A couple of years ago, Arctic Cat shocked the ATV market by introducing a model built specifically for mud riding. The guys and gals who live to
2011 Arctic Cat Mud Pro 1000 vs. Can-Am Outlander 800R X mr
challenge their machines and their own skills in deep water, swamp-like conditions rejoiced — finally a manufacturer had acknowledged and legitimized their form of fun, while at the same time creating a capable machine that could save owners thousands of dollars by not forcing them to buy and then heavily modify other four-wheelers.
Yes, the original 2009 Arctic Cat Mud Pro 700 H1 was a runaway success, both for those customers but also for Arctic Cat. The brand has been in the ATV market for 14 years, but it seems in recent years it has been trying hard to define itself with interesting models like the 1000-class Thundercat (now the 1000 LTD) and this Mud Pro line. For 2010, Arctic Cat topped itself in its self-defined mud class by bringing out the Mud Pro 1000 and also offering the Mud Pro 650.
Cat’s ability to corner this new niche of the ATV market is over, however. Can-Am’s Outlander ATVs have been quite popular base machines for racers to modify in competitive mud racing, so it only seemed natural that it would be the next company to develop a from-the-factory bogger.
Can-Am’s answer is the 2011 Outlander 800R X mr — with the lowercase mr standing for “mud racer.” Its take on a factory mud machine doesn’t include the big external snorkel found on the Mud Pro, but it features bigger tires and wheels, power steering, plus an adjust-on-the-fly air suspension that allows drivers to give their machines 2 inches of lift for mud riding, or let the air out for the trail ride to the mud hole.
Of course when we first spied the Outlander X mr we immediately started plotting a shootout pitting it against Cat’s Mud Pro 1000 — hey, it’s our job to think about and then execute such plans. It’s just a coincidence that deep water mud riding also happens to be a blast — it’s not our fault that sometimes our jobs are a lot of fun. It makes up for all of the long days in the office where we have to put up with each other.
Let’s get this out of the way right up front: We know that mud riding can be controversial, and we know that in many areas the actions of a few recluses driving into sensitive wetlands are a real threat to our riding rights — not to mention a threat to those wetlands and the lifeforms they house.
For our test, we went to a purpose-built mud bog — we didn’t just tear up our local neighborhood swamp. We contacted Bob Schmidt, a local off-road enthusiast. He and his crew built us a custom pit on his land, which has been used for mud bogs for years, all the way up to hosting mud competitions for big four-wheel drive trucks and buggies.
The area was perfect for our test and included various depths and thicknesses of mud and water, including one monstrous and sticky sippy hole that stopped everything we threw at it.
2011 Arctic Cat Mud Pro 1000
2011 Arctic Cat Mud Pro 1000: Features Benefits
As we said, the Mud Pro started it all, and immediately separated itself from the rest of the ATV market.
Its most notable feature at a glance is the bright green snorkel that stands 12 inches above the front rack. It provides air to both the engine and the clutches while seeming to scream, “Go ahead and sink me past the rack — I dare you!”
Cat’s Mud Pro machines are lifted slightly, providing 14 inches of ground clearance and 10 inches of suspension travel, according to the spec chart. Independent, dual A-arm designs are found on all four corners, with coil-over shocks. That ground clearance is also enabled by 28-inch Maxxis Zilla mud tires that ride on 14-inch aluminum wheels. One-inch lugs provide clawing abilities.
For 2011, the Mud Pro 1000 comes in an extended version of Cat’s base chassis, featuring the same 58-inch wheelbase found in the company’s two-
The Mud Pro’s snorkel cuts through the bogs like a shark’s fin, and prevents the entry of water to the engine and CVT.
passenger TRV machines. The 700 and 650 Mud Pros have a 50-inch wheelbase. A longer wheelbase generally enables better traction and is preferred by most in the mud racing crowd — before mud-specific machines were available from the factory, many racers started with extended, two-passenger machines from Cat, Polaris and Can-Am as their base due to the longer stance.
Plastic, angled footrests on a raised rear platform are new this year with the chassis change on the Mud Pro 1000, giving riders an easy place to stand and get leverage when the going gets tough, er, deep.
Power comes from the largest displacement engine in the ATV market — a 951cc, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected twin with a unique snort. The four-valve engine with a single overhead makes about 70 hp, putting it on par with Can-Am’s 800R powerplant. Power is put through a traditional CVT-style transmission, with high, low, neutral and reverse available through the selector on the left front fender.
For 2011, Cat went to 3.1 gears vs. 4.0 on the 2010 models for more snort down low. Also, the factory beefed up the axles, making them a claimed 66 percent stronger than last year’s model and eliminating an area of potential failure.
Two- or four-wheel drive is selectable utilizing a switch on the right handlebar pod. Other standard equipment on the Mud Pro 1000 include large front and rear bumpers and a high-end, easy-to-read gauge that includes 14 inputs — from the standard speedometer and tachometer and fuel level information to indicators signaling when the high beam lights are on, when the differential is locked and warnings for temp or oil pressure. Like on other Cat ATVs, a handy storage box is found right in front of the driver’s seat, and the handlebars feature a single-lever brake that controls front and rear hydraulic stoppers.
The Mud Pro 1000 is available in orange and black or green and black and retails for $13,299. Its spec weight is 851 pounds dry and it comes with a 3,000-pound winch.
2011 Can-Am Outlander 800R X mr
2011 Can-Am Outlander 800R X mr: Features Benefits
It’s not surprising that the born-to-be-competitive clan in Quebec pounced when it saw an opportunity to jump into the mud bog racing scene. This is the same brand that changed its image a few years back and now has the highest output engines in virtually every class it which it competes — including the amazing base Outlanders, the rough-and-ready Renegades and the DS450.
Beyond that, Can-Am loves to prove its might and market its brand via racing, from MX to GNCC, so joining the deep water fracas came as no surprise.
What is surprising, however, is just how far the company went with its inaugural stock mud racer, the Outlander 800R X mr. The company didn’t just lift an existing machine, slap on some tires and raise the intakes — instead, the X mr is truly engineered for its task.
The base is the Outlander Max platform — a stretched chassis with a 59-inch wheelbase. The machine is suspended by a dual A-arm front and Can-
The Outlander’s raised radiator improves cooling and protects it from damage.
Am’s exclusive Torsional Trailing Arm Independent (TTi) rear suspension, like other Outlanders, but this buggy has a unique twist: Air Control Suspension (ACS).
Utilizing an on-board air compressor — activated by using a button on the gauge, followed by a button by the driver’s left thumb — the rider can select between one of six different pre-sets for the air bladders on the high-tech Fox high-pressure gas, coil-over shocks.
The technology was first introduced on Can-Am’s most luxurious two-upper, the Outlander Max 800R LTD, to allow riders to remotely adjust the preload on the shock for carrying one or two passengers in varying conditions. On the X mr, however, it’s all about ride height. When fully jacked up, the X mr looks like a super modded monster and rides a full two inches higher than in its lowest setting. And in deep water, a couple of inches can make a huge difference.
Ride height, ground clearance and deep mud capabilities are also allowed by the huge, 30-inch Gorilla Axle Silverback tires with tall 1.5-inch lugs. They are mounted on 14-inch cast aluminum wheels. Ground clearance measures 14 inches when the suspension is fully extended, according to Can-Am, or 12 inches when at the lowest setting.
Further enhancing its mudding capabilities, Can-Am engineers moved the radiator up onto the front rack and created what the company calls its Integrated Snorkel System (that’s ISS, in Can-Am’s “everything needs call letters” speak). It features raised air intake for the engine as well as intake and exhaust for the CVT transmission up by the gauge pod. It’s not as eye-catching or quite as high as Cat’s large snorkel, but it’s effective for all but the very deepest water situations.
Powering the beast is Can-Am’s 71 hp, fuel-injected, liquid-cooled 799.9cc twin, featuring a single overhead cam and the coolest sound of any stock engine in the sport.
Topping it all off is the dual-mode Dynamic Power Steering system, which provides light steering and easy handling important both in the soup and on the trail. Four-wheel drive is available at the flip of a switch, and the quick-engaging form of Can-Am’s Visco-Lok engages the second front tire when slippage is noted from the other front tire.
The Outlander 800R X mr has a claimed dry weight of 669 pounds, comes in yellow and black, features with a 3,000-pound winch and retails for $13,099.
It terms of pure hooting-and-hollering, laughing-inside-the-helmet and mocking-your-co-workers fun, our mud shootout (sarcastically code-named Mudgate) was likely the most hilarious comparative test we’ve ever conducted. Both of these machines made mud riding so much fun because they were so capable — and that made us want to push the machines and ourselves further and further.
But unlike parents when asked to compare their children, we were allowed to pick favorites, and in this case the award goes to the new kid on the block — the Outlander 800R X mr.
Getting stuck, and winching your buddies, is more than half the fun of mud bogging!
For starters, it was far more capable in the mud, thanks to the huge tires, the adjust-on-the-fly suspension and the power steering. All of them allowed this machine to more easily be handled in the wet soup — just the tires alone would have made a huge difference, but the rest of the package takes this machine one full step ahead of the Mud Pro. Add in a spec weight that’s almost 200 pounds lighter and a pricetag that’s $200 cheaper, and this comparison isn’t very close.
The Can-Am was also more capable on the trails, showing surprising agility for its size — thanks again to the power steering, flatter cornering and the adjustable suspension system.
The Can-Am Outlander 800R X mr features integrated handguards that attach at the handlebar end. They actually allow the driver to get some leverage on the outer edge of the handlebar when rocking it in the mud, though the end will loosen under enough pressure. It also features two rear storage boxes, which is great, but they did take on muddy water in our test.
No machine is perfect, of course, and our biggest complaint about the X mr is the brakes. We’ve long complained about Outlanders’ exposed discs when they get wet, and that’s certainly the case with this mud buggy. The rear brake in particular creaks and groans when wet, and becomes grabby. We’d love to see a sealed wet brake added to this machine.
The Mud Pro is a good machine; it just got topped by the newer X mr. We’d love to try it with the Can-Am’s larger tires, and we’re fully expecting to find power steering on Mud Pro models in the future. The key will be whether Arctic Cat can add those features without raising the price tag and becoming less price-competitive with the X mr.
The Mud Pro has slightly wider handlebars, a 2-inch receiver and more usable space on the front rack. It’s a little less agile on the trails than the X mr, and both feature a single-handle brake control that controls both the front and rear stoppers.
At the end of the day, both of these machines will take you through deep water mud bogs better than any other stock machine available, but the X mr has replaced the Mud Pro as the king of the swamps. We can’t wait to see how Arctic Cat responds with future mud-focused products.