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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   

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11 Responses to “What’s A Pre-Production Sled”

  1. Rick from WI says:

    What you say is true as i can notice this with my old 97 with 10000 miles on it. Some days it handles and rides great and others I’m dreaming of a brand new sled with the newest technology. On the green side of things is YMC toying with any hybrids like hydrogen, electric, or so on?

    Rick YMC has an ‘advanced’ engineering group that play with all kinds of new technology. They are pretty tight lipped about these things but its safe to say we have guys working on new technology some of which most of us have never even heard of (yet). Our motorcycle division already has some hybrid products being sold in Japan and the engine guys work closely with Toyota… cheers cr

  2. Justin says:

    Thank you for the article. I was one who went all the way to snodeo in New Hampshire and was in line to ride a fx_nytro, when we were told the busses would stop running in 15 min and we had a 4 month old with us. Well, so much for that! I never did get to ride it, but all the reports put it on my dream list. After yet another problem with my first and only sled, I decided to take the plunge and bought a nytro. 2 miles into rideing it, my friend said “if this is what they were talking about, I’m REALLy disapointed in those guys!”. We played with settings, and continue to, and I think the sled is comming along, becomming MY sled set for ME.

    THe point of all this is expectations and what we hear from others sometimes makes some of us take the plunge. From what everyone told me, i was better off with the regular nytro, not the RTX. When I went to my dealer, he gave me deal; below cost on a RTX if I bought it that day. He also didn’t have any regular nytros there, just the RTX. Then he sealed it. “I rode one last year, and that thing can be as forgiving, or as harsh as you want it to be!” I was sold. Were he to try to ride mine in the stock set up, I’m sure he’d have made a different statement.

    I am VERY happy with my sled, and love it. Not all are, but we have to be willing to take things into account, like what you mentioned in your article. Hopefully this gives everyone a better understanding of what goes on to get a sled from pre-pro, to the show room, and what differences we may see (and FEEL) in between. Thank you, as always, for your communication.

  3. Ike says:

    Well, the rumours of hardrunning pre-pro sleds is alive and well here also. Reports when the RX-1 was launched were mindblowing: it smoked SRX700 (what still is a REALLY hard runner on the lake)on top speed wise on the early tests. But the production units, well, 135+ some hp and weight against 145hp of well tuned 2-stroke power… You get the point. Some owners felt a bit dissapointed that the first high performance 4-stroke was not all that it was supposed to be.

    I hope that you get the sleds tuned good as possible, and meet and overcome the growing pressures of the competition. Especially the E-TEC one… 4-stroke concept IMO just faced it´s hardest challenge yesterday by the launch of the new Rotax engine. I hope you allready have the plans and the sleds to blow it out of the water so to speak. Low weight + low fuel consumption is a good combo.


  4. George F. Thompson says:

    The only model that was an exception was the first exciter, 1987 I believe. From what I have read and seen, it made as much power as the 1993 SX in pre-pro form. I have to give Yamaha and its engineer’s credit, there taking a chance letting consumer’s ride pre-pro models at spring demo rides. I could be wrong, but I don’t think the other big three do that.
    Yamaha keep it up!

  5. Carl says:

    As mentioned in the comments, seems to me like the SRX 700 always comes up as a reference when it comes to speed. Since I just bough one, and being my first sled. I would love it if you would write a blog about the engineering that when behind this sled. Similar to the captivating write-up you did about the Vmax4. thanks!

    Hey Carl… I can do that! Heck of a first ride BTW… great sled! cheers cr

  6. Superman says:

    Chris If you guys are having supension calibration problems make sure you guys have shocks that are rebound and compression adjustable all the way around on the production models. My Nytro RTX is simply amazing since I dialed her in. I hope a shock package like the RTX’s isn’t a 1 year thing. Seriously I’m that impressed with My Nytro RTX. WOW!

    keep up the good work.

  7. Bryan says:

    Don’t spose you could give us the date and location (lewis hills/gros mourn area i would imagion) for the dealer’s test rides. lol

    We’re based out of Marble Mountain, Cornerbrook area mid-March actually… gotta digital camera? cheers cr

  8. Hans Dreesen says:

    What you say about expectations is on the money. I just test rode the 08 models here in Manitoba on the weekend. I wanted to ride a new Nytro after hearing & reading all the hype. Well after riding 6 different models (2 Nytros, 1 Vector GT LTX, 1 Vector GT, 1 Apex GT LTX and Phazer RTX I came away with a realization that my Yamaha sales staff is right on when they tell me that the Nytro is not for me. The nicest sled for my type of riding was the Vector GT LTX. In my barn I have a 05 Vector (modded ergos), 06 Apex ER (boosted) and an 07 Phazer FX (stock). After the test ride the biggest surprize for me was how well the Phazer RTX handled with the fox floats as compared to mine. The Nytro is definatly not a trail sled and the new mono shock calibrations are excellent.

    Thanks Hans, general consensus from those of us on the inside, is that the new Vector’s are our best handling sleds period. But I still have a deep appreciation for the 4-cylinder motor, that keeps me on the Apex (when I probably should be on a Phazer GT)… decisions, decisions.. cheers cr

  9. Cyril andrews says:

    The Venture Multipurpose Modular design offers “Several Seating” Options-as per advertisement-What are they,is their a PASSENGE SEAT??Where do you show the passenger Seat??-thanks for the INFO,.

    Cyril you can order the seat assembly from the Venture Lite also the backrest or if you only carry a passenger occasionally we have an option ‘seat-box’ which is a storage box with a padded top. Your dealer has all the details or they can contact us if they aren’t sure. cheers cr

  10. Dave Weyman says:


    What about a “Pre Pro” tour similar to what Yamaha has done in past years? Is there one of those this year and if so are we likely to see it in N.B. Would be nice to have those pre Pro’s pass through the Atlantic dealers for a day or two in each province, conditions permitting, after you and the dealers are done with them on the “Rock”.

    I was fortunate enough to be invited to ride the 02 Viper Pre Pro in 01 and the Pre Pro 05 RX1, Vectors and Venture in the spring of 04. Not only was it great to try the new iron but it was nice for the customers to be able to meet the regional service rep and regional sales rep. Very good PR which I have never seen with the other Manufacturers. [one of the reasons, all be it not a major reason, that I have purchased 9 new Yammie sleds and Grizzly in the last 10 years.]

    Hopefully the factory boys get the new sled dialed in you mentioned above. I also hope there is something there for the Groomed trail riders as well. I spent last Sunday on my old 2001 700 V-Max which now belongs to a Buddy’s wife. Gotta say I miss the slot car handling and four way steering that you guys gave us from 1997 to mid 00’s with the trailing arm triple two strokes.

    As an aside, I notice on the YMCa website there is no mention of the Power Tour coming to Atlantic Canada. Do you know if they are coming here?

    All the best,

    Dave Weyman, aka Riceburner on TY

    Hey Dave, doesn’t look too good for an organized pre-pro demo ride tour this spring, we have to hit Revelstoke direct from the ‘rock’ with a bunch of the 09’s as well,the Big4 OE Tour starts the week after and runs into April. That said we may have a couple key models making the rounds, I believe he with the best snow will win this one! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and I’ll pass along to Jon who is juggling the units. Re: this years Power Ride, our web-site isn’t up to date meaning we probably hadn’t rec’vd locations as yet from the region… note to self, I’ll check and have the site updated, your dealer may also have some idea.

    Cheers cr

  11. Rod Warren says:

    Hello Chris,

    I have emailed & called about 4 different places to request some interactive feedback on the Nytro long track & some product suggestions, but have not gotten a response from anyone. Is there a Canadian individual who could be directed to contact me? Perhaps I can email my comments to you or you could perhaps get product design in touch with me?

    Hi Rod, I am going to start by sending this request down the hall to our customer relations department to filter as you indicate you would like to discuss some product development issues… depending on what that means, we will take it from there and hook you up with the most appropriate person. Give them a day or two and someone will be in touch. Don’t forget your local Yamaha dealership people, they likely know many of us here and how best to help you. Cheers cr

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