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Story By: Dan Reincheld & ATV Source
Photos By: ATV Source & Dan Reincheld

Continued from page 1.....

The Mighty Arctic Cat Thundercat 1000

The body and ergonomics have also been modified on the Thundercat. A different handlebar bend is used to increase rider comfort in the lower seating position. Overall, we found ergonomics to be comfortable and controls were easy to reach and use. A wider fender design has been added to increase rider protection and a high-density polypropylene skid plate and stick stoppers are used for quad protection. Arctic Cats CVT with dual range gearbox and start-in-gear feature are standard. Only one color will be available for the initial offering, AC Racing's metallic silver with Thundercat graphics.

A unique feature of the Thundercat is a peak load limiter, renamed “Spike Load Dampener” to protect gearing, drive shafts, and axles. While the unit does not limit torque output at all under normal riding conditions, it slips under extreme torque peaks (such as an airborne landing where the rear wheels touch down first and throttle is still applied) to keep torque loads seen by the drive train within gearing and shafting limits. Actual torque limit specs were obtained by destructive testing of components and the limiter design set under those limits to prevent breakage. An admirable idea for reliability and long life of the engine and drive line, but maybe an absolute necessity considering the massive power available. Did, perhaps, the Arctic Cat engineers break a few drive shafts while testing the beast?

One area of concern was the tendency for bump steer. In tight GNCC style trails, the quick throttle response might get some more aggressive riders into trouble in rough terrain, unless they have lightning fast reflexes and a strong upper body. We noticed more feedback through the handlebars, which at some times almost jerked the bars out of our hands. This condition actually decreased when in 4wd, with steering still light and responsive, but more stable. Seeing as how the awesome acceleration is only slightly lessened in 4wd, it might be best for some riders of the mighty Thundercat to keep it in 4wd at all times. With so much power available, we would like to have seen as standard equipment a steering damper.

Another area of concern for us on what we see is overly aggressive engine braking. On several occasions when hitting a downhill corner with loose surface and decelerating (no braking), the rear tires skidded and caused the rear end to come around a bit. While this might just be a factor of our riding style, it was disturbing at first. In addition, when attempting to pull a wheelie (which the quad does quite readily with a little help, in spite of the longer wheelbase), engine braking kicks in hard when letting off the throttle and causes the front end to slam into the ground instead of easing down, a rather disconcerting experience.

Daryl Rath is not racing the new Thundercat in this years WPSA.  Instead they are racing the 650 H1's as the rules for the WPSA do not allow any ATV over the 700cc limit. However, the H2 will get some race experience in this years 6 and 12 hours of ATV America and some Baja races.  It is indeed race-proven tough. We will see more Thundercat riders on the podiums in the future. We will also see many mud-modified Thundercats crossing the finish line first in all the major mud bog races.

The result of three years of design and testing, we were quite impressed with the Thundercat. It is a blast to ride, and as fun as a quad can be, keeping in mind the two potentially tricky items above. Power is unmatched in the ATV world, and those searching for even more will be very impressed as well. The thrill of popping the throttle lever and watching your knuckles turn white is also unmatched. Dealers are expected to have the H2 Thundercat by October, 2007 in limited numbers. MSRP will be $10,499, but until production hits a peak and demand ebbs a bit, expect some dealers to ask more for this two-headed monster. Maybe you should rush to your nearest Arctic Cat dealer and put one on reserve today?

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