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April 23, 2008

SRX Development Story

SRX Development Story: Part 1

I’ll preface the following by saying I’m splitting this development story into several installments. I have dug up quite a few related documents and will scan them then scatter amongst the pages to add some funk. For example here’s a little history for you- history-remaster.pdf– I am relying on memory here and apologize if some things don’t ‘gist’ 100% with your own recollection. I’d be happy to post your comments or any additional information. I hope you enjoy the read as much as I am enjoying the writing. It’s stirring up a lot of old memories for me.

cover-boy.jpgBefore I get into the nuts and bolts, I think it’s important to remember where we were living back in 95/96. We had been a good two years in developing our light-weight Pro-Action leading arm chassis (code name OMD) and new 3 cylinder, single pipe engine. Ole Hayata, was head of engineering and had done an amazing job to deliver us nine new models in the die-cast, chassis platform, in time for the 97 model year. It was during this same time period, our competitors took their next step in sled evolution with the release of the 600 triple / triples -three cylinder-three pipe rockets- based largely on ISR Formula 3 racings, popularity of the day. The F111 Skidoo, ZRT 600 Cat and XCR600SP Polaris set a new benchmark for displacement performance and were gunning for top speed honors against the bigger sleds of the day.


Apparently we needed a triple-triple, 600 version of our new SX. And so it was we set out for Japan to convince engineering to shoehorn some pipes into a sleeved down package. Well it didn’t take very long to discover the SX 700 engine would not survive our bench tests using triple pipes. Further more the body shape and die-cast bulkhead sub-frame of the OMD did not allow the required clearance for proper air management and cooling, given the real estate required for the tangle of pipes. It could not be done. I clearly remember my old friend Gary from Prince George Yamaha calling me shortly after the release of the SX 700 to quiz me about triple pipes before he took on the Canadian distribution of one of the leading after market exhaust brands.

‘Don’t do it’, I advised, ‘The engine will grenade. If you push it, the crank won’t live…’ Man- was that bad advice, but as it turned out Gary didn’t listen to me and went on to help modify hundreds of 700 triples in mountain chassis with many running reliably to this day.


We did our homework with YMC and decided our next machine would have an all new 600cc 3 into 3 engine. It was also decided to build a 700 variation for a no holds barred assault on the muscle sled segment. The Vmax4 engine was stuck with a TSS chassis and had been max’d out at 800cc (small pun intended). We set the target for OMH to be the lightest (500lbs), fastest top speed and quickest accelerating muscle sled on the market. We had witnessed the 500 class (representing the greatest sales volumes), evolve into the 600’s and it didn’t take a duck hunter to figure out the 700 class was where we should be aiming.


A bright young engineer (and notorious after-hours disturber) was given his first kick at ‘project leader’. The parting gift of Mr. Hayata who was moving on from snowmobile group to motorcycle development came in the form of Masayasu Saito. Masa-san understood very well the competitive mentality as well as the snowmobile lifestyle. When he was a young buck, he purchased a Phazer in Japan and traveled north every weekend to ride it (and chase girls). I had known him for many years as a field testing engineer and durability rider previous to that. He was a great choice to head up the OMH project which would eventually come to market in 1998 as the SRX 600 / 700.


SRX would establish many firsts for Yamaha. For starters the clay modeling and wire frame work was performed in thegraphic.jpg USA to reduce some cost and speed up development. I was asked to travel down to the GKDI offices in Torrance CA where we worked closely with the designers on the shape and dynamics of the new machines. Prototypes were built based on the SX chassis and targets were established using the SX 600 plus ZRT in the 600 category and SX 700 plus Mach 1 in the 700 niche. We decided to build a modified version of the lower 8-inch SX chassis to house the new power-plants, because the sled was intended to handle better than any lake racer before it. Initial testing results were quite promising.

The SRX would be our final two-stroke snowmobile development project and it seems quite fitting it would crown 30 years of Yamaha in the sno-mo biz and mark the one millionth sled to run off our lines japan-media-remaster.pdfmore to follow.

cheers cr

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23 Responses to “SRX Development Story”

  1. Dustin says:

    I love a great story! Can’t wait for the rest.

  2. dnr says:

    ” every weekend to ride it (and chase girls).”
    ‘member some of the official demo rides at the ‘Rock’ or Vance Creek? SRX was in a dream. But these occasions may have something to do with “Devil in a Blue Dress” spin off.
    All is good.
    Hey cr, this stuff is great.
    I know, I know, I’m always in for a good story also.
    Excellent write up. Looking forward to more.
    Thank you.

  3. Ike says:

    Great stuff you got here Chris!

    Questions : why didn´t the 800 quad cylinder engine get powervalves, pipes etc. further development instead you guys went on to design hole new triple? Was it purely weight or something else?


  4. shortstop20 says:

    Awesome write-up, can’t wait to read the rest.

  5. mark rosenblath says:

    nice work, time to bring back the name boys, in a 4 stroke version. Mark

  6. jmp2204 says:

    Thanks for the good read, can’t wait for more.I have an 02 srx and i’l tell ya i absolutely love it!

  7. Mark Payne says:

    Wow that sure brings back a lot of great memories! I owned a 1998 and it was such a great sled. Bullet proof and soooo fast. I recall every year for about 3-4 years, drag racing her on glare ice for 660ft. The skis would never touch the ice and other than a speed track, chissels, clutch work, a can, and a fresh air intake , she was bone stock. I would always win 700, 800 and sometimes open mod. My wife Laurie, learned to race on this sled and I still feel the rush when I close my eyes and feel her pull like an F18 at lift off. Now those are memories!

  8. Yammerhead says:

    If the SRX was the “final” 2 stroke development project, then where did the Viper fit into the picture? We all know the Viper motor is a different animal than the SX or SRX motor…..

    Not really, I”l explain further on… cheers cr

  9. Scott says:

    Good article, I enjoyed reading it. Looking forward to part two.

  10. Superman says:

    Yes sir, I’ll never forget riding my buddy’s 98′ SRX on a -5F night. Holy mother was that thing fast.

  11. Carl says:

    I must of read this write up 4 times now. Good info and I can’t wait for the rest. Even in 95\96 Yamaha new it would be the last big 2-cycle project. What a clear vision of the future!

    thanks Chris.

    Thanks Carl but to be honest we were not sure in 96 that the SRX would be the last base for 2-stroke, that really came about around the 2000 year mark… we were just re-considering the potential in the 90’s … cheers

  12. Kent Deveraux(low slung) says:

    Hey chris,were there any plans to run the SRX 600 in F-III oval racing before they change the rules?

    The short answer is yes, Thats what led the initial planning and determined several factors for example the 41 inch ski stance, (production class req’mnt for ISR) whereas the Vmax line was all 44inch.

  13. jmp2204 says:

    too bad on the f111 thing ,Tim bender could have came back and dominated again!

  14. brian W. says:

    I wish yamaha would bring back that mentality of, Lets build the fastest top speed sled on the planet.

    The srx was the coolest sled on the planet back then..

  15. Cory Foster says:

    Wondering if you could help me out. Do you know what the bottle is for that is attached to the oil bottle and the stopper is in front and just below the oil stopper? I have a 98 srx 700 and just noticed this bottle yesterday and am trying to figure out what it is for. I was told it has something to do with oil for the crank. If you know whats its for and what oil I put in there, could you let me know. thanks and any info you could provide will greatly help. Cory

    Cory, I am going strictly by memory here, but if I recall we developed a special coolant ‘surge-tank’ for the SRX. On the Vmax / SX models we developed a one piece, plastic oil tank / coolant reserve tank to eliminate parts and cost. I believe we used the same part on the SRX but did not need the coolant bottle which I think is the one you are asking about. It is a dummy. I know in the Phazer we connected this bottle to the 2-stroke oil tank for extra capacity. If your SRX tank has oil in it then that’s all it is … extra 2-stroke oil for the injectors. For sure it is not a separate oil system for the crankshaft or anything else… wish I had one handy to look at and I’d be able to confirm at a glance. Just make sure you are not confusing it with the coolant reservoir, that bottle needs to contain kool-aid, (mix of glycol anti-freeze and H20) … there is only one oil tank. cr

    heres some more info from my buddy RJ… “You are correct , he is referring to the reserve tank. We did use the Vmax tank and used the coolant reservoir of that tank as the coolant overflow connected to the main coolant tank by the “blow off” hose at the cap. Though I’m not sure what he means by “stopper / oil stopper”.

    Hope this helps RJ.

  16. dayle says:

    great story i love thoes sleads i have 3 and would not trade any of them for a 09. believe it or not me and my buddies were wondering about thoes bottles on the oil tanks

  17. Alain says:

    HEy , great storys man, i got an 1998 vmax sx 700 triple, and i was wondering if i can put 1998 srx 700 carbs and other engine parts like clutches, pipe , etc. on my sx

    The short answer is yes… for the most part. cr

  18. Darren J says:

    I just bought a 98″ Srx 700 all done up.
    Clean, w/ Bender can and clutch kit.
    Just out of the shop with clean carbs, and pv’s ready to run on our Ontario lakes 🙂


    Great sled and IMHO the best two stroke mill to ever grace a sled… enjoy cr

  19. Bob R. says:

    I have a 98 srx 600 with a stinger can,it sounds awsome!runs like a champ, this sled is a beast!I smoke my buddies 97 mxz 670 and he wishes he bought a yamaha srx

  20. Roman Gerschwiler says:

    I have a 98 srx I bought a few years ago. Rode it for 500km and it overheated.
    Couple small holes in the coolant hose under the 1 pipe. Also wires caught fire on the harness meeting the 10stator wires and coolant temp wires. pitted head on both outer cylinders scored on and real bad piston on belt side. Hole on exhaust side of piston. What are the causes of head pitting??? Thanks, Roman

    Roman, I’d be guessing but much of what you describe could be related to storage, almost sounds like you had a mouse or rodent nibbling in the pan, pitting / cylinder damage could be relative to detonation caused by stale fuel or other lean condition, hard to say with out a lot more background info… properly maintained the SRX was a fairly bullet proof sled.
    cheers cr


    just thought Id rub it in your faces I bought my latest SRX a 98 SRX 700 for 800 dollars(part of a package deal with a fully built 02 blaster it was 2k for pair)from a kid who needed the cash to fight posession charges and it was always garage kept has less than 3k miles not a blemish ion the cowl or a tear in the seat an infant could start it first pull everyime!It has hauck clutching, bender transfer rods, and a studded camoplast track I have been having way too much fun beating ski doos and cats around northern new york

  22. Ken Ditlof says:

    I have a 1998 Mountain SRX, Just put a brand new belt on and the top speed is only 135km/h, by my GPS, also the rpms seem high at low/mid speeds, engine starts/runs great, pulls hard just seems like revs too high for the speed. The old belt was worn 2-3 mm narrower than the new belt, and engine rpms were lower at low/mid speeds. Any suggestions welcome. approx 4000 km on the sled.

  23. Kyle Pike says:

    What is the difference between the srx 600, sxr 600, and the sx600r?

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