2014 Arctic Cat M8000 HCR 153 Review - Video
The seriously beyond-backcounty mountain snowmobile
Story by Matt Allred, Photography by Matt Allred, Jun 26, 2013
Arctic Cat's ProClimb M8000 HCR, like the Polaris RMK Assault and Ski-Doo XM RS Freeride, goes beyond the typical powder sled. It's a backcountry super sled for those with eyes on hillclimb competition. It's the best Arctic Cat has to offer the race-minded mountain snowmobiler.
The M8000 HCR is powered by the 8000-series Suzuki-built two-stroke, a twin cylinder motor with a displacement of 794cc. This motor uses a battery-less electronic fuel-injection (EFI) system with 46mm dual throttle bodies that helps the two-stroke mill knock out approximately 163 horsepower. The motor has a lightweight crankshaft, electronic exhaust valves known as APV for Arctic Power Valves, an exhaust pipe temperature system and a lightweight non-mechanical reverse system; this is Catís electronic push button reverse.
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Its drive clutch is the Arctic RPM-sensing six post, and its driven clutch is the 10.75-inch diameter Arctic roller cam. These clutches, with the crossover jackshaft, chaincase and the radial master hydraulic with a drilled lightweight disc brake, make up the Arctic Drive System (ADS).
Controlling the front end is the Arctic Race Suspension with FOX Float EVOL shocks. Its ski is the ProCross, which is suitable for competitive hillclimbing; for powder play, not so adept. The front suspensionís vertical travel is nine inches.
As already noted, the HCR does not rely on Catís telescopic handlebar; it has a fixed vertical-post unit with a standard 5.5-inch high riser block. However, Cat offers differing height riser blocks as an option through its parts and accessory catalog.
Seat and cockpit is all M8000, which includes the runningboards. A painted tunnel prevents snow from flash freezing to the tunnel. The HCR uses a front-mounted heat exchanger, which is a single unit that is approximately four pounds lighter than the full-length heat exchanger used on the standard M8. The HCR-type cooling system is also built into the M8 Sno Pro and Limited. This system reduces snow and ice buildup on the tunnel. Weíve found this to be true. Our 2013 M8 Sno Pro Limited test sled had a clean tunnel, whereas our 2012 M8 Sno Pro was an ice magnet with its full-length cooling system that stretched along the tunnelís length.
The HCR uses a lightweight racing seat thatís short and right-sized for leg swings. Its instrument gauge is both digital and analog with an altimeter. This tell-all pod also has an odometer, engine hour meter, reverse indicator, engine warning lights and two trip meters.
The rear suspension is Catís M with a tri-hub rear axle system. Arctic Cat's internal floating piston (IFP) shock is located on front arm and a FOX Float 2 shock on rear arm. Vertical travel is 15.5 inches.
Pushing the HCR through the snow is Catís 2.6-inch PowerClaw track with a stiff 85-durometer rating. Track pitch for the track, regardless of M8000 model, is three inches. Track pattern is curved forward (similar to the Attack 20 from eight years ago) which packs the snow before moving it; this in miniscule micro seconds. The 2.6-inch lug height is the tallest; no other mountain sleds has one that trumps it. To keep the big track and the rear skidís hyfax cool, the HCR uses ice-scratchers.
COMPETITION: Read our review of the Ski-Doo Freeride
Only one track length is available on the 800-powered HCR Ė 153 inches. If you want a longer HCR, youíll need to move to the M9000, which is powered by the 9000 C-TEC4 1056cc turbo four-stroke two cylinder that has a track length of 162.
Without a doubt, the M8000 HCR for 2014 is an aggressive snowmobile. However, its stiff shocks, wide ski-stance and non-adjustable handlebars make it a challenge to ride in steep-and-deep conditions where the slopes are infested with Douglas Fir or Lodge Pole pine trees that are big and meaty. But, from the picture of Rob Kinkade rolling the HCR on its back youíd think Iím busting out a lie. Rob is a professional hillclimber and he can take a grocery cart with a broken wheel up any incline and cut out a back slide whip off a cornice. After taking these pictures, and watching him autograph numerous mountainsides, he commented, ďThe fixed bars and wide ski-stance sure made me earn these.Ē
Really? I could not believe this after seeing him steal the goodies from a mountainís firm grip. If you can ride like Rob or want to be like him, then you are made for an HCR.
Five reasons you want an M8000 HCR:
1) The temptation to compete in the Rocky Mountain Snowmobile Hillclimb Association (RMSHA) circuit canít be quashed; youíve committed yourself to earn the point to climb Snow King mountain in the Jackson Hole World Championship Snowmobile Hillclimb.
2) Riding a trick muscle sled, unique in every way, speaks to the tattoos on your biceps.
3) Wide ski stance, what wide ski stance? My big-arm big-guns can manhandle it.
4) Your riding pals have Sno Pros and Sno Pro LEs and you choose to stand out from the crowd.
5) Because youíve arrived.
The HCR is a mountain snowmobile that likes to be pushed around in a rough and tough manner. Can you follow a Sno Pro and Limited? You betcha, but youíll burn more calories than the other M8000 riders. Arctic Cat built the Sno Pro and Limited for tree running and boondocking in and through the steep-n-deep where narrow is needed. If you choose an M8000 HCR, which is a good choice, set your sights on competing in a hillclimb circuit. It is a premium hillclimbing race sled Ė cut out to be just that.
|2014 Arctic Cat M8000 HCR 153 Specs|
|Engine||Arctic/Suzuki 794cc, two-stroke, liquid-cooled, twin; 46mm throttle body injector electronic fuel injection|
|Drive||Arctic 6 post rpm-sensing drive with 10.75-in Arctic roller cam driven|
|Front Suspension||Arctic Race Suspension (ARS) twin A-arm suspension; Fox Float Evol shocks; 9.0-inches of travel|
|Rear Suspension||Arctic ďMĒ parallel rail slide with Tri-Hub rear axle assembly; Arctic internal floating piston shock on front arm and Fox Float 2 shock; up to 15.5-inches of travel|
|Ski Stance||Adjustable from 42-43 in|
|Track||15 x 153 x 2.60 PowerClaw|
|Brake||Radial master cylinder hydraulic with lightweight rotor on driveshaft|
|Fuel Capacity||11.5 US Gal (91 octane)|
|Features||Standard: digital/analog tach & speedometer; Electric gas gauge; clock; reverse; push button reverse; dual halogen headlight|
Optional: key start; storage bags; rack; tank pads; optional windshield sizes