its rear idlers and throws the skis in the air – at 50 MPH! The power up top sends even Arctic Cat's healthy new 800 looking for traction. The 800 class just got bored, stroked and Direct Injected by Ski-Doo. This is a totally impressive, better than expected, standard-setting power plant.

I only got 150 miles on it, but the first tank was spot on 19 mpg and the mill is not on the full-power program yet. Included in that 19 mpg were a couple solid pulls up the lake - one at 102 then another at 115 MPH indicated. It uses more oil on the break-in map so I can't quantify oil consumption.


When Ski-Doo landed the 600 E-TEC there was the sound of a drum beating in the distance. All the advantages of a 2-stroke including light weight but better than 4-stroke fuel economy and better than 2 stroke SDI or carb power from the same basic power plant.

EPA 2012 emissions are met with both these E-TEC mills and the only thing I can say which makes any sense is this - Polaris better get some of their much rumored Orbital DI engines in production and if Arctic Cat has a DI program, it's time to pull the sheets off it.

Ski-Doo has opened up a whole new range of possibilities for snowmobile power with the DI E-TEC engine family. In the world of 2-stroke power, economy and emissions it isn't possible to compete with DI technology with anything less than DI technology.

Simply put, no OE other than the fully 4-stroke committed Yamaha camp can afford to miss out on the benefits and advantages of 2-stroke direct injection.

For more great editorial about the 2011 lineup visit

Friday, January 22, 2010

Go Ride Elliot Lake. You'll Be Happy You Made The Trip

By Mike Lester - Online Editor, Supertrax International

Y'know, Elliot Lake Ontario is a place that truly amazes me. Here you have a city where the people just get it. Snowmobiling and the powersports community are embraced wholeheartedly here.

The Elliot Lake Snowbirds snowmobile club does an excellent job of maintaining the trail system, which runs right through town. Thank these wonderful volunteers if you ever get the opportunity. They devote their time so you can have the smoothest ride possible.

You can park safely after a good night sleep at the Algo Inn and unload your trailers and pretty much sled for the whole day right from the parking lot. Oh and there's plenty of snow too!

This isn't a sleepy one horse northern town either. Elliot Lake is a former mining town that at one time had a population upwards of 30,000 people. Today its down to about 12,500 year-round residents that keep the city bustling. There's a lot to do and hey, there's even a Tim Horton's (For our American friends, Tim's is the best coffee anywhere).

Elliot Lake is about a 2-hour drive from the Michigan border and just about five hours from the Greater Toronto Area. Load up your trailer; call your wife from the road and head on up to Elliot Lake for some great riding this winter.

Helpful links:

Thursday, January 21, 2010

My Honest Impressions of Arctic Cat's Bearcat

By Luke Lester - Host, SnowTrax Television

This season we decided to request a sled for our press fleet unlike one we'd normally ask for. Its a Bearcat utility sled from Arctic Cat.

Honestly, it's a beast and simply put, its HUGE. It boasts a 20-inch wide track, under seat storage, Z1 4-stroke engine and a gigantic bush bar up front just to let everyone know you mean business.

At first, I figured this sled would be reserved for hauling camera gear and possibly for pulling trucks out of the ditch (I'm kidding, though its not entirely impossible for this sled). After the keys had been handed out to the various team members and test riders I found myself in a pickle. I wanted to ride, but the only sled left was the Bearcat. As far as I'm concerned, any ride is better than no ride so off I went. Something happened on that trip that I never expected. I began to like the Bearcat... a lot.

Its a surprisingly awesome sled. For starters, its by far the warmest sled in our fleet as the windshield is as big as the hood of a 66 Coupe DeVille. I've always liked Arctic's Z1 engine and its right at home in this sled delivering smooth, even power. The seat, while super wide, is also very comfortable - sort of like cozying up on your living room couch and, believe it or not, it rides like a DREAM. I can honestly say its one of the best riding sleds I've ever logged miles on.

I'd love to tell you that it handles with cat like precision (pardon the pun), but it doesn't. The wide skis and track seem to work together to provide slightly numb but not unpleasant handling on average speed trails. Verdict; not altogether terrible.

At the end of the day I relayed my impressions to the rest of the SnowTrax and Supertrax crew and they collectively thought I was nuts. Over the course of the next few weeks though, each of them had a turn on the Bearcat like I did and and all walked away as pleasantly surprised as I was.

Even though this sled is purpose built to be a work horse and not a play toy, it does both extremely well. My question to anyone who doubts the Bearcat is simple. If it rides smoothly, its comfortable, quick and handles pretty good, why NOT ride one?

For more information on the Bearcat and other Arctic Cat sleds visit