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November 9, 2011

No Honor Among Thieves

Looking over some of the recent comments and I noticed a question from Justin, wondering why I went back to a 128 over the XTX Apex. First, I think the track length is completely a matter of personal choice and objective considering the riding conditions you’re in most of the time.

I enjoyed the 144 last year but I was  compromising a bit of  cornering speed resulting from the balance front to rear; read under-steer or ‘push’ if you will. On the flip side the stroke feeling, function and acceleration were all excellent I have had every model year of Apex / RX-1 under me since 03 including Warrior and XTX along with every shock package except for the 128inch and FOX Mega-Float soooo this year its, the SE. We have a 2011 model that was painted up to look like a 12 for the trade show circuit, has my name all over it. Plan to run stock with the addition of a set of Kirk’s HID lights, some Tuner skis and a tank bag.

Rob Powers made an interesting comment the other day regarding the EPS Apex being as close to perfect as a sled can be. This was in reference to having all the ‘bugs’ out of it, he makes a good point. The updated mono skid is holding together, the drive train, (clutch / belt) has amazing durability, the engine is an absolute hammer when it come to reliability. Issues like  hyfax wear, bushing slop, exhaust system, idler wheels etc have all been addressed. Even the flippin handlebar heaters work.!Yeah its heavy when compared to some ‘disposable’ sleds, but for trail cruising, I could care less. What I didn’t say in my first post, is I intend to purchase this one as a ‘keeper’ if all works out to plan. Will update as the season unfolds.

Speaking of ‘bugs’, Has anyone paid any notice to the latest ad campaign from Skidoo? I don’t think many guys will even pick up on the fact but it sure sticks in my throat. If you have read any sled rags in the last four years, you have seen our ‘Yamaha Advantage’ ads where we draw attention to the durability of our engines, the low cost of operation, resale value etc. Pretty boring stuff compared to what the other guys produce but we felt it best to maintain the high road in advertising and speak strictly to our strengths.

Well it must’ve struck a chord with the spin doctors at skidoo, who have abandoned their ‘we’re the best — the rest’ ads in favor of (drum roll please) the ‘Skidoo Advantage’… Whaaat’s with that? You going to paint the Rev’s blue next? Good advertising account managers must be hard to come by in these days of cut-backs. Then again maybe someone proposed a campaign of confusion and mixed messages to negate what we have been pointing out for years as Yamaha strengths,  to trick consumers into drinking the yellow Kewl-aid. I said it before and I’ll say it again, modern consumers aren’t stupid (especially Yamaha owners). IMHO their campaign is a direct rip-off designed to sabotage a strong, QDR message from Yamaha which was delivered in an honest, transparent (albeit boring) fashion. Don’t mean to rant but right or wrong it’s an insult to my intelligence, nicely done boys!

cheers  cr


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12 Responses to “No Honor Among Thieves”

  1. Flatlander SE says:

    I feel that QDR is an after thought for most other manufactures. This winter, a group of us have a new trip called the “Fourstroke only Tour” due to issues that always come up with the others. There’s nothing like having a 3 day trip ruined by a 2-stroke engine that’s not yours.

    Question, do you think that current 2-strokes have become less reliable/durable than in years past?

    Hey FL, It always sucks to have a sled on the end of a rope during an epic ride. My opinion on the modern 2-stroke being less reliable? I look at it this way. They are using way less fuel and oil in order to meet EPA and compete with the 4-strokes, This is being achieved using technology that allows them to run much closer to the ‘edge’ of going bang than even the most finely tuned race engines of the past. The margin for error is minuscule but provided everything is operating good, they are reliable.
    So there’s the rub, as long as the fuel system and electronics are new and properly maintained life is good. A couple of seasons under the belt, a little contamination, a bad connector / sensor, an air leak…. ‘bang’ the headlight won’t work. A 4-stroke on the other hand will run rough but more than likely will take you home and be good as new with a little tune-up. Time will tell.

  2. Bosco says:

    Hey Chris, The Ski-Doo add forgot to mention they have the BEST ENGINE EXCHANGE PROGRAM, HEE HEE ! CHEERs

  3. Yellowknife says:

    Chris, I love your honesty. ahaha, it makes me laugh that you don’t sugar coat any of it, cause you just don’t see that very often. Thumbs up.

    I’m having a repeat reliability issue with my Nytro XTX. I just blew my second fuel injection relay. Unfortuantely it happened after trailering a couple of hours so I ended up sledless and fearing for my life on the back of an Assault 800.

    When I blew the first one, my mechanic told me the replacement relay was a revamped sealed relay. Maybe there’s something else going on that’s going to be hard to troubleshoot. I hate electronic problems, they drive me crazy and can lead to hours of wasted time and money looking deep into the issue when it turns out to be right in front of your face.

    I had that happen with blowing headlight fuses on the Phazer. Tested everything in the system only to find after a few hours that it was the damn bulb! The bulb was still working but it had a defect that was blowing the fuses. I’d never seen a bulb work before with broken parts inside of it. Because it was turning on, we didn’t think it needed attention.

    130 km’s on the XTX/Phazer so far but we need more snow/cold/ice.


    Hey YK, good to hear from you and that sucks about the relay. We have had fuel pump relay complaints when it gets really cold. I think the supplier has updated the part three times and we are still scratching our heads. Some of the guys are known to pull the relay and sleep with it so it’s warm in the morning. Reminds me of the enrichener on the old Enticers. We had guys who would pee on it after the sled was running so it would thaw, re-seat and not foul the plugs, (I hated working on those ones). You must’ve had a genuine Yamaha light bulb there if it was still gettin ‘er done even when it was broke! :-))) Looking forward to your tales of humour and woe from the great white north. cheers cr

  4. Big50viper says:

    Hi Chris,just a couple of questions about the tuner skis .Is it possible to put my billet loops on them,and can you also put on a rouski wheel kit. This is for a 08 apex gt 40th, now I use Snowtrackers but was thinking of trying these new skis.Thanks

    Hey big 5oh, Sorry you can’t install your billet loops, the Tuners are a one piece, not sure about the wheel kit, assume you are referring to the ‘pie cutters’ for saving the carbides on pavement but you should be okay there. I haven’t had a chance to try them myself yet so I can’t comment on the results (but I will)… cheers cr

  5. 7 skulls says:

    Hey CR
    Ski-doo does really seem to be targeting yamaha very aggresively, as I can attest. A few years ago, when the xp came out, my brother and I had the chance to go on a demo ride. After filling out the usual paperwork (ie. what brand of sled do you currently ride) we hit the trails.
    I had pretty much forgotten about it until this fall. Ski-doo sent me a flyer, substantial cash rebate offers (for me personally) and even left a message on my answering machine. I even dropped by a dealer and checked out the cost of an additional 2 year warranty. Shocking to say the least.
    I just couldn’t swallow that yellow snow.

  6. DNR says:

    This type of journalism is exactly what the industry needs. Pure, un-bios straight talk.
    Good lead cr. Finding copying or impersonation is the highest form of flattery.

    I think we are on the right track and always have been. We don’t push extended warranty and we don’t have to.
    I my case, here at dnr, 31 years, I have seen them nip at my heels in hoards. Now where are they? Those copy cats. I think probably licking deep wounds.

  7. Bob Hogg says:

    I used this story many times years ago..

    This may be a bit too aggressive..hope the team I tune for doesn’t read it but…

    Yamaha basically mines the coal and iron ore and sends it to a blast furnace where it is sintered.

    Molten iron comes out one side and after several more processes like oxygen tempering etc..you get good metal.

    This is the metal Yamaha uses to build sleds.

    Back to the first process…when it comes out of the blast furnace you get molten iron, the good stuff that Yamaha keeps.

    Out the other side comes slag..the scrap metal.

    They then sell the slag to other companies to make their sleds…

  8. Bob Hogg says:

    I’m should not be re-commenting ..

    But …my post was just a joke from the 70’s..after all…. sleds are made from aluminum today.

    Racing Yamaha in the 70’s is still bringing me amazing benefit here in Muskoka. I’m forever thankful to the company.

    However I work for another brand tuning today…and the race sleds are pretty durable.

    I think the big benefit with Yamaha trail sleds is the assembly. The component parts are well thought out and put together with way fewer parts.

  9. Fred Siems says:

    Interested in the HID lights you said you run on your sled. I went to Kirk’s but couldn’t find anything that fits my sled. I ride a 2011 Vector GT LX. What part number fit your Apex?


    Hey Fred, I was referring to the system marketed by Kirk at Sled Start. We sell the kits in Canada through our dealer network. cheers cr

  10. snoguzzler says:

    Show me a Rev SDI with over 13,000 km that hasn’t been rebuilt. I bet it is near impossible. Now you have the direct injection giving it even less oil……..
    I tease the crap out of my riding buddies everytime I see the ad for the guy in Quebec who has jugs etc in stock ready for exchange.
    Good news I converted a buddy from a 05 Rev who was just getting ready for his 3rd rebuild with 15,000km on it. He bought my ’06 Attak with 13,000 on it. He has ridden with me since I got it new and decided he felt more confident on it then his own!

  11. Scott says:

    Good points about the complex electronics and very lean mixtures the injected 2-stroke sleds are running. I don’t think people even think about that! Seems to me that in this day and age of fuel injected 2-strokes that burn downs would be a thing of the past. Unfortunately they seem just as common now as they were 10 years ago.

    Spent some time talking to a buddy last weekend about how Yamaha tests and develops their sleds. Something different needs to happen with the Yamaha organization because the performance issues and the suggestions of how to improve them are being noted but nothing is being changed. There is no reason Yamaha can’t build a bump sled that can handle and ride as good as the competition. I know money is a factor with suspension. Good shocks are expensive but good handling doesn’t have to cost anything extra. The sales of the Nytro would be much improved if the handling was significantly improved.

    Now that I’m back on a Polaris (I still have my Nytro) it is interesting to hear how the other Polaris owners don’t even consider a Yamaha to be in the same league. It is like Yamaha is looked down upon and not even considered to be a decent snowmachine. With Yamaha the QDR is there but performance is #1 priority for the Polaris guys and they will overlook many flaws to obtain performance. That mentality is present with Cat owners and with Doo owners to an extent. Doo has good fit and finish but their engine reliability has gone downhill. Still, the Doo owners will look past it and put a priority on performance and light weight. What Yamaha is missing out on with these performance guys is repeat sales. Yamaha will never gain much market share because the people currently buying Yamahas are buying them for QDR and will ride them for years. Not much reason to buy a new Nytro or Vector or Phazer when the new ’12 is pretty much the same as the ’07 or ’08. Lack of change plus a huge hike in price will keep a lot of Yamaha owners content with keeping their current sled. There is nothing wrong with the sleds keeping the same look but they need improvements to handling and the chassis are just not getting updated.

    Thanks Scott, very well stated. The only thing I could add is when we do make some running changes we don’t do a great job of ‘tooting our horns’, adding sizzle to the deal. The performance ‘image’ has a huge impact on sales, so does the willingness to react to and address market feedback. The catch 22 of maintaining great QDR prevents us from adding band-aids to engineering. Our guys cannot fathom making a change to one layer of a design without collapsing the whole thing and starting from square one, re-testing every step of the way. In contrast I swear the NA builders will meet at the water fountain in the morning and have a counter measure drafted by lunch…There’s no question in my mind, Yamaha builds the best engines in the business. Our chassis and suspensions are the key for our future and we know it… stay tuned. cheers cr

  12. Low Slung says:

    A few years back i noticed very unique ads in a few snowtech magazines.One featured a tool chest with skis on it along with a guy wearing a belt of spark plugs on both shoulders.Another ad showed a half-track yellow truck on a frozen tundra with many drums of twostroke oil on it.I made the connection when i looked at the bottom of each ad to see an ad for the yamaha advantage of four-stroke sleds.Those ads were pretty clever on yamahas part.

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