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Discussion Starter #1
Hey, new to the sled world so looking for advice.

I enjoy trail riding and have a lot of terrain around my house, not intending to mountain climb and just looking for an "ol' reliable" sled. I have been lurking on some forums and both of the below models seem to have decent reputations.

Currently I am looking at a

1998 Arctic Cat Pantera 580 2-up
2004 Polaris RMK Vertical Escape ( I think its a 550)
Both are gently used and in good visual condition. Pricing seems fair on both units. I believe the RMK is an air cooled VS the liquid cooled 580 ( I could be wrong )

I'm coming from a 1990 Polaris Indy with no reverse and I am stuck more than I am riding =]

Any words of wisdom from some riders with experience in these models?
 

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Hey man hopefully I can help you out here. So let's talk about 800s 1998ish between early 2000s. 800s burn up their fun fast sleds but after a while they just burn up and then have to do a rebuild. 600s to 700s great reliable sleds especially the 600s they always have perfected the 600 and there plenty fast and kinda the same for the 700 if were to get a 700 get a 98 Polaris xc 700. 440s to 500s now the 440s are more for racing for kinda going around tracks and stuff there weren't ment to compete against the 600 or 700 and most of them older sleds are fan cooled for the 440s. 500s are a good fun reliable sled too just a tad bit less power but still it's a great sled.
So now here comes to what to look for heres a list.
1. Look for efi there gonna be in the arctic cat sleds no carburetor so when you push the throttle your thumb wouldn't get tired of just holding the throttle down trail.
2. Go for 2 cylinders not 3 you dont need 3 cylinders all it does is that its heavy and there unreliable so go for a 2 cylinder engine.
3. Go for liquid cooled it's a lot easier and lot more better then a fan cooled/air cooled.
4. The track dont go for studs you dont need them if your going to spend all your time out on a frozen lake then sure but on trail you just dont need them and all they really do is just tear up your track and your track is going where down a lot quicker plus when you cross roads without snow that's how you where down the studs so I can not stress this enough DONT GO FOR STUDS.
5. Make sure the sled fits you and your comfortable on it
6. Suspension let talk about the rear suspension so when u sit on the sled the suspension should go down just tad bit one time went to take a look at this arctic cat and one I sat on it the suspension bottom out and it's not ment to do that but then the suspension didn't recoil back up and that's major issue I had to manually get off and lift the back end up so the suspension is back to where it was so look out for that.
6. Start it up make sure everything works brake lights, headlights, low beam and high beam, hand warmers if there is any, ect
7. Make sure the skis are in decent shape and look at the carbides under the ski and make sure that's in good shape too.
8. Alignment look at the ski tips from the side make sure there even get a piece of wood and set it up with one ski tip if the is not touching or is to far out where the wood can not go any farther then that means the sled have might have once been in a crash for an example I was driving my cousins sled and I was darting I was trying to steer and it was hard and so all of a sudden I went over a culvert the sled looked fine I drove it back and he said the one side was 6in back from where it should be.
8. Look out for cracks in the hood a couple small cracks are fine but I'll still be careful about it.
9. Do not get a sled with the seat torn up even if it has a small little tear in it what that means is that it worn down it's just gonna keep get weaker and weaker and eventually it will tear.
So I think I got through all of it for every thing you need to know. Let's talk about brands Polaris, ski doo, arctic cat, Yamaha. Just leave Yamaha out of it just don't bother to look at them. I would definitely recommend arctic cat cause there's sleds are a lot better and there efi technology and there suspension without trailing arm just the best back in the day. Polaris makes a good sled too I would recommend that too but arctic cat you want to look at first. Ski doo I don't really know much about a ski doo it definitely wouldn't be my first pick.
Heres a list of some of the best sleds I recommend
1. 1998-2002 arctic cat zr600 efi
2. 1998 Polaris xc 600 or 700
3. Arctic cat zl 500-600 1998-2002
4. Ski doo mxz? You have to do a little research about ski doo I know little to nothing about ski doo engines
5. 2002-2004 Polaris xc 600 or 700
And so there congrats if read all of this if any questions please let me know hopefully this really helps you out and I hope you get good sled that you like and enjoy happy sleddin!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks the the reply, yeah that seems to be the general verdict from most people.

Given the two models I am checking out recently, what would be your go to?


1998 Arctic Cat Pantera 580 2-up - $1200
> I would think this rig is a bit heavier and not as ideal to go off trail a bit
2004 Polaris RMK Vertical Escape ( I think its a 550) $3000
> I feel this one would be better equipped to handle some slightly deeper snow

Both seem to be reliable without any well known issues.
 

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Thanks the the reply, yeah that seems to be the general verdict from most people.

Given the two models I am checking out recently, what would be your go to?


1998 Arctic Cat Pantera 580 2-up - $1200


2004 Polaris RMK Vertical Escape ( I think its a 550) $3000



Both seem to be reliable without any well known issues.
I think that 04 Polaris would be the better choice but are you sure its 550 cause that's a mountain sled and a 550 cannot power though the mountains. Get back to me once you know for sure what size engine it is. I won't go for the cat I mean it's a 2 seat fuck that 2 up are heavy and ugly the cat is a touring sled me I just wouldn't do it but its totally up to you. And if your willing to spend 3 grand hell I just went on Facebook marketplace and typed in snowmobiles for sale and the first thing I see is 2006 arctic cat crossfire 600. Honestly I wouldn't go with either of them you can a lot more powerful and better newer looking sled.
 

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Agreed, the 2 up is probably not ideal but for such a small price tag it was worth considering

Click Here to see the polaris

Specs say 550, but I don't know . When I was looking around to see parts availability I wasn't sure of the exact model. Think it's just a rmk trail 550

I'm not really trying to mountain climb , just need a sled that can pull me through my local trails and not get bogged down on some of the deeper stuff . Coming from a 1990 indy 500 anything will feel better
 

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Yes that
Also stumbled upon this bad boy, otherwise there is not many up for sale this time of year around me



Seems like the Arctic cat 600s have a decent reputation
Also stumbled upon this bad boy, otherwise there is not many up for sale this time of year around me



Seems like the Arctic cat 600s have a decent reputation
Yes that cat looks very nice and seem it was very well cared for. I went on market place to look for any for you and I found this 02 Polaris rmk 800 that u might like.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I am trying to keep it in the 600cc range, I don't need anything bigger for what I plan to do.


Anyone else have an opinion of the below Arctic cat 1m?

It is modified for a longer track but the owner sounds knowledgeable and I trust it was done properly.

For my price range of $2500 it seems like a good reliable machine for a new rider like myself.
 

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The liquid cooled engines are longer wearing in general with less maintenance with maybe the exception of the Polaris fan cooled engines that have been around a long time and they still offer the 550 currently in an entry level sled. It is based off of the previous 488 and has around 55 horses, good for 70-75 mph.
 

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Thanks the the reply, yeah that seems to be the general verdict from most people.

Given the two models I am checking out recently, what would be your go to?


1998 Arctic Cat Pantera 580 2-up - $1200


2004 Polaris RMK Vertical Escape ( I think its a 550) $3000



Both seem to be reliable without any well known issues.
They are both reliable sleds but EXTREMELY overpriced in my opinion. Maybe sled prices are higher near you but they seem to be asking about twice what each sled is worth.


Also stumbled upon this bad boy, otherwise there is not many up for sale this time of year around me



Seems like the Arctic cat 600s have a decent reputation
Its probably a good sled but I would stay away from anything that has a lot of mods. If something does break, which it inevitably will cause it a sled lol, it could be difficult to know exactly what the correct replacement part would be.

Staying in the 600cc liquid category is a good idea. Fan cooled engines and liquid engines both have good years and bad years of manufacturing. Its not accurate to say that fan cooled sleds burn up faster. A cat 570 fan will run forever but its only got 65 hp. There were a couple years of the Polaris 550 fan where the motor was temperamental, but mostly fan cooled sleds are extremely reliable because they have the same size bearings and crank as much higher performing engines of similar cc size. Both the Polaris and Cat 600cc liquid twins have an excellent reputation for bullet proof reliability, from 1998 to current. There are a lot of them out there and new and aftermarket parts are easy to find.

With all that said, good luck in your search. $2500 is good price point to be looking in, I would think you should be able to find a 600cc long track sled in the 2001-2005 model years to fit what you need.
 
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