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December 5, 2014

From Russia with Love

imageReturning home from a ten day visit to Russia. I can’t find the words to describe the experience with any justice but I will say my perceptions of this country prior to being here were far off from the reality of the Russia I now appreciate. This same comment applies to the snowmobiling. Our first day riding saw minus 35c and marginal snow conditimageions. There are no trails here save for those you leave behind and there are no rules and regulations to abide save those of common sense and survival. We beat the crap out of our sleds yesterday to gain access to some elevation but was well worth the price of admission with a tremendous 360
view of the Urals.

Our hosts made sure we experienced what our Russian customers like to do with their sleds. And we in turn, made the point of the great potential here in the new Russian federation for organized snowmobiling based on establishing a trail system and supporting infrastructure.

Ill organize my pictures and post some more background to this story when I get home and caught up, if you like. Until then… Do Svidaniya

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cheers cr

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Posted @ 4:06 am in Opinions and Insights,Yamaha Insights   

November 21, 2014

Bridge Weekend

Buffalo-NYI’m sure you all well aware of the early lake effect snow we have been receiving in the east. What a way to kick off winter, especially following the season we had last year. Snowmobile sales in general are up over last year at this time, for the whole industry. Our numbers are particularly good, some of that is due to late production of our SRV models last fall but interest in the Viper remains strong. The early snowfall in the mid west is also a blessing for our development team. The Minocqua crew have been packing their test course and have got an early start on durability and validation. Considering the amount of work they have ahead of them this year, it is a real bonus.

MQRD not only is responsible for the model testing, they also play a major role in our accessories development. Everything from Tuner skis to Dupont hy-fax have gone through their rigorous development programs. Brings me to another point I’d like to drop in here and yes, it is a bit of a solicitation but sometimes I feel our marketing guys really need the help ;)

Dpnt hyxThe Dupont Hyfax, even though its a little pricey, has proven itself to be an extremely good product with a lot of value. Not only does it improve the lifespan of normal UHMW hyfax dramatically, especially in adverse conditions, it also increases top speed and fuel economy by reducing friction. I am confident to write this having seen so many positive results and comments coming back from the riders who are using the product now for multiple seasons. We have received quite a few requests from our dealers for more application options of the slippery stix and decided to cut some for Skidoo and Polaris rails. Currently we have two  versions available, both are cut to 49 inches length and will fit most late model short tracks of MXz / Rev / GSX and IQ / Rush / Indy skid frames. the same T-cut applies to many of the older rails as well. Thinking about it, you probably don’t want to give your competitive brand buddies  a good tip to gain more performance but on the other hand, Christmas is coming and its the season to give…

I am packing my bags for an overseas trip departure next week for what I thought would be my first sled ride of the season. Now it looks like this weekend at the cottage is going to require a bunch of trail breaking (and shoveling) with rumors of 18 inches to 2 feet of white stuff on the ground. A bunch of us have to make our way to a club maintained bridge to install a span which is removed during the summer for boating. Generally we would use ATV’s but this year it will be snowmobiles. What a great problem to have! Our club president is planning to host a shore lunch afterwards, featuring buffalo chicken sandwiches. For the record, they are really just regular chicken sandwiches, only with 9 feet of snow on them…

cheers cr

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Posted @ 11:47 am in Yamaha Insights   

November 14, 2014

Whole Lotta’ Shakin’ Goin On!

It has been a very busy week with our North American Snowmobile Team Yamaha (aka NASTY) assembled here in Toronto for two full days of meetings and discussion. Our agenda covered a wide variety of topics as each group leader reviewed the issues and progress of their respected projects. This team is comprised of 6 working groups, essentially responsible for service, accessories (sales, marketing and development), product planning, testing and development (R&D), unit sales (dealer development and distibution), unit marketing and communication. Each group is led by a manger selected from the pooled resources of both YMCA and YMUS. Sprinkle in some Japanese ATP’s (assistant to the president) and some VP’s, engineers and YMC guys. This ‘collective’ which also includes some of the key players from each group, is quite unique within the whole Yamaha organization. We definitely are not; ‘business as usual’.

We have been pushing the boundaries of the more traditional processes and common practice of the Yamaha culture to improve our snowmobile business. At the same time, removing the borders between Canada and the USA has proven effective in reducing many redundancies saving us time and money as we become more efficient. The synergy of the group improves with every one of these meetings as we continue to gain traction moving towards our targets. Of course much of our discussion revolves around the work and responsibilities on the Arctic Cat relationship. I spent a lot of time reviewing our development process in detail and communications with my counter-parts in TRF, highlighting the advances made over the past year as we approach the introduction of the MY16 snowmobiles.

On a more personal note, something I find really too coincidental if not altogether ‘freaky’ has emerged between myself and my counterpart in TRF. Mike has been assigned the ‘point person’ for Yamaha at Arctic Cat, he has worked at AC for close to 30 years. He knows the manufacturing side extremely well. I was brought in to work along side our point person from factory (Tony) to assist in the model specifications and communication between the two companies.

The first time I had lunch with Mike, I discovered he was a ‘runner’ and had been competing for may years at a fairly high level (think the big marathons). Those that know me, know I have a great love for cycling and still train to compete in various mountain bike races – Well we clicked – The conversation shifted straight to training programs, heart rate max, threshold and lactic testing, age cats and other miscellaneous parallels between the two disciplines. The other guys at the table were shaking their heads as the two ‘old guys’ went off on a tangent. By the end of the conversation we discovered our ages were within two years (me being the younger for a change) and we even shared the same birthday!

They say as you age, your heart-rate drops a beat per year. Mike has a VO Max HR of 170 bpm, mine is 172. Our lactate balance points are pretty much identical along with our endurance. Basically, all the BS and science aside, we are both in pretty good shape for a couple of 60 something, old farts. Well on my last trip to TRF, Mike was walking me out past the assembly line. I don’t know how we got on the topic, but he informed me he was a musician and had played professionally for 30 years having started way back in the early 70’s. I stopped, looked him in the eye and said ‘drummer’?, he answered ‘yes’, bewildered. I then went on to say I also have a long history in music and had played professionally during the 70’s and 80’s right up until I took the job with Yamaha and my travel schedules prevented me from committing to a band. And what did I play? Yep, drums! Mike spun me around. ‘Come with me!’ and back we went to look at some cool pictures of a much younger, long haired Mike sitting behind a huge Ludwig kit with Joey looking on, grinning and shaking his head at us.

I can’t wait to have a pint with Mike on my next visit and find out what other things I have in common with my ‘brother from another mother’. But think about it, here we are, two guys at the twilight of our careers, working for major sled companies, a result of our passion for the same, born on the same day, built with near identical engines, still competing in highly aerobic sports at a ripe age, sharing a near identical history as musicians, now functioning together as main links responsible for the details of the Yamaha / Cat shared agreement vehicles. I find myself shaking my head when thinking about it.

 

cheers cr

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Posted @ 10:18 am in Yamaha Insights   

November 7, 2014

Carry On or Checked?

Friday noon, looking out the window at the falling snow. The calm before the storm as my calendar is rapidly filling up towards Christmas. We have several tests planned starting end of November right up until the week before the holidays. I’m looking forward to seeing how the Viper chassis responds to the addition of Performance Dampers. I will also be joining in with some of the project guys from Cat early in December to sample some new sizzle and I have a ‘bucket lister’ journey to add another new country to my tally of weird and wonderful places to ride snowmobiles kicking off the season.

The only ball in the air is how to divide and conquer a conflicting date and whether or not I’ll need (or can arrange) to fly to Japan for a couple of days mid December.

Something occurred to me while discussing this meetings agenda with our engineers. Most people, regardless of their brand blindness, will agree that Yamaha engines rank amongst the very best in the world. This is especially true regarding durability and reliability and if you consider the QDR relative to the performance, one could argue Yamaha is the best in mass production motosports power – marine, motorcycle, off-road, snow… My epiphany was – we have never tried to explain what we do differently, what steps are taken in engine development, to deliver the balance of performance and reliability that the Yamaha QDR reputation is founded upon. We’ve spoken to it in marketing over the years but the engineering detail has never been really been exposed. I sense an opportunity and an intriguing project at hand.

Case in point is the all new R1 and R1M MotoGP inspired bikes. @200hp / liter of normally aspirated power packing a full warranty along with the duty cycle of a flippin Corolla. The on-board electronics controlling this engine and consequent power delivery is incredible. I have mixed feelings about having a computer control how I ride but considering the performance levels being achieved and so few Valentino Rossi’s buying road legal sport bikes, I get it.

We are seeing more sophisticated electronics being applied to our snowmobiles as well and I see this only increasing as we move forward. Having learned from my past ramblings allow me to say this ‘just for the record’ – I did not say that the new R1 engine will be available in a snowmobile next year, an ATV maybe  – but not a sled!

cheers cr

 

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Posted @ 12:59 pm in Travel and Events,Yamaha People and Communication   

October 23, 2014

No Edsel’s Here

I flew out early Monday from YYZ to Winnipeg, hopped in a rental car and was sitting in an Arctic Cat boardroom just prior the one IMG_0067o’clock meeting which was the purpose of this visit. I’ve come to appreciate the road to Thief River Falls. Cellular service, along with the population, diminishes rapidly south of Winnipeg. It takes less than an hour and I’m no longer connected, no email, no phone, no internet, no distractions – time to think. Time you cross the border on 57 its so flat you could watch your dog run away from home for days.

IMG_0066I always drive in the back road of the Cat plant, just to see whats in the yard. Well this time, there was a lot to see. The sleds were piled up in endless rows and trucks loaded with toys, rolling  out the gate continuously. I couldn’t help but think – 10K,10K,10K,10K,10K… Wow!

 

This meeting was all about BOM’s, spare parts books and production timing, none of which fall into my field of expertise. Take the BOM’s for example. I’ve never really thought that deeply about how all the bits come together to become a finished product. Well the BOM (bill of material), in the case of Arctic Cat snowmobiles, is the ‘recipe’ that contains every piece of the sled broken down into each component of each part, procured and combined into the sub assemblies and assemblies that run down the manufacturing line getting ‘baked’ into the final product. Take the warning labels that insist the operator uses common sense in using the product; The BOM breaks it down into a piece of sticky vinyl, a ribbon of ink (for each color used), a drawing to give it’s dimensions and a layout indicating what it will say and look like. Each item has a part number assigned and if you change the language to French then x2 the whole deal. By whole deal I mean the complete BOM. We have well over 50 BOM’s representing our current model line of Vipers to cover Canada, US, Europe and Russia, each one with hundreds of part numbers. They all have to be condensed into meaningful assemblies for service parts, (replacement parts for maintenance and repair) and transferred from the AC system to the Yamaha system… manually. Yep. There is no magic program or software that makes this happen. Someone at AC has to go through these things line by line with a good understanding of both engineering and service requirements, develop exploded view diagrams of the assemblies part by part, assign new numbers, then, after they get everything  tidied up, our guys have to take and reinvent the listings into the Yamaha format with our own order, drawings and part numbers. Our job was to try and make this more efficient.

IMG_0072I really longed for a cold beer by the end of this one. So it was off to the ‘Black Cat’ to reflect on the day. In the comments to last weeks blog, I was asked why did the well proven Nytro engine mapping not apply to the Viper. Fair question. The original agreement would have Yamaha supply the engine as a ‘short block’ if you will. The exhaust system and ECU were up to Arctic Cat to develop as part of the adaptation to the requirements of the ProCross chassis. Where it get a little more complicated, Yamaha and AC use different third party companies working with our engineers to develop and produce the electronics, who in turn license their technologies back to us. The software and programming used by these companies is proprietary and protected so they were not part of the deal. Development time was really tight on this project and ECU mapping is very complex so it was not as simple as one might think. Ultimately, we did share some responsibility in getting things done and have learned a lot from the experience to the benefit of our current projects

To address another comment, the 2014’s performed remarkably well and the few glitches we encountered have been addressed (and quite quickly so in my experience). I certainly wouldn’t be concerned about the performance of the new ones.

Tomorrow marks the opening of the fall motorsports show here in Toronto which used to be exclusively snowmobiles but now features everything an off-road motor-head could desire. I hope to sneak in before the doors open so I can have a look around, then hang out in our booth as long as my old back and brain (not to mention vocal chords) can hold out, which I should add, isn’t what it used to be!

 

cheers cr

 

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Posted @ 1:02 pm in Opinions and Insights   

October 9, 2014

May I Cut In?

Before I went into hibernation last spring, I had asked owners of the new SR Vipers to fill out a quick survey. It provided quite an interesting and valuable bit of data. But like all surveys, the magic is in the interpretation – data is data – what’s it telling you?

Case in point, the majority of our first round Viper owners were coming off of Yamaha snowmobiles. Of all the attributes that we had ranked (performance, suspension, handling etc), the one thing most agreed upon as being ‘excellent’ was the seating position / relationship of bars to butt to boots. This told me something and led me to have some additional foam packed into an Apex seat raising my butt a couple of inches, reducing the bend at my knees and consequently moving me forward a tch. Big difference! Comfort improved, transition to standing became easier and mobility (ease of movement) was better, hmmmm… to be continued.

Another interesting result. We asked; ‘when making the initial purchase decision, did you consider how well the sled would start?’ (ranked by importance) – Not surprisingly it wasn’t important at all to most people. Why? Because one assumes any modern vehicle will start with the turn of the key, or in the case of the much less sophisticated 2-smokes – a pull or three on the string. Well guess what? When we asked  a ‘satisfaction’ question set and a ‘future purchase’ question set based on riding a Viper, it became rather clear we had a bit of a problem. The sleds had some inconsistencies when it came to starting, even with a warmed up engine. Now all of a sudden, ‘starting’ became a major consideration. It was the biggest complaint we had! But the data said, starting wasn’t important to the purchase decision. It was that ‘interpretation’ thing again.

We presented our interpretation of the data, along with related feedback we had received from our dealers and service reps early last spring and it was acted upon almost immediately by the folks in TRF. Turns out the ECU ‘map’ (the program that runs all of the on-board electronics) had a few ones and zeros that didn’t quite get along. We were informed that an updated program would be written and the affected ECU’s could be ‘re-programmed’ with a new map, thus eliminating the need to stand on ones head, count to five and turn the key using the left hand only, to get it to fire.

Seems simple enough but, as you might guess, the background steps required to get the ‘fix’ to market would take time. A lot of time. This has bugged me all summer knowing the biggest issue we faced on our new sleds could be resolved – no not could – would be resolved and we didn’t tell anybody. I wonder how many Viper owners were heard to say ‘it’s a great sled, I love the power, handling and ergonomics BUT… it’s a real B to start sometimes’ – Okay Yellowknife, I know what you’re thinking. STOP IT! To say you are special would be an understatement! 😎

So here’s the skinny; first I’ll ask you not to run down to your local shop this instant as the info is just now being communicated to our dealers and staff. We will be taking care of our customers and will re-flash the ECU’s on any 2014 SRV that exhibits the need with the latest 2015 model program. I’m not going to get into the details of how this will be carried out as its rather complicated. We will be communicating the info officially this fall, well in advance of the riding season.

While I’m on the topic of updates, there are a couple of other items I can mention with regards to the 2015 models I know some of you areseat looking at. There have been a couple of ‘running’ changes made to production since we released the new sleds last February. The X-TX models (141 cross-overs) will get a new seat. It was decided in testing that the mountain seat with its rounder profile and additional height would make for a better cross-over riding experience and so it has replaced the standard trail seat on these models. Also our new M-TX mountain sleds will get a different windscreen than was used on the early builds last spring. They have been modified to reduce the width Picture1of the ‘ears’ which were susceptible to breakage if the snowmobile somehow ends up on it’s side, (not that you thin air sucking boon-dockers would ever do that). Note the pic is a proto example. The stockers will be colour matched the same as the originals.

There are some more changes but I’ve probably said too much already. End of the day, there are a bunch of folks here at Yamaha and in Minnesota, intent on making these snowmobiles the best they can be. I find it refreshing that we are able to move faster to address market issues and react to input we get from you. Hey, it wasn’t all that long ago, it took us three years to warm up the grips a little. Not any more and for me, that’s a good thing. I hope you all agree!

BTW, thanks for the positive comments and encouragement on my last post, you guys are awesome! For my fellow Canadians, have a great Thanksgiving with your family and friends. Y”all down south, hang in there, your Turkey is on the way (along with the snow). So, without further adieu… lets dance.

cheers cr

 

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Posted @ 5:33 pm in Yamaha Insights   

October 7, 2014

Dancing Fool

IMG-20140918-00017

Time flies – here it is October and I haven’t written a thing since early spring. Why? I’m really not sure. I have struggled, knowing SledTalk has a small group of hard-core followers who have shown appreciation for (most of) the content here and who wait patiently for some new sled fodder. I have always taken pride in remaining transparent while walking the tight-rope of ‘political correctness’. Frankly, this has caused me great frustration at times, not being able to share my thoughts and experience completely, especially regarding issues that are veiled with confusion or speculation. It was easier to navigate the quick-sand when I was only representing Yamaha within my ramblings.

Now a days, I am working very closely with the team at Arctic Cat. I have taken on more of a role in specification planning and communications and spend much of my time dwelling in the near future (aka Minnesota). It is this deep involvement with the SRV project (shared responsibility vehicle ;) that has tempered my blogging and I believe; has caused me to subconsciously shut down over the summer. I have received many questions about our business agreements and future direction, some of which I tried to answer discreetly, with great sensitivity to both companies involved. All that did was raise more speculation. I have even read comments where I am accused of being a liar and purveyor of misleading information. Not a pleasant bit of feedback but everyone is entitled to their opinion and if that is the message I have sent, I accept accountability for it. I am simply not a good ‘dancer.’

So what can I say after six months of silence. hmmmm – Life is good! The snowmobile business is good! And our new snowmobiles are good! For the first time since 2003 I am not going to be on board a 4 cylinder powered sled. I have decided to sacrifice what I still believe is the coolest engine – ever – in a snowmobile and ride a new Viper. I have many reasons for making this choice, not the least of which is the fact, I am working so closely on the project. I owe it to everyone involved, especially myself, to focus my saddle time on the snake.

I have gotten some emails and comments lately from some of you guys, telling me to ‘wake up’ and write something or at least bury Sled Talk in the grave so you can purge it from your favorites (good one T). Thanks – I needed that!

Honestly, I didn’t know what I was going to write when I started this post. I had it in mind to be an epitaph, now I’m not so sure. I’ll see how many of you are left out there and decide if I want to risk going forward and being a dancing fool

Cheers cr

 

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Posted @ 12:23 pm in Yamaha Insights,Yamaha People and Communication   

March 21, 2014

Irie Mon

I can’t say that I am all caught up after my first full week back in the office in what seems like months but I have gulped some air between waves. That’s not a bad little segue into my next mission – I’m taking the family south to sit on the beach for a week and get reacquainted. There will be some business involved as I have the privilege of joining in a special 5-Star dealer recognition trip to the islands of the Caribbean. Imagine hanging out at the pool in +30 degree sunshine talking about snowmobiles while the trails melt away at home.

Tom over on TY helped me post a survey link last week targeting SR Viper owners. We had a pretty good initial response which helped me confirm their level of satisfaction scored against what was most important to them at the time of purchase. It has also added clarity to where we need to focus to make the sled even better. There was one thing that really jumped out at me which I’ll share with you simply because it is quite interesting. What do you think was ranked as the most important item (out of 32 choices) that Viper purchasers were expecting from there new sled. Think about the categories… power? suspension? handling? comfort? performance? Do you have an idea? OK let me say that on the satisfaction ratings of the same 32 points – the item that owners selected as the thing they were very satisfied with was the same thing that was most important. It’s the ergonomics / riding position. Over 300 owners responded and the vast majority ranked the ergonomics as not just really important but also really good. I knew I liked the seating position, the transition to standing is as natural as it gets and riding seated is ideal for me but… wow.

Any way, if you are one of the ones who took the time to complete the survey – THANK YOU. I will return from the tropics next Saturday, swap out the laundry and depart for Japan on Sunday where I’ll be staying for another two weeks. There is still lots of snow in Hokaido and it was minus 9C there yesterday. My helmet and bibs await, along with the promise of some skunk work projects and fresh engineering to sample. I have heard your many comments and will relay as best I can within the formal arena and just as importantly –  the ‘nemawashi’ or back-door discussions over dinner and a pint. I have coined the term ‘Pure Yamaha’ into a strategic topic echoing your collective voice. Wish me luck!

cheers cr

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Posted @ 12:26 pm in Yamaha Insights   

March 12, 2014

Helmet for Sale – Cheap

Dang, here I am, back in the office and overdue for an update. I don’t even want to think of any technical topics or industry tid-bits today so instead I will give you the high hard ones on what I have been doing for the last couple of weeks. I’ll get back to the more controversial stuff once I get through the triage stage and decompression after being on the road.

I spent last week locked down at a ski resort in central Ontario (Blue Mountain) DSC02328with our key people from CSG / customer support group, service and accessories. I had the privilege to lead out the guys for a good ride on Wednesday with stellar conditions, racking up close to 250km. Might not seem like a lot for many of you but considering the technical nature of some of the trails along with numerous road crossings and the fact, for some, it was their first ride of the year and I’d say the boys did good! We did have a couple of ‘incidents’, one of which resulted in a short day for two people and the other will go down as a pit racing story for the ages. I won’t elaborate but the DSC02316circumstances involved a new modular helmet with a tricky face shield release, sudden onset motion sickness, resulting in an abrupt loss of visibility. I am glad I was up front…

Jon spent the last few days in Wisconsin attending some Viper customer survey / focus groups which afforded him the chance to get out and ride with some high miler folks. And I just returned from a quick trip down to Thief River Falls to have some informal discussion on our direction going forward with Arctic Cat. I don’t mind saying, it has been an incredibly busy six weeks but somehow I have managed to make it home most weekends and have been able to rack up some significant miles aboard my Apex along with numerous other cool sleds, thanks in part to an awesome winter.

During our media introduction, pre-embargo, I had planned to attend the vintage snowmobile rally at Waconia MN but had to change my plans when our meetings were cut short. In hindsight, I really wish I could have made it. My old friend and former associate, Greg Marier did attend and sent me this re-cap which I want to share with those of you who have deep roots with Yamaha. Thanks Greg! This is really, really cool!!!

(Be patient, it may take a minute to load and use the back arrow to return here when you are done)

Yamaha Waconia Vintage SNowmobile show

It looks right now, that I will be home the rest of this week and all of next before hitting the road for another three week ‘globe trot’. The snow is still falling here in abundance even as I write this and the weekend is only two days out. I have a Performance Damper equipped Apex with a modified (taller and reshaped) seat that really needs to have some big miles added to the odometer before this white stuff goes away. Notwithstanding my sacrifices, I still need to produce an owners survey for the SR Viper and start building our product plan into a more formal presentation for Japan end of the month. That said, I need to get back to doing the stuff I get paid for. TTYL!

cheers cr

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Posted @ 12:10 pm in Yamaha Insights   

February 25, 2014

It Sucks – _ _ _!

It’s been over a week since I last posted here. Looking back over the past few days and the many comments I received on the 15’s I would have to say this has been the most constructive and informative feedback on a new model launch ever, on Sled Talk. Thank you all who took the time to weigh in!

1977000_10152273676605281_1992025370_nI returned from Valemount with just enough time to pass my laundry to my wife, pet my kid and kiss the dogs then it was off to our Wisconsin R&D facility for the week. The annual ‘joint test’ was one of the best in my recollection, primarily due to the exceptional snow conditions in and around Minocqua. The ‘meat’ of the test was to ride and evaluate the final MY15 model specifications for sea level. There were representatives from all the main markets including Allen from Europe and Victor from Russia. Our North American team was there in force with planning, sales and service all at the table. In the back seats we had around twenty guys from Japan along with several more associates from our design agency. Leading the charge there were a couple of VP’s from Canada and the US, a senior managing director from Japan and the infamous, legendary and sometimes crazy Saito, our guru and host.

At one point I looked around a sparsely treed meadow where we were ‘playing’ and noticed at least 5 guys stuck and in various stages of cardiac arrest. The powder was really deep, granular and had no base at all which was evidenced by the roosts of ‘snirt’ that were laid down in final throes of futility whenever a line was mistaken or momentum given up to a tree. It was awesome! Overall the evaluations of suspension settings and calibrations confirmed our targets have been achieved and the sleds are ready for production.

Once we got through the 15’s it was time to address MY16. We discussed the direction and strategy of the next round of colors and graphics then had a chance to view ‘mock-up’ models with the new ideas applied. It’s always interesting to hear the comments from the different markets and I find myself reflecting and what I read here and on Totallyamaha regarding our current CG. The new LE’s are good example with the bright orange and blue colors. I concluded for the group that what I see in the market is a ‘love or hate’ initial reaction coupled with applause to the fact that Yamaha has broken the traditional conservative norm and tried something wild and aggressive for a change. This is one area that working with Arctic Cat provides us a lot more flexibility to paint components and play with more plastic real estate with graphic treatments. I like it.

After all the work was completed I had a chance to try some advanced ‘mules’ which are not officially projects, just ideas in the making along with some competitive products, one of which I have been really curious about. One of the guys had taken a YZ450 motocrosser and installed a Timbersled track conversion to it. I have been following some of this in the mountains, thinking it would not really apply to the flat lands but with this years snow conditions, it was a blast to go boon docking with it. I was absolutely amazed at how much powder it would wade through with surprising stability and confidence. Up front it is not a snowmobile and in my opinion will never replace a snowmobile but what a cool toy to add to the man cave collection (money not being an option).

I am going to stay in town the rest of this week even though I should probably be going back to West Yellowstone where all the media guys are congregating  to ride and photograph the new offerings from all four manufacturers. My intention, given a bit of time, is to revisit the comments to my last post and try to respond and answer as many of your replies as I can. You might want to take a look back at them shortly, especially if you are the author of one and are interested in reading my thoughts.

IMAG0024One of our key guys who works out of our Kennesaw office in Atlanta had a very cool experience I’d like to share. Georgia experienced a nasty snow storm recently, which never happens there. Robert being a good ole western boy, grew up sleddin in the mountains. He took the opportunity to jump on board a development Viper and is probably one of – if not the only – guy to ever go sledding in Atlanta. Being a good lad, he checked with the local constabulary to ask if it was ok to ride a snowmobile around town and they said no problem. Probably because they didn’t even know what the heck a snowmobile was. He spent the day giving neighbor kids rides, posing for curious cameras and even attracted some media attention for the evening news. Too cool!

Next week, we are hosting yet another meeting, to focus on the high level issues facing our service and accessory development teams. We call this the ‘in-season’ CSG (customer support group) where we get together away from our daily distractions to meet. One of the most important parts of this is making sure all attendees get a chance to get out and ride our new sleds for a day. To that end I have to arrange a bunch of machines and head out in advance to do a little scouting for a two to three hundred km loop… Yes it sucks – to be me! ;) cheers cr

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Posted @ 11:50 am in Yamaha Insights