Archive for July, 2007
July 25, 2007
Careful what you ask for!
Jon and I tend to ‘spitball’ a lot of ideas around here, often focused on building a better mousetrap. One thing I have learned over the years, when dealing with our engineers, it is best to let them figure out how to design the trap. It is our job to communicate to them, everything they need to know about the mouse.
An interesting example of how this can go, is currently a hot topic with some potential FX Nytro riders. The Totallyamaha forum has a couple of lengthy threads based on the need for Nytro with a 136 Ripsaw track. At first blush, this is a no-brain’er. The Attak and Rage (now LTX) models featured this track and are very well accepted in the market. The longer track offers greater traction in loose conditions and by virtue of a longer wheelbase, bridges the bumps with less pitching than a traditional 121 inch. There are some other pros and cons but that kinda sums it up for my purpose here.
After hearing the demand, our first reaction is to meet with the engineers and request a 136 x 1.25 Ripsaw for the Nytro. If we really do our homework, collect lots of data, make multiple colored slides with graphs and charts and photographs, reference the feedback from customers then deliver the presentation with all the passion and conviction we can muster up , everyone will be convinced to drill some holes in the Nytro tunnel, pull the rear-end guts out of an Attak, add a little piece of aluminum to extend the snow flap and voila, the FX Nytro LTX will be born… Careful what you ask for.
Posted @ 1:39 pm in Yamaha Insights
July 17, 2007
It’s Snowmobile Planning Time
This mornings news reports really got me thinking about Japan. The central area has been hit by a severe typhoon and right on its heels a major (6.5 on the Richter scale) earth quake which has rattled the Niigata prefecture in the north west shaking buildings as far away as Tokyo, several dead and thousands injured… the aftershocks are still on going as I write this.
It has been a tradition for longer than I have been involved, to hold a high level snowmobile product planning meeting (SPPM) early every summer in Japan. It was a few years back when upon our return journey to the airport in Narita, several of us were caught in a typhoon in Tokyo. It probably wasn’t the best time to go up the Tokyo Tower but that we did. Tim Kowall and I were up on the top deck where there was a big aquarium, in it, one large lonely grouper-ish looking fish sloshing back and forth. There was an ancient fellow in charge of security who overheard us chuckling that the fish didn’t look too happy. He nervously quipped in his many years working in the tower he had never seen the water move in this tank. The wind was blowing so hard the tower was swaying! Suddenly I wasn’t so happy myself. Did I mention Tim is quite acrophobic?
But I digress. SPPM is a marathon of meetings generally held over a three day period. Each distributor is represented by two to four guys from planning / marketing and sales. This years meeting, which is happening next week, will include reps from Canada, Europe, Japan domestic, USA and the new kid on the block, Russia. The agenda is quite predictable. The first half day all will assemble in the large presentation room with about fifty people, key engineers, division managers, (sales, planning) and the gaikokujin .
There has been a wee bit of a reorganization in Japan (best way to manage change is to change management eh), so the shuffling of the deck will be duly explained. Following that, the ‘project leaders‘ in charge of designing next seasons (09) new or upgraded snowmobiles will update everyone on their progress. There will be time for questions during all this but at 12:00 noon sharp, everyone will dash to the company cafeteria where several thousand mouths (at least it appears that many) are fed every day with remarkable Japanese efficiency. Curry and rice, pork cutlets, or large bowls of cold noodles are washed down with green tea then its back to the meeting hall.
Posted @ 12:02 pm in Yamaha Insights
July 5, 2007
I have a hunch that most of us had our first taste of mechanized freedom perched upon the seat of a bicycle. I know that was the case for myself. The speed; wind-in-the-face, challenge of mastering the machine. Adrenaline ‘juiced’ with the first sideways loss of traction. I for one, deep down, still cling to those early memories.
Saturday morning, I rolled the Stratoliner out of the garage, cranked it over and set about strapping on my lid and accompanying stuff. The run to my cottage would normally take a couple of hours and change but I had spent some time on Google maps and planned a route that would take at least double that avoiding every major highway and secondary route to cottage country. My idea was an early, stress-free, soul searching ride through the country and I wasn’t to be disappointed.
It’s the same rush when you light up your sled and set out on a new trail; anticipation and excitement melting together into a pool of adventure. As the big twin rumbled along through the country-side I could feel the stress of the week subside as I relaxed, settling into the Ride. It occurred to me this is what it’s all about and if you don’t understand, I can’t explain it to you except to say for those of us who are riders at the very core, there is sanity in our world outside of the rolling cages we use to commute to our daily regimen of doing whatever.
I find it fascinating when I hear snowmobiler’s ‘dis other riders on their choice of equipment, set-up or style. This is generally done form the point of view that ‘I know more than you’ or ‘I am faster than you’…what is that anyway? The essence of the Ride, riding anything, just for the pure pleasure and freedom it affords should never be measured by the equipment, the distance or the speed. Don’t get me wrong here, I understand competition and racing. It has been my experience that most true racers extend great respect to their fellow competitors, especially the successful ones, (albeit after the checkered drops).
Posted @ 1:13 pm in Yamaha Insights