Well this is my last day in the office until the big guy slides down the chimney. I’m trying to tie up a few loose ends -okay, a lot of loose ends- so I can relax a little over the next few days. It goes without saying, those who like to read this blog are on top of my priority list, so here’s what I am looking at, relative to the stuff which I believe is of interest to some of you.
The BBS (blue blog sled) is still in pieces but we have it scheduled for reassembly on the week of the 4th. As I said before, we are not going to touch the engine outside of a bath and an oil change. Bryan will be managing the actual logistics of selecting riders, availability and timing. We have had some awesome responses both on Sled Talk and through the back door at Yamaha. We will let you know who the riders will be in the first week of January.
The new blow molded XO / Mtn ski has been green lighted and is in production. Bulletins will be going out to dealers for ordering very soon. I don’t want to pre-empt any more of the ‘official’ information but I understand the plan is to map all the details of the new MT09 ski from fitment to skags, for public release, all happening early January.
Our TRIC scratchers are still on hold as we are taking advantage of the good early conditions to test the update and make sure (validate) the durability of the accessory parts. I am still quite confident that the scratchers will work well in our market and the delay should not create a major concern as the icy conditions that call for scratchers are generally encountered later in the season.
I plan to get out for a ride right after the boxing day turkey fest to shake out my Apex and evaluate several new potential accessory items including the G-Force Yamcharger. The early reports coming in from Simons CPR and a handful of customers on Totallyamaha are quite favorable. There are many trails close to opening here in central Ontario and with a little luck I’ll be heading out on approved, groomed OFSC trails. If that’s the case I have another sled to put in the trailer that may be of interest to my riding buddies (or anyone else for that matter) that I’d really like to get broken in before the New Year.
Also thinking if all goes well I may proceed with the YBTT and hook up with some of you Sled Talk fans in January to get your impressions of a new product. I’ll be watching the trail conditions closely to pick a location and some riders who might have the time, ability and interest to join me. I can guarantee it will be unique and fun.
If you are looking for some boxing day gift ideas, our Yamaha KLIM gear is starting to hit the snow and we have received some really positive feedback from our dealers and customers. I really like the KLIM stuff I have been using and would recommend it to anyone. It’s not as ‘flashy’ as some of the other brands but if that’s whats important to you we still have the Yamaha Racing /FXR gear.
So after that shameless endorsement of our sled apparel I’d like to leave you with a very sincere and personal wish for a safe and happy holiday.
We will be celebrating three years of Sled Talking early in the New Year and with that said, I want to thank all of you who frequent Sled Talk and support what we are doing here. Lets hope the economy rebounds throughout 2010. And our common interest of snowmobiling continues to spread to our children and friends. Attracting more people outside to enjoy winter and nature in its most spectacular form. Ride safe, ride sober and ride on… Thanks again cr
The email response I got back from my inquiry was a surprise. ‘Wouldn’t recommend you to ride on the rail trail, it’s closed. Too much snow, everyone is stuck up here. Plans are to head out tomorrow with some mountain sleds to try and break it out…’
What!!! too much snow? And so I loaded up the Apex and set out earlier this week in disbelief. Traveling north from the office, there wasn’t a lot of snow on the ground and I blew past a couple of areas which I had considered might meet my needs to shake out the new Yamcharged Apex and validate version 2 of our new Tric Ice Scratchers. Strangely enough, about an hour into the drive the landscape appeared to be masked off and air-brushed as I drove into a winter wonderland.
After a brief but frustrating search for an appropriate fuel station, I dropped the sled and pulled on my lid, relishing the first-ride-of-the-season brain clutter and excitement. The rail trail exited town along the shores of a lake, as I was pulling away from the truck, two Yamaha’s went by heading in the same direction. They certainly weren’t in a big hurry but it was nice to have some company as I listened for any signs of discontent from the motor, watching the idiot lights while sniffing for anything that might indicate a problem.
Several clicks in we hit an intersection and the guys let me pass. I’m a big believer in lots of varied RPM during break-in, no cruising along at steady speeds or long intervals of high revs. The boosted engine was running great. The trail was well packed, only lightly chopped and if I didn’t know better I would have said it was in typical mid-season condition. I did however encounter a couple of trees down across the trail, seemingly there to remind me to take it easy.
The scratchers were giving the odd tap to the pan to let me know they were still there and the engine response was excellent. G-Force included a set of their own primary weights to match the boosted horsepower and the whole package made for crisp instant response at all rpm’s. When I pulled up back at the truck, I had turned the first hun on the odo with everything working perfectly. I did discover some issues with the prototype scratchers which will be fairly simple to address but the Yamacharger so far gets two thumbs up.
I reckon back to the front mount turbo I had on the Warrior and the first ride when I experienced both an oil leak and exhaust leak right out of the hole. I struggled for a month to get the bugs out of that sled and swore I would never build another mod project for my daily ride again. Needless to say I was relieved when the Yamcharger got me home without a hiccup. I know its only a hundred km but normally if something is really wrong it will show up in the first go round. Now I know what you’re thinking: how was the boosted performance? and I can’t say just yet.
The engine is- seat of the pants- stronger than stock, most noticeable in it’s response. It just feels like it wants to go. There is no excess vibration, there were no weird sounds, there was nothing in the drive sensation to indicate the modification. This thing is the perfect example of a sleeper sled… more to follow.
I don’t know too many people who ride that haven’t heard of Kenny Roberts unless of course you’re still a kid and your dad had no appreciation of premium fuel and bean oil. In the 70’s King Kenny was the reining monarch of road and dirt track. Mr Starr was kind enough to share the following trailer with us this morning and I thought I would pass it along. I know this is Sled Talk but our performance roots are found right here. All hail the king!
Every year about this time, our marketing guys get with the new sleds and accessories and produce all the photography required to build the brochures, ads, point of sale materials etc. This year was no different… that is until yesterday. Jon is down at a ranch in Wyoming assisting with the photo mission where they have been clicking away for several days. Wayne Davis, pro snowmobile photographer extraordinaire and his team were close to completion when tragedy happened.
The ranch features a large main lodge which is their base of operations. All the cameras, computers, riding gear new accessories and supplies are kept there. The lodge also is the home for the owners and provides the main galley for meals and living space for their guest relaxation.
A chimney fire last night blew out of control and the beautiful log structure was totally gutted by flames, including all the gear mentioned above. Thankfully no one was hurt. Most of the staff on site were housed in separate ‘bunkies’ or at another lodge 30 minutes away.
Here’s the report that came in from he field: I’m very sad to report that this morning at ~4:00am MST the east end of the lodge caught on fire here near Saratoga, WY at our 2011 photo shoot. THANKFULLY everyone at the other end of the lodge (owners Tim, Debbie and boys) smelled the smoke and got out safely. Yet, as you can see, the east end of the lodge is destroyed. Inside was all the lodge’s rec room, all YPAD riding gear and parts, along with all of the photographer’s computers, hard drives and most all of their high dollar camera equipment. It appears we have lost 4+ days of beautiful action photos. However, the computers and hard drives are currently in route to Denver to see if any data can be recovered. In the meantime, our “All-Star” team is out on the trails continuing with some photography work and all video work as planned for today!
Please say a prayer for Tim and Debbie and their family, as they have just lost their home here during the holidays. We will all continue to help them clean up, but it will obviously take a long time to rebuild. Our thoughts will definitely be with them during this time. The most important thing is that everyone is safe!
Clearly we have had a big set-back to our marketing plan but thankfully no one has been hurt. All of us here at YMCA echo the sympathy for the family who just lost their home.
I am truly hoping that’s it for the bad news, as I say every year at this time. Don’t push the season. Take it easy on the first ride, there is no base under the early snowfall and what ever you do, respect the equipment. I don’t want to read about some over zealous sled head, nailing a parked car, sideways, ’cause they just couldn’t wait! As our friends at Honda say… Stupid hurts!
Well it does appear we are in for a soft La Nina winter. Odd things are already happening. Ontario has been mild with no snow in the GTA during the month of November (a record) but that is all about to change this weekend. The Environment Canada guy says this mild La Nina can cause above average snowfall east of the prairies but look what is happening out west at Whistler. They just smashed the record for the snowiest month ever and are already nearly half way to their season average of over 30 feet…
My sled is on its way back here today with the ‘prop heads’ who are just coming off one of our biggest outboard product launches in years. Most of my friends know I am a big fan of fast boats. In my mind nothing defines speed better than a performance hull ripping at the surface tension of the water, held aloft by negative air and propeller thrust in a delicate balancing act of trim and torsional counter steering. When it comes to lightweight outboard performance, we have had some beautiful engines in our older Vmax and V6 HPDI 2-strokes but the advent of large displacement 4-strokes has kind of put us out of the lightweight performance game. That is until now. I am truly excited about the fact that someone finally built a (4-stroke) outboard motor designed more like a sled or bike than a farm tractor. The new 4-stroke Vmax 250 SHO is actually lighter than our 2-strokes and offers up more torque than anything else in its class. The engineering execution is a work of art. I can only imagine- if somebody was to take one of these, add a supercharger, open up the intakes and exhaust and bolt it onto a 21 foot tunnel hull… ah yes, I can hear the sound of howling thunder in my dreams.
Sorry about that little aquatic digression… my Apex should be back today with the Yamcharger installed, not sure if the PDI is done but I’ll be staying back here a couple of evenings to finish the prep and install some additional goodies. I also need to spend some time on the Blue Blog Sled which we stripped down to check out the chassis and now needs to be reassembled. We had a great response to the idea of making the BBS available to the ‘needy’ and I’m pleased to say we have the internal support to move ahead with the project. I’ll be getting in touch with some of you in the near future.
I’m also trying to gain permission from the mother ship for the ‘YBTT’ and if all goes well, I may hook up with the BBS pilot for a little spin early in the new year. I was talking with Kent Lester from Supertrax this week who told me they are going to run a story on G-Force and the worlds fastest snowmobile, very cool. He also mentioned they have done some kind of real world evaluation and once the snow dust settled they selected as the best all-round trail sled based on performance, reliability, handling, comfort, resale value, efficiency etc…etc…short drum roll… winner- the Yamaha Apex. Funny comment he made, even though some of the ST staffers are pretty jazzed on our competitors sleds, when it comes time for a long epic, the Yamaha 4-strokes are never left back in lieu of a 2 smoke… sorry Kent but I had to say it 😉
OK; Until next week when I’ll post some photos of the BBS, update the MT09 ski (which btw is almost ready for release pending final sign-off from engineering) and hopefully show you my boosted Apex with hot hands and remote start… think snow!!