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2013 Ski-Doo 800 X-RS and Arctic Cat 800 RR comparison test

Replication process complete

Rough it up!... as much as you would like with the new Ski-Doo X-RS. Like last year it comes standard with the quick-adjust rMotion rear suspension and an 800R E-TEC under the hood.
We’ve been waiting… and waiting… and waiting. Now it’s here! Arctic Cat gave many of its loyal customers (who, like me, wanna-be Tucker Hibbert or Brian Dick) a chance to look like real racers again.

A few years ago Polaris did this with its 600RR and Ski-Doo has been doing this on and off with the X-RS spanning two different chassis and many years now. However Cat has not put out a true Race Replica sled for years, and considering that Cat brags of having the World’s Fastest Snowmobiles, we think it’s about time!

The boys in TRF (Thief River Falls, Minn.) must have heard us whining because now we’ve got an F 800 Sno Pro RR to compete with Ski-Doo’s X-RS both on the track and off. These two are currently the only race replica sleds available to the general public and we tested them side-by-side to give you the lowdown.

Hearrrrrty Cat
Anytime there is a sled introduced with an R in its name there are plenty of pirate-type references that float around the office. (It’s immature, we know, but fun!) Cat’s new RR sleds though are the Fleet Admirals of all the aRRRR sleds, as far as powarrrr goes. (OK we’ll stop!)

With nearly 160 hp (depending on what dyno test you like) the Cat EFI batteryless liquid twin 800 is possibly the top 800 as far as hp goes. Watching Ski-Doo and Cat diehards fight about the power of the current 800 motors is entertaining along the trail, but the truth is these two motors make VERY comparable HP numbers and the actual performance` often comes down to clutching and setup.
Catchy Cat - The RR finally brings adjustable shocks to the Cat rear suspension with FOX Zero-X Piggyback front and rear shocks with adjustable dampening.
A larger accessory rear storage bag is also helpful as is a goggle holder bag just in front of the handlebars.
The RR is clutched aggressively and feels like a giant booted you in the bumper every time you slam the gas. The RR and X-RS are likely to be within just a few pounds of each other as well, for overall weight. You’ll recall that we had a standard Sno Pro 800 and an X-RS 800 as demo units last season and the Cat was just 4 pounds heavier than the Ski-Doo. The Cat also had a few more studs in its longer 128-inch track too, so we can pretty much call weight here a wash.

The main alt between Cat’s RR and the standard F 800 Sno Pro is the shock package and calibration. Front and rear suspensions are calibrated to the same specs as the cross-country racer.
RR uses the Fox Float EVOL X clicker shocks up front instead of the Sno Pro Float 2 shocks. The EVOL shocks have supreme adjustability. Dual speed (high-low) compression can be adjusted by turning external adjusters with a tool. DSC gives you small bump compliance and extra damping for big moguls. The main air chamber (adjustable with a pump) controls your ride height, while the second (EVOL) air chamber controls bottoming. Rebound is adjustable on a little red knob near the end of the shock. (See box below for more info.)

In the rear racing FasTrack slideaction suspension there’s a 7-position coupling, and coil-over FOX Zero X Piggyback front and rear shocks with adjustable dampening. Spring preload is adjusted with these for setting sag or ride height. You also can adjust high- and low-speed compression damping with the external adjusters with a tool. These shocks have FOX’s Ice Scraper (FIST) Technology, which stops moisture from entering the shock by scraping off snow and ice before it hits the seals. In addition these shocks use FOX’s Velocity-Sensitive Damping Control Technology. Different piston flow designs and variable valving specs are used to custom tune each of these shocks for their intended application. Just like all the other F sleds, this one has 10 inches of travel up front and 13.5 inches in back.

Another major difference on the RR is the drilled brake rotor (vs. the standard solid rotor) and racing brake pads. The wave-type disc is lighter and the pads are straight off the race sled. There’s a power-enhanced 9/16 master cylinder as well. A standard 15x128x1.25-inch RipSaw track turns under this beast.

This is one wild looking Cat too! It comes in 3 options including an all green scheme, an all-white look, or a split graphic where one side is white and the other is green. You guessed it, we prefer the split graphic!

Consumers will Complain
It’s in our natures to complain.But some folks would find something to bit--, er, complain about even if the sled was given to them free and gold plated. What we’re sure we’ll hear is that the shocks are too tough to understand and adjust correctly. If you’re not willing to futz with the adjustments though, you probably shouldn’t be buying this sled!

Definitely the RR is cold and for some reason does not come with handguards – strange for a “race replica.” As seems the case lately, consumers will have to spend well over 13K on a sled and not get any accessories that should come standard. That’s a good way to upset a loyal buyer, “replica” or not.
2013 Arctic Cat F 800 Sno Pro RR
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. Drive: Arctic 6 post (rpm sensing) primary, 10.75-in. dia. Arctic (roller cam) secondary Front Susp.: Arctic Race Suspension with FOX Evol X shocks with compression and rebound adjustability and sway bar (10 in. travel) Rear Susp.: ProCross Race Slide-Action Rear Suspension with 7-position coupling, FOX ZERO-X Piggyback front and rear shocks with adjustable dampening (13.5 in. travel) Track: 15x128x1.25 in. RipSaw (2.86 pitch) Fuel Tank: 10.6 gal. Rec. Fuel: 91 octane Dry Weight: NA Price: $13,599 US / $15,099 CA
*AmSnow tested
Narrow and light the REV-XP X-RS seat has 1.3 gallons of storage!
X-RS Rocks Steady
Just like the 80’s rock band Bad Company screams, the Ski-Doo X-RS continues to “Rock Steady!”
There is not much new on this sled for 2013, but there really didn’t need to be. The controls are slightly different as they are no longer on the console, but now up on the left side bars like all the other MXZ sleds. Also there’s a new temp gauge on the pod and there is a slightly different color scheme on the seat, side panels, rails, handguards, etc. Also, the 800 engine got new wiring and other technical upgrades we mentioned in the 800 Trail Hosses story in our October issue (P. 28).
The big news last year on this sled was the addition of the rMotion rear suspension and the new KYB PRO 40 R Easy-Adjust up front and the standard KYB PRO 40 Easy-Adjust shocks in back.

You’ll notice the front shocks are a bit longer than the standard HPG shocks on other MXZ sleds so the travel is slightly longer (9.5 inches on the X-RS vs. 9.0 on the standard MXZ) For the 2011 and 2012 model years, the X-RS won Best of the Best honors from AmSnow so it stands to reason that we are still high on it.

We won’t go into all the impressive specs, like the fact it weighs 463 lbs. (dry), has well over 150 horses snorting from the only direct-injected 800 2-stroke on the market, and has dual air intakes, and storage, and, and, and, etc., etc., etc.

BUT we will harp on the fact that this is the most user friendly ultimate high performance sled you can buy. It is the only one with push-button electric start, which is the smoothest, most reliable, and quietest e-start in the industry. Even more-so than 4-strokes from other makes! In addition it comes with push button reverse and it is still the easiest reverse in the industry to use engage/disengage.

The ease of use is more than that though. Last season we had an X-RS as a demo sled and we talked to several consumers on our rides, in addition to our own test crew. The intermediate riders (or simply not testosterone filled aggressive riders) said they had an easier time “wrapping their heads around” shock and suspension adjustments with the X-RS.

Even though this is basically Ski-Doo’s full-on snocross race sled, the consumers found the easy-adjust knobs on the back self-explanatory and never had to take their gloves off to make adjustments anywhere on the sled. Also, they made adjustments quickly. ALL the riders felt they could make more adjustments, more easily. Those not as schooled on shock adjustments just pragmatically found what worked for them.

In addition to a large range of suspension capability, which can suit any riding style, actual rider placement and positioning on this sled is superb. The 5.1-inch riser is just enough for taller guys, but not too much for shorter dudes, the seat is darned near perfect stiffness/plushness/stickiness/heightness. (Yes, that’s a word!)

Oh, and this one hugs the trail tighter than Oprah’s spandex!

2013 Ski-Doo MXZ X-RS 800R
800R E-TEC DI, liquid twin 2-stroke HP: 159.2* Exhaust: Single tuned pipe, baffle muffler Drive: TRA VII primary, QRS secondary Ski Stance: 42.4 in. Front Susp.: Dual A-arms w/ KYB PRO 40 R Easy-Adjust (9.5 in. travel) Rear Susp.: rMotion w/KYB PRO 40 Easy-Adjust center shock, KYB Pro 40 Easy Adjust rear shock (15.5 in. travel) Track: 15x120x1.25 in. RipSaw 1-ply (choice of lug heights or Ice Ripper XT) Fuel Tank: 10.6 gal. Rec. Fuel: 91 octane Dry Weight: 463 lbs. Price: $14,049 US / $15,549 CA (with Quick-Adjust, E.S. and standard RipSaw track) PLUSES: Excellent ride, great handling, quick acceleration, efficient operation. *AmSnow tested
Haters gonna hate
Yep, there are always things that can be improved upon and often we get called “haters” by OEMs, dealers, even readers sometimes (although rare). The Pilot 5.7R skis on this are the snocross race skis. The keel is deeper and these REALLY bite and turn. Though not necessarily a bad thing, this can surprise people, even regular Ski-Doo riders.

Further, we feel Ski-Doo needs to do something regarding the break-in time on its 800 motor, or at least fix the bogging when getting in and out of the throttle during break-in. We know a break-in period is needed for future reliability, but some performance improvement during break-in would be great.

Judges decision
If this were boxing, both these sleds would win a few rounds. The RR was my pick as an Editor’s Choice sled this year and the cost savings, looks, and racier feel sway me Catward. BUT, overall riding comfort and ease of use go to the Ski-Doo hands down. Our judge’s panel still overwhelmingly thinks the X-RS is the sled to beat, but the sled everyone will really want to show off to their buddies this year is the RR.
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