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March 6, 2009

Scratchers – New Sleds 2010

Most lakes in southern Ontario are glare ice now after the most recent melt down, quite a shame considering the temperatures have been arctic cold for days. The good news is in the bush, where the trails are still in great shape (at least until you have to run a road). Up north I am told the conditions are stellar. My cousin Brian called me last night to pick my brainsdscn1209.jpg about the new sleds and if he should be trading his hi-mileage Attak…

He had just returned from a week long tour (2500km) in northern Ontario. He was traveling with 3 other sleds -all of them yellow- and had some good stories for me. I won’t go into the details, lets just say his Attak provided some extra pulling power for all three at one time or another (one of them twice) nothing serious, but good hot-tub fodder!

Another good buddy Chris H, just returned yesterday from a five day northern Ontario epic and reported the same stellar conditions but with a twist. South of Sudbury the ice really took its toll on his group.  He is running an XTX and had the foresight to install some ice scratchers on his skid-frame, not everyone in his posse did. On the return they jumped onto Georgian Bay near the French River and ran all the way down to Moon River well south of Parry Sound. His XTX was happy-happy showing no wear onfrenchr.jpg the hy-fax, Chris figures thatdscn1211.jpg over the whole trip if he had any wear at all it was no more than a 1/16 inch. The sleds without the scratchers all destroyed their hyfax (including the Poos and Doos) with a couple of guys getting right into the aluminum and wrekcing their rails… On top of that they were dealing with over heating engines. Chris sent me these picks of the Bay… you can just smell the plastic!

So whats my point? Ice Scratchers work. I have known this for a long time but because we haven’t been able to sell them as accessories in the past, we haven’t done much to promote them on our sleds. With the advent of the 2010 Nytro MTX SE, which is sold with our new scratchers included, we are now able to offer them as an accessory item. A little background on the mountain market; light weight has a much bigger impact on their riding than it does here on the trail. Also running 2+ inch lug tracks presents some isues for hyfax. Some riders, in a quest of additional weight savings started removing their idler wheels and adding scratchers. They unload at low altitscratch.jpgude, drop the scratchers and carefully walk the sleds up several thousand feet of packed trail to access the pow, game on. By including scratchers with the new air Nytro, owners can realize over twenty pounds total of weight savings over the 09, nice! Kind of ironic that the deep snow, powder guys were the ones to break open the ice scratcher biz, while the majority of hyfax and overheating woes are due to hard packed conditions our sleds are  constantly subject to in the east. When you figure the cost and hassle of dealing with baked hyfax, overheating (additional heat exchangers) and pooched idler bearings, a good set of ice scratchers are pretty cheap insurance.

The Scorchers brand scratchers we are selling can be mounted on practically any sled. They have an adapter that lets you mount them behind the second idler wheel on a mono-skid but the torsion skid (twin shock) requires mounting them back of the idlers so as to clear the main spring when not in use. Probably the biggest concern is remembering not to back up witih.jpgh them down, especially on packed snow where they will dig in and bend (right Chris? 😉 ). I predict we’ll see a lot more of these being used here in the east in the coming seasons.

Shifting gears, I heard from a little birdie that Hayden and the Factory SX Team  will be at the final 2 CSRA events,  March 28-29 at Kitchener’s ‘Chicopee Sky Resort‘ and April 4-5 at Craighurst’s ‘Horseshoe Valley’ resort.

I must admit, I was waiting in anticipation for the release of the all the new sleds from our competition. After all the comments I read and received regarding the lack of new models from Yamaha, I was fearful that one might drop a serious trump card. In the end it didn’t happen, that’s not to slight the new chassis Polaris has released. I am sure they have put a lot of time and resource into it but in the big picture, I believe we did pretty good. Matter of fact, take out the Rush from the equation and dang-it we clearly had the most changes with the Air Nytro and new Vec.. It’s a little perplexing to see how gentle the forums have been to the other guys… Most of the comments I am seeing are along the lines of ‘oh well it must be the economy’ and ‘I didn’t really expect much anyways…’ sheesh, maybe we took the brunt of the venting by being first out of the blocks, I wonder what 2011 will bring?  😉 cheers  cr

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13 Responses to “Scratchers – New Sleds 2010”

  1. big50viper says:

    Hi Chris, i noticed on the scratcher site that they also have red ones,are you only going to sell the blue ones,if so i will have to repaint them,also i notice the new helmets from Klim are only sno cross style,does Yamaha vhave any plans on selling full face helmets,because here in Quebec you need a full face helmet,Thanks

    Hey Big5, I have to reconfirm the color as I was just told at lunch there was a last minute change to make them black so they’ll work on anything… makes sense to me. I’ll post and update asap. Right now the KLIM lid is the only one but we are aware of the market for a good full-face / modular for the east. The Klim helmet is a four season deal for very active snowmobiling (ditch banging / mtn, and off road MC / ATV. We won’t likely get into the mid to low price helmets as HJC, CKC etc have it well covered and our dealers have lots to choose from. I could see us commissioning a hi-tech, hi-end lid sometime in the future but not this year… thanks cr

  2. Mike says:

    Here in Sweden we have wire ice scratchers also, mine is mounted to the lower swaybar bolts on my Vector Mountain, the good thing is that you can basically forget about them, even reverse without breaking them, maybe not as effective as solid ones but better than nothing running a 2” track.

    Think we all including my self, wanted a new super Apex for 2010, you were first and the anticipation was high! The other ones got of easy, everybody on the forums blaming the economic recession. BNG anyone 🙂

    The Nytro MTX SE looks very interesting; you think the AIR skid will work well on our “trails”!?

    Commented earlier on the REV being the more influential sled, without its arrival I would have quit snowmobiling, sit-down riding was not fun anymore, it was a blast riding my REVs hard down a bumpy trail! Now that the “others” have the rider in the right spot, (My Vector isn’t even one of the “true” rider forward chassis) I would not think about a two stroke again, too many worries, and the smell…. So the competition really has nothing to offer for me in 2010.

    Great blog by the way.

    Thanks Mike.

    Hey Mike, I currently have a set of the Euro scratchers on my desk and am hoping to offer them here. I need to do some more investigating and see how effective they are compared to the rail mounted ones. I like the ‘plug and play’ feature of having them always working… If you have any info on longevity or issues with them please let me know.. cheers cr

  3. Daranello says:

    Conditions in Sudbury are still amazing, yesterday I was getting stuck with my XTX on the polelines..but Chris don’t tell too many people about Sudbury…my bumper can’t take a 4th tow this season (2 Doo’s and on 1 kitty) they just can’t take the long pulls that’s Sudbury has to offer.

    On the rail scatchers, I tried to install them on my XTX, but found the upper idler Wheels would hit the scatcher when not in use. I ended up using scatchers that mount on the tunnal, but man they viberate your feet bad when in use. If the new yamaha scatcher clear the upper wheels I would switch back.

    Now as for slidder on the XTX, in the first 400km they were at there wear line just in front of the rear tip up wheels…since then I have put 2000km and they have not moved with sometimes lots of road running!

    Thanks, the scratcher applications need to be confirmed, I’m thinking you should be OK but I want to get some more info on each sled mounting location, I’ll post an update. Pretty normal for our sliders to wear quickly in some areas and then settle for an acceptable service period.. cheers cr

  4. IveyRider says:

    Good Morning Chris. This is more of a request for your advice and thoughts than it is on topic. However I am very glad Yamaha is finnally behind the the scratcher idea. We are a third generation snomobile/Yamaha family. My son is going into his sophamore year at McHendree University in southern IL on a soccer scholarship. His two pasions in life are Yamaha snowmobiles and soccer. He is a fine player but the pro ranks are NOT in his future.How would one persue a career with Yamaha. He is majoring in marketing. He too is looking for his dream job! Thanks for the great blog and any response you may have time for.

    All the Best
    Tom Beck

    Product experience and passion go a long way in this industry, clearly your son has both working for him. Marketing is a bit off center from the pillars of YMUS and YMCA, the core departments are sales and service as we are distributors. Timing has a lot to do with opportunities, most of our marketing positions are coordinators and we have some turn over. I would suggest he goes after any position which gets him in the door, once employed there are always opportunities coming along to move within the organization. We generally give first kick at a new position to internal employees before going outside. A little dealership experience is always a good thing. End of the day, get the resume put together and on file, follow it up regularly and try to get some relationships going with dealers, reps or other industry folks for references and tips… cheers cr

  5. Bakemono says:

    Perhaps the reason why everyone was so easy on the other manufacturers to not making any big changes is this year is because everyone is so used to the same ole sleds every year with bold, new graphics; yet, we are so used to Yamaha coming out with radical new designs every year that we all kinda got a little spoiled.
    Id just like to see you guys fix the suspension/chassis durability issues. It just amazes me how you can make dirtbike and sport quads that can take the harshest landings you can imagine and not break, but you guys cant seem to design a snowmobile rear suspension that can take the abuse.
    I expect better from a company like Yamaha.
    Other than that, I think your sleds are great. The engines are great, the sleds are comfortable to ride and they are FAST. Im just disappointed with the durability of the chassis and the suspension. Yamaha made their name, at least in part, with being known for making quality sleds that ran almost forever with very few problems. Perhaps in being so aggressive with bringing out new product you guys lost sight of that, but I hope its something that you will once again focus on.
    I couldnt care less about have the lightest sled around with the most horsepower. Give me a sled that works as it was designed to, year after year and can take being pounded down a rough trail and not break all the time.
    Thats what first made me become interested in Yamaha and thats something that has seemed to slip in recent years.
    You still have my loyalty and I still love Yamaha, but thats the truth.

    You make a good point,, the new Vector has what we are calling the ‘mono 2’ suspension which includes, extroverts, stronger rails and some other mods that are all designed to improve durability. On another front, the only reason factory is involved with the SX racing program is to help develop a superior chassis, suspension system… It has been difficult to drop as many new chassis and engines into the market as we have the past five years but clearly the industry has hit the brakes and you can bet we will take this time to tweak and improve what we have… cheers cr

  6. patrick''pat the rat'' lavictoire says:

    hey cr,im defenatly buying a set of scratchers for next season for my vector ltx,after we rode 1000 km on icy trails in quebec in feb when it rained and then froze solid,i ate 1 set of slidders in 1600 km,i thought it wasnt too bad considering the lousy conditions we had,on the other hand,my wifes phazer was in the same cond and her slides dont wear at all,im amazed at that little sled,its got 13000 km and the 2nd set of slides has 10000 km,they are almost shot but that’s pretty good for all that mileage.talking about hayden,he was in kirkland lake last weekend, 1/2 hour from where i live,and i missed it,i was so mad,i had my dates all mixed up,anyway,he did very good and yamaha was the dominant team all weekend,missed the demo rides too last friday cuz of work,what is wrong with me,ah,ah.to finish,our conditions here in northern ont are still very good,it is mild right now but suppose to be much cooler by mid week,we should be riding till the end of march even april,another trouble free 7000 km season for me,

    Thanks Pat, let me know how you make out with the scratchers…

  7. Erik says:

    Hi Cris!

    Have been running the wire style (euro scratchers) for almost 3 years. First on my Vector ER SP one year and then 2 seasons on the Nytro. Imo the placement on the Vector was great but on the nytro mounteing them on the swaybar makes for alittle less efficiency since the swaybar mount is alittle tilted so the tip of the scratshers are to much in the middle of the sled. Now that could be adjusted with alittle bending of the scratchers mount… The durability is imo good I have app 4000km on mine and only he plastic cover is alittle torn. Tips look fine, app 3mm of the top is worn down. On ICE they do not work at all as good as the solid ones but on hardpack they seem to work OK.

    Regarding durability, the front bulk of the snowX sled looks to be solid aluminium and the front geo is alot more “polaris” like with A-arms facing more forward. And the rear skid infact is a Polaris skid?? Any inside info on this? And how it is working compared to the -09 front end?

    I don’t have any info on the race sleds that I can post, hopefully I can get some images and background at the final round in Horseshoe, seasons end…thanks for the scratcher info, it all helps cheers cr

  8. parepadarappa says:

    Any word on the scratchers and fitment on no-action skids?

    shouldn’t be a problem as they are quite universal but I do not have confirmed fitment charts for all applications, could be a summer project… cheers cr

  9. Yellowknife says:

    I’ve got a set of slidekicks cable scratchers to try. I tried a set from their production line last year in the fall and they were junk, but they’ve assured me these new ones are better. Icy conditions are on the way next month and i’ll give them a try. I’ll certainly need something!

    As for people being light on the other brands, you’re right, you guys did take the most heat cause you were first outta the gate.

  10. sledfreak says:

    Chris, Yamaha took the brunt for 2 reasons.. First, you guys (meaning Yamaha) put way to much hype into something that was not clearly a new sled. I mean putting an already existing motor and tweaking it abit and putting it into an already existing chassis and calling it the same name, with the same looks, does not call for a new sled. Not in this day and age. Sorry to say…

    Second, Let’s face it… Yamaha has not done anything really to the Apex model as far as engines are concnered, since it’s release and the anticipation was led to believe it was to be there. This was led to believe via the internet and as well as Yamaha it self. The majority of Yamaha sledders either have an Attack or Apex. The new sled just did not show and the discruntled sledders showed displeasure.
    It just seems like really bad marketing in my eyes to be pumped up with anticipation, only to be let down.

    What happened to the new sxs that was to be released? There was another let down.

    The power of the internet is there… You guys could of really avoided a big disappointment and if someone in Yamaha could of set the record straight a long time ago and it would have been less detrimental in regaurds to the overall shown of displeasure of the not having a new Apex. It’s not that Yamaha did not have good release, because it did. It was because the general consensus was we were all assuming a new high end trail sled.

    On another note, I don’t believe making a big hype again for 2011 should be started unless Yamaha will deliver the goods. I feel it could be far more detrimental next time around.

    If DOO would haved release the 1200HO which I believe is out in proto form, it would have been detrimental to Yamaha as far as future sled sales are concerned. Snowmobilers are impulse buyers.. You can only ride 3 months out of the year for the most part. It does not take long for sledders to get a bad taste in their mouth, but takes along time to get them back. I know I have shown my displease over this and I don’t wish to keep on whining about it, but I would rather here that nothing is coming ahead of time, then being let down.

    I sold my Apex to a guy in Sudbury. There was nothing wrong with it. I’m now back to driving my old 2001 MXZ 600 for next season until someone comes out with something new. I loved the motor and the ride. The handleling needs some work, but overall it’s a great sled. But let’s face it, it’s 4 years old and like other people, I’m bored of it. Most sledders are 2-3 years and they are looking for a new sled. After being on a DOO for over 20 years and buying my first Yamaha in 06 (Apex GT)and my second Yamaha (Grizzly 700) in late of 06, I was convinced they make great products. I will be watching for the 2011 model year, so I hope not to be disappointed.



    Thanks Andy… I appreciate your input and your views on the subject. I still figure there must have been some widespread disappointment in the other camps, (no E-Tec 8 / No boosted 12 etc)… just seemed odd that the web was so quiet after the dust settled on ours.
    I’m thinking we are still applying a lot of ‘traditional marketing’ practices in the face of the current ‘on-line social media’ opportunities. In the old days we would not have been anywhere near as aware of what our customers were thinking and if we were, it would take months to become clear… Perhaps that’s why many in this industry don’t spend any time on the forums or blogs… 😉 cheers cr

  11. sledfreak says:

    Chris, when referring to the disapointments in the other camps. I don’t believe you heard too much of a displeasure, since the XP chassis was only in it’s second year, unlike the Apex.. Just my 2 cents…

    10/4 cr

  12. Todd says:

    Chris, We always expect more when we know there is more to be had. Great students that bring home test scores of 90% get the disappointed look from mom and dad because they know they can do much better. Lesser students, even in the same family, bring home 80%s and the tests are hanging on the fridge for weeks! It does not matter if you are talking academics, athletics, or making sleds, higher expectations lead to bigger disappointments. IMO Yamaha has the problem of being the class valedictorian that just got a 93% on their final exam. You’re not going to get many pats on the head for your 93%, but when your brother gets home with his 80%, mom and dad are happy to see him arrive home in one piece without the help of your neighbor dragging him home by his ear or spindles!

    Keep studying. Todd

    very interesting analogy, I think I will read it at today’s product planning meeting here at our testing center in the USA… thx cr

  13. Bob Hogg says:

    Ice scratcher ….thanks…finally get it….not being one for after market stuff….I thought they made a scratching sound to warn you of ice???

    Maybe with the high powered machines ….one can’t feel that little drag when the sliders start to heat up…instinctively sending you to seek out snow.

    Answered some questions…for me however, on why burnt sliders are more prevalent today.

    The old race guys used to search out pure ice for the fastest lines on the race ovals. Ok..I finally see…. they didn’t have slider problems because the 150 rip your leg off type pics gnawed away at the ice sending a mist into the skid…keeping the sliders cool. Like ice scratchers….huh!

    I guess the small window rubber tracks of today…just don’t have the space. Well except for the very cool looking track on your Yamaha factory sled and Benders factory Polaris had last year.

    See…the blog helps even the simple problems.

    Glad to be of service Bob 🙂 cr

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