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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.

Step back a little. Consider; the Nytro is a purpose built machine, designed with different targets and character than the original RX platform. The balance points, CG and moment of inertia are all quite different which our engineers understand all too well. Perhaps a better way would be to describe what the expectations (of the rider) are for a Nytro based LTX without insisting on a particular component part or setting. What if we simply focused on a sled that had improved traction without compromising the ability to drive around a corner.? A sled that would help make the bumps you gun down late on a Sunday, the kind that transform your favorite trail into a back breaking washboard, simply go away? A sled you could pull off into a meadow, shoulder-deep in powder without worrying if someone is around to help pull you out? ( okay maybe thats pushing it a little, its always nice to have a buddy along when playing in the powder 😉 )

Hypothetically, if we were to ask instead, for a sled based on understanding riders needs and define where the lines of compromise are then let engineering and testing decide what is the best way to achieve it, they come up very well come up with a mono-shocked Nytro using a 136×1.25 Ripsaw. Then again it could have a modified twin shock skid with a new track to compliment it, perhaps 16 inch wide or perhaps 145 or maybe 132 long, inch and quarter, inch and a half, Ripsaw, Hacksaw, Ice scritcher… The point is; we are not necessarily tied to an ‘off the shelf’ part. If we insist on a 136’er thats what we’ll get, there may very well be a better choice but you’ll never know. What I’m hearing is ‘build me a long track sled that does a good job both on and off trail. We must also be careful how we ask!

Another example, on a much larger project scale relates to the Phazer and its use of a 14 inch track. Scott has asked me why we chose a 14 inch’er especially on the Mountain Lite (see comments under my last post). I could write a small novel on the PZ development project. The original ‘concept’ Phazer was, well lets say ‘unique’. If you think the current Phazer is a departure from the norm you would be totally blown away by the prototype we rode several years ago now. The concept we originally pitched was a snow-going YZ of sorts. A lightweight 4-stroke that had agility, extreme handling and an image to match. A machine that would have the gen Y kids selling their snowboards on Ebay and trading their roof-rack adorned Civics for Tacoma’s.

I’ll take a big step forward now to where the sled morphed into something more traditional. We had decided on the 14 inch wide track to help achieve the agility and ‘fun-to-ride’ targets for the Phazer, this also allowed for a more narrow tunnel (light weight and rider mobility). We had room to squeeze one more variation into the plan given our available time and resources, problem was, we needed two. The Venture was required to cover the two-up market and after testing the proto’s it was apparent a mountain version would be a lot of fun for boon-docking in the powder. After a lot of manpower juggling and discussion (things like engine power and track speed), our engineers decided we could have both models provided we worked with the FX base chassis to develop the Mountain Lite. The Venture went on to receive a new wider tunnel and bulkhead to accept the 15 and 16inch track of the Multi-Purpose (not sold in the USA) plus the bigger gas tank (tunnel width allows more capacity). In the end the Phazer Mountain Lite caught us all by surprise as it outsold all other variations in Canada and has proven itself a very worthy snowmobile.

There was quite a bit more to this story which perhaps I can visit again in another post if you like. Just be careful what you ask for 😉 cr

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16 Responses to “Careful what you ask for!”

  1. Bob Hogg says:

    Ok then…how about you lower the front axle down, from its archaic position, or slightly lower so the track then exits flush or lower than the bottom of the tunnel. The track will then exit at a less aggressive angle removing some input to the skid and allow more terrain response.

    I think this concept is optimal for 2/s as well but more so on the 4/. With my few glorious minutes of riding the Yamaha 4/ you could feel how much more, for lack of a better word “force was rotated (not static weight but force), to the front than I have experienced with 2/s.

    But…Yamahas thinking since 1975 (that’s when I first felt the change and immediately stuffed the GP front skid geometry in our 75 GPX making it a winning combo) has been to be ski heavy and that does make the sled safer.

    So… backing up to where we started…allowing the front of the skid to help more on the 4/ would be good – I think.

    In addition – I envision the front drive diameter to be bigger and the rear skid idler wheels bigger (raised up so it’s flush) and then adding a 136 but with the changes – giving it the FEEL and PERFORMANCE of about a 129” track…sweet.

    Perfect example Bob, If that is what I really wanted, I wouldn’t ask for it in that kind of detail. I would try to describe the conditions and rider needs in order to ‘lead the witness’ so-to-speak. Then sit back and let our team of engineers work on the problem and figure out how to get there. One thing I have learned : it’s never as simple as it looks (and even if it is, it isn’t 😉 cr

  2. Wayne says:

    Hey Cr good article, I wish Yamaha could send us a survey to see what we wanted, that would be cool. For my 2 cents I want to see a longer track option on a Nytro. I had an 07 Attak and loved the longer track. I have ordered a Nytro Rtx. If I was to buy a longer track Nytro it would have to have a dual shock suspension, the mono is great but in the Attak it was too soft for a rider 190+ lbs. I realize they sell a heavier spring ($250). We have an 07 Apex Rtx and noticed that the mono is harder on sliders too. We run them head to head and we know exactly which is better. Even the Apex Er with the mono is harder on sliders than the dual shock set up. My dealer has commented on that fact also. So for me a longer track Nytro with a dual shock suspension for sure, or how about a suspension option so diferrent riders can get the suspension they want?

    good points Wayne, we actually have some good news re:testing and suspension calibrations on the 08’s which should widen the sweet-spot for a lot of riders. A little bird told me one of the major sled publications will have an in depth repost in their fall issue on our suspension development progress. cr

  3. Yellowknife says:

    I was finally able to tally up my mileage over the 2006-2007 season (November to April)

    I was able to put 5,162 KM (3,208 MI) on my 2005 MX Z Renegade X 800 H.O. PTEK (Total Mileage 18,124 KM’S (11,328 MI) and I was able to put 6,065KM (3,769 MI) on my 2007 Yamaha Phazer Mountain Lite. It was my highest mileage season ever, and the first season I’ve ever had two sleds to chose from. Here’s another stat based on that mileage and warranty work, the Renegade was down for 28 days and the Mountain Lite 16 days.

    All this long track talk is ironic. In reviewing every 2008 model out there, I came down to the Summit X and the Nytro MTX. Guess what I ordered today.

    I differ from the boys above as the 136″ isn’t enough in our non-groomed open lakes and trails.

    When Chris started this site, I cried for available storage and a hitch on a unit similar to the Mountain lite with more power. Little did I know, the MTX was set to appear, and that’s what I plan to put 10,000 km’s+ seat time on.

    While I had a host of growing pains with the Mountain Lite, it will be the Renegade that will have a new owner this fall, and the Phazer will become my back-up.

    I’ve been staring at every picture I can find of the MTX, and still can’t figure out how they’ve surrounded the muffler and integrated it into the tunnel. Purchasing the unit without seeing it, I’m hoping there’s no room for ice buildup on the top or sides of the tunnel. Under the tunnel isn’t such a conern.

    Chris – is the muffler completely enclosed from the sides and top of the tunnel?

    Only 3 more months till we hit snow. 🙂

    Great news Yellowknife (and a wise decision I might add) The muffler layout on Nytro is more similar to the Apex, you shouldn’t have any amount of ice buildup outside of the tunnel. In hindsight there are lots of ‘unpublished’ minor changes to the Venture Lite and Phazer to address many of the issues you had encountered. Will they be perfect for everyone? Not likely but I am convinced the number of down days you had this year would be significantly less given the updates. I’ll keep you posted on them as we are still in the final process of sorting everything out. I’ll also let you know how we’re doing on the additional fuel storage for Nytro as I know this will be an issue for you up there… 3 months until it snows! hmmmm 😉 cheers cr

  4. Yer ole MTB Bud says:

    Hey CR, Great communication from a OEM.
    I think were missing a once popular model from Yamaha.
    How about the Venture, now in Yamaha’s oldest Chassis.
    This Model sure could use the underpinnings of the Delta 11 or Nytro Chassis with all the cush of a Caddy, and with the new 130fi.
    The mice with family’s and touring rat’s have called.
    How about it?.

    Hey you got any quads left?

    yo Gordo… hold that thought! TTYL cr

  5. scott says:

    Great post! I enjoy learning about the bigger picture as to how the products are developed. It almost sounds like the Phazer was supposed to be similar in concept to the Trickster dirt bike sold in Europe? I can now see how the Mtn Lite came about.

    Do you see a future where Yamaha is going to continue to develop specialized platforms to fill the market segments rather than a broader one chassis fits all like Ski-doo and what Polaris did with the Indy?

    I suspect their must be some type of marketing philosphy that you either build a few chassis types with lots of options or lots of different chassis types that are more suited to their intended purposes? It seems like the few chassis types with lots of options is the key to becoming #1 in market share. Does somebody at the factory keep track of this sort of thing?

    Scott you appear to have a pretty good grasp and some insight on how the snowmobile industry functions. I maintain that in periods of growth, manufacturers can be very successful with a limited number of model variants but as a market ‘matures’ and there is no influx of ‘new’ owners, the need for ‘specialization’ increases. We need to offer more niche models to cover every base as we cannot afford to lose one customer to a competitor. It is easier (and more profitable) to accomplish this if you base numerous models on one chassis. Problem is you can only push it so far until the compromise will show weakness.
    In a perfect world I would prefer every model be based on its own chassis and components to be the best it can be at one job, but this is simply not feasible. I think we have a pretty good thing going right now with our ‘Twin Peaks’ concept using the FX and RX chassis platforms. The other guys are trying to do it all with one chassis and you can rest assured we have some of our guys spending a lot of time tracking their offerings and mapping them against the market trends and sales data. cheers cr

  6. SNOBLOWR says:

    Hey Chris,
    ” Be careful what you ask for”…

    Asking for a 136″ skid so that the Nytro fits the current most popular niche of the cross over snowmobile market is a no-brainer. It isn’t broke on the Attak / Apex LTX so why try to fix it with an oddball 129,132,or 145″ track.
    I understand what you are saying about CG, moment of inertia, balance points, driver ergonomics,they are all different for each sled. Riders want flexibility in the track they choose for “their” riding conditions and want to be able to pick from the best the aftermarket has to offer. Standard sizes offer the most choice and we all know that factory tracks are not always the best suited for local conditions. If the Nytro needs refinement to perform with a 136″,on the same scale as the 121″ then as you suggest, Yamaha will take the time and do it right.

    It will be interesting to see if aftermarket 136″ Nytro kits do well this year.

    We have an ’07 Phazer FX and a Venture Lite
    (minus the rack and 2nd seat)and the 2 are ridden in the same conditions. The FX handles like a mountain bike except with more torque, the VL, well lets just say the son can’t outrun the old man,except in the tightest of twisties. The 144″ is awesome in offtrail riding and as long as it breaks trail in new 3-5′ drifts the FX can follow. Ice buildup is an issue on the FX in certain conditions, the VL with the fan has very little ice buildup. Both sleds have the finicky reverse issue. Looking forward to Yamaha updates on these problems. We bought these sleds in early March and put 1400 kms on them before season end.

    We also have a’75 GPX that I’ll be checking the geometry on. Thanks Bob.


    good comment SB.. I gotta bite my tongue on this one 😉 cr

  7. dnr says:

    I have wished (and asked) for a lot of things, and still do.
    After 50 years of wishing, wouldn’t you know it…..asking is now done more carefully.
    Try and tell the general public that.
    Better yet…Try and tell your kids!

    Great stuff cr.
    Carry on.
    “Bite of your tongue” is a whole lot better then a big chunk off the corner of your a$$.

    Thank you o’ wise one! you obviously understand my quandary, I like my butt just the way it is 😉 cheers cr

  8. snowmobile forum says:

    there’s always truth to becareful what you ask for, ever heard the song unanswered prayers?

  9. scott says:


    I wondered if you could do an upcoming topic on valve train durability on snowmachines as opposed to the YZ & WR dirt bikes? I’ve been confused as to why my Vector can go 25,000 miles before needing its first valve inspection (I believe this is the same as for the Apex and Phazer) while the dirt bikes require much more frequent inspections and adjustment?

  10. Scott Materi says:

    Hi Chris….Great Site you have going here. I will be receiving my first Yamaha in the form of a Phazer RTX this september…ish. Noticed in the comments about some hints to the improvements on the “bugs” that the first year FX Chassis Phazer had (cold starts, ice buildup). When you are permitted to share those improvements….would you please do so??

    Much Appreciated!
    Scott Materi

    Scott, will try to post some updates very soon, am on vacation and internet access is not readily available… I will need to confirm when I get back in the saddle… cheers..cr

  11. Yellowknife says:

    Hi Chris –

    Do you have any idea why Yamaha-motor.com and yamaha-motor.ca’s specifications are different for some units?

    The American site claims a hitch is available on the nytro MTX, while the Canadian site doesn’t say either way.

    I ordered this unit because I thought it had a hitch and have confirmed with Yamaha Canada that it does not have one available and will not in the future.

    This is disappointing. Any thoughts as to why this happens, and why they aren’t offering a hitch on this unit?

    Appreciate it,


    Hey YK, Re: the hitch, I am looking into this for you and will let you know what the deal is, I am just getting back from vacation and working to get caught up. As far as how accessory development in general and our different offerings go… I can write a blog post explaining what I know.



  12. Brandon says:

    Where can i find a 136 in suspension for a apex rtx or will another brand fit. I’m no to excited about the 121in for powder, so i want to upgrade to a longer suspension. thanks

    Brandon, I’m not sure if anyone has rail extensions for the twin shock RTX skid, best place to research is over on Totallyamaha. There are other more expensive options, aftermarket skids like the Boivin or a used LTX / Attack / Warrior skid. I think you will find a rail extension kit from another application will work but again please talk to the guys on TY to confirm as you’ll likely need some help on suspension calibration once you mod… cheers cr

  13. Nicolas says:


    Thanks for your awesome yamaha talk site.

    I really love my Phazer mountain lite 2007. I would like to have more power but I don’t want to put a turbo on it. I think this is too expensive.

    In the near future I would like to see an upgraded phazer mountain 144, with a 15inch or 16inch track, with a better suspension, with no ice problem on the running board and with a 900cc engine.(two 450cc together).

    I know that you guys at Yamaha can do it. Why are you guys are not working on this project ? There is a lot of people who like the handling of the phazer mountain lite (like on a dirtbike).

    Thank you yamaha.

  14. Eric von Doellen says:

    I am new to Yamaha sleds but have enjoyed the use of our 1991 90 hp Yamaha outboard motor for years. Its a great product and has given us exactly “zero” problems in many years of service.

    We recently purchase a 2001 Venture which works well and I am picking up a 2007 Phazer Mountain Lite(with 336 Kms) on Thursday.

    Long story short if you believe what you read on the net, there is a lot of poitive info regarding the 07 Phazer and a bit of not so positive. The two main issues are the ice-up issue (which I found the solution for here) and the other is the overheating issue.

    The overheating is the one I am concerned about. It sounds like you can get a cooling fan added on to this sled and I will if it is necessary. But if I don’t need to spend the money I won’t, can you tell me if this is a common problem or nothing to worry about? And if it is, what general conditions create this situation.

    Best Regards,

    Eric von Doellen

    Hey Eric, It is condition specific. Cold temps and lots of snow dust comes tomind If you get an ice dam forming at the rad there will not be enough air flow and things could warm up. Suggest you give it a try as is, if you get a warning light, check and clear the rad intake. You should also discuss with your dealer and see if they have had any issues in your area, they may wish to contact our dealer support group for additional comment

  15. Art says:

    I’m buying a 2007 Yamaha Multi-Purpose approx– (2500 miles on it)and have some concerns? I am researching various Blogs and websites I am wondering about a couple of things I have noticed posted and I am asking for info on these topics. Overheating? Reverse piling up not going in smooth? and are these real concerns and is there any other comments you may wish to add. I drove this very machine a year ago for a weekend and love it. Awaiting replies

    Thank you. Art

    Hey Art, there were issues with both but only under certain conditions. There were also several counter measures and tech tips issued to our dealers to help resolve. I would not be afraid to buy the sled especially as you have had a chance to ride one and know what the characteristics are like. Suggest you take the serial number into a dealer and ask them to run it through our system to see what if any updates or warranty work has been done on it and if there is any outstanding bulletins on it. They will be able to advise you from there… cheers cr

  16. Art says:

    Appreciate the advice — Sure beats the ole Bullet proof 1995 Polaris 488cc fan indy trail 2-up. in ride and performance. the storage area I believe ya could land a Helicopter on the back……will be very versatile going into the camp.

    Again thx


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