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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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18 Responses to “New Survey – Engineers Retire”

  1. Hans Dreesen says:

    Hi Chris, I haven’t commented for a while but after reading some of the comments on TY about the weight reduction on the new AC 4 stroke I have to ask a very simple question. What is the actual trail ready weight of the new AC. I ask this because I have not seen any figures of actual weights. I have read a lot of hype about weight reduction by 60 lbs. over last years chassis. To actually use the press release one must know what the previous weight was. We all know that the former spar chassis was very heavy when a 2 stroke 500 weighed more than the 4 stroke Phazer. Sometimes I wonder if people are just being swept up by the hype or they have some knowledge that the media has not printed. As always love the blog & have a good meeting in June.

    Hey Hans, nice to hear back from you. I don’t know the exact weight of the new Cats. I am not even sure they have produced any yet. Generally the units used during the spring events and promos are prototype or special limited builds. Arctic is being responsible by not printing any weights until they have gone into production. The reason being is things might and often will change due to parts suppliers or engineering requirements based on quality assurance and testing. I fully anticipate the new Cats will be lighter with the new chassis, how much lighter? dunno. How does it handle and perform and hows the ride measure up? To me that’s more important than the printed brochure spec. Either way we will likely not know until they (production models) hit the snow in the fall. cheers cr

  2. Jason says:

    The survey was good!! Hope it brings on positive changes. I am still waiting to find out what the rear suspension changes are to the 2012 XTX over the 2011? And if the 2011 can be updated?

    Jason I made a brief comment on this earlier last weeks post and will revisit when I get some more info from service… cheers cr

  3. Low slung says:

    I like the way these surveys go right to the heart of the matter.Good work chris.Its great to know we have a voice in yamahas future.Great to see the godfathers of yamaha sleds having fun(on yamaha sleds of course).Do these great minds contribute to yamaha projects even after they retire?

    Retirement in Japan is a different deal, everyone gets retired at 55 as they are stripped of their title which opens the door for younger guys to move up, then they continue to work for a bit as they pass the torch or utilize their knowledge to further the company, eventually fading away… haven’t quite figured it all out yet myself!! cheers cr

  4. Mr. T says:

    This is by far the best survey on the future of sleds that I have seen. However the last question has me a little worried. I get the feeling it is a question for the consumer that if a company like Yamaha should stay in the sled buisness or not. I hope I’m wrong.
    Mr. T

    No worries T, I ask that question knowing the answer with the plan to use it to support a healthy future, I’ll guarantee you over 95% of the responses will answer they are sledders for life… a very nice confirmation to pass along to the powers that be!
    cheers cr

  5. pat the rat says:

    great survey,filled it out of course,i like that yamaha is interested in listening to consumers like us,the one thing that must change is price increases,i know that you have no say in this,but everyone i talk to about yamaha sleds mention that they are not affordable,i dont think i will ever be able to purchase a new current sled anymore,its sad cuz i’m a yamaha faithfull at heart but if i cant buy one,what good is it,will be forced to by used or older non current models,besides pricing,looks like yamaha is going in the right direction by listening,love those pics of yamaha pioneers,they look young to be retired,lol
    have a good summer chris

  6. snoguzzler says:

    I did the survey and put a link on Freedom Sledder.

    Thanks SG… cheers cr

  7. Krom says:

    To answer a question above, Arctic Cat has released estimated weights to the dealers, this could change between now and the fall, but currently the 1100 is listed at 518 lbs, and the turbo at 549 lbs. The new chassis is well balance, and steers positively with little effort.

  8. Hans Dreesen says:

    Thank You Krom. Now the only question I have is that theoretical dry weight (because every mfg. seems to have thier own way to measure dry weight) or a full of fluids & fuel ready to ride weight. Also how does that compare to a Vector & Apex. Advertised weights on preproduction machines usually have a way of increasing by the time production is reached. Also I wonder if the “A” Arms are going to be stronger this time.

  9. Yellowknife says:

    Good survey. I just got off my last sled ride of the season. The footage is fantastic, but won’t see the internet till summer. May 8th is the latest i’ve been riding that I can remember.

    Unrelated question; My Phazer seen 341 km’s this season, My MTX seen 700 km’s or so, all because the XTX ran like a champ 99% of the year and I hit over 9000 km’s on it with no engine failure 😉

    The Phazer and MTX aren’t under warranty anymore, but with so few miles on the oil would you change it anyway if you were me?


    Hey YK, nice to hear from you! Even better to hear you haven’t blown anything up or got stranded north of nowhere… Regarding your question… If you were going to purchase a genuine Yamaha oil filter and some Yamalube or better yet our new semi-synth genuine Yamalube Snowmobile oil changes kits complete with fresh crush washer, oil,filter, disposable gloves and free key fob then of course I would recommend you drop the coin and change the oil in all three sleds. But considering I am me and you have had a short season and an even shortage storage time in storage… keep you wallet in your pants until you need more bait or ammo…

  10. scott says:

    I fired off a response to this without even reading the article. When I saw the survey on TY, I immediately took it, then it linked me to here and I fired off my comments. While they were truthful, they are not appropriate for your blog. I hope you don’t include them.

    I did a bunch of testing this spring after I raced our Mayor’s Cup race, see it here: http://www.valdezsnow.com/Mayors_Cup.html

    Basically there is no hope to make the Nytro handle as well as the other brands. I got to ride my buddy’s Rush Pro-R after the race and it rode and handled so much better that it made me decide to switch brands. It wasn’t perfect, but that sled made me feel confident at high speed and just tracked straight through the bumps. The present Nytro is obsolete. I believe the Nytro has potential to be a good race chassis for XC, but it needs upgrades and I’m very frustrated that Yamaha has not improved it.


    Hey Scott, at your request I’ll withhold your original post. I have always appreciated your input and respect the experience you bring to my blog. I agree with you on the Nytro being due for a refreshing and knowing where and how you ride, I understand where you are coming from. I hope you continue to hang out here whatever brand you happen to land on… cheers cr

  11. sledfreak says:

    When is the survey over? I was going to post the link on DOO-talk, but it does not seem to work?

    I am going to leave it up for another week at least, a link on DT would be awesome!! (Was hoping someone would). No idea why it wouldn’t work… thanks cr

  12. Scott says:

    I’m very impressed with your blog and that you left my ride comparison comments up for public view. I didn’t realize you had done that and I just went back and edited a number of negative posts I made about the Nytro over on TY. No reason for me to post negativity like that. I’ll definitely keep participating in the blog. I enjoy reading your posts and feedback. As far as my sled goes, I really like my Nytro and enjoy the trouble free aspects of the motor for XC racing. It is so frustrating for me to have seen and touched the front end Chad Gueco got to use on his ’08 Nytro and not see them put it into production. I don’t get it? The front end can so easily be tweaked geometry wise since it’s a modular unit that just bolts onto the chassis. I’d think all they’d have to do is spend a few days in CAD to tweak the mounting points, shock and a-arm angles, build a new jig and start welding up improved front clips. Must be a lot more to it?

    If all goes well I’ll get either a race program Polaris IQ 600R or a Cat Sno-Pro. I’m not looking forward to going back to a high strung 2-stroke (I previously had two 440’s). Mixing race and pump gas to get the proper octane is expensive and a hassle, but I’m currently getting beat by guys who I used to beat simply because my Nytro isn’t stable enough at high speed so I can’t go as fast. I got passed by two girls in the Mayor’s Cup this past March and that was embarrassing, especially when I know I’m faster than that but the Nytro is holding me back.

    I got to ride Chad’s Sno-Pro after the race and because it was running race gas, it’s power was comparable to my Nytro’s, but not as broad. The Rush I rode felt gutless. It just didn’t have the pull I’m used to. The Rush suspension certainly wasn’t perfect as the center shock bottomed hard and often and the entire rear skid felt unbalanced. It was like the center shock didn’t have enough travel but I believe the bottoming is primarily caused by the falling rate. The Sno-Pro didn’t do anything weird but because Chad has it set up so stiff, I couldn’t get a good feel for the suspension. Pretty amazing to ride a sled that would not bottom out in front even when I hit holes just to see if I could get it to bottom. The Fox Evols are impressive!

  13. Yellowknife says:

    Now hold on a second…

    “our new semi-synth genuine Yamalube Snowmobile oil changes kits complete with fresh crush washer, oil,filter, disposable gloves and free key fob”

    When did that come about? What is fresh crush washer? Does the key fob have a light built into it?

    You need a light to insert the key? A crush washer is a device that compresses the used filter, extracting the old oil and washing away all the residue leaving you a sparkling clean, EPA approved flat metal disc… or it could be a drain plug washer… cheers cr

  14. murray kasun says:

    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 Kasun Leask, Sask. Canada

    Murray thanks for the questions, I have addressed in the post ‘Going Up and Back’. cheers cr

  15. Krom says:

    The 2012 arctic cat 800 has an advertised weight of 458, and the when the last run was lifted off the line the weight was the same as an 03 F7 as it was lifted off the line.
    The machines will be the lightest or among the lightest 4 strokes on the market, but with much better mass centralization and lower CG.
    This being said, I don’t see the non turbo being a big seller. There are lots and lots of people disappointed in the lack of a 600 2 stroke in that chassis.
    Which brings up a question from me. Why hasn’t yamaha gone after the light weight performance sled market???? They have HPDI, and a ton of riders looking for a light nimble sled. I was hoping to see a 2 stroke question in the survey, as a large number of riders won’t buy anything with a 4 stroke engine in it, no matter how well balanced or powerful.

  16. Scott says:

    I was told by a dealer that Yamaha viewed 2-stroke technology as a dead end road. You can only make them so clean and run them so lean before reliability becomes unacceptable. Since Yamaha is a motor manufacturer first, their standards for dependability and reliability are much higher than the other OEM’s. This is why they never produced any big displacement, vibrating, 2-stroke twins since the twin cylinder design was not as reliable as a 2-stroke triple of the same displacement.

    Since you are posting here, are things slow over on HCS?

  17. Krom says:

    This thread is probably dead, but popped up in my address bar. Several people have had the new cat turbo on scales now, and full of all fluids except gas the weight is 584 lbs

  18. Dale Morris says:

    Just wanting to say Hi to Jim Kedinger, former engineer of Yamaha snowmobile racing etc. We are all retiree now, and would love to be able to contact Jim kedinger just to say Hi. Also a big thank you, for the years we were able to work together. I loved racing my Yamaha, and spending time testing stuff with you and the team of guys. I am now living in Arizona, and rarely even see snow any longer, no more 300 mile rides each day all week, just to stay in shape for racing.
    Check out my website, and call me sometime, just for a visit.

    Hey Dale, Jim is still active in our industry and likely wearing the same cowboy boots he had on when you were last testing LOL. His company is called Test Inc. out of Wisconsin. I’ll pass along your salutations!! cheers cr

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