The Arctic Cat Thundercat was first introduced in 1993, with a three-cylinder, 900cc motor. The Thundercat was produced from 1993-2002 and was consistently one of the fastest sleds on the trail. Back in those days, when I saw this iconic sled out on the trail, I’d dream of the chance to hop on one.
Well, it’s been a few years, but one of my childhood dreams has been answered. I got a chance to ride the new 2022 ZR 9000 Thundercat and it didn’t disappoint. Arctic Cat now claims to have the world’s fastest production snowmobile with the ZR 9000 Thundercat. I can’t confirm or deny that claim, but what I can say after riding it is the sled flat rips and handles amazingly well. With its C-TEC4 turbo charged 998cc triple, the sled’s 200 class horsepower engine pulls hard from the low end, through the mid-range, and when you think it should stop pulling on the top end, it doesn’t, it just keeps on going.
ADAPT CVT clutch system
The ADAPT CVT is a new clutch system that comes standard with Thunder Cat and enhances its performance. With its lightweight and narrow design, the ADAPT CVT system improves throttle response and smooths out the power delivery. That really helps control this 998cc turbo charged monster of a motor. Another feature of the new clutch system is there’s no more adjusting the secondary clutch for belt deflection. The ADAPT system automatically adjusts to maintain constant tension and height as the belt wears. This helps improve performance, minimize wear, and extend belt life.
Electric Power Steering (EPS)
Electric Power Steering (EPS) is a new feature for the Thundercat. While it doesn’t come standard, after trying it out, I would definitely add it to my sled if I were ordering one. The power steering is an absolute game changer for a big horsepower sled. At slow speeds, the power steering is at a higher percentage and barely has any resistance—I was steering the sled with two fingers at slow speeds. Then, as you increase the speed, the power steering system lowers the percentage of input, so you don’t over steer, while increasing feel for the sled and conditions. The engineers at Arctic Cat did a great job adjusting the power steering percentages as speed increase or decreases. When you ride the Thundercat with the EPS feature, it feels extremely smooth and refined. That’s not easy to do with any sled, especially the (their claim, not mine) most powerful production sled in the world.
Adjustable On-the-Fly Suspension (ATAC)
Arctic Technology Adjustable to Conditions (ATAC) Suspension is an option for the Thundercat. With the push of a button you can change the firmness of the suspension between soft, medium, and firm. You can even seamlessly make the suspension adjustments as you’re riding down the trail, with no need to stop or get off the machine. Besides the three main settings, you also have two customizable driver profiles you can fine tune even further, with advanced and programable driver settings that let you adjust the ratio of control between the ski shocks and the rear track shocks.
As you’re making suspension changes, you’ll easily know which suspension setting you’re in with a quick glance at the digital gauge. The shocks electronically controlled by the ATAC system are Fox Zero IQS reservoirs, an advanced shock that can take a beating and withstand the abuse of hard trail riding. When I tried the ATAC suspension, I was riding down the trail switching between the soft, medium, and firm settings. Each of the three settings were noticeably different and gave the ride and handling of the sled a different feel. It was nice to have such quick and noticeable adjustability with a suspension. The ability to easily adjust the suspension on the fly for varying trail conditions or type of riding is a great feature and something I really enjoyed using on the Thundercat.
The Thundercat we tried also had a heated seat. Are heated seats necessary? No, for years we’ve been riding without them. But are they really nice on frigid days? Absolutely! The morning we rode the Thundercat, the temperature was -25F (-32C) and the heated seat was a feature that stood out and was really appreciated. For a rider like me, that’s going to do all day rides in cold temps, this would be a feature I’d be looking for on my next sled.
An Epic Upgrade for an Iconic Classic.
The 2022 ZR 9000 Thundercat is a trail sled that handles amazingly well with the EPS, ATAC suspension, and an insane amount of power with the C-TEC4 turbo charged 998cc triple. This sled was so much fun to ride, I’d recommend it for any trial rider looking to upgrade, and with an iconic name like the Arctic Cat Thundercat how can you go wrong?