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Archive for May, 2011

May 18, 2011

Reverse and Turbos

I logged on this morning and was hit between the eyes with a couple of excellent questions, which when I began to answer, occurred to me I could base a whole post on my thoughts. So without further adieu…

I currently have 6 Yamaha snowmobiles and have just ordered 2-2012 Nytro XTX’s. I like these sleds but the reverse engagement lever is very hard to use. I have tried various ways of using it, including using a strap to pull on it but nothing makes it work any better including adjustment or a dealer working on it. My non Yamaha buddies get a real charge out this. Also Artic Cat, Bombardier, and Polaris have a factory turbo, but nothing from the leading 4 stroke manufacturer, this seems puzzling to me. Having owned at least 35-40 snowmobiles, 90 % Yamaha and 90% of those bought new I would appreciate and answer to these questions. Repectfully yours,  Murray,  Sask. Canada

Hey Murray, regarding the reverse gear system on the Nytro; it follows suit with every reverse gear Yamaha has designed to date. In a nutshell, it is ‘quirky’, which is odd when you consider the number of gear systems and transmissions to come out of our engineering group. I find it works best if you are left handed, reach across the saddle while looking over your right shoulder and sticking your tongue out of the opposite side of your mouth, simultaneously blipping the throttle. It also helps if Venus and Pluto are aligned… seriously, there is a bit of a ‘knack’ to it, sometimes the gears don’t mesh just right and a small amount of throttle to move the jack-shaft a bit helps, also having the idle speed set correctly as well as the clutch C2C and OE drive belt will keep the gears from being pre-loaded. If everything is set right it comes down to the angles and order of force exerted upon the reverse mechanism. Occasionally it works like a charm, effortless, then the next time I’m in need of some reverse thrust it can be a real struggle. I will pass along your comments to our engineers (it is not the first time they will have heard this one). And a word of caution, don’t be forcing it too much or you may find yourself clutching a broken handle, it’s all about the ‘angle of the dangle’ so to speak.

On the subject of turbos, we have been pushing this one for a while now (pardon the pun), especially for the mountain application where altitude effects horsepower. There is an argument to the point that a low boost turbo can compensate for the loss of power at elevation without stressing the engine beyond its design parameters. Our engineers work to very exacting standards much of which has come about from years of motorcycle design. They will not sacrifice the durability /  reliability of the engines to achieve more power with a ‘bolt on’ device. That said, the testing standards we have to meet appear to be quite a bit beyond that of what the real world requires… catch 22.

There is also inherent pride in knowing our current engines, normally aspirated, are very close to the power output of our competitions boosted engines. Historically, Yamaha has dabbled with boost, most recently in the marine side of things, but we tend to shy away from using turbos or superchargers in favor of building state of the art engine technology taken from pages of MotoGP racing development and auto partnerships.

The current market trends and acceptance of boosting smaller engines in autos and the adoption of the technology into more baseline motorsports has got to have an impact on our planning somewhere down the road. The simple fact that we have many engines operating under high boost pressure for several seasons in the mountains tells me our motors can ‘handle it’ and supports my theory that the ‘bench test’ for our sled engines most likely leaves a significant margin of error when it comes to squeezing some more juice for the real world.

To counter the additional cost of boost, the base engines (like those you refer to from our competition) do not have to be as costly to produce, with lower hp/liter output when normally aspirated. This, along with our ‘rule-book’ of engineering standards would most likely conclude, we would have to design a new engine from the a clean sheet of paper to offer factory boost.

I am not saying such a project is under way, in fact I can say, to my knowledge it is not. But one thing is for certain things are changing at Yamaha. Much of this change is a result of the recession and its impact on our business model. Efficiencies, global demands, parts suppliers, exchange rates and not the least, the internet are all having a profound impact on our future. It’s a mighty big ship to turn but I sense some big changes looking over the bow at the shifting horizon.

… Time will tell.  Cheers  cr

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Posted @ 9:43 am in Tech Talk,Yamaha Insights   

May 3, 2011

New Survey – Engineers Retire

As the sun is setting on another sled season, we are spooling up our planning cycle and preparing for meetings abroad. Traditionally the SPPM or snowmobile product planning meeting happens in June with representatives from the key distributors coming together in Japan to review the past season, present our ideas and plan for our future. This year is presenting an odd challenge due in part to the string of tragic events which have resulted from the earthquakes in Japan and also the lingering effects of the economic ‘smack-down’ we received as a large Japanese manufacturing company trading globally.

There is no question, our resources are being taxed with production limitations across the board and the restructuring of the various business groups for greater efficiencies. I imagine many of our team members are sleeping with helmets on. One of the internal reviews that is happening soon will analyse the success of the previous model year launch. We (the distributors) do not attend the P5 meeting directly but in this years case, we have been afforded the opportunity to include some information from the market.

What started out as a customer survey of the new Apex has morphed into a more encompassing look at the trends, desires and satisfaction of all snowmobilers. I posted a link to this survey yesterday on Totallyamaha and already it is growing in responses. It is my hope that it will go viral and find its way onto some of the other brand forums like Dootalk and Catchat and we can get some quantified  sense of what is important to all snowmobiler’s in general. I don’t have an official account on the other forums (as a Yamaha employee) and would not post anything using an alias as this would not be cool under the rules of social engagement. Honesty and transparency all the way!

Anyway, if you would like to complete the survey, I can guarantee you your comments will be presented in Japan on at least two occasions and probably make it into many smaller meetings and conversations.

If you participate in any other snowmobile forums and feel comfortable posting the link to the survey, please feel free to help me out. I think the more people who sound off intelligently on the subject of whats good and bad  (important and not) about their needs and our sleds, the better it will be for our future. Heres the link:

Spring Snowmobile Survey

I received a really nice photo presentation from Greg Marier  who had the opportunity to meet with some old friends. Toshi Yasui, Karl Ishima and Max Aoshima are all engineers who spent their entire Yamaha careers involved heavily with snnowmobiles. They are all retired now but decided to get together for a ‘boys trip’ to the USA to visit some of their old stomping grounds. I understand that they enjoyed as much of our winter as they could, doing some snow shoeing (something learned in the early years of snowmobile development no doubt), some cross country skiing and of course, some snowmobiling courtesy of Masa Saito at our MQTC. From the looks of all the photos, the boys had a pretty good time, hooking up with several other retirees, Jim Gentz, Jim Kedinger, Greg Marier and others. I just think it is so cool to see the god-fathers of what so many people enjoy today, still actively in pursuit of their passions. Yes siree Yamaha is a lifestyle!

cheers  cr

 

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Posted @ 11:01 am in Yamaha People and Communication