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March 13, 2013

Drip drip drip

Mother Nature sure hit the switch here on Sunday. I went for a good rip on Saturday morning, realizing the weather forecast didn’t favor the trails surviving for long. Monday comes along, the lakes are slush, the trail is mush and I’m pining for a bike ride. What a difference a couple of days can make!

On the business side, I’m hearing some positive comments regarding the new sleds market impact. The demo rides in the US have been going along well. I spoke to one of the guys yesterday who mentioned the north eastern demo leg is now complete and the sleds are being put on display in various dealerships. The  most interesting point to me was over the combined mileage of several thousand (over a thousand per unit) we didn’t have any belt failures, chain-case issues or any other major failures. The cold starting was sometimes ‘finicky’ but we knew that going in.

I tried to answer and respond to a lot of the comments that have come in but there are a few that could use a dedicated post. I saw one comment several times both here and on the forums where it was taken from our dealer meeting that we have been working on the Vipers for a long time – not really. The reference was on the amount of time and work that went into the supply agreement with Arctic Cat. Each component (SRX 120, engine supply and SR Viper supply) required a separate contract. Each contract employed a team of lawyers and required several meetings and multiple reviews with revisions on top of revisions. The snowmobiles themselves fell victim to the process as certain touch points could not be executed until the contracts were finalized and in the end, it has been a scramble to bring the development forward as quickly as we have.

The questions of power and weight are out there and we really won’t know the accurate answers until production. The engine is identical to the Nytro long block but the EFI and electronics are controlled by an Arctic Cat developed ECU. The exhaust layout is also quite different being forward exiting. The Vipers use our YVXC clutches and 8DN 01 belt where the 7000 series Cats use Arctic’s pulleys and V-belt. There is definitely a different power character between the two siblings due to clutch calibration and certainly a big difference when compared to a Nytro. I can’t say much more to this as the sleds are still being tweaked and tested and will get nothing but better over the summer months.

Now I have to focus seriously over the next couple of weeks in preparation for a planned trip to our test center in northern Japan. The engineers have requested we bring our riding gear and the agenda is a wide open ball game at this point. Planes, trains and polite little automobiles… I’ll be hitting the P2A bike race jet-lagged

If you have a chance to squeeze in some more miles, go for it. It’ll all be over before you know it!

Cheers cr

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20 Responses to “Drip drip drip”

  1. Mr. T says:

    Chris,
    When lawyers are involved it always takes a long time, got that billable per hour mentality, even the ones on retainer. It’s good to hear that the engineers asked you to bring along the riding gear, there might be some hope yet for us Yamaha loyalists. But I’m not getting my hopes up anymore till I actually see something, we have been up and down to much over the last few years. Have a good trip, consume some sake and be safe!

    Thank you T, I was going to make a lawyer comment but decided I would take the high road 😉 cheers cr

  2. Iveyrider says:

    Thanks for the update Chris. The sleds will be in our area next weekend. I’m thinking it will be a long line! Good news is looks like winter will hang on for this and poss next weekend in N. Wisc.Snow and cold (enough) weather 3 weekends into March! No trip of shame this year to recover sleds from the North Woods.

    Cool, I spoke with the guys up in Minocqua yesterday and was told the conditions are the best they have been all winter after another good dump of snow… enjoy! cr

  3. Yammerhead says:

    Hi Chris. I hope you are pleasantly surprised by the agenda that awaits you in Japan. One thing I noticed is that on the Viper, there is a front radiator, while on the ZR7000, there isn’t. Seems odd when the sleds are essentially twins. Any idea why this is?

    Hmm that’s news to me,don’t see why the Cat wouldn’t have the rad.. I’ll have to confirm. cheers cr

  4. DGwelder says:

    Well yes indeed it has been very interesting what Yamaha has come up with. I’m a believer that the new SRViper will be what we have been waiting for. I own several Yamaha’s now and have had many previously including ATV’s. I’m a believer in the Yamaha product. I purchased my last Yamaha in 2011. Nitro XTX with a few upgrades. Track etc. I love the response, but ridding comfort for me really sucks. It is the most uncomfortable sled I own. At present I own a 1970 SL338,1972 SL292 which won first place in the local CSRA vintage snocross this year,1975 GS250, 1979 ET340 Deluxe my first new Yamaha, 1994 VK540, 1999 Venture 700 wife’s sled. 2011 Nitro XTX. 04 grizzly. My last sled previous to Nitro was 98 SX700 turn into mountain max I miss that sled. I had Phazers & Exciter II’s, 1979 SRX, 1981 SRX which I wished I still had. I’m the president of our local Antique and Vintage snowmobile club and we have a new 4,800 sq. museum with 65 sleds at this time and our goal is 100+ sleds. Yamaha is well represented in our musuem. Beside bombardier sleds Yamaha is the next largest collection of sleds. Now my pevious comment on ride comfort is up here we never get the chance to test ride a new sled. Had I had the chance to test a nitro I wouldn’t have bought it because of comfort for me. I probably would have gone for different model. Yes I’m over 55 but I still ride like I’m 20. Other than comfort the Nitro is a rush. How can we keep spending money on sleds that maybe look and ride well. I spent 2 years looking and reading on the Nitro before I purchased it. I also looked at Ski Doo Renegade 800R and changed my mind because I like Yamaha’s and have had good success with them in the past. I still take out my VK 540 for rides and love it. I was very sad to see Yamaha drop that model here in North America. Lets not kid ourselves the VK pro will never be the VK 540, way to heavy for the guy’s like me that go cross country in the bush. When your out there cutting firewood, trapping, ice fishing etc; you want a VK 540. I see europe still has them why not us. 1.5 paddle track with MT9 skis would make the VK 540 the most awesome sled. I’m working on installing MT9 skis on my old VK. I purchased them for the Nitro but found I lost allot of cornering ability so I installed 2012 Nitro skis as I had installed my 2011 Nitro skis on my wifes 99 Venture with Dually runners plus 1.5 paddle track. Now she’s happy. Happy wife Happy life they say. I’m sure hopping to get to ride the new SRViper because I want to get rid of my Nitro, and only because of comfort.

    Dan G.

    Thanks Dan, that was quite an enjoyable read. We are still lobbying to bring back the VK 540. It would require a new CDI and carburetors to meet EPA standards but we are having a hard time to convince the powers that be to invest in it. Too bad the Russians don’t have emissions regs or we’d have it back in a wink 😉 cheers cr

  5. Yellowknife says:

    -38 C here this morning. Plenty of riding left in the north. Wonder if I can put that XTX odo over 20,000 km’s before May…

    Good luck in Japan and enjoy the rides!

    Cheers,
    YK

  6. Pat the rat says:

    Hi chris,too bad the vipers dont come and see us up north,seems we never have late season test rides,trails are unbeleivable right now,a thick base,all freshly groomed,i’ll be riding this weekend and maybe next weekend by the looks of the long term forecast,its been a great winter,cant wait for next season already,with my new venture

  7. Tom says:

    Doing some riding at the Yamaha test center in Northern Japan? Hmm that sounds promising. 🙂

  8. Brady says:

    Chris, I got a chance to ride a friend of mines new 2012 AC M8 Proclimb and I have a couple of thoughts I think you would like to hear about. Just so you know I ride a 2009 Nytro MTX. I have not had any problems with handling or ride like others have, I have contributed that to my size in the past(I weigh 250lbs+). I have ridden many other sleds but this was the first Pro-Chassis I have been on. I was impressed with the difference in handling over my Nytro, more so than anything else I have been on! I also remembered why I have stayed with the 4 Stroke. With my large self on the AC I found that it had NO bottom end and had a hard time carring me through the deep stuff even though it was an 800. I had to keep it pinned the whole time just to keep it going. I have to admit that the upper end was fast as heck! But without the lower end I burned up a belt in no time at all. But the Handling was Great! So when I got home I started tinkering with the suspension on the Nytro, trying to make it better. And It worked!!! I did not touch the front end at all! I did some changes to the rear suspension, all just adjustments, some major, and it handles 200% better than it did before! Even my friend with the AC noticed a change and was impressed! I think I’ll keep the Nytro for another year! Thanks for your blog and for your support of us “customers”! I think that you will have one AWESOME sled if it handles like the Proclimb and has the power plant and clutching of the Nytro! Have fun in Japan! Brady

  9. Ike says:

    Hi!

    -34c here this morning and plenty of snow still. Season will last until may.

    About that Vk.. We still get it here too. It needs a bigger track and some new ergos, but it stll has a loyal following here. Now the things have changed a lot after BRP´s Lynx brand released 800R etec widetrack workhorse (The commander). The 4-stroke version is too big and heavy for the woods / brush. Any news when possibly Yamaha will upgarde / modern the VK´s?

  10. snoguzzler says:

    It’s not just the far north that is getting an extended riding season. I was up south of Bancroft this weekend. Lots of snow. We could be riding for 2-3 more weeks easy. Plus I just heard we are getting 10-20cm of snow tonight!!! I haven’t rode at Easter in a long time. in fact the last time I remember was in 97 on my new SX700!

    Yep,quite surprising, Winnipeg and the mid-west are also getting creamed… guess I shouldn’t have swapped out my winter wheels on the truck, all my fault.. sorry 😉 cr

  11. Hans says:

    Since the release of the Viper all of us Yamaha fans have been getting a lot of interesting reading. This gets me to thinking that all Yamaha really needed to do was swap the engines for Arctics front end and mount that onto the Nytro. In my mind this combination (in theory) should have a lower center of gravity than the Viper as the engine is allready mounted so much lower. Mount the radiator up front, redesign the covers and fuel tank to also lower the roll center. This would address all the handling issues with the Nytro and most likely temper the stong reaction of the Yamaha Loyalists.

    Ahhh, if only it was that easy! Fundamentally you are correct. From a design and manufacture POV, this would not have made us any profit in fact it would most likely cause a loss. cheers cr

  12. Hans says:

    I was just breaking down the two sleds into their simpelest components from what I can see in the photographs. eg. both sleds have a fabricated steel tube front suspension. From what I know about the Nytro and my Phazer is that the front suspension comes completely off of the die cast frame leaving the engine mounted to the rest of the sled. That led me to believe that one could be mounted to the other. From past expieriences the only real testing would be to determine at which angle the front suspension would have to attached at as this has an effect on handling. Once the Arctic Front suspension was attached to the Nytro rear then the radiator could be relocated to front as per Arctic Cat. Then I would design a new fuel tank from aluminum that held at least 10 gallons of fuel and let the testing begin. Once all the tweaks were done (and there would be many) then new panels seat and styling could be done. Then it would be time for marketing to step in and sell the new sled.

  13. Mike G says:

    Yamaha dropped the ball again! WIth all of the R&D that should be available within Yamaha Motor Corp. and all of the aftermarket mods available for the Nytro, why did Yamaha have to go cap in hand to Arctic Cat!

    Currently have 9 yamaha sleds in the shed + a pair of Grizzly’s, an Exciter 270 jetboat and a pair of SW series 150 2 stroke outboards but am reluctant to buy another Yamaha sled in the fall.

    The 08 Nytros are for sale and will likely not be replaced by Vipers but rather something lighter and better handling. We love the Nytro’s motor & clutching and sit / stand transition ergos but everything else on the sled sucks! Latest run the ball joints self destructed and destroyed the spindles on one sled after 5600 km – so much for fit & finish / durability & reliability! Come on Yamaha, enough of the BS … either get in the game or get out! Design & build a modern, competitive sled that works off trail or just build motors!

    Waaaaayyyy too much hype over the Nytro motor in the Ac chassis.If thats all YMC can come up with after 2 years R&D then its time to pack it in!

  14. Mark says:

    Hey CR
    Have been following the launch of the new viper on the net and reading all the reviews. Went to the show here Winnipeg and saw all the new sleds. Viper will be a nice sled, just not for me yet I Will wait for the new generation Apex or whatever it will be called.

    My only gripe is why does Yamaha Canada continue to give us in the west no demo’s to ride? I don’t get it. This province bleeds white and Yamaha dealers are starting to get the sales numbers out on the snow more each year. What gives?

    Thanks

  15. MikeyJ says:

    Hi Chris,

    OK, I listened to people and went and saw the Viper before pulling the trigger on a early deposit program. I will say again, I really like the look of the Viper, I do believe it will be the ‘hottest’ sled next year… but I don’t believe it to be the sled for me. Quality construction is still paramount for me and an important variable in durability and resale, and the Viper just doesn’t meet my standard, especially when it sits next to an Apex or Vector, simple as that. I know people have said that what you see now will not neccessarily be what you get in the Fall, it will get better, but that’s asking alot of us customers who are committing a large sum of money right now.

    Don’t worry, I still put down a deposit on 2014 Yamaha, just not on a Viper… I chose a Apex X-TX. It is at a whole different level when it comes to build quality when compared to an AC or the Viper. I would have bought a Vector, but ego would not allow me to get the same sled as my wife! Spent alot of time in the saddle of her 2013 Vector this past winter and was very impressed, it is extremely good as an all-day trail rider with the power-steering and tuner ski, I can only hope that the Apex feels as good next year.

    Hey Mickey, the only place we have have any differences in opinion at all is in our choice of track and skid… I’m going for the SE 128 mono / Mega Float :)) cheers cr

  16. Todd S says:

    Hi Chris,

    After seeing the 2014 Yamaha lineup in person, I’m still partial to the Apex for many reasons that have already been discussed. To me, paint on the hood and cowling areas makes such a difference compare to molded colored plastic just to mention one.

    Now that Yamaha has had some time to gather 2014 spring sales figures, just wondering how well the new Vipers are selling, and are those figures meeting, exceeding, or falling short of pre-release estimates? I know that a hockey game is not over after the first period, but I also know the bean counters are extremely interested in early results. Thanks for the blog Chris!

    Todd

    Hey Todd, nobody ever said the Viper would replace the Apex! For what its worth I’m still a 4-hole guy myself. That said, our Early Deposit Program is complete and quite successful. Both dealer booking and customers deposits have exceeded our expectations. There is no doubt, having a real winter this year has helped but the SR Viper clearly has grown some legs! Cheers cr

  17. zak says:

    Chris,
    I find it very interesting that you are sticking with the 4hole. Me too! There is NOTHING like it on the snow!! I keep waiting and waiting for that apex motor to be in a lighter chassis…the day that happens I will be the first in line for a new sled! maybe next year! (again………) have fun in japan!!! And tell ’em to put the apex motor in a lighter chassis!!!!! 🙂

    thanks for the great blog!

  18. scott says:

    Hi Chris, any new articles coming out? I’m kind of sorry to write in and say that as much as I thought I’d be first in line for the new Nytro replacement, I didn’t snow check a Viper for ’14. Instead I snow checked a new base model Indy 600 for well under $8000 and it came with a 4 year warranty. For that price I”ll buy and install a set of Walker Evans reservoir shocks, reinforce the tunnel and run the sled hard.

    The new Viper looked promising and I liked that Yamaha used their clutches as the stock driven clutches on both of my buddy’s Cat Pro-climb sleds are unreliable from what I have seen. But, I was left with the impression the Viper was kind of thrown together at the last minute. I had reservations about the u-turn exhaust and how much higher the engine was mounted in the chassis compared to the Nytro. One of my friends thinks Yamaha would have been better off selling a blue El Tigre 2-stroke. I’m sure that doesn’t fit into the Yamaha master plan but I kind of hate to admit it, but the new injected 2-strokes are really good and I feel a bit foolish for bad mouthing them since ’05 when I switched to a Yamaha 4-stroke.

    Bottom line, the Indy is a heck of a value for under $8,000 and it will run right with the Viper, handles and rides really well and is lighter. The main reason I went this route is value for my money. The new Viper was listed for over $12,000. I didn’t even call a dealer about one because I knew they couldn’t even get close to an Indy. The other thing that concerned me is Yamaha didn’t race the Viper. I don’t understand why Yamaha spent all that money and advertising on promoting the Nytro the past two seasons in XC racing and then goes to the Viper?

    The good thing is I still like Yamaha 4-wheelers and bikes but for sleds…. well, I’ll just be sitting on the side lines to watch and see what Yamaha does. Right now I have no desire to switch back. I’m really happy with the way the consumer 600 2-stroke motor runs and performs in my ’13 600 RMK Polaris. The chassis, handling and light weight is simply mind blowing coming off a Yamaha. Whatever you guys are working on will have to be revolutionary to get me to come back. I do like a 4-stroke motor but right now the weight penalty is too much to accept. The new 2-strokes don’t foul plugs, don’t load up and bog, don’t smoke like the old ones, they idle just like a 4-stroke, and so far have been perfectly reliable. I hope I don’t come across as being critical, I just wanted to pass along some feedback as a previous customer. I enjoy reading your blog and look forward to your next entry!
    Cheers,
    Scott

  19. Mr. T says:

    Chris,
    I will have to agree with Scott’s comments, even though I hate too being a Yamaha loyalist. You just can’t ignore the value you are getting with the Indy! Polaris has done a good job with taking proven parts off the shelf and making a very good sled with a reasonable price point. It’s the best attempt by any of the companies to produce a sled that will be competitive in the most popular class without breaking the bank. It will also be the best price option for future snowmobilers and the existing ones to get into and stay in the sport preserving the future of it!

  20. snoguzzler says:

    Hey Chris we miss you…. Come back please!
    I picked up a 2000 VStar 1100 2 weeks ago. Man I like this bike alot. You guys sure build good toys!!


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