Archive for January, 2013
January 31, 2013
Well I made it home (barely) after another sketchy trip into the USA. We were shooting some video for the 2014 product launch and just my luck, Tuesday was the melt-down in the mid-west, yielding mushy snow and drizzle on the lens. That said, I think we got some pretty decent footage and hopefully gave the editors something to work with.
While I was there I was reminded of a result that I was meaning to share. We have some brilliant young engineers working in our Wisconsin R&D facility. For the most part these guys could pretty much write their own ticket at a lot of companies but they have chosen Yamaha because they love sleds and want to be in this industry.
Jeff Stoxen has been with us for a good number of years and has had a huge hand in improving our suspension calibration as the 4-stroke sleds have evolved. I supposed I shouldn’t have been surprised when I stumbled across his name in the Eagle River Derby Vintage race results. I knew he dabbled around in snow-cross but wasn’t aware he liked to go fast and turn left. Congrats on your Eagle River victory Jeff! Your brother would be proud.
I had another reminder on the weekend which is kinda related to the topic of vintage, suspensions and Jeff. My old buddy ‘Beach Boy Dan’ spotted a used Apex LTX at McGregors and decided to add it to his stable. The sled has some big miles on it but has been well maintained and runs pretty sweet. How I know this is we went for a good ride and I traded sleds, giving him a chance to try my new Apex with EPS and a Megafloat. What a huge difference between the machines. I had forgotten just how much the chassis has evolved. And I also feel a bit sorry for Dan because now he wants to buy a new Apex and the honeymoon isn’t even over. He’s acting like a man who just got married for convenience and was then introduced to his soul-mate during the reception… sucks to be you buddy! LOL
Posted @ 1:31 pm in Yamaha Insights
January 25, 2013
Just Checking In
Been an interesting week. Started out with a morning flight to Minneapolis on Tuesday where I hooked up with the rest of the team and met up with the editors of the main stream sno-mo mags, web-sites and freelance content providers… the industries ‘media brain-trust’ if you will. This little soiree happens every year to give the various publishers and producers a chance to prepare articles and information in advance of any public release of new models in order to meet their dealines.
To make it easier on everyone involved, the manufacturers all have agreed to do a similar briefing at the same location within the same time period each year. I haven’t attended one of these in quite while and in hindsight I wish we had more time. There were people in the room I really wanted to meet and others I hadn’t seen in so long it would have been great to get caught up.
I am not going to drop any hints of who was there and what we discussed and there is no point to pumping any of your friends who may be ‘connected’ as all in attendance signed non-disclosure agreements. It is all a great big secret, which as my old grand-pappy always said – ‘two can keep a secret if one is dead’…so I am watching the web more closely than ever now 😉
One thing occurred to me while reflecting on the day, as journalists and publicists the group at large should be quite pleased with our presentation. I know we gave them lots to write about and really, that’s what they came for. Mission accomplished!
Next on the agenda is another trip to the airport bright and early Monday morning en route to our Minocqua R&D center. Hoping it is not quite so dang cold next week and they get a bit more snow over the weekend. Not really ready for another whirl-wind trip but it looks like I better get used to it as things are not going to let up until March for me. At least there will be a days worth of riding involved on this go round.
So on that happy note… I hope you are planning a ride this weekend and the snow is falling. And for those of you in Yellowknife, maybe it will warm up above minus 40… SMH cheers cr
Posted @ 12:36 pm in Opinions and Insights
January 15, 2013
The price of admission
Now for something completely different. I have been immersed in a research project which really got me to thinking. Allow me to postulate.
IMHO there are basically only two kinds of snowmobiler’s. Those who need a snowmobile and those that want a snowmobile. Now you may argue that you need a snowmobile but by my definition, the ‘need’ owner has to gather fuel to heat his home, gather food for the family or needs to use his sled to make a living. It may be that a snowmobile is his only effective winter transportation next to a dog sled, you get the point. Now back to the ‘want a snowmobile’ person. That’s all the rest of us!
Given that we don’t need a sled, why do we want one? Well that’s easy enough, we want to be entertained and have fun (whatever that means to you). Now is where things get interesting. The survey asked what we get out of snowmobiling and applied a cluster analysis to plot out a whole lot of reasons into some kind of meaningful, axis based map.
Among the most common reasons people like snowmobiling, first and foremost is to simply be active out of doors in the winter. Some want to be ‘social’ and hang with family and friends, other enjoy the isolation found within their helmet and pursue long adventures, then there are those who are all about competing against others (and themselves). Many enjoy tinkering with the mechanical bits while others want to customize the look and bling their ride… Chance are we all have a certain level in common with each stereotype.
Digging deeper, it appears we are all seeking some form of gratification, knowing that what we do on our sleds will get the juices flowing. It’s exciting, challenging, sometimes scary but always fun. So when I tell you on average we all flip our machines every two to three years and often times the machine (especially these days) is in near perfect running condition – why? Because we are simply attracted to something new. It would be unfair to say we are bored after-all how can you be bored with a 1oo plus horsepower bolted to a 600lb cookie sheet.
Now comes a day in my life, trying to explain to someone who may not ride, just why we need more power, more suspension, more anything, when the real answer is…. we don’t…. WE WANT MORE and we are willing to pay for it, but it does not make sense. Not until you understand the psychological implications.
The industry as a whole has done a great job over the past 30 years of conditioning us to ‘want’ new machines by constantly raising the bar in technical increments. And we keep reaching for our wallets but is their a limit? What has been happening to all those used sleds? What about the next generation of used being traded off? What have we done to take care of those that really do need a snowmobile? How easy is it now for our kids to enter the game or people completely new to snowmobiling?
It is no secret we are an aging demographic who have been sledding for years and almost, without exception, got into it in the first place only because we grew up in a family that was focused outdoors and had snowmobiles or our neighbors / best friends did – but what about our kids?
I don’t expect this circle to be broken any time soon but I do wonder where we are going and in a sad way, I miss the old days when snowmobiling was so much simpler. It was just as much fun and a lot easier to share. Meanwhile I will continue to push for a 200 hp / 500+ lb machine and try to keep the cost under whats left of my mortgage! 😉
January 2, 2013
A belated best wishes to you for the New Year!
Today is my first day back at work since the 21st and man, could I use a swift kick-in-the-butt to shake off the ‘holidays’… on that subject, here is a little gift that I received from one of our guys. I have this perched in front of my monitor and it serves to keep me focused (well that is the intent), no further explanation required or forthcoming lol
I didn’t get much snowmobiling in over the holiday as the lakes aren’t tight and trails around the cabin aren’t yet open. On the bright side, I was able to get some trail time on the mountain bike (thank you Santa-me for the new, all carbon ride) and it is looking good for the season to go full green in the next few days. Reports out of Quebec are amazing with excellent snow conditions which spill into eastern Ontario.
Pete sent an encouraging email this morning. right now the whole country is below freezing and 99% snow covered. I can’t remember when was the last time the whole dang country
was experiencing winter. Not meaning to jinx the direction but this is very cool (pun intended).
The rest of this week will be spent getting ready for a meeting of the minds as we have several guests coming from YMC on Monday. We will be working on snowmobile planning all week and the idea is to get them out on the trails weekend after next.
We had a major internal announcement this morning which I thought I would share. YMCA, like YMUS, is essentially, a wholly owned subsidiary of Yamaha Motor Company. Since our companies inception in 1973, we have always had a Japanese president. Our corporate staff is comprised of both Japanese ATP’s (assistant to president) and Canadian VP’s, who lead the decision making protocol, responsible for the success of the company.
Well our current president, Mr. Hank Fujita has announced his return to Japan this month and his appointed successor is one of our current VP’s, Mr. Peter Hastings. Peter is the first Canadian president of Yamaha Motor Canada! This posting is both a sign of faith and trust from the mother ship and is another indication of new Yamaha corporate philosophy as we evolve to continue moving forward in the North American marketplace and around the globe. Congratulations Peter!
In closing, the OFSC circulated a media release from our provincial police which most certainly applies to all snowmobiler’s, regardless of where you live and ride. Again, I know you guys don’t require the lecture but here’s the blurb, as a wise man once said… you can teach a little common sense, but you can’t fix stupid! Be safe. OPP_OFSC BePrepared MR FINAL