Real-Life Review (ZR 200)
Safety, confidence with Arctic Cat ZR200
By Stephen Furlong
For 2018, Yamaha reintroduced their SnoScoot and through a partnership with Arctic Cat, the ZR 200 was
born. Aside from a few features and obvious esthetics, the machines are the same. The idea of filling the
void between typical 120s and 380s for young, developing riders is one that has been talked about and
played with for years.
I introduced my kids (who are 10 and seven years old) to snowmobiling at a young age on the 120cc
model (Arctic Cat’s version) and there is a learning curve with respect to throttle control, snow
conditions, steering and braking. Once they learn to drive it, you begin to realize its limits.
They quickly advance to a point where the machine has done its job, but is now holding them back. We
take the 120cc on some short rides and burn a tank of fuel, but it doesn’t suffice for a full day of riding.
There are modifications and improvements for the 120cc, but it’s common to advance your child to a
380cc adult-sized machine (or similar). This is a good option, but the ZR 200 has done something
revolutionary, in my opinion. Instead of my 10 year old looking like a kid on an adult machine, he has a
snowmobile that is scaled to fit his frame.
The 9hp Yamaha motor comes from a long line of dependable motors and can deliver speeds of 45
kilometres per hour, which allows the child to experience a full range of power without the fear a 10 year
old reaching 100 kilometres per hour would have. The carburetor allows for surprisingly easy throttle
squeeze, which is important for long rides. The brake lever is very easy to use and a mountain bike style
lever allows two-finger operation. And the hand warmers are terrific. The drive system includes a
primary clutch that uses the rollers as flyweights, while the secondary is standard design.
The drop case has a maintenance-free belt drive and all drive components are simple and robust, in my
opinion, for this machine. The footboards have cut-outs for snow shed and boot grip, while the rider-
forward geometry and seat height allow an easy sit/stand transition. The setup of the ZR 200 prepares
your child for modern-era snowmobile designs that allow us to ride like never before.
The suspension and steering work very well together and the only adjustment is the preload in the rear
skid, but it does allow you to adjust the weight distribution to optimize the ride. There is some space on
the rear tunnel that can allow for some light storage.
Some features the 2018 version is lacking are electric start, speedometer and reverse. Newer models
have added these features, as well as various windshield options. Aftermarket accessories are
increasingly available as well. Maybe I jumped the gun and missed out on the new 2019 features, but the
first time I saw the ZR 200, my inner child kept shouting, “Shut up and take my money!”
In summary, for just more than $5,000, I was able to provide my 10 year old with a new snowmobile that
was designed for his size, has ample power and is able to transition from trail to deep snow.
The clutching works well to backshift and reduce bog to help the rider learn throttle control in various
conditions. The ZR 200 is light enough for my son to lift, pull and roll it if he becomes stuck. The weight
and geometry mean he is able to go all in and learn to control the snowmobile on its edge. These are
important skills I could not teach him on any other machine until he is physically larger. The skills that
can now be developed at this stage (on the 200) will directly translate to future riding and ensure your
child is a capable, safe and confident snowmobiler.