2016 Arctic Cat Bearcat 700 XT vs. Ski-Doo Expedition LE 1200 vs. Yamaha VK Professional II
Today’s working snowmobiler demands a new type of utility sled, one suited for towing, hauling, back country travel and occasional pleasure riding. This buyer expects his sled to be as durable and functional as a work truck. He wants strong low to midrange power and, if available, a multi-speed transmission for serious grunt when needed.
Today’s top of the line work/utility snowmobiles all have 125-plus horsepower engines, primarily four-strokes, with very strong low end torque. You’ll find these three modern work/utes – Arctic Cat’s Bearcat 7000 XT, Ski-Doo’s Expedition LE 1200 4-TEC and Yamaha’ VK Professional II – all add a gearbox to give customers even more utility. They all come able to put about an acre of rubber track to the snow for exceedingly stout grip. Each of these sleds has a 20-inch wide by 154-inch long track. The lug profile differs as Yamaha comes with the tallest lug height at 1.5 inches. Arctic Cat follows with a 1.375-inch lug and Ski-Doo trails at a nominal 1.25-inch height.
We won’t say you can’t enjoy any of these sleds on a tour, but chances are you’d want something a bit more compact. Your ride would be pretty darn good as these sleds with those 154-inch tracks can bridge a lot of stutter bumps and you’d sit tall in the utility saddles common to these three models.
Interestingly, Yamaha and Cat share a version of Yamaha’s 1049cc triple, but where Cat designs its own intake and exhaust specifications, the Yamaha VK Professional has total Yamaha specs, which have been base-lined by Yamaha’s Russian subsidiary. Although both engines are mated to multi-speed gearboxes, the two engines differ in characteristics as they work through different clutching components. The VK Professional features Yamaha’s YVXC drive clutch mated to a hi-low with reverse gearbox while the new Bearcat works with TEAM components, including the all-new Arctic Cat WR3 gearbox, which was developed with TEAM’s input. The Ski-Doo Expedition’s 1171cc triple has the well-proven synchromesh two-speed transmission that was pioneered by Lynx, Ski-Doo’s Scandinavian sibling.
With the low-end grunt available from any of these three four-strokes, you can imagine the capability these sleds have for handling loads. The granny gear of the new Arctic Cat WR3 gearbox sets a new standard in utility snowmobiling, but both the Ski-Doo and Yamaha models should satisfy most work needs in or out of the tundra.
A peek at the three sleds tells you immediately that, while they have some ride-friendly ergonomics, they are foremost work sleds and expect to be treated as such. The seats are tall and long, with easy room for two and occasional accommodation for a third rider. They all have a passenger area that consists of a bumped up cushion with handgrips and a backrest. The Ski-Doo and Yamaha offer underseat storage.
You’ll find that the new-for-2016 Bearcat 7000 XT offers plenty for its suggested MSRP of US$14,499, which is the highest priced of the three sleds included here. The Cat adds an innovative backup light to help you secure a cargo sled to the standard hitch or to warn sleds coming up from behind that you are backing up. In addition, there is a tall 19-inch windshield complete with rearview mirrors and a strong utility-style front bumper for front end protection. The handlebar has been borrowed from the mountain segment and features wide ranging adjustability as well as a standard leverage strap.
Just like the Cat, Yamaha’s new VK Professional shows off its Yamaha Russia roots with features designed to make this sled tundra and backcountry friendly for its rider. The seat has been designed to accommodate frequent on-and-off’s commonplace for a working snowmobiler. It sits taller and allows for easier access than past versions. It also has lots of underseat storage for tools and gear as well as including an integrated tool kit. The windshield is wider with an improved wraparound to deflect both wind and brush. The fuel tank has been increased by 10 percent and the standard cargo rack has been expanded to carry more than before.
The VK Professional’s front suspension differs from its trail counterparts as it features what Yamaha calls its “gull wing” A-arm architecture. This new curved front end design provides increased clearance that helps deflect impact when encountering hidden under-snow obstacles like stumps, rocks or hard edged ice bumps. The Professional’s Pro Comfort rear suspension utilizes KYB gas cell shocks as well as a simple flip-lever torsion spring that lets you adapt the ride or add assistance for hauling or towing.
Ski-Doo’s Expedition LE borrows from its Grand Touring and Skandic heritage to offer the look of a touring sled combined with the utility of a pure work sled. The 1200 4-TEC matches the Yamaha triples for performance and versatility, plus it offers the first-ever and still the only synchromesh gearbox in the industry. With an engagement of 2200 revs, the 4-TEC can readily power down with the two-speed set up for serious hauling. Plus, in its standard range the Expedition offers comfortable cruising for two. The backrest on the two-up seating is adjustable with the passenger grips offering onboard security. The Ski-Doo work/ute includes a tall windshield with rearview mirrors. The raised seating area also offers underseat storage.
The 2016 Expedition LE features Ski-Doo’s latest front suspension, the RAS2 with the taller ski spindles and revised geometry to sharpen on trail steering and overall steering control. The sled’s SC-5U rear suspension is an articulating design that maximizes the long track’s on snow traction by simply engaging the tool-less locking mechanism.
While these sleds are constructed with work and maximum utility in mind, they offer rider-friendly touches like power outlets for electric visors, GPS units and such. Plus, with all these rugged features built in, they also can carry you to work sites, to a remote backwoods lake for contemplative ice fishing or simply function as work vehicles to set a cross country ski trail, establish a sled dog course or help your club sign and maintain trails. Whatever your needs, these three work/utes have the all basics – and more – that a working snowmobiler needs.
|2016 Arctic Cat Bearcat 7000 XT||2016 Ski-Doo Expedition LE 1200 4-TEC||2016 Yamaha VK Professional II|
|Engine||Yamaha 1049cc, triple cylinder four-stroke; Electronic fuel injection; 3-into-one exhaust||Rotax 1171cc, liquid-cooled three-cylinder 4-stroke; Rotax electronic injection||Yamaha 1049cc, triple cylinder four-stroke; 41mm Mikuni electronic fuel injection|
|Horsepower||130+ (estimate)||125+ (estimate)||125+ (estimate)|
|Drive||TEAM Rapid Response drive with Team BOSS driven clutch; wide range 3-speed gearbox with reverse||Ski-Doo/eDrive2 with QRS; engagement @ 2200 rpm; maximum engine rpm @ 7900; Synchromesh two-speed transmission with reverse||Yamaha YVXC Hi/Low range transmission with reverse|
|Front Suspension||Arctic Race Suspension dual A-arm with Arctic Cat IFP gas shocks; 9-inches of travel; ProUte skis||RAS2 double A-arm with Motion Control shocks; up to 8.3 inches of travel; Pilot DS2 ski||Yamaha dual wishbone with hydraulic gas cell shocks; 6.3-inches of travel|
|Rear Suspension||Arctic Xtra-Action parallel rail slide suspension with adjustable torsion springs, fiberglass overload springs and Torque-Sensing shocks; Arctic Cat IFP gas shocks; 13.0-inches of travel||SC-5U parallel slide rail with Motion Control center shock, HPG rear shock; up to 13.4-inches of travel otion parallel slide rail with aluminum body HPG center shock, HPG rear shock; up to 16-inches of travel||Yamaha Pro Comfort parallel rail slide suspension with flip up rails; 40mm KYB rear gas shock; 11.3-inches of travel|
|Length||131.0 in||127.0 in||128.0 in|
|Width||50.0 in||46.9 in||47.2 in|
|Height||NA||52.3 in||57.5 in|
|Ski Stance||37.5 to 43.5 in||38.4 or 40.1 in||38.4 in|
|Track||20 x 154 x 1.375||20 x 154 x 1.25||20 x 154 x 1.5 Camoplast Cobra WT|
|Brake||Polaris AXYS radial disc system||Hydraulic brake system with braided stainless steel line||4-piston hydraulic disc system|
|Features||STANDARD: electric start; electronic Power Sport multifunction gauge/display; Pro Utility seat; passenger seating with handgrips; backrest; 19-inch windshield; mirrors||STANDARD: 2-speed gearbox with reverse; electric start; multi-function gauge; 15-inch windshield; backrest; 2-up seat with underseat storage; mount rearview mirrors||STANDARD: electric start; Automotive & DCA plug ins; multifunction gauge/display; Utility seat; passenger seating with handgrips; backrest; tall windshield; cargo rack area|
|Fuel Capacity||14.7 US Gal||12.0 US Gal||11.8 US Gal|