It was another busy and bustling weekend at Haydays with the typical big crowds, lots of beer, a hint of dust and of course a few first looks at new iron and new aftermarket trickery. Over at the big corporate Cat display, the kids from Minnesota held their annual barbeque feed a high noon and followed up the robust sauce fest with a first look at their new snocross and cross-country race sleds for the upcoming season. Joining the engineering crew onstage for the brief run down on the new sleds was snocross king Tucker Hibbert and USXC reigning champ Zach Herfindahl and Wesley Selby.
After the covers were pulled off the new race buggies Arctic unexpectedly had one more product to show the throng of fans. As the throaty rumble of a single cylinder four stroke motor came to life, the rear lift gate of one of the transporters rose up above the backdrop and gave all of us a first look at an Arctic Cat snow bike. With a few revs of the motor and hundreds of cell phones at the ready, Cat brass was basically mum with details, simply saying, “…we wanted to give everyone a little taste at what we have cooking at Arctic Cat.”
The obvious conclusion is the Cat snow bike was a combination effort between Yamaha and Arctic Cat, with Yamaha supplying one of their four-stroke dirt bikes such as the WR 450 F. But after looking closer at our photos and chatting with Yamaha executives later in the day…it clearly is not. In fact, Yamaha was just as surprised as everyone else when the green colored snow bike rose to the sky.
We did a quick look around the interweb and compared the frame and side cases and castings of the engine in this photo with those of current bikes from Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha, Suzuki, KTM, Husqvarna, and ATK, as well as engine cases from Kymco. Nothing appeared to match. However after more digging we found a match…Sherco. Who is Sherco you ask…the company was founded by Marc Teissier and built highly competitive trials bike starting in 1998. The company is based in Nimes France and has since expanded production beyone trials bikes to include a vast array of motocross, trial, enduro and supermotard models with engines that include 250 two-strokes, 300 and 450 four-strokes. The bike seen here in the Arctic Cat snow bike project appears to be a Sherco SEF 450 R.
As a result, the brief glimpse of the Arctic Cat snow bike leaves all of us with more questions than answers. Has Arctic Cat entered into a new partnership with Sherco? More importantly, does this put the Arctic Cat/Yamaha relationship on thin ice? Talk amongst yourselves.