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September 4, 2013

Bad Vibes?

My trip to our Wisconsin R&D center went quite well. I promised I would post about some new technology being tested and then followed the comments over on TY, speculating what it might be. Folks looked to motorcycle, ATV and even Waverunner technologies having potential for transfer to snowmobile. (I especially liked the idea of composite Nano-technology applied to the frame). But interestingly, no one considered automotive technology. This caused me to reflect a bit on some of the outstanding engineering Yamaha has developed for the automotive industry over the years, engines, suspensions, electronics, robotics the list is quite lengthy. Funny thing is, the companies that have incorporated Yamaha technology into their vehicles seldom make mention of it with any connection to Yamaha, but I digress.

What I rode last spring has its roots in automobile and has been around for over a decade. No, it is not a ‘Game Changer’ (had to get that out of the way quickly) or quantum leap to leave your head spinning. Well maybe a little bit once you try to understand how it works ūüėČ

I don’t really know where to start so I figure I’ll lay out the concept for you to speculate and digest, then add some additional details in a following post or two. Here it goes…

It is commonly known that by increasing the stiffness or rigidity of a chassis, the handling can be improved much of which is due to the frame not acting as a ‘spring’, allowing the suspension to function as intended without compensating for chassis flex. However regardless of how stiff the frame becomes, there are still high frequency vibrations and energy resonating throughout the vehicle that have a significant effect on the handling, comfort and overall ‘feel’. Auto engineers have¬†focused¬†significant effort on ‘chassis damping’ to improve ride character, something not akin to snowmobile.

Yamaha developed and quietly marketed a very simple yet¬†sophisticated¬†damper system, consisting of a pair of highly specialized ‘shock absorbers’ (for lack of a better term), that when mounted¬†laterally¬†across the frame, one up front and one rear, negate most of the elements buzzing through-out the vehicle.

The ‘Performance Damper’, as it is called in the auto world is utilized on thousands of vehicles and most recently, a couple of snowmobiles. It is about now, I figure, you are sitting back, arms crossed and frowning at your computer screen. Cool. I did the same thing, then I rode the sled. Then I started researching with my buddy Google…

There is quite a bit to get your head around as I find much of the concept and benefits of chassis damping is near intangible, very hard to define and quantify. I expect I’ll start a bit of conversation here today and I plan to participate once I see some thought provoking comments.

No – I have not tossed out everything I have learned on the subject, not by a long shot, but there it is in a nutshell. We are testing the same damper system on our snowmobiles that has become widely accepted and applied on the auto side. Initial results are quite positive but without riding it yourself it is ¬†very easy to dismiss. As Donald (Odd-Ball) Sutherland said in the original MASH: ‘Hey – cut with the negative waves’ cheers cr


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Posted @ 11:44 am in Yamaha Insights   

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9 Responses to “Bad Vibes?”

  1. Mr. T says:

    If you can say, what chassis did you ride with them installed on? Will it be as much as a difference maker as the power steering was? Do they plan on using 2 of them like on the automobiles? If so where are they placing them on the chassis? Thanks for your response!

    Hey Mr. T, I’ll cover these questions for you tomorrow (I have a couple of pictures if the guys are interested…)cheers cr

  2. Mark Lawson says:

    Chris, this would be a great discussion with the TY guys. We will all be at the Yamaha booth at Haydays this Saturday at 2pm. Please come out and let us all meet you in person!

    This blog, and the discussions contained are very much appreciated on TY. It has already raise many eyebrows.

    Keep the info coming, our minds are churning!

    Thanks Mark, afraid I am not going to make it to HayDays this year but the plan is to have a sled there with the PD mounted to it. We also have a little hands on deal that you smack with a hammer to sense the vibration isolation. cheers cr

  3. snoguzzler says:

    I’m very interested and yes you are right i’m frowning and shaking my head. Very interested in knowing more and understanding better how it works. Thanks for the early notice!

  4. Niklas says:

    Isnt it kellys heroes, voff, voff (my other dog imitation)

    That would be Sargent Schultz.. ‘I zz nothing ‘ ūüėČ cheers cr

  5. Yammerhead says:

    Nice out of the box thinking on Yamaha’s part! I can definitely see this technology being complementary to some of the market segments. Differentiation is a good thing!

  6. Carl says:

    I just took possession of a 2009 Apex LTX GT. I only have my 2000 SRX700 to compare to buthonestly my expectation for newer tech and higher end feel was pretty high. I was a bit let down to hear/feel as much vibration just revving the engine in my garage. Even the shroud was rattling sometimes when it hit the right frequencies.

    I have no doubt this tech will be well accepted to the snowmobile world. Could it be retrofitted easily into older Apex?

  7. Hans says:

    Very interesting post. On the subject of viberations, does the new cross plane 3 cylinder bike engine run smooth enough that there is no need for a balencer shaft? As for snowmobiles I can see a real need for vibration dampening on the PZ line of sleds.

  8. Steve. Roberts says:

    Interesting ,NVH noise vibration and harshness is a complete section for automotive oem service depts.
    I would imagine if durability is to be expected from many lightweight components resonance and destructive vibrations need dampening or counterbalancing .
    It’s great to have that caliber of manufacturing expertise and commitment in Yamaha products.
    Kudos to you and the corporate leaders for propagating this enlighteming info to end users.
    Refinements of this levell speaks volumes .

    Steve Roberts

  9. Bob Hogg says:

    Well…..watching Lorenzo’s MotoGP last week…..Yamaha is certainly developing ideas to get that resonant frequency out of his racer.

    We are looking at similar things ..seat of the pants testing….for our sno-x race team when we enter pro open in 2015. I played with chassis damping years ago..for other reasons. Engine revs.

    I’m shaking‚Ķ..hurry up and design it so I can see‚Ķ.

    Ya..pass out thing you did‚Ķ.I’m sure you are in as good of shape as you have ever been…I bet it was your new metabolism kicking in. Hope you peruse it to fix.

    I’m finding with age body design is changing to. We ski hard 3 times a week and I found myself not being able to breathe at the end of a hard run. After several tests all the doc did was change my BP pills and that fixed it..what worked once doesn’t work in old age?

    Have fun.

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