Haydays Catalyst announcement from Arctic Cat steals the show.

By Mark Boncher
   You hear all kinds of things when you’re walking the grounds at Haydays but seeing young folks this excited about Arctic’s announcement of a new 858 motor was satisfying. We are all incredibly happy to listen to the banter back and forth between the young bucks and the old-timers equally. Never in recent history have we seen as many attendees wearing Arctic Cat green as this season, and certainly for a good reason. As much as we enjoy it, the guys and girls at Arctic Cat are just loving it! I had a chance to speak with long-time Cat engineer Roger Skime about the motor and that excited twinkle in his eye told me everything I needed to know. But I saw that same feeling of Cat pride and satisfaction in the eyes of young Carson Price, one of the engineers at Arctic who did a lot of work to bring this motor to where it is. We were given a backstage pass to the engine factory for a pre-release so got to see all the big smiles from all the Arctic engineers and marketing folks. Needless to say this motor was a long time coming, but now is the time for the Cat faithful to rejoice. Here’s our take from the detailed intro and Arctic reps!

Putting Cat Back On The Map

If the Catalyst chassis put a big green pin back on the snowmobile market map, the2-stroke DSI 858 might make the whole map green! Alright that might be a bit much, but the new super-low, angled-back laydown power plant does not add a pound of weight over the 600-TEC2motor… yes, the 600! That in itself is impressive, but you will get an engine that is 11%more powerful than the current 800! That’s right, this proprietary engine design weighs less than the current 800 (over 4% less), has a ton more power, and is in the lightweight mass-centralized Catalyst chassis. The engine was developed along with the Catalyst chassis so one was not developed before, or after, the other. This creates a very well complimented machine that does not have ‘retrofits’ either way with the chassis or motor. The 858C-TEC2will be available in all the major market segments from the trail to crossover to mountain. We are assuming that means the Alpha One, Riot, ZR and ZR R-XC machines, but exact final models were not disclosed. The low end torque should have everyone excited, but especially the mountain folks!

The engine is so low in the belly of this beast you can hardly slide a piece of paper through anywhere. This is helped by the engine mounts being integrated into the bottom of the crankcase and the motor seamlessly fits with the centerline steering. Again, utilizing the lay-down style of this motor Arctic Cat is able to get the center of mass lower than any other comparable 850 on the market. This maximizes all aspects of performance from flatter, more predictable handling to more consistently getting power to the snow. Only a few things follow over from the 800 engine like some bearings, electrical, etc. Making this a truly brand-new C-TEC motor. Plus, the Catalyst has the fastest, easiest to remove, tool-less panels and hood in the industry… that makes working on anything underneath the plastic quick and easy. In addition to the weight loss, and power gain, there are new exhaust valves, and air intake system in the front, plus the new crankcase design. The motor is the same bore as the old 800 motor but has a longer 75.6mm stroke which makes it more efficient and is why the crankcase is taller as well. Keeping the bore the same meant that the engine did not get wider and rotating mass (piston weight) was kept low. If you remember the 1000cc motors they vibrated a lot and lifespan was slightly decreased because the motors ran hotter. In addition to these changes, the reed cage in the intake is 12mm closer to the engine and there’s new alternator venting. The exhaust valve system is ECM controlled and uses one valve for three ports. The port height change is increased 250% and helps give more low-end torque with a smaller lower port while giving increased RPM along with top end power using a larger and higher port… the 3-port system allows it to be more efficient throughout the powerband. One more added benefit is it also results in cleaner emissions. The new system has fewer parts which adds value in manufacturing and assembly.

The exhaust itself is also lighter, tuned for the 858, and has new mounting and springs. Finally, the intake is inprocess of being patented because of its smart simplified design with fewer parts, fewer areas that need sealing, and it is lighter because of these things. There is another inlet(s)for the intake besides the main one that decreases the chances of snow getting stuffed and losing power in deep POW. In addition, the decibel levels are less!

Judged by the gauge

A lot of folks were turned off by the relatively standard, old-school gauge on the 600Catalyst for 2024. That changed quickly along with the 858 as there will be a larger 8-inch touchscreen display with GPS/maps, group ride, Bluetooth, and all the other things available from Polaris and Ski-Doo. The system is powered by Garmin so it is a high quality design that is very customizable and also gives you all the pertinent engine info like temps, fuel, speed, RPM, voltage, time, ODO/trip, and more. Not surprisingly, this Powersport Navigator will go into both Cat snowmobiles and off road vehicles. You can track up to 20 people at once in your group and have voice/text with headsets. This at the current time is all done without needing to have cell coverage if you are in the USA but cell coverage will be required for operation in Canada. It’s very similar to what is inmost auto and high end moto-markets and has an easy-to-use status bar at the bottom which allows you to scroll through important information. Trail maps on the new gauge will come pre-loaded for both the snow states and provinces respectively on either side of the border. The layered maps show gas stations, restaurants, topography, public/private lands, and you can pre-plan/track your routes as well.

What we think

We are no different than the rest of the people who have been patiently waiting for this motor to arrive. All the stats, info, and motor in the sled look good on paper and in the classroom, but until we ride it we will reserve final judgement. While it has been painful to wait, similar to a long line for an amusement park roller coaster, we have consoled ourselves and others knowing that the last player to show up at the 850+game does not mean they are not the best.