It just struck me I have not posted anything for a couple of weeks. Things have become crazy busy since the 2013 model launch. I find myself now in preparation for a trip to Japan, where Pete and I will be hunkered down in planning meetings for the better part of two weeks. Some of it will be regarding ATV’s but we will finish up with our ideas for the next snowmobile mid-term plan which sets our path to 2016. We will host a meeting here early next week to line up our ducks and start assembling much of the required supporting data. If anyone knows what mother nature has in store for winter over the next few years, it would sure be nice if you would share 😉
I have been quite remiss in reporting on the cross country and hill-climb racing this winter. At the grass roots level, Yamaha has had some really solid results with privateer teams on board our Nytros, several of which have been proving the merit of the modified front end clip. The latest press release shows an FX Nytro going over the top of the mountain at Jackson Hole under the capable hands of Cody Malmborg. Evidently this is the first time a 4-stroke has ever gone over the top, he ended up 8th after the dust settled. I’ve post a few pics which have come over my desk along with the press releases. 120326 Malmborg pilots FX Nytro over the top at Jackson
Back in the office today after spending last week at our US based R&D facility but before I get into that, I just wanted to say thanks to all of you who posted comments on our 2013 model introduction. As this weeks post title suggests, much of what was written came to me as ‘tough love’. A few commented that the feedback was pretty harsh but I don’t see it that way. At least not when I know the author is sincere in their wishes for new and improved products from a brand they appreciate.
I went as far as copying the comments into a document for distribution to our development team and took a few minutes to read a couple of my favorites during our meetings last week. I can honestly say there is no one on our team who doesn’t ‘get it’. We know what we need to do and we are focusing hard on our future.
Back to our meetings, we had a couple of back to back 15 hour days with lots of riding to break things up. The snow in northern Wisconsin was quite soft and melting on day one but it was the remains of a recent storm and quite plentiful. That night the temps plummeted and we were treated to totally different conditions on day two. The cool part of back to back sessions on test vehicles in changing conditions is seeing how the ride character adapts. How the traction affected different tracks, skis and suspension combinations. How something that was abstract and unclear one day can be so noticeable and clear to all the next. I tell you anyone who tells me they have the perfect set-up on their sled is full of it as I don’t think there will ever be such a thing. There is always compromise with so many variable conditions.
That said I am thinking my Apex set-up this year is perfect. lol. Now what were we riding you ask. Well we had a lot of sleds to compare, some fairly basic, production units with different settings and bolt-on parts and some other project more radical, still production based but heavily modified to demonstrate different things re: lighter weight, more horsepower, different footprints, can’t go into detail but there was lots to talk about. And now don’t be jumping to conclusions as not all of what we rode is intended for production. We use the knowledge to help prioritize our direction. We also ride our competitors machines and keep production units in the mix for baselines. Was I smiling at the end of the day? Heck yes, if for nothing else, it was a blast to rip around on so many unique snowmobiles, somedays I hate my job, just not last week.
Well it’s about flipping time old man winter hit us hard. First day of March and many of us are digging out – what a bitter sweet ending to one weird sled season in the mid-west and east. Well tomorrow is the big day, the 2013 model year launch. I have hinted over the last couple of posts and I’ll come right out and say it today. This is not a big new product year for Yamaha or any of the other OE’s. Guys, it is safe to say the industry as a whole is still in some degree of recovery from three years of tough business and this seasons poor snowfall in most regions isn’t going to help. The mountain market and cross-over trend is continuing strong but the trail / rough trail and touring is still very soft. Think about this when you look a the different offerings from each OE. BNG – BNP – maintenance, that’s it in a nut shell from all four companies.
Moving on, I had three guys come up from Yamaha US last week and they brought along a Nytro XTX with the front-end race kit installed. Customs held up the sled on us but we finally got on the snow north of Toronto around 5-o’clock last Wednesday and ran a tank-full through our machines before retiring to my cabin to solve all the worlds problems. The temps were mild but the trails we rode (at the pace we were running) gave me a good opportunity to evaluate the XTX and I have to say I was pretty impressed. My comfort level went up significantly coming off a stock Nytro and seat of the pants, I would say my average speed went up at least 10mph through some significant G-outs and stutter chop.
The one thing that I found most amusing (aside from one of the guys’s duck-call ring tone) was their helmet / goggle set-up. I noticed he had a MX style lid with about half a pound of duct tape securing his goggles permanently in place, hmmm, kind of defeats the purpose I thought. Then there was Bob, he also donned an MX style helmet but when he pulled out his goggles I had to laugh. He had taped a thick layer of tin-foil extending the edge of the goggles circumference by about 8 inches. After fiddling with the foil for a minute he carefully pulled on the 509’s and started pressing the foil into the helmet to create a seal. ‘What the hec is that?’- I asked to which he replied- ‘I love this set-up it works great! It’s quieter and warmer than a mask and duct tape.’ I’m biting my tongue thinking ya sure and you look like a tub of lasagna with two eye-balls peering out of it. I quickly pulled on my full-face sno-mo helmet, flipped down my visor and we were off…. I still don’t get it. lol
Speaking of duct-tape and frost bite. I thought some of you might enjoy this clip of Rick Mercer ( a Canadian comedian from the east coast) participating in the Numb Bum 24 hour enduro in northern Alberta. He has great taste in winter fashion and may offer some light-hearted relief to cool your jets before I get bombed with comments regarding the 2013 line-up 😉