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March 18, 2008

Newfoundland – Presidential Ride

2009 Snowmobile

Once again sitting behind security in the Halifax airport, being informed of yet another delay in my quest to get home to see my girls. My internal battery is lower in my body than my mp3 player which is about to give up the ghost, the result of pulling five, non-stop, eighteen hour days in a row. Humber Valley Resort and the 2009 dealer conference were excellent. The weather and snow pack was stellar for riding and the smaller regional groups provided a more intimate atmosphere than our traditional national meetings.

I’ll hit the ‘high hard ones’ for you:

mar08-056.jpgWe prepared over 30 new snowmobiles for demo riding. At the end we had collectively accumulatedmar08-082.jpg approximately 15,000 km and burned nearly 3000 liters of fuel. Aside from a TORS issue on one of the prototypes, we experienced no failures or mechanical problems, not one. (there were a couple of pilot error issues but I won’t embarrass anyone on here 😉 .

mar08-012.jpg The theme of our meetings was Go Snowmobiling, with several presentations from the varying department heads and speeches from our General Manager Peter Smallman-Tew and Tom Osugi (President) of YMCA

One great thing about our dealer conferences, we always leave room for some fun. Newfoundland was no exception as we ‘Screeched in‘ our dealers who then became honorary Newfoundlanders . Now for those of you who don’t know about this ancient ritual, it involves a large fish and some Newfie ‘Screech’ (a dark amber rum with a hit similar to gasoline). All this was set to a large buffet spread of local cuisine and an excellent band playing traditional Newfoundland / Maritime music… ‘Aarrrgg, Have you ever been to sea Billy?’


On a ‘personal best’ note- and we have to keep this just between us as everyone there believes I was working hardermar08-086.jpg than a one legged man at a butt kickin’ contest– my boss, Mr Smallman-Tew grabbed me Saturday afternoon with a request to go for a little ‘churching’ which in our inner jargon means: time for a ride. Who am I to argue? We took off for a couple hours of cross country, boon-docking, finishing up atop a very steep hill overlooking ‘Old Man Pond’. Thanks Pete, I needed that!

mar08-017.jpgYamaha president, Mr. Kajikawa arrived in Newfoundland ready to ride and that we did. We suited up Friday morning and headed out under blue skies and sunshine. It became apparent to me that he wanted tomar08-020.jpg ‘go’ within the first couple of clicks. I kept ‘wicking it up’ every few minutes until we were really booking and he stayed right on my snow-flap. We stopped several times to wait as the rest of the guys reeled us back in. It was during one of these stops, he informed me that he was the man in charge of the fledgling Yamaha snowmobile division back in the 60’s when we first entered the business, laughingly stating they used to call the early prototypes ‘submarines’. He commented twice on how impressed he was with the performance and controllability of our new 4-strokes.mar08-049.jpg

The trail I had chosen was an ‘out and back’ which climbed over some stunning hillside vistas winding deep mar08-029.jpginto the back-country where we had prearranged a little surprise at the turn-around with our guides Todd and Junior. They left early and broke a trail through a forest cut to set up camp in a gully, protecting our guests from the strong north winds. When we arrived, the boys had amar08-035.jpg hearty fire burning, kettle on the boil and a big pot of homemade soup and bread courtesy of Juniors wife. Mr Kajikawa enjoyed a hot cup of coffee trailside, with Yamaha USA president Mr. Adachi and I had a chance to get caught up with my old friend York Mizutani.

york.jpgYork made me laugh when he told me he reads this blog on a regular basis and that I tell too many stories about him. He referred in particular to the post where I told his ‘no power’, first snowmobile experience which ‘dnr’ and I took him on almost twenty years ago. He was quick to correct me that the machine he was riding was not a Phazer as I had indicated in the original post, it was in fact an Exciter which had caused his loss of power… York-san I stand corrected…those 38mm round slides were a real ‘bugger’ on the thumb!

Back on the trail, Mr Kajikawa sampled an Apex, a Vector LTX, a Nytro and a Phazer RTX. I have to tell you, I was truly impressed with his skill behind the bars. At one point I tried to grease him up a bit in front of the others, telling him how fast a rider he was. Without a moments hesitation he stated: ‘No! Not so fast… they are too slow’, indicating the others and laughing out loud. Spoken like a true snowmobiler!

I asked him what he thought of our trail conditions and his response provoked an interesting thought. He told me, when he was directly involved with snowmobiles many years ago, there were no trail systems. Since those days all of his riding has been in Japan, mostly at our test center in Shibetsu. Now I have ridden those test courses many times and I can tell you they are challenging but short, most not more than a few kilometers. He told me he kept waiting for the trail to come back on itself like the loops he was accustomed to but instead we kept traveling further and further away from home. The nextmar08-044.jpg question he asked is profound. Where exactly is the end of the trail?
‘Sir,’ I replied ‘I have been trying to find the end of the trail for the better part of my life…and still I have not found it.’
mrk-cr.jpg It was truly an honor to ride with the founder of the Yamaha snowmobile division. A gentleman who has risen to the apex of the Yamaha Motor Company but a man who still loves to ride and maintains a passion for our products, not unlike the rest of us.

cains42.jpgWhile I’m on the subject of Newfoundland / Labrador and how great a place this is for sledders: I want tocains43.jpg congratulate Morely and the boys from our dealership in Wabush / Labrador City on their win of the Cains Quest Cross Country race last week. Gerard Rumbolt and John Efford, both from Lab City crossed the finish line of the grueling event in first place on board their 144 inch tracked FX Nytro’s (sound familiar?). I’ll try to get a full update for you shortly.

cheers cr

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13 Responses to “Newfoundland – Presidential Ride”

  1. Erik says:

    By the looks of it, you had a great time and weather!

  2. Kent.D (low slung) says:

    Glad to see you guys “BOILING UP” in the woods,a proud tradition here in newfoundland.I noticed the new idler wheels on the venture GT,have the same set on my warrior,there sharp looking and you can change the bearings in these.P.S how long more will the current bravo last?

    You are quite astute LS… those idler wheels are PPD and have replaceable bearings… another step in the right direction. The Bravo will last for many years provided you continue to add oil… 😉


  3. dnr says:

    Great stuff, cr.
    One leg kick butt, lol.
    Excellent ‘Camp Yamaha’ with
    great people, weather and sleds.

  4. parepadarappa says:

    Honestly I never even bothered to look at the RS Venture GT until Kent mentioned it. That’s a pretty trick sled. I’m just curious about the powerplant. It appears that it’s a de-tuned version of the 130fi engine? Also about those idler wheels, what’s the diameter on those for those of us who may want to retro-fit? Just looking for something a little different than the “blingy” billet wheels that are so popular now a-days and those look to be the ticket.

    Shouldn’t be looked at as detuned so much as tuned for the application, it has different cams and ignition curve to yield the best performance for the touring rider… smoother, more linear power delivery. It’s not as ‘jumpy’ as a Nytro which fit’s the ‘concept’ and you are right upon second glance its a very trick sled. I believe the new tires will retrofit but I need to confirm. I also want to make sure they have a fair and competitive price because I believe a lot of folks will consider them once the words out…

    thanks cr

  5. Rick from Northeast WI says:

    In the last two pictures of the guys on the Nytro’s. Whats with the black tube going around the front of the sled. Is that a bumper/critter deflecter or something?

    Yes all of the above, a good lifting point if you bury it a good brush deflector for bushwacking not sure how it would hold up against a moose but would probably nudge a REV outa the way pretty good 😉 cr

  6. George F. Thompson says:

    Its awesome to see the man that started it all, still wanting to get on a sled and ride! He still has the passion for it as we all do! Was Mr. Kajikawa at the Grand Geneva Snocross this past weekend?

    Yes Mr K was there with the other guys! Thanks, it really was awesome to see him enjoy the ride. cheers cr

  7. Daranello says:

    Hey Chris,

    For 2009 the Apex LTX listed dry weight is 20lbs more (597 lbs vs. 577 lbs) than 2008 LTX and the 2009 Apex GT is 15 lbs more (575 lbs vs. 560 lbs) than the 2007 Apex GT.

    So for 2009 what were the improvements that cause more for weight or was this just more realistic weight?

    Little bit of both actually, we added the extra heat exchanger (and coolant) to Apex (and Vector) variants plus the fuel tanks were made of thicker plastic to meet EPA regs and weight measurements are no longer the ‘dry-dry’ method as has been common in the sled industry. I think we just got tired of being out-fudged and have come squeaky clean on the numbers… cheers cr

  8. Randy Wright says:

    Hi, Great job on site! Was there any talk about increasing the size of the fuel tank on Nytro’s?

    Talk? yes. Action? no, sorry Randy but what you see is what you get for now… cheers cr

  9. Larry D Lagergren says:

    WOW; A Dealer Conference with 30 Yamaha’s crusing the Newfoundland Trails & you guys put on 15,000 Km……Sign Me Up…PLEASE!

    I’m not sure on what it is but when you get a bunch of YAMAHEADS together to ride the Fun Just NEVER STOPS. And to ride with the Founder of the Yamaha Snowmobile Divison, man that had to be so Cool. I bet the stories he could tell would take a week just to skim the surface. I always love listening to those OLE WARRIORS tell how it was back then, that would have made the trip alone!

    BTW; We found that 4 Stroke “RED OCTOBER” sub you mentioned above, it’s got a Super Charger on it now though…..LOL. Great Read & Pic’s looks like that was one of this years best outings for you. Chris you have the Best Job, if you ever get sick or need a Vaction…. I would be Happy To Fill In for You For Free….Heck I’d Be Willing To Even Pay Yamaha For The Opportunity!

    Looks like the End Of The Trail 4 Us This Season, time to clean them up 4 summer I’mm afraid. Can’t wait for next season to start, I already have the calander circled for when I hope to start riding.

    Will those REV NUDGER’s be available for the APEX’s next Season?…..LOL Sorry Just Had To.

    Keep Up The Great Work!


  10. Pistol says:

    What a life !!! I love stories like this.

  11. Todd says:

    Hey Chris, Surely you did not have Mr. Kajikawa travel all the way to Newfoundland for a sampleing of an 09 Apex? Was there a proto 2010 model behind some curtain that he at least got to throw a leg over? Just wondering…maybe you have some pics you would like to share! LOL!

    I have read the write-ups over on TY about the XT-X, but was curious to know if you logged enough miles yet to get you off of your Apex when you are just riding for “fun”? Really like my 06 Apex GT but I am a sucker for the new stuff and can’t stop myself from trying to figure a way to make the XT-X work for me. I can rationalize with the best of them and it drives me crazy! LOL Please tell me to keep my Apex so that I may sleep at night!


    Well Todd, I did ride the XT-X a fair bit and I listened to many of the guys who also rode it expound on its virtues and for a brief moment in time I saw myself on board one for next year. But then I remembered where and how I like to ride… and the fact the Apex is still (IMHO) the best dialed sled in our line-up. I s’pose I am wishing you pleasant dreams 😉 cheers cr

  12. Dane Morrison says:

    Hi Chris,

    I’m just trying to decide between an XTX and an Venture GT.

    I’ve started pulling my kids around in an Equinox trailer so I need an trailer hitch. I remember reading that Yellowknife was testing an hitch for the Nytro MTX.

    I assume you will have an heavy hitch available for the Venture GT. What about the XTX?


  13. Jim Manning says:

    Unbelievable scenery, and good on your guides for ‘boiling it up’ (I love that BTW). Given their guests on the day, it seems most appropriate.

    If man has no tea in him, he is incapable of understanding truth and beauty.

    On a related note, I spoke with some folks that attended the event in West Yellowstone and heard great things about the line-up for next year. I think it’s time to jump off the wallet again.

    Great read Chris.

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