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Archive for January, 2008

January 28, 2008

More, Yamaha Race Updates

A Quick Recap of the Weekends Events: X-Games, Japan, Europe.

Well most of you are well aware of the Winter X Games, after all they represent the number one, most watched television venue for any snowmobile event. Team Yamaha was seeded with Pro Open driven Steve Taylor in the Snocross, Semi-Pro Corey Davis taking on the new event of Speed & Style and Jimmy Blaze in the Freestyle competition. In a nutshell, Steve had a great main event after shutting out Blair Morgan’s Skidoo in his qualifier. He rode to a strong 4th overall finish in the 25 lap main. I have received a few pictures and official reports today and I hope to get caught up with Greg shortly.

The Speed & Style as I understand it, combines freestyle ramps within a closed course where riders are timed for their lap and judged on the air and tricks off the ramps. Corey, was new to the ramps having only one day to practice his chops…

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Corey ran against eventual winner Levi LaVallee in the quarter finals and was eliminated. But hats off to the man for a valiant attempt, that is scary stuff made more-so when you haven’t been practicing for it!

Heres some pics of Steve on the snocross track…

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Jimmy finished 5th in the Freestyle semis but only the top four went on to the final eliminations… And now for some unabashed marketing hype (hey we can play two!).

Heres a report on the race, winterxf.doc and a link to the official YMUS web-site release

I received this article from Europe which is interesting in itself snocross_v2.pdf and finally, the first round of the Japanese snocross series went off this past weekend and I understand FX Nytro’s took first place in the mains. japan-opener.pdf

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Posted @ 4:02 pm in Competition and Racing   

January 22, 2008

Yamaha, Snocross

The Not So Naked Facts…

In todays blog post, I am going to do a little ‘housecleaning’ and update a few unrelated points and subjects.

Yellowknife had asked in a comment last week if I could confirm the status of the accessories which we announced back in late October, they included the full flotation belly-pan and bumper as well as the rear tow hitch. Well it appears we have received and begun shipping most everything that was in the supplemental catalog. Best be checking with your dealer if you were waiting for any goodies.

taylor-at-canterbury.jpgOn the Snocross front Team Yamaha didn’t get any big results at the double header in Canterbury butdavis-at-canterbury.jpg behind the scenes, we learned a lot, taking another step forward. Here is the press release canterbury.doc I received from Greg with more details. Well last weekend the WPSA snowmobile tour was out in Yellowstone and the results are quite encouraging with Steve Taylor getting a third, second and fifth in the heats, finishing up with a 4th overall in the Pro-Open main event! Interestingly enough, former Yamaha factory pilot Robbie Malinoski was way back in 15th on his factory Boss Skidoo. Corey Davis running semi-pro grabbed a sixth, fifth and fourth in the heats but finished ‘lucky’ 13th in the main.

Meanwhile in Wisconsin at the Eagle River World Championship Derby, Yuji Nakazawa hadnakazawa-at-canterbury.jpg stayed back from Yellowstone to represent team blue. He pulled a hole-shot and never looked back, taking the win for first place in the pro-open snocross on his virtually stock Nytro RTX. Good thing too because I understand former president Hasegawa was in the crowd along with some other factory VIP’s, left them with the right impression, he did! Heres a special treat from a couple of the industries finest photographers, eagle-river-yuji-photos.pps All in all a very strong weekend of snocross racing and Nytro development. Heres the full story with pics eagle_yellowstone.doc. Last but certainly not least Johan Eriksson recently piloted his FX Nytro to the Pro-Stock win in the Swedish opener, heres the report out of Europe circulaire-smb08_16-sno-x-osters.pdf

If you have been following this blog for any length of time, you probably have seen me refer to ‘QDR’. This little acronym is one we have used inside product planning for longer than I remember. It is an internal reference to quality, durability and reliability boiled down for ‘Jenglish’ purposes (another internal reference in speaking broken English mixed with Japanese). To the best of my knowledge, we have never used the term ‘QDR’ in any of our marketing materials or communiques, that is until I wrote about it here in SledTalk which was mostly in response to all the ‘light-weight’ marketing hype coming out of ‘you-know-who’. Well you can imagine my surprise when I read a recent release from Skidoo addressing the E-Tek, direct fuel injection they just introduced. It wasn’t the technology that caused me to chuckle, it was the reference to the wonderful DQR that the new motors would offer. Excuse me! DQ what? Guys; feel free to use my stuff but at least get the acronym right, (if nothing else). Who was it that was wondering if the other OE’s spend any time lurking on the forums and blogs 😉 ? The same release went on to remind everyone that 4-stroke motors produce buckets of ‘hazardous waste’ (used oil) where their new 2-stroke simply burns the oil and exhausts it into the atmosphere. How many of you dump your used oil down the sewer? Hmmm another little tip for the marketing gurus (obviously you’re hanging out here) …RECYCLING=GOOD / SMOKESTACK=BAD.

In a recent comment Carl asked me to post a story about the SRX development and I’ve been thinking of writing something on it. I will be traveling down to Minocqua WI in a couple of weeks where I’ll be meeting with my old pal Masa Saito at our test center. He is in charge of testing these days but I first met him in the eighties when he was a ‘durability’ rider, these are the guys who go round and round and round over the same bumpy course for hundreds if not thousands of kilometers… sign me up. Not! Anyway, Saito-san was the project leader for SRX (and also SXViper). I’m thinking if we can hunker down with a jug of warm sake… I can come up with a heck of a good tale about one of the best sleds ever built (IMHO).

Finally, I received some interesting news from a good and well respected friend of mine today, which is irrelevant here but he did remind me of some amazing times and also some strange ones too, I’ll leave you with a quote in his own words…“You are one of the very special people I met in Yamaha. I can not think of anybody else who gets knocked over the head by a senior Japanese citizen NAKED!” …Yes, possibly there is another good story to be told here as well, and its NOT what you’re thinking 😉 cheers cr

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Posted @ 4:24 pm in Accessory Stuff,Competition and Racing,Opinions and Insights   

January 15, 2008

What’s A Pre-Production Sled

Trick or Treat!

Brian dropped an interesting comment yesterday, my response being the basis of this post. He is under the impression that our pre-production snowmobiles used for spring product launch / demo rides are factory massaged to run better than the forthcoming production units. And this is done intentionally in an effort to ‘trick’ everyone. First I would like to assure you there are no ‘tricks’ being pulled with regards to having ‘super-tuned’ demo sleds for pre-production testing. We go to huge lengths to try to get final or as close to final settings as we can. Sometimes things do change in production. Mostly in the area of QDR if something is appraised to be weak or potentially cause problems.

Pre-production units differ from prototypes as they are assembled on the production line using parts made from final tooling. YMC will run a small number of units prior to full production, which are carefully disassembled and inspected for anything out of spec. Some of the units will be field tested and others shipped to distributors for marketing purposes. In fact some of the units we have received over the years have come with the request ‘not to run-show-only’. I have personally made the decision to let people ride pre-pros knowing that they had poor suspension calibration or performance settings. But I have never been faced with knowingly using a pre-pro sled with performance enhancements for a formal demo ride.

I have heard comments from dealers, journalists (and some customers) over the years who rode a pre-pro in the spring and after riding the production model in-season, complain the spring unit had better performance or calibration. I think much of this comes from the controlled riding conditions we try to employ mixed with some excitement and the generally brief encounter with the unit. We try to give them a positive experience right down to accommodations and hospitality.

A good example, we introduced the FX Nytro to our dealers last spring in Quebec. The trails we used were groomedimg_0887.jpg daily and they were mostly wide summer roads through a provincial park with a deep base, packed, smooth and fast. You could really use the horsepower. I had a couple of dealers call me this fall after scratching around on choppy, tight southern Ontario trails, complaining this was not the sled they road last spring… Yes it is!… it’s the conditions that have changed. Truth be known, we were quite concerned about the pre-pro Nytro handling last spring, the production models have actually improved. They are still very stiff in the suspension department, they have to be in order to take the big hits as well as they do. Can they be made better for specific riders and conditions… sure, with some knowledge and a bit of compromise. I am seeing many set-up ideas posted with reports of positive results, note; you need to be heads up as to what conditions and riding styles the authors are tuning for. There is no single spec that will do it for everyone everywhere…

We are currently planning the release of the the 2009 models. We have invited our dealers to a resort in Newfoundland to ride some pre-pro models. Well Jon just returned from a joint test in the US and reports one of the key models did not meet the suspension and handling targets. It was rated lower than the model it is slated to replace. Big problem!

I have confidence the testing engineers will nail the targets given another month of calibration. But-and here’s the rub- the preproduction units are being built this month. Our pre-pros will most likely include the poor calibration. Will we have some setting parts before our dealer meeting? It’s a toss of the coin. One thing is for sure, we will set the sleds up, best we can and the dealers will have a a chance to ride them. Will they change in production. I sure hope so. Will someone complain next fall that the pre-pro ran better than production? Ironically, I bet they will… Cheers cr

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Posted @ 10:26 am in Opinions and Insights,Sled Development,Tech Talk   

January 8, 2008

FX Nytro – Avalanche Danger

Some stats hurt a lot more to report on than others…

I tried a little experiment this week which seems to have worked out fairly well. I had some input from one of our engineers regarding a few questions they were pondering on the FX Nytro. Being a new model and all, I suggested we post a survey on Totallyamaha requesting owners to provide the answers. nytro-satisfaction.jpgThe data I received looks good and with over 160 samples in a matter of hours, it should prove to be quite dependable. I asked the respondents at the very end, to indicate their overall level of satisfaction which you can see in this graph. I also asked the ones who were not satisfied to explain why not. I actually have some reservations about one very unsatisfied respondent even owning a Nytro (or Yamaha for that matter), I’ll leave it at that. But I am pleased with this result especially considering this is a first year sled and a fairly radical departure from our more conventional chassis. Once everyone gets the time to finish break-in, adjust to, and dial-in the suspensions, I expect the index to move up even higher. I’ll share some more details once I have the final results all compiled and reduced.

If you own an FX Nytro and completed the survey, my thanks to you… if you haven’t and would like to, here’s a link to take the FX Nytro Owners Survey Note: if you don’t own an FX Nytro please don’t click the link as you won’t find anything of interest there and you’ll skew the data.

This coming weekend is the second round of WSA world championship Snow Cross racing. It’s a double header being held at Canterbury MN . I’m already bugging Greg for an update which I’ll pass along next week. It’s been quite warm and melting in the mid-west so hopefully the track conditions will be OK.

The early snowfall seems to have boosted total industry sales with the USA currently up almost 10% over last year at this time and Canada closer to 20%. I’m still optimistic for a good riding season even in the face of the record warm temps and melt-down we’re having in the east right now. Many lakes and swamps did not have a chance to build ice and ‘tighten up’ before the big snow prior to Christmas and the grooming has been limited. Now all we need is another cold snap followed by some white lube, which is in the long range forecast. I spoke to Brendan, our west coast manager today and he informed me this is turning out to be a very bad avalanche season, the latest just slid on Big White in Kelowna. There have been several sled and back-country ski deaths already. Make sure to take extra precautions, I understand the slides are occurring in areas normally considered safe and stable. In Ontario the lake ice is rotten and should be avoided. I saw lots of sled tracks on the week-end near my cottage that left me shaking my head… please be careful folks, this is an odd-ball season for riding conditions… My heart goes out to the families of those lost… Okay, ‘nough said.

Ride Smart! Ride Safe! Ride Sober!!!

Cheers cr

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Posted @ 3:51 pm in Competition and Racing,Opinions and Insights,Yamaha People and Communication   

January 2, 2008

Which Yamaha Is Best

…Love the One You’re With!

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a Happy and Prosperous New Year in this first post of 2008.

For those that don’t know, I choose to ride an Apex when on my own time. I truly enjoy the handling and all-around character of the sled given most of my riding is done in central Ontario and Quebec. I had the opportunity to ‘store’ one of our Nytro RTX press sleds over the holidays and sadly my Apex sat, largely ignored for the past two weeks. The first outings on the Nytro were from my back yard, which entails some ditch banging and off-trail poking to get on the OFSC trails. When my pal JF (also on a Nytro) and I first set out, our local clubs groomer had not been in action yet and the trails were downright nasty. My opinion of the Nytro rose steadily with every whooped-out kilometer…

We were having a blast, standing up and ‘blipping’ the throttle at everything we came upon. This was really driven home when we came across a couple of Skidoo riders, having a smoke by the side of a rail-trail, who asked us for some directions. Lets just say they were not very impressed with the trail conditions with one fellow cussing and pleading with his buddy to turn around upon discovering their proximity to civilization. Did I mention we were having a blast? hmmmmm!

Fast forward, after several warm days, disheartening rainfalls and a whole lot of Christmas stuff, some fresh snow fell and I finally had a chance to head back out onto the same trails again with the Nytro. The groomer had made its presence known somewhere along the line and the trail was now wider and reduced to miles of rippled ‘stutter bumps’. After a hundred mile ride which included a cross country side-trip in search of an open gas station I found myself wanting to be back on board my Apex…

I am thinking back to my post titled Twin Peaks and comments I received from John and Chris who essentially asked: ‘Whats wrong with one sled platform that does it all?’. Well, really nothing at all, except for the fact I don’t believe anyone has built it yet. I would love to have a snowmobile that could eat a big sharp edged crater or suck up a gee bump as well the Nytro and still maintain the ‘make the bumps go away’ ride comfort of the monoshock Apex. A sled that will instantly respond to the slightest throttle blip, loft the skis and dance through the moguls; then carve out a corner at speed, with telepathic predictability requiring minimal effort. A sled delivering ergonomics that make standing effortless while maintaining a low seated, stable CG with great wind protection…

So! I have left the Nytro parked directly behind my Apex with a large blanket covering the two. Hopefully in a few months I may have a little Nypex to nurture and call my own. Until then I will continue to enjoy my Apex and think fondly of the Nytro when the trails degrade.

Cheers cr

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Posted @ 12:10 pm in Opinions and Insights