Ski Rack on Arctic Cat M8 Snowmobile

Post by blogger | November 8, 2011      

Picked up an M8 a few months ago on the “heroin” credit plan (first four months, interest free). Excited to have something that might be safer and easier to handle than our Yamaha Nytro. But, next thing I know I get a recall notice to have the ECU reprogrammed. On advice of dealer, I pull ECU and leave it with him, thus bricking our brand new snowmobile as snow sifts down outside and my sled friend heads up the Flat Tops for some fun. Getting pretty used to snowmobile companies and dealers over-promising and under-delivering, but this one takes the cake, eh? Our 2011 M8 cinder block with the Arctic Cat logo!

At any rate, might as well use the brick as garage sculpture, and yeah, we’ll probably be driving it soon so shut my whine faucet. Check out my “minimalist” ski and luggage rack design. Click images to enlarge.

Completed M8 ski and luggage rack.

Completed M8 ski and luggage rack. The idea is to be minimalist, and the outriggers are removable with four small quarter inch bolts. The aluminum rails accept bungie cord hooks, and strengthen the tunnel.

Snowmobile ski rack outrigger detail.

Snowmobile ski rack outrigger detail. The rectangular depression under black cross member is the heat exchanger. It needs to be protected from damage, so the crossbar does that as well as holding the outriggers solidly.

Another outrigger detail. Upper two nuts allow quick removal of upper part.

Welding is life.

Welding is life.

Shovel mounted, showing use of bungie as well as another support cross member.

Shovel mounted, showing use of bungie as well as another support cross member.

Made these small black right-angle brackets so I wouldn't step on the aluminum and bend it.

Made these small black right-angle brackets so I wouldn't step on the aluminum and bend it.

Tails of skis easily lash to the lattice holes in M8 running board.

Tails of skis easily lash to the lattice holes in M8 running board.

Stuck this chunk of rectangular alu tube across the tunnel.

Stuck this chunk of rectangular alu tube across the tunnel.

Completed ski support is covered with chunk of hose, strap attached.

Completed ski support is covered with chunk of hose, strap attached.


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22 Responses to “Ski Rack on Arctic Cat M8 Snowmobile”

  1. Pete November 8th, 2011 10:24 am

    Timely post. I just picked up an ’01 AC Mountain Cat and have been scheming on what sort of ski rack to build on it.

  2. max vockner November 8th, 2011 1:33 pm

    NIce rack but when you fall off the sled that thing is going to send you to the hospital. Also, with your skis hanging that far off the back if you get your sled stuck and have to roll it – Snap go the skis. and you cant use the foot rest back there when going up steep stuff because the skis are horizontal. Just my two cents from alaska. It will work good as a handle when your stuck though! My personal favorite is just two bungees going across the seat and the back rack with the skis against the tunnel vertical. skis done stick out. you have full access to the running boards. and when you roll the sledd the skis dont snap off. the drawback is that its sometimes goofy hooking and unhooking the bungees all the time.

  3. cory November 8th, 2011 2:53 pm

    What is it that Thomas Jefferson said? “Nothing is troublesome that one does of his own volition.”

  4. Lou November 8th, 2011 4:45 pm

    Good points Max. It’s not a rack for that kind of riding. No ski rack really works that well when the going gets extreme… all have problems. I’ve been using this type for years and it works for what I do, most of the time (grin).

  5. John Gloor November 8th, 2011 6:59 pm

    Welcome back to the 2smokers Lou. Nice sled. 100 lbs less weight is hard to beat. Is there any chance you can double up on that short seat?

  6. Lou November 8th, 2011 7:21 pm

    I think Lisa and I are going to need a custom seat…

  7. Steve November 9th, 2011 6:03 am

    Curious as to why a cat and not a Polaris or the skidoo Etec? Less weight I’d guess for one.

  8. Lou November 9th, 2011 6:38 am

    Recommendations from several friends, only snomo dealer here in Carbondale is Cat (not that they’re that great, but better than nothing). I’m not a big sled fanatic, I just want something that works. As far as weight goes, if I run a half tank of fuel and don’t eat breakfast, my “wet” weight is light enough for what i do (grin).

  9. Lou November 9th, 2011 7:12 am

    I’d add that when I have time (ha), I might go to a receiver system for the verticals, instead of bolting them. I can get the vertical parts off in 5 minutes with a 7/16 wrench, but getting them off in 5 seconds would be much nicer. As Max related, having those things sticking out back there when you’re not carrying skis and riding for fun, well, they could give you a nasty whack.

    Another way of doing this sort of rack is to use an ATV plastic gun rack fitting for the rearward part. Those are not quite so harsh if you hit them, and don’t stick out quite as far to the side as the skis are carried on their sides instead of flat. Frank Konsella rigged something like that. I don’t have the link at the moment, perhaps he’ll chime in since hes the main reason I got this sled.

  10. Sam November 9th, 2011 8:55 am

    Hi Lou. Cool ride! No more Mr. Tippy? I picked up an M7 for my first sled last year and have been very happy with its reliability thus far.

    I rigged up a ski rack similar to what is shown here:

    I didn’t have a snowboard strap so I just use a long voile strap to attach the skis to the luggage rack. I also replaced the black rubber straps on the gun racks with voile straps, since the black bungees tend to bounce off.

  11. Lou November 9th, 2011 9:02 am

    Sam, we’ve still got Mister Tippy. Talk about being “under water” on what we paid vs what it’s worth… bad mistake on my part, I’ll admit. The plan is to see if when Lisa and I go out, or Lisa and Louie or whatever, if Lisa would like driving the M8 while Louie or I drive Tippy. For trips when it’s just me, I’ll probably take the M8 unless it’s a grunt trip, for example towing up a snow covered road.

    The electric start and power of Tippy, not to mention the nearly 0 smoke, are pretty attractive for a work sled.

    If we don’t end up using both at once much, I’ll go ahead and sell the Nytro, perhaps in Michigan where folks put turbos on the things and use them for grass drags…

  12. Frank K November 13th, 2011 11:11 am

    Regarding Lou’s mention of my ATV gun rack, here’s the link for that: It’s worked well for me, but if you ride on real rough trails or flip your sled, it might not be the best system, durability wise. The CFR racks are nice, but they’re not cheap or without their own problems. That said, I want one someday.

  13. Jon November 15th, 2011 6:42 pm

    Check our racks, I have used, cheap easy to use and install. Very strong and low profile.

  14. John Gloor November 15th, 2011 7:24 pm

    Jon, I found your product in a search for snowmobile ski racks and was impressed. I have a home made system with snowboard bindings for retaining, but your system looks pretty slick, and it would accomodate different ski widths better than my system. I might be buying some of your gear soon.

  15. Chip November 18th, 2011 8:17 am

    I used the Kolpin ATV gun racks last season. Work great until temps get below 15F or so. The plastic swivel piece gets brittle at that point and I broke two of the racks. Once when I hit one with my knee getting my sled unstuck, and another time the swivel cracked when I was making a minor adjustment to it. It was an easy and cheap set-up, but I’ll be trying something new this year…

  16. jonathan johnson December 16th, 2012 8:02 pm

    I started out with a system like this and quickly found out its a back killer for any passenger that might get swept off the back in deep powder. That happened to my wife twice she still suffers from back pain from the bar hitting her. Thats why we went to the rack does not stick out as far, its inexpensive and really easy to install. just be careful with a set up like the one above.

  17. Jon Johnson September 8th, 2013 9:07 pm

    I tried the same thing took my wife out and she fell off and the thing hit her in the back. So i took it off and got a rack from its less then a pound low profile and has no sharp edges. check them out.

  18. Lou Dawson September 27th, 2013 12:10 pm

    Steven, this is a better post for snowmobile general advice.

    Here are some ideas from me, but know that quite a few very experienced backcountry sledder/skiers visit this website and perhaps a few will chime in with more complete advice than I can give.

    1. Don’t buy anything older than about three seasons
    2. Even though you think you’ll just be doing flat approaches, consider getting a “mountain” sled so you can easily handle trail breaking and rougher conditions.
    3. Be prepared to make a science out of how you do your ski rack and how you tow people.
    4. In your application, electric start for sure.
    5. Electronic reverse, not geared like Yamaha.
    6. Used sleds can be very abused, so be careful. Low mileage may mean it’s a good deal, or perhaps not if the thing was run to the hilt from the day it was bought.
    7. Four stroke is nice but tends to be too heavy and expensive. Current 2 cycle engines run amazingly clean due to computerization and exhaust engineering.
    8. Prepare for a learning curve. Try to borrow a sled a few times and get some experience before you go shopping.
    9. If you’re not buying from a dealer, check for broken track, broken shocks, cracked or bashed suspension from attempts to do film stunts.
    10. Don’t worry about missing windshields, they are over rated. But do make sure the hand warmers are present and functional.


  19. stevenjo October 25th, 2013 4:39 pm

    Lou – Forgot to say thanks. This has been useful. My past – and limited – experience with a friend’s old touring snowmobile has convinced me that getting stuck in 12” of fresh is unacceptable to say the least ….

    That said, some of these mountain sleds with more HP than my car look way overkill. Any rules of thumb on minimum track height/length and HP for breaking trail and towing a couple skiers on a FS road? I’ve heard no less than ~140” @ 2” but I’m sure there are as many opinions on this as the ‘correct’ width for a touring ski. I’m on a dense Oregon snowpack if it makes in difference. (Currently looking at Yamaha’s phazer and nytros MTX’s)


  20. Nick Drake December 9th, 2013 12:14 pm

    Steven, I’ve been using a snowmobile for access a few years now and within my extended group of friends all makes have been owned. Lessons learned:

    Buy the most capable mountain sled your budget affords. You might think that you will just tow up forest service roads, but you will end up breaking trail in powder, and you will get stuck. No one has ever kept a short track trail sled more then two seasons. YMMV in Oregon, I hear that there are some good groomed road access areas around Bend.

    No one has kept a yamaha, while the torque of the 4 stroke is GREAT for towing multiple people they are a bear a to ride, terrible in tight terrain, and do not excel in powder. You’re going to get stuck a lot, it’s going to be very hard to get out. Those things are pigs. Last year two Yamaha riders went the full opposite and picked up Polaris Pro-RMKs, they immediately were able to get through far more difficult terrain and rarely get stuck.

    As far as the track, 150+ length and 2.25″ paddles or higher. I started with a 162, which was great in powder in a straight line, but tough in tight trees. Went down to a 153 last year with a better paddle design, still have very good floatation in powder and it’s much easier to whip around. The 140s are fun to ride, but lackluster on deep days.
    Also keep in mind that a long track will bridge “whoops” in the rutted out trail much better, save your back.

    Other advice:

    1. Every year take the clutches apart, clean properly, and have them rebuilt if there is any binding in sheaves. Check the alignment, set belt deflection, start with a new belt. 90% of the issues I see arise from worn/dirty clutches.

    2. Grease the suspension points with quality grease (redline cv2) and inspect all for play.

    3. If it’s a used sled have the shocks rebuilt, they are worn out even if you don’t think so. Andy at GSR in Idaho does great work and is VERY affordable. I paid ~160 to have both skid shocks valved for my weight and the front ski shocks rebuilt. Great investment.

    4. Strap another shovel on your tunnel, you’ll need to dig your sled out a lot at first.

    5. Do not be afraid to roll it over to get unstuck.

    6. Always remember that this is supposed to be fun, spend a few days going out with no skis. Just make your focus on learning to ride, it’s a big learning curve, no one hops on and goes everywhere.

  21. Lou Dawson December 9th, 2013 12:34 pm

    Good tips Nick, thanks!

  22. Nick Drake December 9th, 2013 12:35 pm

    Some more info on DIY racks, note the first thread with a 2009 tunnel modification for an M Series. This is what not to do when modifying a sled:

    The later set up with a new tunnel, this worked very well, was quite durable and easy to get gear on/off:

    Matt now has a CFR rack, it gave him room to strap a pelican case to carry his camera equipment between the seat and the rack. It’s very nice to not have weight on your back.

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