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May 2, 2007

…And All thats to Come…

I’ll offer you a little Bob Dylan tune to hum while you read todays post …

And the first one now, Will later be last. For the times they are a-changin’.

There was a time when Yamaha, like most other companies could go about our business in a nice methodical fashion. We would produce and market our wares, then our service people would follow along quietly gathering and communicating information about the products performance to the mother ship. All of this unbeknown to you for the most part, until months later when a specification change would trickle down and on the following years model it would show up as standard. Something has happened that is changing all of this and you area big part of it.

The internet and what is being called the new web 2.0 experience, where people are not just downloading information, they are participating, uploading their thoughts and comments, taking part in a much larger ‘conversation’, one never before possible. We are part of a global community with a common interest in snowmobiles. The community by and large lives on self moderated ‘public forums‘ where many thoughts, ideas and questions are kicked around. The blogosphere is another important element in the new web and one which you are most likely now in the process of discovering but I digress…

What I really want to say is; I believe that companies like Yamaha, no longer have the luxury of time. Time to methodically digest and react to market information as we used to. Our customers voices have become too many and too strong not to acknowledge them in short order. But in reality our business model is like that of a huge ship in motion; it is not easily or quickly turned and once it starts to change direction there’s no turning back.

I received a comment from Turbocat over the weekend who took the time to carefully review his thoughts on our fuel capacity and market voice on the new sleds making specific reference to a Totallyamaha ‘poll’. I would like to address Tcats comment within this post.

Lets start with our fuel capacity right across the line. We have reduced the capacity in all our sleds (just a little) but not for the reasons of a lighter wet weight as has been suggested. What really happened is a result of something much greater. EPA regulations have become more stringent including the ones covering fuel-tank permeability or fuel lost to the atmosphere through evaporation. We have had to change the property and thickness of the fuel tanks to reduce the amount of loss and in the process, lost some capacity.

Now lets look at the FX Nytro and its smaller 27 liter tank. The capacity fits the concept of a lightweight bump sled (don’t forget the Nytro weighs the same as the current (non-XP) skidoo REV which has been the ‘holy grail’ of bump-sleds for many riders since 03). We know there is a demand for a larger ‘touring’ type fuel tank and we moved forward to see if we could build one for OE replacement. The conclusion is: we tried and we simply cannot… Why?

As a large international company, we must show due diligence with regards to product compliance regulations and ensure our products pass all the required tests. I took a very quick look at the tests for fuel tanks which are performed by third party, government approved agencies like US Testing Inc. according to SSCC standards to determine compliance. Here’s some of the details. A fuel tank must exceed its rated capacity by a minimum of 10% to allow for expansion (hence the sleeve in the filler neck). The tank must pass a drop test where it is filled full of fuel, sealed, cooled to -40F then dropped from a distance of four feet onto a smooth surface. Next the test is repeated after heating the full tank to +140F before being dropped. It is then sealed and weighed full of fuel and stored for 30 days in a controlled environment before being weighed a second time. It must not loose more than 3% of its weight due to permeation. Then there is a sunlight / UV test which determines the level of opaque, a pressure test, a brittleness test and a thermal cracking test. I probably missed a couple more but you get the picture… If it fails any of the above, it doesn’t go on a Yamaha.

We are now communicating with some after-market vendors who may be interested in producing some fuel tanks for special niche or competition markets. They would be responsible for the design, construction and marketing of their products without our direct endorsement. We are also looking at some accessory ‘fuel caddy’ devices to offer additional fuel storage without replacement of the OE spec tank. I thought I would update you on the facts. We hear your requests and we are trying to provide some solutions. We won’t have the final answers for some time yet.

I can also assure you our engineers are working on counter-measures and tweaks for the majority of the complaints and suggestions we have received from the field including the forums but like the days of old, we won’t say anything until all the planets are aligned and the ‘sun is eclipsed by the moon’ … or will we? 😉

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Posted @ 2:39 pm in Yamaha Insights   

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9 Responses to “…And All thats to Come…”

  1. Scott says:

    This blog is great! I follow it every few days and continue to be impressed to see answers to the questions and concerns we real world racers, riders and consumers have about the sleds.

    Basically I had no idea that so many factors had to be considered when building a gas tank. This blog has caused me to hesistate and try to consider why Yamaha or their engineers do something a certain way rather than just automatically condeming it .

    Also, I love reading about the development history of sleds. I hope you can continue to post more articles!


    Thanks Scott, I’ll do my best to keep things going over the summer, comments like your help a lot! … cheers cr

  2. maggie fox says:

    Thanks for the link, Chris – you are doing an absolutely fantastic job. Well done!

  3. Turbocat says:

    Thanks for the reply Chris,

    I like many others did not realize all of the factors in building and testing and getting a gas tank approved for use. EPA regs are essential to reduce emissions and fuel evaporation is a legitimate concern.I have a much better understanding of the reasoning Yamaha used to arrive at smaller capacity tank design.
    I was going to suggest the feasibility of using a less porous material for tank construction, but that would likely add cost and that is not readily acceptable either.

    I am pleased with the pursuit of the aftermarket for potential O/E replacement tanks, and the pursuit of accessory fuel caddys. For obvious reasons I hope the front of the sled (storage area) is not being considered for fuel caddy location.

    Looking forward to hearing more on this subject as it unfolds.

    This kind of response to market concerns is what separates Yamaha from the other sled manufacturers and will only benefit us all. I for one am glad Yamaha is listening.

    Now if we can just wrangle a 136 incher and a 12 volt DC outlet….


  4. SpyderRx1 says:

    Chris, I pretty much echo Turbocats statement above…you do a GREAT JOB!

    Thanks again, SpyderRx1

    P.S. Now how ’bout that 136″ 🙂

    … I’ll keep pushing for a long track! tx cr

  5. BR MOORE says:

    Chris, As always good work! We learn from you every week! I’m very glad that you & Yamaha are listening to what your customers are saying & I hope more that you respond to what your customers say! It is one thing to listen & another to do something about these problems or situations! I also agree that a 136″ skid is a must!

    Thanks Again! BR

    Thanks BR, as mentioned its a big ship I’m on and I’m not the captain by any stretch, but you have my word the messages will be delivered. It might make for some interesting content if I post some of the details on how the product planning cycle actually works, hmmmmmmmmm … cr

  6. Gerry Nicholson says:

    Chris, thanks for the info . It is nice for you/yamaha to forward info like that . It is nice to know when you hear something you look into it and mostly it is nice to know reasons why something takes time to do or does not happen .

    I dont know with your schedule how you get time to keep this blog going but thanks for all your work

    … ssshh, don’t tell my boss 😉 cr…

  7. Glenn Deveraux says:

    Hey CR, its great to see the blog is still busy as we head into summer. Keep up the excellent work. Speaking of “product planning cycle” and “lunar eclipses”, would you happen to know what Masashi Tozawa was riding in this past season’s Japanese Sno-X? I’d leave a link but I’m sure you know where to find the pics.
    Glad to see my 40th tale got runner up. I always smile when I think of that 433.

  8. BLUEBALLER says:

    Great info. But I’m wondering if I read it right. You say the Nytro 7.4 gallon tank cannot be made larger because it would fail the SSCC tests. How were the apex/vector 10 gallon tanks able to pass the same tests? How bout we meet in the middle with a 8.5 gallon tank. I know, I’m a pain, but if I’m riding my new Nytro hard in the powder and I’m getting approx. 160 kms on a tank, that is no better than the ol’ 2 smoker I’m driving right now. I’m grateful yamaha is cooperating with the aftermarket as this will obviously be whom I turn to come next fall. I disagree with previous posts on location of fuel caddies. I do hope it’s under the hood as I’m gonna use ALL of the wide running boards these sleds are coming with.
    thanks again Chris for all your info.

    …Hey BBR, I was not saying a tank could not be made to pass SSCC, the point is in order for Yamaha to develop the tank it MUST go through all the testing procedures the same way as the original tank. This is costly and time consuming. It is also very likely that engineering will want to re-test the whole machine with the added weight for durability and handling issues. It gets even more complicated when we look at our internal procurement policies but I’m not even going to go there on the blog. I’ll keep you posted…

  9. Yellowknife says:

    So that’s what the sleeve in the tank is for.

    I usually remove the ‘hamster tunnel’

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