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Archive for February, 2013

February 28, 2013

Its a Tough Job But…

It has been only a week since we released the new Viper but it feels like a lot longer… We left Minneapolis last Thursday and drove up to Minocqua where we had a ‘joint test’ to ride the SRV’s and evaluate them as a group. We had a good morning as all the sleds were working pretty well and – long story short – we have signed off on the current spec. I have to say my favorite model was the SR Viper LTX SE in the conditions we rode, but they all had their strengths. We have a few minor bugs to deal with but overall I am really pleased with the progress.

Made it home for the weekend and some quality family time, spent Monday in the office then hit the road on Tuesday for Quebec. I have been in St. Donat for a couple of days now. There are ten of us here from Yamaha, five from the US and five from Canada. We had a really productive meeting yesterday as a big storm front descended on us dropping over a foot of fresh snow into the evening. The best part of this was knowing that we were going to ride today and I had two new Viper XTX’s on my trailer and a Nytro XTX in the truck!

Jay brought a Venture along with Blaichers Apex XTX and Francois showed up this morning with another Apex XTX, a Venture, Vector, Nytro XTX and Phazer MTX. I rolled out of my room around 7:ooam to find the Nytro covered in snow… game on!

We hit the trails this morning and rode up through Tremblant provincial park to a remote relais (watering hole french style) near St Michelle de Saints. I had the difficult assignment of being the trail boss, leading the group out onto the pristine park trail system on a groomed base, over summer highways with over a foot of fresh powder on top – and not a track on them (accept for a coyote and a couple of bunnies) – bummer!

I selected the Vector to ride up front and stopped every once in a while to let the guys switch up and rotate through the rest of the sleds. At one point, Pete swapped me the Vector for a Viper and I had a really good pull on it before letting it back into the mix. I am still smiling…

We made it back to base where we had left some bevy’s strategically buried in a snow bank for an excellent finish to an awesome day. The sleds are loaded – unscathed – and we will bid Quebec goodbye in the morning. I am now feeling really good about our new sleds and how everything has come together this past week. That said, I am quite looking forward to getting up to my cottage  and decompressing for a few days. Its been a helluva ride, the last couple of weeks. Thanks to all of you who took the time to give me some comments and feedback, I have appreciated each and every one, good and bad. you guys are awesome!!!

cheers cr

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Posted @ 6:32 pm in Yamaha Insights   

February 20, 2013

‘Catz Out’a the Bag’

Well folks, this has to be one of the most speculated new product launches in our history. I met Tom G aka ‘Mr Sled’ last night, the owner of the Totallyamaha forums web-site who told me his server almost blew a gasket trying to handle all the people itching to post on the new stuff. I have followed the 2014 thread up to around the 130th page with a lot of mixed emotions, often reflecting on what I would write here today…

I remember what I first thought and how I felt when it was proposed that we enter into an agreement with our competition and I believe I have a very good understanding of what some of you are mulling over. I think it is really important to clarify what the fundamental arrangement is about.

This is not a merger, there have been no shares bought or sold and the management, policies and organizations of each company still stand alone. Yamaha and Arctic Cat have entered into a very specific ‘supply agreement’ contract. That’s it, no more, no less.

We (Yamaha) have a long term vision that embodies our product plan which includes new engines and models designed and manufactured at our factory in Japan. Todays announcement has not seen any of our model lines discontinued. We haven’t taken anything away, instead we have dropped 6 new models into the mix and you now have more choices than ever.

The SR Viper delivers our FX Nytro engine in a unique version of Cats newest chassis which is arguably the most advanced on the market today. Yes it is assembled in their Thief River Falls facility under rapidly evolving QA protocol that meets Yamaha global standards. To best understand the foundation for this supply agreement you have to look beyond the hardware to the actual business model. I will explain more about this in the coming weeks but for now I can summarize it by saying this is a business (and customer) win-win.

We both have our strengths and are eager to learn from each other. I would like to expand on what some of the opportunities I see for the future are, but that would only be speculation on my part. And you guys clearly don’t need my help to speculate ;). I am going to cut my post short and let you digest.

For now; know that we are committed to evolving and building a strong lineup of Yamaha original snowmobiles with new products coming every year going forward.

We are moving more manpower and resources into North America as we position ourselves to regain our fair share of the market. We have established a new NA snowmobile team combining our top guys in Canada and the US into a cohesive business unit. We have a new ‘friend’ in our quest but it is unknown how this will ultimately unfold. Today we can offer you the industries best engine in a damn fine chassis that handles and feels different than anything else in our stable. Is it better than an Apex, Vector or Nytro? Only you can answer that… It is a very cool sled with some excellent features and you have more choice. It’s all good! Cheers cr

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Posted @ 9:30 am in Yamaha Insights   

February 8, 2013

Year of the Snake

I’m not overly superstitious – don’t think twice about walking under a ladder or stepping on a crack but I must admit an idle fascination with the Chinese Zodiac. There’s something about the connection to the animal kingdom and the various similarities the ancient predictions draw from. Interestingly enough, February 10 marks the start of 2013 – the Year of the Snake.

The ancients say things can shift in a big way under the sign of the serpent and those born under the sign should move with caution and be prepared for change. The energy surrounding the snake can be quite positive or negative and overall, signifies steady progress when one applies discipline.  Chinese wisdom says: a snake in the house is a good omen as your family won’t starve.

I was born in the year of the dragon and am more or less compatible with the snake as the Chinese believe the snake fell from the sky, an off-shoot of the dragon, which I will take as a positive spin for my year 2013. I find myself looking to resources like the Zodiac and Totallyamaha to help ground the energy surrounding the new model launch that happens every year around this time. After-all they are both filled with Zen knowledge and the predictions of the ancients 😉

The TY thread on 2014 MY Yamaha has grown to over 55 pages and what a fantastic read for someone who has the complete inside POV. For the record Yamaha did not buy any shares in any of our competitors companies outside of KYB shock absorbers, which is kind of ironic when you consider Skidoo now buys their shocks from Yamaha.

Speaking of our pals in Valcourt, I had a weird one last weekend. I was heading down the lake on my kids Phazer when a fella on a red machine veered towards me waving his arms like crazy. As we came together he hops off and starts asking me directions to a local watering hole which as I tried to explain to him, wasn’t easy to find without knowing the lakes and portages. I happened to glance past him at his sled while he was riddling me with questions and had to interrupt – ‘er, uh, hey pal, your sled is on fire!’

I could see some healthy flames licking the engine through the shroud vents and told him to start packing snow into it while I tugged the string to move my machine. When I ran back to him he was acting stunned and kicking snow at it. I threw down and paddled as much snow into the hood as I could while he stood by and watched. More sleds started to arrive and when I realized they were all together and they started to pitch in, I bailed but not without a cruel dig. I asked him if the steaming sled had an E-tec engine (I had just read the formal recall bulletin on the potential fire hazard for all e-tecs). He informed it was not but the expression on the other three guys faces were priceless – they were all on e-tecs!

It is snowing like crazy here and I made the decision to head north to my cabin (and Apex) in lieu of south to the office and the insane gridlock that is surly happening while I write this. Don’t get me going on min-vans and all-season radials… There is a good foot of fresh snow waiting for me and I have the grand idea of strapping on the snowshoes and blazing a new portage trail to circumvent a temporary bridge that is the only way for us to connect to the trail system without a long detour around the river. Something fun about a toque, a chainsaw, a Bravo and a mission with a warm fire and pints waiting at days end.

Cell phone on stun, Stevie Ray Vaughn shredding in the truck, I’m going off-line for a couple of days, hope you get out to enjoy some fresh pow this weekend as well!

cheers cr



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Posted @ 8:53 am in Yamaha Insights