MUD TEST: 2009 ARCTIC CAT MUD PRO 700H1 EFI; Special Purpose Mudder
Arctic Cat knows a good thing when they see it. The company execs noticed that a lot of their customers were using their ATVs for wailing through mud bogs and slime pits in the southeastern parts of the country. These enterprising customers would take their Cat four wheelers, install aftermarket big wheels and mudder tires, put on a snorkel for the really deep stuff, and add a suspension lift kit for maximum ground clearance. Then they would proceed to wallow in the mud with their ATVs, like a sow hiding from a farmer at a pork festival. Taking all this into account, the higher-ups at Arctic Cat told their engineers to come up with a machine for this rapidly expanding audience. It would be specifically designed to appeal to this particular neck of the woods, and be a vehicle where the owner did not have to add all these modifications to their production quad. Enter the 2009 Arctic Cat Mud Pro 700H1. It comes stock with a long list of special features for the mudding crowd. First off, the newest Cat has a new snorkel air intake system. It also comes with special mud tires, 12-inch aluminum wheels, a lower 4.0 gear ratio transmission, a standard winch, and special larger bumpers. To see for ourselves how well this unit performs for its intended audience, we headed out to the notorious East Texas mud pits. Located near Jacksonville, Texas, the Texas Mud Creek Off-Road Park is either the worst place on earth or the best place, depending on how deeply you stick your machine in one of the many mud pits dominating this facility. This is one of the most famous mud holes in America, and this location ensured we would be putting the newest specialty Mud Pro Arctic Cat 700 H1 to the ultimate test in its natural element-filth!
With a huge 14 inches of ground clearance, and huge 28-inch High Lifter Outlaw mud tires, the Mud Pro can literally climb out of ATV-swallowing mud ruts and keep going.
JUMP RIGHT IN—THE MUD’S MIGHTY FINE What stands out immediately when gazing upon the Mud Pro 700 H1 (outside of it metallic green metalflake paint job) is the largish snorkel outlet located on the top of the front hood area on the machine. By designing an elevated intake and CVT clutch snorkel, they were able to keep the CVT belt dry and cool and keep water out of the airbox and engine. The Cat engineers took the guesswork out of adding a snorkel system to your quad, and made it intregal to the design of the machine. Way cool. On the downside, Arctic Cat’s engineers did tell us that this particular snorkel system does not retrofit onto other Arctic Cat FIS (Fourwheel Independent Suspension) models. Too bad. Arctic Cat equipped the Mud Pro with special purpose High Lifter Outlaw mud tires and wheels. The Outlaw MST mud tires were specially designed for riders who play in the mud, but may not spend all their time riding there. They measure in at 28x9.5-12 (front) and 28x12-12 (rear). These tires have deep lugs, wraparound tread bars, and side sipes seen on tires designed for snow and ice. A side benefit is that they offer excellent traction in the mud, but still deliver a smooth ride on hard pack terrain. An industry leading 14 inches of ground clearance is standard on the new Mud Pro, thanks in part to the larger tires. This makes it easier to navigate through deep ruts in the muck without hanging up.
MOTOR CITY MADMEN Like Ted Nugent playing a frenzied version of Cat Scratch Fever, the new Mud Pro has plenty of screaming horsepower to rail its way through the thickest and deepest muck you can find. It does this courtesy of its 700 H1 Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) fed engine. The H1 uses a powerful 695cc, SOHC, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled, four valve, four-stroke engine, which was designed with a wide torque curve, and plenty of horsepower for smooth power delivery. The Duramatic Automatic Transmission has a long-life maintenance-free belt that withstands the abuse of severe mud use. Arctic Cat builds their H1 engines at their state-of-the-art plant, located in St. Cloud, Minnesota. This particular engine has even helped Team Arctic Cat racers to two consecutive championships in the World Power sports Association (WPSA) Quad Terrain races. A nice maintenance feature are the easily removable engine covers that help to shield the engine from mud, while also creating a clean appearance for the engine compartment. Cold weather starting and altitude changes are also no longer a problem, thanks to the Cat’s fuel injection system. In the ergonomics department, a slightly taller seat (raised an inch) combined with a new handlebar design, makes for a more comfortable ride in the mud. The Mud Pro’s stance and suspension were also beefed up, with competition spring and shock valving, and preload changes tailored specifically for the Mud Pro’s taller Highlifter Outlaw MST tires.
CONTROL VS KAOS Switching from 2WD to 4WD is as simple as pressing a handlebar-mounted shift button. You can also activate the front diff-lock easier by pushing the all-new electronic rocker switch button, located on the instrument pod. For convenience, a two inch “automotive style” receiver hitch is also standard, as is a long-range 6.5-gallon fuel tank, digital instrument pod (which shows mph, odometer, dual trip meters, hour meter, clock and fuel level). The Mud Pro also has a “Start-In-Gear” feature to make quick starts easier in the goop. Extra wide fenders increase the protection factor for muddy terrain, and a latch on the seat allows quick access to the handy tool tray. The Cat’s SpeedRacks lets you bolt on accessories easily and they offer 100/200-pound rack capacities front/rear. To cap off the Mud Pro package, front and rear heavy duty bumpers are included as standard equipment.
On hard pack trails, the Mud Pro 700H1 handles better than its big-tired and lifted competitors. The ride is much smoother than those machines, though not as smooth as a non-lifted, or big mud tire equipped machine would be.
SUSPENSION A fully-independent front and rear double A-arm suspension system gets the Mud Pro Cat’s power to the ground. It is equipped with preload adjustable shocks (five rear positions, five front positions) with a huge ten inches of travel at each end. This gives you plenty of shock action for the roughest terrain out there. On our hard pack terrain rides between the mud holes, the Mud Pro’s suspension handled the increased weight of the tire and wheel package with ease. The actual dry weight of the Mud Pro 700 H1 is a hefty 793 pounds dry! The steering effort is still quite easy, though, and we didn’t have any problems on our test excursions. Unlike some mud tire equipped machines we’ve ridden on hard pack, the ride on the Mud Pro was much smoother and less jarring. We like that. We did note that Arctic Cat offers an optional sway bar for the Mud Pro as an accessory purchase through your dealer. We would like to see this added to the machine as a standard feature in the future.
MORE COOL STUFF, LIKE: • Positive shifting, thanks to a new shift detent profile in the lever linkage, which allows for improved, more positive shifting. • Thundercat halfshafts. These units were developed from the Quad Terrain Race circuit. These all-new halfshafts (axles) were adopted from the Thundercat 1000 ATV to increase durability and strength for the most brutal offroad conditions this machine would surely see. • New headlight bulb sockets. The headlight bulb sockets have been redesigned to eliminate the bulb popping out, which decreases the chance of the headlight housing filling with water. Nice touch. • Speed racks. These racks allow for quick and easy installation and removal of a wide variety of Arctic Cat accessories. They look pretty good also. • Floating hydraulic disc brakes. These units are low maintenance, have great stopping power, and worked well in either dry or wet conditions. • Electric shift locking diff. The two-to four-wheel drive system, with new electric front locking differential works very well. This full locking front differential transfers engine torque to both front wheels. There is also an all-new electronic rocker switch located on the digital gauge pod. • Snow use. The Outlaw MST tires are also designed for traction in the snow. With significant sidewall wrap, the MST would be a good tire for doing double duty in snow and icy conditions. Way cool.
We found an amiable fellow who let us rinse off our machine at the Jacksonville, Texas Mud Creek Off-road park wash pad. Normally, they’d charge you $2 to clean your radiator or $10 to wash the entire machine. Thanks, dude.
OVERALL CONCLUSIONS After spending a considerable amount of time raging in the Texas mud aboard the Mud Pro 700 EFI, we came away with a big smile on our faces. This is one of the coolest looking, most fun to ride in the muck production ATVs we’ve ridden. It looks hot (in a mud lovers kind of way), and has a host of mud-friendly refinements, that help keep a dedicated mudders cost down, by coming directly from the factory. Arctic Cat saves you the time and expense of having to bolt on larger wheels and tires, getting the suspension lifted, and having to intall your own snorkel system on your production ATV. All for a retail price of $9529. This is quite a bit lower than what you would have to spend to transform your stocker into a “mudder.” And to top it all off, you even get a factory six-month warranty on this machine. If you installed aftermarket mud tires on a stocker, the warranty would be instantly voided! That’s an offer that most hard-core mudders will find hard to resist.
Our very own Brand “X” Johnson put the Mud Pro through its paces at the East Texas ‘Mudstock’ competition. Brand ended up getting torpedoed in the magazine editors race, but Dirt Wheels photo contributor Harlan Foley handily won the event.
WARNING: Much of the action depicted in this magazine is potentially dangerous. Virtually all of the riders seen in our photos are experienced experts or professionals. Do not attempt to duplicate any stunts that are beyond your own capabilities. Always wear the appropriate safety gear. Copyright 2008 Hi-Torque Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. Console Login