Well it wasn't easy, but I FINALLY got to get out for my first ride on my new red std track/susp F7! Pretty marginal snow conditions Sunday here in NW lower Michigan, but we managed to make a nice little 40 mile ride by hitting some of the back two-track trails. Sure felt good to be back out sleddin' again -- regardless of what make, model, or cc it was!!! OK, I can't take too much time here, so let me try to get right to the nitty gritty.
This ride was with everything absolutely bone stock -- motor, clutching, susp settings, and no studs. (I'll be adding the 1.375" track with 102 Woody's 1.4" Megabites real soon!)
Thankfully, the coolant issues did not seem to be an issue... so far anyway! Checked it often, and tipped on the PTO side several times, and the level never went down. Motor SEEMED to run very cool in fact, at least based on feeling the heat exchangers which barely even got luke warm during the whole ride.
The ergonomics felt very comfortable and user friendly to me. I love the narrowness of the tunnel, seat, and gas tank, the wide running boards, the tight toeholds, the world-class Wilwood brake (and longer brake lever!), the handlebars, and the very light and comfortable throttle lever. Oh, I did loosen and twist the throttle lever down further, which makes it even MORE comfortable and natural feeling. You guys might want to give that a try! Even the "wrong" location (right side instead of left?!) of the hand and thumb warmers didn't seem to be that big of a deal, but that might be a whole different story at night when I'm trying to locate and operate the switches! For my weight (140 lbs.) the seat felt PERFECT... very soft and comfortable. Should make a noticeable difference over those hard edged stutter bumps.
There wasn't enough snow on the trails yet for there to be any REAL bumps, but I'd say based on what I felt so far that the ride quality is very good to exceptional -- likely the best, most comfortable ride THIS cat has experienced on a snowmobile so far!
Performance-wise, I must say that I can most certainly share in the giddy enthusiasm that MOST everyone else on this board has been reporting so far. Regardless of the cc's, this sled seems VERY quick and VERY fast, but when you consider that it's "only" a 700... YIKES! What else does Cat have in the works?! Yes, the motor must be completely warmed up of course, but once she's up to operating temp, WOW... hang on!!! This thing hauls, and if this kind of power-to-weight ratio is new to you, please be careful out there until you get a feel for the power and the higher speeds you'll be reaching in much shorter distances. This goes for ANY new sled of course, but really, I think even more so on the F7! The motor is quite smooth and very quiet, especially compared to the Cats of just a few years ago.
No sled is perfect. LOL... no, not even this one. The bottom bolts of the handlebar riser assembly were loose enough that it flipped down during my warm-up ride. My bud's was the same way.
Most of us have know about the starter rope guide issue and it's respective update for a while now, so I won't even waste time on that, but I DO feel bad for anyone that's broken a rope because of this silly problem. The shape and flat hard edges of the starter handle is a TERRIBLE design if you ask me. If want to see a REAL starter handle, check out the Yamahas, or better yet, do yourself and your hands a favor and order Yamaha #8F3-15755-00 for about $8. HUGE improvement!
Guess I wasn't surprised when I too, had the mudflap getting sucked between the track and the tunnel after hi-speed runs (100-110!). Glad I didn't have my studded track on yet! I'm not a biggie on cutting the flaps (as some of you know by now!), so I think I'll try my own simple version of the sno-pro strap fix.
Looks like my digitach is also plagued by the coil interference problem MANY others are experiencing. I say this based on the several 9100-9300 top RPM recalls I saw!!! I'll try the simple180 degree rotation "fix" as rumor has it, that should cure the problem. I sure hope so, as I don't think I'd trust the tach right now to do any serious clutching and fine tuning! Many people have reported that the digital speedometer is VERY close to GPS and radar speeds -- within 1 MPH. I say, IT'S ABOUT [email protected]
#$%^&* TIME!!! Why we had to put up with speedos (and odometers too!) that read 10-20% high all these years, I'll never know!
And last, but not least, even after meticulously checking and adjusting my toe out (it was around 1" out!), I DID notice some wandering, tracking, nervousness, darting, or whatever you want to call it. It's way to early to make any serious judgments or adjustments yet, but I'll be watching this characteristic very closely, as I will do whatever it take to eliminate it: More toe out? Installing studded track? Installing my Woody's 8" carbides? Tightening front ski springs (can't loosen, would be even MORE body roll than there is already!)? Loosening front skid spring? Or as a last resort, different skis -- SLT, C&A, Simmons???
So far, after only 40 short miles, I REALLY like this sled, and honestly can't wait to get out and try it again. I think it takes several hundred miles to get the motor, track, and suspension broken-in, so it won't be until then that I really get serious about dialing this thing in the way *I* like it! It only took me four years to get my '98 XC700 dialed in, but boy it was worth it. Hated to sell it after 12,000 VERY fun miles!!!
Well, that's it for now. I think I'll go work on my sled now why we're waiting for more snow... I mean, ANY snow!