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I was fortunate enough to get some seat time on my new F8 last week, and finally got some miles put on the sled. Because of some issues with my track exchange option, I didn't get my 14" track until the day before we left ... so I was forced to ride without studs and my USI skis. With that in mind, here's my thoughts.

I first fired up my sled to load on the trailer and rip around my yard a bit since we had just received about 4" of snow. I noticed it pulled over no harder than my F7 did - actually probably a bit easier. Because it was the first time I had been on a sled this year, it felt incredible power-wise. It felt good to be back on a snowmobile, and play in the yard. I have a little slope in the back yard and goosed it a few time coming up and over that, and it launched nicely and landed great. It also tore up my grass :oops: I noticed it steered really easy considering I was cutting right through the snow into the ground. Even with the stock skis and dual carbides, it turned great. Long story short, I loaded it on the trailer and we were off for Lake Namakagon ... my initial impression was that I was like a little kid on Christmas morning, grinning from ear to ear. I couldn't wait to get up north and get some real miles on the sled.

Fast forward about 5 hours ...

We unloaded and proceeded to hit the lake we were staying on. They had the same 3" or 4" of fluffy snow on top of the ice so it was by no means ideal conditions for hard lake running (especially with no studs). Due to my way of breaking in an engine, I varied my throttle throughout the ride on the lake. I would run up to about 80-85 and then let off and vary my cruising speeds between 40mph and 70mph. The power of the F8 is strong and smooth. I remember my F7 being "tourqey" but this thing is an altogether different feel. It's incredibly smooth, yet it pulls your arms when giving it some throttle :D Without studs though, there was a lot of slipping and sliding. The little bit of trail we ran to the firelane was actually very good trail with little rough stuff. Not much for a test of the new chassis, but it felt great to be on some good trail (even if it was only for a minute or two). We made it to the firelanes and ripped down to the tavern we set out for. One of the nice things I noticed was my temp light didn't come on. With my '03 F7, had I been riding in the same conditions, my check engine light would have flashed for sure. No issues with the F8. I initially missed the narrow tunnel of the F7, but it was just a matter of getting used to the new setup. I always loved the way you could make the slightest move on the Firecat and it would respond. The new chassis is much more ZR-like ... and there's nothing wrong with that!! Very stable regardless of the speed :thumbsup:

Prior to setting out on the first ride, I was fearful of the chassis control unit light coming on because of all the "horror stories" I read on the Internet. No issues with the CCU. I was worried about the sled backfiring and melting my side panels ... no issues there either. I didn't know if it was going to burn down on me due to the noted cooling issues ... yet again, no worries. One thing I did notice, and am seeing others reporting the same, is that my speedo would essentially cut out when going from my low beams to high beams. It would come back on in a matter of seconds, but it was enough to draw my concern. More on that later.

One simple thing - I have to give the engineers at Cat a pat on the back for finally moving the hand warmers and thumb warmers back over to the left side ... finally!!! It was nice to be able to change with the touch of my thumb, and not have to reach over with my brake hand to make changes. Also, cool to see the controls are lighted so you can see them at night instead of having to feel around for them. The only other item that could potentially use the lighted option is reverse, but that doesn't get used too often. It's a great feature though! I used it a couple times, and it's cool to be able to back up and not have to whip the rear around. The speedo display was great, and the overall lighting was great (in comparison to my '03 speedo). Headlights were set a bit high, but easily adjusted with the knobs on each side of the speedo.

From a ride perspective that evening, I was impressed with just how smooth the big 8 runs. Not much for vibration, and it was just so easy to sit back and ride. The next day, when we rode up north and in some better conditions I was even more impressed. The stock skis, despite being 4" dual runners, handled pretty darn good (in the good trails). In the icy stuff, as with any sled with stock skis, it had a tendency to push. We finally had hit a patch of trails that was a bit rough and all I can say is I instantly fell in love. I'm not sure if the bump handling characteristics was due to the sled being new (shocks being new) or the chassis, or the combination of the two ... but I can say it lived up to all of the hype I had read on the Internet and in the mags. Transition from sitting to standing was effortless, but I feel like I need a riser to ride continuously in stand up mode. The steering is so good on these things - way better than my buddy's '06 Fusion that I really enjoyed last year. Also, the turning radius seems to be much tighter than my old F7. I was able to turn very easily on the trail w/o the need of reverse several times. I was very surprised at that, and very happy too.

It took some getting used to with the new brake. I knew it too had to be broken in, and it took some getting used to having to really squeeze the brake lever. But the second day I was used to it, and it started to get better with less brake pressure needed. I have always loved the Wilwood brakes, and these new brakes aren't all that bad. In fact, I'd say they're just as good as the old brake setup, but require a hair more pressure.

Fuel economy was pretty darn good, all things considered. Even with my first tank of gas containing 8oz of premix, I still pulled over 10mpg. The second tank is where I was really impressed. I took 8.3 gallons in 115 miles!!! For those of you wanting to know, that equates to almost 14mpg. The icing on the cake was that my buddy on his new Dragon took over 9 gallons na na I also noticed the oil consumption was way less than I expected. Knowing Cat's tendency to drown their sleds in oil, I was expecting to see quite a bit of oil consumed. To my (pleasant) surprise, I took about a quart of oil for the 160 miles of riding. Altogether I used just over 2 quarts of oil in 340+ miles.

I have to admit it's a cold sled. Riding on the lake, and in open areas where you run at high speeds, you feel the cold. Due to the low cut windshield, your chest, arms, and hands take the brunt of the cold (and obviously your helmet). I found myself using the high settings on my hand warmers when running in the open & on the lakes. In the woods I would turn everything off. If I get a riser, handguards will also be added for the additional wind protection.

Unfortunately my trip was not trouble free. As I mentioned earlier, my speedo would blink out on me when changing over to high beams. At the time I didn't give it too much concern because my riding buddy on his new F6 was reporting the same thing. However, the last day with about 50 miles to go, my speedo really started to act up. It would cut out, come back on, automatically switch from digital speedometer to tachometer, and the "notorious" CCU light would flicker every time the speedo cut in & out. I put a call into my dealer today to give him a heads up & ask that he speak with Cat. But I plan on digging into my wiring harness this week sometime. It has to be a simple short/bad ground somewhere (well, I hope it's simple).

For those of you wondering how it stacked up against the Dragon, I hate to tell you .... we never raced. Because of my sled not being studded yet, and the conditions on the lakes not being good, we just never did it. I did have the F8 up to 100mph at one point on the lake, and in those same conditions my buddy said he could only pull 99mph. But keep in mind we each had about 120 miles on the sleds so they weren't even broken in yet. On Friday, after about 300 miles and knowing my belt was truly broke in, I decided to crack it on a stretch of firelane and it climbed to 103mph pretty quick before I let off. It went from an open area to woods and the last thing I needed was a deer jumping out and peeling me off my sled. Needless to say, I think all of us F8 owners won't be disappointed with the power.

Sorry for jumping around on the various items ... it's easy to do when a 3 1/2 year old likes to interrupt while you're on the computer :lol:
 

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I just put 90 miles on today pretty much everything you stated is just as mine is, except mine uses ALOT of oil. I pull up to a stop sign and the blue haze catches up a few seconds later. My speedo goes wacky when I go form high to low beam sometimes.

The USI ski's make a HUGE diff. I noticed the exhaust is pretty throaty, sounds quite nice in stock form, I was never really impressed with the note of the F7 with a stock can (not talking about loudness, I am talking about the note) In my opinion anyone who bought Std 07 F series is not even getting 10% of this chassis's benefits.
I am noticing that the belt is slipping on take off, hopefully a shim change will cure that.

BTW, Labonte did you eat fish friday night at the Cayuga Inn ?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Flash - no, we didn't eat at the Cayuga. We were going to initially, but decided to head back to Namakagon and ate pizza at the Loon instead. Were you there? I can't remember if it was Thursday or Friday, but there was another F8 there (LXR I believe because it had the funky windshield).

Your mention of the belt/clutch setup reminds me. I need to add a shim to mine to get the deflection back to where it should be.
 

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<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (LabonteF8 @ Jan 22 2007, 07:55 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}></div>
Flash - no, we didn't eat at the Cayuga. We were going to initially, but decided to head back to Namakagon and ate pizza at the Loon instead. Were you there? I can't remember if it was Thursday or Friday, but there was another F8 there (LXR I believe because it had the funky windshield).

Your mention of the belt/clutch setup reminds me. I need to add a shim to mine to get the deflection back to where it should be.[/b]
No I wasn't there, if I was you would have known it, Santa brought me a HCS hat this year with my name across the back. I just remember your earlier post you mentioned Cuyuga and I ate there this fall. I stayed just up the road at Wildwood Haven.
Fish is great at the Inn, I had the perch.
F&F
 

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<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (Flash and Flare @ Jan 22 2007, 07:43 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}></div>
I just put 90 miles on today pretty much everything you stated is just as mine is, except mine uses ALOT of oil. I pull up to a stop sign and the blue haze catches up a few seconds later. My speedo goes wacky when I go form high to low beam sometimes.

The USI ski's make a HUGE diff. I noticed the exhaust is pretty throaty, sounds quite nice in stock form, I was never really impressed with the note of the F7 with a stock can (not talking about loudness, I am talking about the note) In my opinion anyone who bought Std 07 F series is not even getting 10% of this chassis's benefits.
I am noticing that the belt is slipping on take off, hopefully a shim change will cure that.

BTW, Labonte did you eat fish friday night at the Cayuga Inn ?[/b]
What type of USI skis are you using???
 

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<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (postman @ Jan 23 2007, 05:34 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}></div>
<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (Flash and Flare @ Jan 22 2007, 07:43 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I just put 90 miles on today pretty much everything you stated is just as mine is, except mine uses ALOT of oil. I pull up to a stop sign and the blue haze catches up a few seconds later. My speedo goes wacky when I go form high to low beam sometimes.

The USI ski's make a HUGE diff. I noticed the exhaust is pretty throaty, sounds quite nice in stock form, I was never really impressed with the note of the F7 with a stock can (not talking about loudness, I am talking about the note) In my opinion anyone who bought Std 07 F series is not even getting 10% of this chassis's benefits.
I am noticing that the belt is slipping on take off, hopefully a shim change will cure that.

BTW, Labonte did you eat fish friday night at the Cayuga Inn ?[/b]
What type of USI skis are you using???
[/b][/quote]

USI SPX's with HP mounts 7.5 shapers and shaper plates.
Here is a link to some pics of them on my sled.
http://www.hardcoresledder.com/forums/inde...&hl=package

F&F
 
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