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Archive for November, 2007

November 29, 2007

Your Weather Predictions

Can We Weather Out Another Poor-Snow Season?

It was interesting to get an email from an old friend today. I had the pleasure to work with York Mizutani when he was the ATP (assistant to the president) for snowmobile and ATV here at YMCA for five years. York disappeared for several years when he returned to Japan but resurfaced recently in a senior position within the RV marketing division in charge of snowmobile and ATV.

I remember taking him for his first snowmobile ride out in Vernon BC. DNR joined us for a run right out of the Silver Star Ski Resorts parking lot. After a couple of hours playtime we were almost back at the resort when York disappeared. I doubled back to find him sitting in the ‘bus loop’ parking lot, engine idling, not moving a muscle. I approached him asking what’s the matter- from inside his well frosted visor came a muffled “no power“!! I listened to the Phazer, which was purring nicely and asked “what is its problem, what’s it doing?”.

He raised his right hand from the bar, made a fist in my face indicating his thumb and said again ‘no power’! Well- when I stopped laughing, I told him we were only one kilometer from the Vance Creek Saloon and dinner… problem solved! But I digress…

I found his question curious at first but upon reflection I think he has the same ‘gut feeling’ as I do. He wanted to know what the winter was shaping up like in Canada and the USA. Was it snowing? So far in Japan, winter is arriving early and with assertion. He closed by saying our engineering team is excited and motivated by the thought of a good old fashioned winter, especially after the recent seasons of spotty snow and they want to hear from us on the subject.

I didn’t quite know how I would respond as I am a little superstitious (not wanting to jinx us by being overtly positive). And I know how quickly mother nature can change her mind (she is a lady after all)… Anyway I told him that there is snow on the ground over much of Ontario and Quebec, we have had several winter storm watch announcements from Environment Canada. And most importantly, I was able to pick my daughter up from school last week on my Apex. I also sent him a link to one of my favorite forums for Ontario snowmobilers to read for himself. I told him ‘my guts‘ are telling me this is going to be a good winter right across North America. I’d like to know what you’re thinking right now looking at where you ride. Got a ‘gut check’ for me? I’d like to let the boys over in Japan know what you’re feeling, looking out the window.sma-8gl63-00-00.jpg

On another completely different topic, Richard one of our accessories development managers asked me if I had any feedback on the fuel caddy sytem for the Nytro. This is referring to the soft bag with support bracket and gas can (sold individually). I told him I have had one request from Bob P for a Phazer mount. We are wondering if this would be a good item to develop for other models (or even brands). If you have an opinion or would be interested in this please let me know. (just add a comment here)

Last but not least, take it easy if you ride this weekend, I heard of the seasons first parked car getting hit by a sled a couple of nights ago up where I live!

cheers … cr

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Posted @ 4:09 pm in Yamaha Insights   

November 26, 2007

Yamaha 07/08 Snocross Debut

…The Road to Duluth

I spoke with Greg Marier today as he was driving home from Duluth, his spirit was high after a tough weekend of WSA racing. Heres the ‘high hard ones’ from our conversation:

  • The sleds were assembled only 2 weeks ago, YMC engine guys had taken a base FX Nytro engine and did a bunch of head work to it-intake, exhaust, cams and bumped up the compression a bit and first thing they needed to do was recalibrate (map) the FI system.
  • They ended up in Thompson Manitoba where they had to truck in some snow to build a practice track of sorts, couple of jumps and bumps but nothing like the ‘real nasty’.
  • This years sled has a little more power and a little less weight. The old ‘Malinoski spec’ needed to be re calibrated to reflect Steve Taylors lighter weight and ‘finesse’ riding style, the gurus from sponsor ‘Fox Shocks’ plugged into the test.
  • Corey got pitched off his sled in an unfortunate mishap, leaving his collar-bone cracked and his morale in the toilet. He was looking really good up until that point.
  • Greg contacted Ole Haga and invited Swedish rider Johan Eriksson to come to the USA for a few weeks to cover Corey. The big Swede is 6’5″ and the ergos of the sled could not be adjusted soon enough for him with only one practice session at the Planet X track before doing battle. He ended up with two 5ths and a 2nd in the heats.
  • The MQTC team with Yuji are using some new suspension linkages and front geometry right off the CAD in an effort to prove the designs in the ultimate torture test. They are still working on calibrations and Yuji (in the best shape of his life) was getting faster every time out.
  • Steve is showing excellent potential, taking everything the team comes up with and riding the wheels off the sled. They were also improving every time out and the calibration is now closer to where they need to be.
  • The back straight was a mine field of hard edged craters that took its toll on many sleds. It was there the Steve spun the drivers and missed qualifying for the main.
  • The Yamaha open machine is not the lightest sled but it is not the heaviest neither. This is not about weight and the one team that is making all the noise about light weight in the market is racing a machine significantly heavier than anything they have in production. Do you remember my post on“you can only have two”??? 😛
  • The guys have some time before the next points race, a double header in Canterbury and Greg is planning to hit a couple of regionals, confident they will be more prepared next round (but then again so will everyone else).
  • Jimmy Blaze was released from hospital and is okay after bailing from a back-flip attempt for the crowd.

Sorry guys, I still don’t have any pics of the sleds but I’ll keep trying. ciao4now cr

Hot off the press… heres the official spin: official-duluth-yamaha-factory-snocross-press-release.doc

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Posted @ 3:42 pm in Yamaha Insights   

November 23, 2007

A Few Updates as the Season Begins

Let it snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

I am reading lots of 1st reports from guys fortunate enough to live in areas where winter starts in November. There is already lots of discussion on clutch specs and tuning on the new Nytro. I want to share a little insight from our guys who have been testing and riding the new Nytro for a while now. This actually plays into another active discussion on 4-stroke break-in procedure. What we have discovered with the new FX Nytro mill is it really comes to life after the first oil change at 800km (that’s 500 miles for the old school). The engines start to run noticeably cooler, stronger and the RPM may creep up into the sweet spot if it hadn’t already. Note: this is a general statement, elevation and conditions play a role and no two motors are identical.

What I am hearing from our experts is to be patient and not tinker with the clutch too much until you get some miles on. The reason I say this- you might spend a lot of time (and money) to dial it in only to have to re-calibrate once you get it broken in.

Now regarding the ‘ride it like you stole it‘ right out of the box… hey it’s your money! I prefer to take the first outing pretty easy avoiding constant throttle settings (especially the WFO type). I also like to let it cool down a bit periodically, a side benefit, you will also extend your hyfax life if you anneal them with several cycles of warm-up / cool down. When in doubt… read the owners manual (thats my CYB disclaimer)…

On the accessories front, the new flyer is ready fro print. I was able to ‘borrow’ a copy and post it here for you prior to printing, this time of year it all helps… supplement.pdf

If you have a question for me, unless it is of a very private nature, please post them as a comment on this blog. I am starting to get a lot of private e-mail from TY etc. which I much prefer to address here so everyone can benefit from the answers.

I still haven’t got any new pics or info from our race team (US Thanksgiving) but there are a few over on TY. All eyes will be on Duluth for the opener this week-end. I’m particularly curious as to how Johan is going to do coming from Sweden, I just hope the track lets the guys use their motors

dlrjpg.JPGTesting is going well , check out these pics of our top secret test facility in Hokaido Japan. Karl Ishimafghjpg.JPG informs me this is boding very well- a good season for engineering to ‘play’

In closing I don’t need to tell you this but most trails aren’t open, lakes are not frozen and you will be tempted to go for a little spin… we always have some terrible stats come in this time of year. People (generally younger) smoking a parked vehicle or a tree, sometimes no helmet, often a wobbly pop (or six) involved… please be extra careful. Also with no base your chances of breaking expensive hardware is very good… easy does it… cheers cr

cheers cr

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Posted @ 11:52 am in Yamaha Insights   

November 20, 2007

Yamaha SX Race Team Update

Yamaha gets ready to race!

This ones hot off the press, I’ll get some pics asap…  cr 

The Yamaha Factory Snocross team is putting the last touches on its fleet of ferocious 4-stroke race sleds in preparation for the season-opening WPSA National in Duluth, Minnesota this weekend. “We’ve been up in extreme northern Manitoba for the past week and our crew is very pleased with the sled’s final pre-race workout,” said Yamaha Race Manager Greg Marier. “Pro racer Steve Taylor is in the best shape of his life and is determined to put himself on the podium early and often this season.”

 The original Factory Snocross plan called for Cory Davis to race in the Semi-Pro Open class this season. “But we had a hiccup to the plan,” said Marier. “Cory had a mishap on a practice lap and hairline fractured his collarbone. He will have to sit out the first national event, but he will be back on his modified FX Nytro race sled in time for the second stop at Canterbury in Minnesota.”

 During Cory’s expected 4-week recovery, Swedish National Snocross Champion Johan Eriksson will drive the #160 sled. “We’re excited to have Johan available to come to the US and compete in Cory’s stead,” Marier said. “He is a tough competitor who has been riding for 13 years.”

 When race fans come to any WPSA National event, they can stop by the new Yamaha Racing Communications Center (YRCC) to have their picture taken on an actual Factory FX Nytro Race sled with the fabulously beautiful Yamaha Snocross girls. Yamaha will turn those photos into high-resolution autograph stock images for download later in the week. Snowmobilers can also find out about the FX Nytro demo rides being held in conjunction with the weekend’s races at YRCC.

 Yamaha Factory Snocross is proudly sponsored by Yamaha, Yamalube, FXR, Camoplast, Fox Racing Shox, Studboy, Fly Racing and GYTR.

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Posted @ 6:47 pm in Yamaha Insights   

November 16, 2007

Additional Cash Rebates From Yamaha

No applause please… just throw money!

As you know by now, Yamaha Canada took the initiative last month with cashb.jpga cash rebate for customers purchasing new models – a result of the wild fluctuations of our dollar against the US greenback. Many of you applauded what we were attempting to do even though you said it wasn’t enough to close the gap. Well some more good news, today we’re green lighted to add further dollar support on select product groups and models with ‘instant rebate’ at the time of sale. This will apply to the current programs for ATV’s and Rhino’s.
It appears we are also going to increase the amount of the cash rebates for customers who placed early deposits the first go-round. rebate.jpgThey will get an additional chunk of change back to bring them up to the new program level… the 4 cylinder sleds are going to break into the 4 figure zone! So if you thought you were going to receive 799 bucks you shouldn’t be too disappointed to find out its a grand. There is an additional year of warranty (YPP) to give you a total of two years coverage for in-season buyers (three years if you placed an early deposit in the spring). On that note the sleds have all arrived to cover the early deposit customers and are being shipped now, we’ll have everything to our dealers by Nov. 29th, as promised.
We have also extended the offer to upgrade the handlebars and warmers on any remaining 06 hook-bar sleds. Your dealer has all the details.

Okay enough of the economics for today. I just stumbled across this thread over on Totallyamaha in a remote corner where many of you wouldn’t be hanging out but the conversation certainly stirred my old cross country racing blood. Yeah sno-cross is a spectacle, full-on anaerobic, all or nothing, dash for the flag – But terrain racing has soul and requires a whole other level of spirit, grit and determination.

You guys have my utmost respect 🙂 cheers cr

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Posted @ 7:37 pm in Yamaha Insights   

November 14, 2007

Yamaha Race Team Update

Gentlemen …Start Your Engines Please!

I inquired about the Yamaha sno-cross team efforts and received the following info from Greg Marier, the team manager. He mentioned they aren’t releasing any pics of the sled yet but hopefully I can put something up just before the Duluth opener. (Hello! Greg!!)
“The Factory team and the Yamaha USA Racing Team are putting on the finishing touches on their sleds to get ready for the Duluthfinaltrailor03.jpg race. The athletes are here and in training, the new mod engine has been out on the snow to finalize the FI calibration and the teams will travel to a sno-cross track at a undisclosed location this week to set the clutching and shock calibration. The race sleds will have to be checked over after this test trip and the transporters loaded and heading to Duluth on Wednesday, Nov 21. Racing starts November 23rd.”

As most of you already know, we have two teams competing with our factories involvement. The first is the Yamaha USA team, running equipment based on the current FX Nytro with pro driver, Canadian, Steve Taylor and Alaskan, Cory Davis defending his WPSA semi-pro crown.

Multi-time Japan national champion, Yuji Nakazawa will pilot a second snowmobile for our Factory Team, also based on the current Nytro but with more experimental and advanced ideas. Yuji is considered our development rider with his main focus on track testing advanced components and designs which will provide valuable information to our engineers. Both teams will be contributing largely to the development of our next generation Nytro 4-stroke models

The ISR has created several new classes for 4-stroke racing and confirmed the FX Nytro classes as per this bulletin. In a nutshell the FX Nytro is appraised to be the same as a 600cc class 2-stroke.isr-update.jpg

This should be a very interesting season to watch the 4-strokes, fingers crossed. There is lots of stuff going on in the background… One thing is for sure, there will be some winners coming out of this program: our future Yamaha owners 😉

cheers cr

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Posted @ 9:44 am in Yamaha Insights   

November 12, 2007

Sled Talk: Meet Bike Blog

You gotta do something while we wait for snow, right?

When we launched the Sled Talk Blog we knew we were breaking new ground and really didn’t know how it would pan bb1.jpgout. Well it’s been nine months now and I am happy to tell you things are going quite well largely due to the respect you have shown me by keeping the comments real and staying within our ‘terms of use’. We have had the vision all along to expand blogging to other product groups, the most logical being motorcycles. Drum roll please… The Yamaha Bike Blog is now live and official.

Bike Blog differs from Sled Talk in as much as it is a ‘collaborative’ effort with many of our employees, including motorcycle product manager John Bayliss, participating.

Unlike snowmobiling, motorcycling encompasses several very distinct owner groups from cruisers to sport bikes and motocross to scooters. We will be posting a couple of times per week introducing our authors and growing our content regarding all of the above and more.

If you enjoy Sled Talk and dig motorcycles, you might want to add Bike Blog to your RSS feeds or enter your email address to get all the updates. I’ll be working on Bike Blog as well as Sled Talk to make sure your comments are directed to the right people for consideration. We’re just getting going so please take a look and give me your thoughts…

If you don’t care about bikes, sorry to hijack the blog for this announcement. I’ll get back on the ‘sled trail’ later this week

cheers cr

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Posted @ 10:51 am in Yamaha Insights   

November 8, 2007

Jimmy Blaze Interview and more

Jimmy Blaze… Where there’s smoke there’s fire!!

I had quite an interesting chat with Jimmy Blaze yesterday. He was in California having just put on a big show in Vegas, smb-signature-poster_173471.jpgpart of the SEMA auto show (biggest car show going!). He still chooses to use Phazer’s and when asked what, if any advantage they had over other sleds, he told me its all about the physical size and chassis layout. I asked him about the supercharger he had installed when I last saw him out in Revelstoke-“only for altitude” he replied “for anything under 4000 feet I run the stock motor”.

So whats the deal with the chassis that works so well?- “It’s more like ‘sitting on a ball‘ than a bench. I can deal with weight issues or power issues (on any sled) by installing modifications, but controlling the CG and handling (in the air) is something that needs to be designed into the chassis”

I mentioned his recent trip to Japan and what he experienced. I was taken aback by his answer (remember Jimmy has had the fortune to travel the world over) -“the most amazing place I have ever been in my life, I’d go back in an instant. ” “The Yamaha guys had a special reception for me in the communication plaza (factory museum), I was choked, I’ve never felt more appreciated. I felt a sense of pride, of being part of something much bigger”. Jimmy also had the factory tour and was impressed to the point of truly understanding what Yamaha build quality is all about. We didn’t get too deep into his Tokyo exploits but I can well imagine…

His world record for the long distance flip still stands even though there are some younger, less mortal challengers laying it down. I got the feeling Jimmy is looking to leave an new mark, by coming up with another big trick that hasn’t been done (yet) on a sled.

Funny thing, I asked if he gets any time to just ride and I kind of struck a nerve. One I can relate to. He is so busy with the show business side of sledding, he’s losing touch with the essence of the game. The one thing we all desire the most- simply riding a snowmobile.

He’s had a run of bad luck of late which he blames mostly on not riding enough. He has suffered three serious concussions this season, the most recent in Vegas where he was performing pavement to pavement. He came unhooked from the toe holds during a flip and had to land in a ‘Superman’ position clinging only to the bars… smashed his chest protector and embedded shards of plastic into his ribs, knocking himself out. Somewhat jokingly, he mentioned he didn’t gamble at all while in Vegas for fear of using up any more of his luck.

(more…)

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Posted @ 10:00 am in Yamaha Insights   

November 5, 2007

More Snowmobile Updates

Ask me no questions–I’ll tell you no lies…

Man I am starting to get a lot of accessories questions from some of you. I’ll try to play for now but might have to limit in the future if I can’t keep up.

Boz asked —“In the little parts pouch for the wind deflector kit it has these snap washers that the black cap covers snap onto, to cover the screw. Am I making sense so far?? Anyway, I should have gotten six of the snap washers, and I only got four!! My dealer can’t seem to help”— Well Boz, the parts guys have a baggy full and are going to set these snap buttons up as a parts number and post on our web-site. Your dealer will be able to acquire. You should have recv’d six, have your dealer follow-up with our people in a few days.

We checked with the supplier of the Nytro MTX Ultra plate (see post A Prototype and Other Stuff), they confirmed thenytro-skid-plate.jpg plate will bolt onto a short track no problem but we don’t have a photo. It really is designed for improved flotation in deep snow, might look a little weird on the groomed trails and could be really interesting WFO on Kevlar Lake ‘Houston we have lift-off’. 😉

Yellowknife asked–“Yamaha USA shows 2 different FX Nytro Windshield Bags. One is for the stock windshield (SMA-8GL21-20-00) and the other is for the accessory windshields like the medium and tall ones (SMA-8GL21-30-00) Yamaha Canada does not show the later part number. I ordered the stock one, but am putting a tall windshield on – can I/should I place the order for the later part number instead?” Well YK, our guys have contacted the vendor and should have an answer within 24 hours… I’ll get back to you.

“Yamaha USA and Yamaha Canada show different pictures for the Nytro MTX Rear Rack. Do you know which one is correct? Both have same part number (SMA-8HBRR-RA-CK)” The US picture is correct, we have updated our site, we had an older shot up prior.

img_0076.jpg “Do you know of any existing pictures using the Nytro Windshield Side Deflector Kit (SMA-8GL96-60-00)? Interested in what it looks like all together with an accessory windshield before ordering.”

Heres one of the prototypes from our dealer meeting we held last spring.

Okay, while I’m straying off-topic within my own arena. I’ll post this link to a rather disturbing news article which is attempting to shed some light on the US economy and the impact on (our) currency exchange.

Finally, I have had a few inquiries regarding some model availability. We have had some minor delays getting units delivered to our regional warehouses, here in an excerpt from a dealer bulletin going out this week…

We expect to have all 2008 EDP model snowmobiles delivered to dealers by November 23, 2007.
We apologize for this delay and ensure that EDP customer’s unit delivery commitment is a priority.
Please ensure that you communicate with your EDP customers that their unit is expected shortly and will be ready in time to start the 2008 snowmobile riding season.”

On that happy note, I’ll post something other than accessory stuff later this week. Still want to get an update from Jimmy Blaze and our SX race team… cheers cr

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Posted @ 4:08 pm in Yamaha Insights