I am writing this post at 36,000 feet, jetting home from California. Seems an odd place to go for snowmobile discussions but that was only part of the agenda for our pow-wow with YMUS. This was my first official meeting with the senior staff of YPAD (Yamaha US parts and accessories division) and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.
These guys have been on quite a roll of late, introducing many new lines of accessories to their dealers. In a rather unique fashion, they have established themselves as a distributor for select brands offering multiple products outside of the genuine Yamaha label. The benefits are many as they can now offer dealers a much wider selection of products with superior service than they will get anywhere else which ultimately translates to better service (and value) for Yamaha customers.
The gentleman heading up the division is a rather unique individual himself. I assumed (falsely) that he was a normal Yamaha So Cal resident, (well as normal as anyone living on the fault line is). Stoked on motorcycles, ATV’s with wide axles, surf”n sand and no real concept of snowmobilng outside of the fact that they are really cold. Turns out I was right on one count, Mo Murray is stoked on motorcycles alright, the faster the better.
His current post at the head of YPAD affords him access to the ‘big show’ and he has penetrated the MotoGP circuit -on several continents- with his camera gear and pit pass. His personal website says it all, check out some of his photography of the worlds top riders in action, up close and intimate.
To make matters more interesting it turns out that Mo and I know many of the same people within the snowmobile industry, a result of his former role running the Skidoo race team after Tom Rager left Doo for Polaris. He spent a lot of time in Quebec and even moved his family there for a period, prior a reassignment with the Seadoo racing division before moving to Yamaha (if you can’t beat ’em…) . I was even wrong in assuming his roots were deeply American, he’s as Irish as Bono 😉
I am always impressed with the quality of people who work for Yamaha. It seems most folks leading the charge for team blue have premium petrol in their veins. The passion for motorsports, be it racing or just riding runs deep in our corporate culture and is the fuel behind much of the companies accomplishments. Mo has surrounded himself with a talented, like minded team which is reflected in the advances being made south of the border.
I am bringing home with me a brief case full of ideas and a trunk full of new challenges for us here in the great white north.
I need to give you a quick update on the Blue Blog Sled. It’s in our shop getting ‘greased up’ and ready to roll. Okay so RJ’s idea of a tune-up is a little excessive but the motor is not being touched. We have had some excellent candidates stepping up or being recommended for the miserable task of riding it for us. I’ll be going through all the comments with the goal of breaking out a short list of test pilots and a schedule which I’ll post here and continue to update as we go.
On another note, our latest Redline e-magazine referenced Sled Talk in one article mentioning that I was dropping hints about a new model forthcoming in February… really! that was news to me. Well you know how rumors go. Totallyamaha was all over the topic with 9 pages at this count and I can tell you no one has nailed it entirely in any of the predictions, if in fact we are going to release something new at all. But if we did, I found pretty much everything on my wish list buried somewhere within that post. Having said that, I guess I just dropped a hint, giving the more skeptical guys another reason to denounce the excitement as ‘manufactured marketing hype’ most sure to disappoint… 😉
Huggy Bear is our PR guy, often referred to as a creative guru or resident rodent (you decide). He came up with the following idea a few months ago. I had completely forgotten about his scatter-brained scheme (50 plus years of breathing exhaust fumes). After looking at it again, I’m thinking it could be kinda entertaining and even has a modicum of practicality.
Huggy controls our fleet of demo sleds which he signs out to magazine and TV types as well as other ‘expert’ evaluators. Some of those who grease him up with offers of ‘great product exposure’ get to ride the wheels off our sleds, (free of charge ) often returning them, dirty, abused and out of fuel. Trying to find a thumb-nail image of the sled somewhere in print or a few kind words, often proves futile. Trust me when I say, at times we really question why we do it.
Well one of those is sitting out in our barn with 18,000 hard km on it. It started life as a long term test sled for the well known Quebec online rag Sledmagazine after that it fell into our general loan pool where it’s life became miserable. The once sweet blue Vector LTX pre-pro is now dirty, lonely and in need of some good lovin’. Did I mentions this sled already has 18, count’em, 18 thousand clicks on it. We didn’t want to see it end there, so you’re going to see just how many we can get out of it!… here’s the deal:
Instead of writing it off, we’re going to run it through our service shop for a complete massage and spa treatment. ed. we will not be touching the engine except for an oil change and filter. After it’s revitalization we are going to rack up as many more miles as possible during the coming season.
I’m going to have some of our new accessories bolted on, like the TRIC scratchers, Snow Trackers, maybe an Ice Ripper track (you get the idea) the only problem is Mr Yamaha doesn’t think it would be a good idea to turn me, Jon (and certainly not Huggy) loose to ride all season in the quest of high mileage. Something about our productivity and ROI.
Instead, we are going to insure and permit the unit for operation on OFSC trails and offer it up to anyone to ride, provided they are responsible (explains why Huggy will be holding down his desk), take care of it and ride lots (oh yeah, you’ll have to sign the waiver). In essence it is a free loaner sled for the season.
Now having said that you are probably thinking OK whats the catch; I already have an Apex / Nytro… whatever. No problem, I figure you probably know someone who doesn’t! Perhaps someone who is still rockin’ the old school on a ticking stinker. Maybe your stubborn, brand blind bud who’s sled has a history of gripping pistons during you’re seasonal, week long epic tour up north, oops wait a minute, that would be my buddy, anyway… We’re open to any wimpy sob story as to who and why someone might wanna have a free sled for part of the season.
I’m still getting my head around how we can manage this deal and get some decent feedback from the test riders but here’s what I’m thinking: We don’t want to incur a lot of shipping costs so we’ll keep it in Ontario for starters. If someone is planning a trip to say, Quebec and wants to drag the blue blog sled along with them, cool, just bring it back in one piece with lots of miles on it. We can also enlist our dealers to help for example; you could drop it off in New Liskeard with the excellent folks at Ag’Nor where someone up there could grab it and keep the crank spinning.
I’m hoping we get a few experienced riders writing in and we’ll put it to a vote as to who should get the blue blog sled next. So what’s in it for us? We’ll require the pilots to submit an honest report of what they thought of the sled, the bolt-on accessories and let us know about the trail conditions with any local knowledge gained. Of course any amusing tales of what happens during the ride will be welcomed and shared amongst the crew, heck I might even post it here on Sled Talk if it doesn’t land me up in the dog house. We have several options open for sharing the adventure including our Twitter account, the Yamaha ‘in-your-facebook’ page and Sled Talk.
There you have it, time for all those who hang out here but never comment to weigh-in. Do you know somebody that wants to ride the blue blog sled? Spin us a good reason why we should give it up to them. Is it you? Remember, we want lots of miles on this sled. How about it? Got any thoughts or suggestions? Got any snow in Hornepayne yet? The blue blog sled beckons…
Starting to get some reports of snowfall around the country, Ace-san sent me a picture taken from our testing center in northern Japan… check this out.
My sled is still over at G-Force, they have installed the Yamcharger and are expecting the new fly-weights in any time now. I’m not in a big hurry to put on the Snowtrackers as I inevitably incur quite a few rocks around here in the early season. I am also curious to try a set of the new MT9 skis which are on track for December production provided they meet all the final testing parameters. Our vendors are also busy coming up with a couple of carbide selections.
This ski was originally intended as a lightweight mountain option for the Nytro MTX but it was discovered that they worked pretty good on the trail and consequently it was decided to modify the tooling so they would fit onto our other key models hence a bit of a delay. I can’t elaborate on the performance as I have not had an opportunity to try them but I’m told they handle really good and will be somewhere around a couple pounds lighter per… time will tell.
On another note, I purchased a really cool device last week that allows you to easily scan to .jpg files, all the old print negatives and color slides that have been collecting dust in the basement. I have only just started using the Wolverine but its really easy and is conjuring up a lot of ghosts. Here is a couple of pics of one of the weirdest snowmobile adventures I ever had. It was spring of 1975. I was working on a survey crew in the high Arctic, I remember going into camp right after Christmas, 24 hour darkness and temps never above minus 40F. I spent all my days bouncing around in a little Bombi tracked vehicle and nights, locked down in a small trailer with three other guys, meals were all ‘boil-a-bag’, no running water (showers etc…) no time out. Our machines were left to idle all night while we rested and our camp followed us along, dragged by a D4 Cat while we mapped the ocean bottom during the day. It was May when our equipment really began to fall apart (mostly we used Bombardier products 😉 ) and the party chief requistioned my Bombi for the drill crew. I was asked if I would be willing to use a snowmobile instead as they could get one out of Resolute… ‘well alrighty then.’
I spec’d a couple of units which I thought would work well (Yammi GP338 or MotoSki Nuvik / Skidoo Olympic), but mostly I wanted something reliable as we were working in Polar bear country. Well you can imagine my shock when they took away my Bombi (pump shotgun and SSG’s included) replacing it with this little gem.
Turns out a nurse had been running around Resolute on it for half a dozen seasons and my boss got a good deal on it (the SOB)… I quickly learned my way around the OMC 2-stroke boxxer, but outrun a Polar bear with it?? No way, this baby was my ticket home. After struggling to keep it running for two weeks, I pulled the pin and left it to seek a watery grave come break-up. Don’t know many guys who have snowmobiled north of the magnetic north pole (especially on an Evinrude Snow Crusher) I just had to share! Occurs to me there is something in my Karma linked to BRP in some twisted way and destined to torment me forever 🙂 cr