Stoking Next Gen Embers

New pint-size sleds help keep passion for sport alive in youth
Yamaha SnoScoot and Arctic Cat ZR 200 snowmobiles
If you think the SnoScoot and ZR 200 are just for kids, think again! These sleds are very capable and extremely fun to ride, even in confined areas.
Kids grow up and become adults, and make new kids. It’s what we do. Circle of life right?

Snowmobiles have grown too, from small, 15-hp sleds to massive, 204-hp high-displacement freaks of engineering. But those big, bad snowmobiles don’t reproduce smaller snowmobiles.

The generation that has grown up in tandem with snowmobiles now has children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Recently, there has been a lack of snowmobiles to grow with them though. The 2018 Yamaha SnoScoot and Arctic Cat ZR 200 aim to give young, growing snowmobilers the opportunity to keep the burning desire to ride alive and well.

As parents of youngsters, we can honestly say that seeing your kids having fun doing something you enjoy is one of the best feelings. Watching your little 4-year-old discover the joys of riding a 120cc sled is simply awesome. At some point though, they might get bored with it.

Kids graduated from their 120s and wanted to keep riding, but until the release of the SnoScoot and ZR 200, there was little to offer them. Without the next step up available, kids developed other interests in the time it would take for them to grow enough to safely pilot a full-size sled. We could only hope they’d be content tagging along 2-up for the next 4-5 years to keep them interested in the sport. Good luck with that!
Yamaha SnoScoot snowmobile
Yamaha SnoScoot
Perhaps the most beautiful thing about these new mini-sleds is that they continue to allow youngsters to grow as snowmobilers. Here’s your chance to see a huge smile when he first lays eyes on his new, bigger (but not too big) sled in the garage. Maybe you already have a well-groomed 120cc track, or maybe this is your child’s first ride solo on a snowmobile. Either way, you probably already have a route traced around your yard or nearby field.

A few days of blown corners later, your young snowmobiler will start to look confident on his new, faster ride. It’s time for him to start exploring on his own and expanding his abilities, so you give him the green light to start breaking new trail. After a few more days of learning how to get unstuck, you’ll have a young powder slayer on your hands!

The deep snow capabilities of the ZR 200 and SnoScoot really cannot be overstated. We spent a day doing nothing but playing in the ungroomed powder during one of our test sessions. The extended tunnel allows these sleds to take on a wide variety of snow conditions. Carving up meadows and floating through the deep stuff are a ton of fun on these pint-size snow buggies.

Yes, even for adults, 9hp has a huge fun factor, and keeping it fun for younger generations is what’s important!

It may be the biggest development to come out of two major snowmobile OEMs working together! This is the next step in the Arctic Cat-Yamaha agreement that began more than four years ago. In fact, we believe the SnoScoot/ZR 200 project may have an even BIGGER impact on the industry than the Sidewinder/Thundercat project did in 2017. It has the potential to breathe new life into an under-served consumer population. So why did it take so long?

Unsurprisingly, the answer to that question is profitability. You can call the OEMs greedy if you want, but the basic principles of business do still apply, and they are the reason we are down to just four major players in the snowmobile industry. The reality is all four brands of snowmobiles are only small divisions of much larger companies, and those division leaders still have to answer to shareholders or a board of governors.
Arctic Cat ZR 200 snowmobile
Arctic Cat ZR 200
The bottom line is that without enough market share, it was impossible to produce an affordable youth-size snowmobile without taking a fairly substantial loss. Because two OEMs were involved in this project, they were able to capture enough of the market to make a snowmobile like this reasonably affordable to the consumer while maintaining profitability.

Even though the deal between Arctic Cat and Yamaha pooled the smallest two of the four snowmobile makers in terms of market share, it was the resources of Yamaha’s different product divisions and Arctic Cat’s manufacturing ability to bring the smaller sleds to market that quickly made this a possibility. Some creativity in terms of part suppliers made the dream even more of a reality.

“We always take for granted a new industry customer will just buy a used sled,” said Yamaha snowmobile product manager Jon Blaicher. “But that’s not necessarily true.” We agree and see it firsthand on a daily basis.

Blaicher went on to explain that many people just aren’t willing to buy someone else’s used stuff. They want something shiny and new. There’s also the fact that appropriately sized used sleds that would help young riders transition to larger machines are becoming harder and harder to find, as are the parts for those older machines.

Putting kids on a Kitty Cat or 120cc sled usually results in a spark of interest in the sport of snowmobiling. The release of the Yamaha SnoScoot and the Arctic Cat ZR 200 provides the means necessary to fan that spark into a flame of desire to continue in the sport. And the industry needs it!

  • 192cc 4-stroke engine delivers 9hp and tops out at roughly 30mph.
  • Yamaha generator motor with governor removed allows for the 5400rpm necessary to generate track speed and propel the snowmobile.
  • Electronic rev limiter prevents exceeding of maximum reliable rpms, ensuring longer engine life and safer operation.
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