2012 Arctic Cat F8 Sno Pro long-term test
Published: November 27, 2012
Light is right! When we first compared this sled back in the Nov. 2011 issue we did some quick figuring that the F8 might be lighter than the competing Polaris Rush. But nobody really expected our demo F8 Sno Pro to directly challenge Ski-Doo’s X-RS for the crown of lightweight 800 trail sleds. It was close. The wet weigh-in on our Intercomp scales showed the F8 within just a few pounds of the X-RS.
Cat’s F8 was our fastest and quickest 800cc sled in Real World testing last season.
The weight loss could be felt right off the first throttle whack. You could feel the lightness (more than 60 lbs. vs. the Twin Spar F8 Sno Pro) when we switched back and forth onto the older chassis.
Mind your trail manners!
When Cat debuted the ProCross chassis there were plenty of Debbie Downer doomsday types and Negative Nancy naysayers implying this sled did not, and would not handle in the trail. After our first ride on pre-production models we even thought it pushed a little too much in the corners, but after a full winter on it we know better. We sliced through the corners at pace and had to remind ourselves to mind our manners and not get too excited when getting into a nice rhythm on the trail.
Granted, when we first tested this sled we just had the stock carbides and track on it. So, after putting 9 inches of Stud Boy Shaper carbide up front and a 170-count combo of double and single Stud Boy backers (including the new Super-Lite Pro backers) in the track, the F8 was glued to the trail. As far as cornering is concerned, this sled was second in our demo fleet, only to our Ski-Doo X-RS. The F8 had a little harder power hit out of the hole with clutching.
For me, a 175-lb. rider, the right suspension setting was to go up just 4 PSI from the stock settings on the front FOX Float shocks, depending on conditions.
In the rear, I turned the cam on the torsion springs to setting 3. I left the center shock and spring setting as per a stock setting for a normal 175 lb. rider and left the limiter strap alone. Several of our test riders preferred a slightly less aggressive setup, but this worked for a majority of riders, and the aggressive types too. If we changed anything we backed off the torsion springs a little when the trail was flat or we rode a lake.
We had no belt issues on this sled and hyfax wear was good too. For me the braking was No. 1 among our group of demo sleds, but that wasn’t so for everyone. Even with the aggressive stud package we had, our track-stretch was normal as well. After several hundred miles of break-in we rarely had to adjust track tension.
If you read our Real World test article in March, you know this sled was our project sled for the year and included a retro Sno Pro Racewerx wrap, bumper, and skid plate ... making this sled an eye-catcher!
With reeds from Boyesen we got a power boost of a few horses and these reeds are one of the easiest performance investments you can make. Rox Speed FX hooked us up with the perfect 6- to 8-inch adjustable riser block and Flex Tec hand guards. If you are looking for an adjustable riser, this is seriously the “kit to git.” Simply pull the levers and easily adjust the risers higher or lower. It’s great for rough trail sleds or crossover sleds. We left the reeds, riser and hand guards off for our Real World test to keep the sled and wind flow stock.
|One last thing we suggest to anyone with a new ProCross, is to add the goggle bag that fits right in front of the steering post. This is the perfect bag for keeping an extra set of goggles dry and your beanie or hat for easy access when you stop for lunch. The tunnel pack on the LXR versions was also handy for this sled. All you prima donnas get over it, just because you have a Sno Pro, you’re not too cool to have a bag on it and it won’t stop you from THINKING that you can clear that 60-foot triple. It WILL save you some headaches of not having room to bring an extra belt though. |
Honesty with a capital H
This sled was both quicker and faster than our 800R E-TEC X-RS and Rush 800 Pro R in our Real World straightline acceleration testing. The F8 is close to competing on weight with the lightest weight 800 trail sled, Ski-Doo’s MXZ. In addition, this sled corners well and has aggressive trail handling.
However, we had a few issues. As we alluded to in our Real World impressions, the gauge pod on our F8 went haywire on us early. Normal electrical and wiring checks did not find the problem. We replaced the gauge with a new one and that didn’t solve the problem. The gauge reading erratically jumped all over between mph, rpm, mileage, etc. Even after the season we have no answer.
So, our season-long average mileage testing had to be done by comparing miles traveled from other sleds and one trip with GPS … which made things interesting. Again, there was no electric start, even as an option, and it was not easy to pull over this 800 even in mild temps. There also was a recall for the sled’s steering linkage bolt.
The F8 looks Fast even sitting still with its well-sculpted body lines... the custom retro graphic wrap from Racewerx didn’t hurt either.
We don’t suggest anyone ride trails with the short windshield this sled comes with, get the medium one and if you’re getting hand guards, we definitely suggest the Flex Tec hand guard kit from Rox, (designed and developed with support from Skinz Protective Gear) they will keep your little pinkies warmer than conventional guards.
See these websites for more accessory info: (www.racwerx.com, www.studboytraction.com, www.skinzprotectivegear.com, www.roxspeedfx.com, www.boyesen.com)
“This is one great looking sled! It was cold though (needs a bigger windshield) and there was no stock storage. Also, there was quite a bit of noise from the track and clips seeming to be caused by the approach angle of the track and rails.” – Butch Veltum, AmSnow test rider
“This was great on rough trails and a lot of fun to ride. But most of the time, even the softest settings in the rear suspension were too stiff for me. The running boards were very comfortable though.” – Ryan Veltum, AmSnow test rider
2012 Arctic Cat F8 Sno Pro |
Engine: 794cc liquid twin 2-stroke batteryless EFI HP: 163.4* Exhaust: APV with tuned pipe, pipe sensor and stainless steel muffler Ski Stance: 42-43 in. adj. Front Susp.: Arctic Race Suspension with FOX Float 2 shocks and sway bar (10 in. travel) Rear Susp.: FasTrack slide-action w/Tri-hub rear axle, coupling blocks, torque sensing link, adjustable torsion springs, coil over FOX (IFP) shocks w/2-inch dia. rear shock (13.5 in. travel)
Track: 15x128x1.25 in. Cobra Fuel Tank: 10.6 gal. Rec. Fuel: 87 octane Dry Weight: 454 lbs. (not verified)
Wet Weight: 562 lbs.* Price: $11,799 US / $13,649 CA
Real World Stats*
Top Speed: 94.03 mph ¼-mile time: 13.08 sec. Season avg. mpg: 12.15 Aftermarket and accessory add-ons: Racewerx wrap, Racewerx heavy duty bumper/skid plate, Rox Speed FX adjustable riser, Rox Speed FX Flex Tec Hand Guards, Boyesen Rage Cage reed valves, Cat goggle bag, Cat tunnel pack. PLUSES: Stellar cornering, great power throughout the full range, lightweight, looks tough. *AmSnow tested
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