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Archive for February, 2010

February 19, 2010

New Apex Sets World Record

A couple of weeks ago I got a call from an old acquaintance.

“I’m going to take a shot at the Guinness world record for the most miles in 24 hours on a snowmobile. Just wanted to let you know I’ll be riding a Yamaha Nytro

That’s where it started. Matthew Weidinger is a friend of a friend who I had met a couple times in the past and had picked up a good vibe from him. After a couple more phone calls, and a chat with Peter (my boss) about what I was potentially getting myself into, I made the decision to offer Matt the ‘TY mystery sled’ to ride. Yep, the same 2011 red Apex EPS which was broken in by Supertrax and ridden by the first group of Sled Talkers back in early January.

Bracebridge Yamaha volunteered  to prep the sled with some fresh carbides, studs and a set of low snow wheels. Dan at BBY also freshened up the chain-case oil, checked out all the fasteners and fluids then installed a pair of TRIC scratchers that we are currently testing for durability. The only mod was the addition of a second throttle lever for his left hand in case of cramping.

I loaded up my sled Wednesday morning and headed up to Big Win Island on Lake of Bays where I was met by Matt and his support crew. A local survey company had laid out an exacting 10.3 km oval course around the island. It was well staked with lots of reflectors. A start finish banner was erected in the middle of the front straight with a heated timing booth, generator and large construction light off to the side. The 2011 Apex was there, adorned with graphics depicting the different sponsors and Matthew in his new Klim suit (thanks Sue!) was calmly preparing for the longest ride of his life.

At precisely 3:00PM on Wednesday Matt fired up his sled and off he went. I hung out with the guys as he continued to lap in just under 5:00 minutes, until the fuel light came on. He slid to a stop and Stephen dumped in about 28 liters of gas and he was gone. I jumped on my Apex and started following him around lap 15, to discover he was really flying. I was pinning my Yamacharged sled and was not gaining on him. I was hitting over 160 down the snow drifted straights and cornering no lower than 140. The track was snowy enough not to afford consistent traction and it required a lot of attention. Scary pace… Matt was truly in for a grueling ride.

Fast forward about six hours, it’s dark, it’s cold and starting to snow Matt is still cranking sub 5 minute laps and taking on fuel every 13-14 rounds, the sled is running great.  Johnny is serving us warm, oozing pitas on the ice, while the boys continue to log and video the run for the Guinness adjudicators. After another couple of hours I eyeballed the sled (again) during a pit stop, everything looks good, I decide to leave the team and go get some zzz’s. Fast forward another seven hours, daybreak, my cell phone didn’t ring last night, jump in the truck, fingers crossed. I arrive at the lake just as Matt is taking his first break, some dry fish, ibuprofen and energy drink. He has been running strong all night and his lap times are coming steadily down. He’s running under 4 minutes 30 seconds now. He’s a machine!

I visually checked the sled again, this time there’s a problem. The outside ski has only one stud left on the carbide and the inside isn’t much better with only two of the four studs left. The next pit stop we changed the carbides in record time, track was a bit loose but the studs weren’t contacting anything and the new Apex has extroverts… away he went, and cranked his fasted lap yet @ 17 hours into the ride. Fast forward to 10:35, the current world record of 2372km set by Dustin Shoemaker of Illinois on an Attak was about to fall, Matt slid under the banner with four and a half hours left to widen the gap. Apparently, Shoemaker was spent/exhausted after his run and could barely lift his arms. Matt got off and looked fresh as a daisy. He took a short break and I pulled the body panels for the first time, adjusted the chain case, checked the oil and coolant and threw on a fresh belt, just because… off he went and cranked a 4:15, he was still going faster! Jump forward to 3:00PM.

Amidst family friends and local media, Matt’s solitary challenge came to an end. He not only broke the world record he annihilated it. He finished up  approaching 3000km 24 hours. -Think about that for a moment.– He was averaging around 80+mph the whole time. The 2011 Apex required no maintenance or repairs outside of what I have mentioned. Matt gave kudos to the power steering, engine durability and suspension. Hugs, handshakes and a couple of tears. I am sincerely honored to have been a part of this.

What a great accomplishment for Matt and testimony to the QDR of our newest snowmobile. 23 hours wide open and not a single issue to be addressed aside from ripping the carbides off in the corners. Congratulations Matthew and congrats to our engineers, Nakano-san you built us one heck of a sled!

cheers  cr

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Posted @ 11:35 am in Yamaha Insights   

February 9, 2010

Apex XTX Answers

Just a brief update today. I received some info regarding Danes questions over on TY. Surprising as it may seem, the Apex XTX is faster than the SE or standard Apex. It blows it away up on top by a blistering 1.4 kph… that’s .87 mph for the metrically challenged.

The A-arms on the new Apex are the same as the 2010 (current arms) however the spindles and tie-rods are different, therefore your a-arm kit will work (that’s not to say Yamaha would ever endorse such a modification, don’t doo it).

Finally it appears that the torsion skid and extra track length on the XTX will add a whopping 9 pounds to the overall weight of the base model sled. Please don’t tell anyone over at Skidoo marketing or we will most assuredly be faced with another good reason why not to own another reliable Yamaha 😉

That’s it… keep an eye on ‘yournextsled’ for the latest poop from the web


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Posted @ 12:51 pm in Tech Talk   

February 5, 2010

Questions for CR

I arrived home last night after a whirlwind tour of Ontario. Our management team drew straws and set out to support our field staff by attending multiple dealer meetings, held across the country this week. The main reason we chose to do this is so we could ride the new sleds with our dealers.  I guess  going to some exotic place like Vegas or Hawaii for a business meeting has its advantages but there is nothing better than pulling on a helmet after a four hour presentation and seeing for yourself what we’re talking about. Then again, you had better be pretty confident in your product. And we are.

Dane started a thread on TY with some questions for me which I foolishly agreed to so here goes…

Are the Float 2’s up front able to adjust ride height without effecting stiffness? No, there are negative springs which push against the main air spring when fully extended helping small bump compliance but once the shaft moves into the main spring it falls out of play. If you reduce main air spring pressure for more sag (lower height) it will get softer.

Will the Mega Float fit older mono skids? YES and due to the response on TY I have asked Richard and Tom to look into the pricing and availability, hopefully we can get it into the catalog asap

Lots of talking on the horsepower. We have decided not to publish horsepower figures in our marketing specs any longer this will be seen in all Yamaha products outside of outboards. This was requested by factory for several good reasons. Will the actual power figures show up on dyno reports outside of our control? most certainly. The big story on the engine is torque and the EXUP system- how it is used to control the exhaust pulse that puts a real dent on the torque curve. We have had to compromise some of the engine tuning in the past to limit the mid-range torque drop which sacrificed some peak HP. With EXUP there is more torque right across the board with no dips and a slight increase in peak power in the neighborhood of 5%. The objective was to increase acceleration and throttle response corner to corner. Mission accomplished.

Sales programs have been released in Canada, not sure about the USA but you need to get the real scoop from a dealer. Simple math on the Canadian program shows some significant retail value but I am not going to interpret it here and I am not going to address the economics of Canada versus the USA. It is what it is and I am not in the position to comment. How about our new grip warmers?

Apex mountain was dropped primarily based on poor sales volumes. Its my understanding that most Apex mountain riders were doing extensive mods to their sleds to the point that a short track will suffice as a base model to which custom tunnels, skids and turbos put them over the top. It is widely accepted that the new Nytro MTX is a better machine ‘out of the box’ for altitude. I spoke with Randy S last week who told me this is a well kept secret in the Rockies but the reports coming in for the 2010 MTX SE are surprising many customers (and dealers) with how well it does work compared to the 09.

Why no Nytro XTX SE? Short answer, no manpower. We want to offer something more than just BNG (color and graphics) in an SE and under the current economics and workload we had no room on the plate. Stay tuned, as we are listening to you.

There was a typo in our specs re: Apex XTX ski stance C-C is 42.5 and has been corrected, all three models share the same stance.

Why no new Nytro sub-frame and EPS, again short answer is manpower. To redesign the sled to accept EPS is a big undertaking.

Ergos- The new seat height is approximately 2 inches taller, the bars are raised as well. I have heard plenty of shorter riders get of the sled and praise the seating position. Taller riders really like the ergos as their knees are more relaxed and those with the beer keg bellies (as opposed to six pack abs) will likely agree with Mark Lester who felt he wasn’t folded in half on the new sled.

Question on engine cooling. YES it has a larger rear exchanger with 30% more interface with the tunnel for additional heat sync, plus it maintains the rad and fan.

Fox Float maintenance is marginal compared to some other systems, we have had very few issues with the front floats and the new Mega Float shares the same design. It is sensitive to air pressure and calibrated to offer our best ride comfort settings, note it is not an RTX calibration, it offers excellent small bump compliance with very progressive rate to resist bottoming (IMHO it works awesome!)

Apex demo rides are VIP, we have sleds running all across North America (including east of Quebec) but your dealer will be deciding who gets the invite (hint hint).

Regarding engine RPM, the engine still peaks around 10,200 rpm and the gear reduction is still the same to lower clutch speed for greater durability, no belt issues with a Yamaha!

Still waiting for data on top speed difference between 144 and 128 / weight difference bewteen the two skids and tracks and A-arm compatibility with current.

The trail is increased by 15mm which does a lot to reduce ski lift. Prior, it was a compromise to keep the steering effort reasonable and no the lift was not due to engine location so much as geometry and yes I have ridden the lightweight 4-stroke of our competition which stays very flat as well. Problem is it feels like it has a ‘cinder block on each spindle’ and that is to quote a journalist who will remain unnamed to protect his livelihood (doubt you will be reading it anytime soon in his rag) 😉

There are quite a few new things that haven’t been disclosed: New 83gram clutch weights, 38mm header diameter, new lightweight, rare earth mag with significantly higher output, knock sensor, 39mm intake, new forged pistons, new intake cam, new hydraulic tensioner,  just to name a few

I would like to thank those of you who have taken the time to complete my survey on this blog. If you havn’t I would sure appreciate your feedback just click this link.

In closing, I did the following interview on the positioning of the new Apex which is on our new microsite yournextsled.com my first attempt at a ‘video blog’, if you are interested here it is…

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Posted @ 2:15 pm in Tech Talk