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January 7, 2014

Happy New Year Folks!

First off, I gotta say in my over 60 years of stomping around the north I have never, ever, heard of an Polar Vortex so you can imagine my surprise when the weatherman hit me with that one. Must be climate change or global warming creating this freak of nature – with freezing temperatures and snowfall accumulating daily – You know though, in the old days, before this age of sensational media, we used to refer to this phenomena differently. We called it winter. 1524843_10152123471275070_515414156_n

I have been hanging out at my cottage since returning from our R&D center just before Christmas. We’ve had tons of snow (thanks to that nasty Vortex I presume) but the lakes weren’t safe and the groomers weren’t grooming so I left the Apex back and turned attention to my latest acquisition – a cherry little Enticer 300. Now the ET 300 is not the best powder sled, so I reserved much of the trail breaking duties for the more capable Bravo Transporter. What a hoot I had on both. Fur helmet, goggles, knee on the seat, cold hands and no fear of ripping the front suspension out of a multi-thousand dollar chassis. I had forgotten just how much fun could be had, going anywhere white, with 30hp at the thumb.

That all changed last weekend when I dragged the Apex out. Vintage sled 1 (3)

The dance card is rapidly filling up and I really don’t know where or what all I will be doing in the next few weeks. I need to visit Arctic Cats facility in Thief River to confirm a few things and there is a media ‘sneek peek’ planned this month for the 2015 lineup. Also Waconia will feature pure Yamaha and Yamaha powered vintage sleds this year during the Jan 25/26 ‘ride in’ which would be great to attend. Check out this cool, replica Bender Terminator built by Bill Code of Carleton Place Marine. I have to travel end of the month to West Yellowstone for a conference then out to BC for meetings in Valemount and Revelstoke (with some time on the slopes I hope). On top of that I will need to attend at least two testing / planning meetings in the US and Japan.

I have been checking various sources for information and feedback on the current models reputation and performance Generally I would say we are looking pretty darn good so far. This winter, fingers crossed, is going to see a lot of quality miles put on our snowmobiles. That said, we know there are a few gremlins showing up in some units and our guys are hard at work to get things resolved quickly as we move forward. The agreement we have with Arctic Cat is being put to the test as we learn more about each other. How we function within the market, how we react and communicate and most importantly, how we  adjust to each others internal systems and procedures relative to parts and service.

Those of you that are tired of me writing about performance dampers need to click the back button now or open a new tab and be gone ’cause I am going to give a quick update on what I learned just before Christmas.

We had a test using nine sleds. 3 Apex, one without PD 2 with (XTX and shortie), 3 Vectors, one w/o PD 2 with (LTX and shortie) and 3 Ventures, one w/o PD and 2 with (TF and GT). We had nine evaluators with varying experience.

We rode each group of machines on the same course swapping every lap and rotating groups as we finished. We pushed the Apex hard at higher speeds, brought it down a couple of notches for the Vector and shifted to cruise on the Venture. Jon and I went back to the Vectors at the end of the test and rode them closer to the Apex speed, just because… and I am glad we did.

I won’t go into all the fine points but concluded: the harder you push your limits the more you will feel the benefit of the PD. The interesting thing here is we had some very ‘new’ riders whose limits or ‘comfort zones’ were quite different than mine. When I rode at their speed I didn’t feel much if any advantage, but they did. They rode all the snowmobiles without trying to ‘position’ them to a market segment, they just simply went for a ride.

I did rate the PD equipped Apex as a 4.5 out of 5 (where the baseline version is a 3) in rough corners. I am confident that anyone with basic sledding skills would get the same feeling. Probably a 10 to 15% improvement in handling at the upper range of your comfort level. It would cost a lot of time and money to get that kind of improvement by playing around with shocks, geometry and frames. I am thinking racing levels here. What I learned was, you really need to go back and forth a couple of times from a PD to stock sled to ‘get it’ and ‘get it’ you will. Subtle stuff but its the real deal.

Enjoy the Vortex! cheers cr

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15 Responses to “Happy New Year Folks!”

  1. Iveyrider says:

    Old Man Vortex, you gotta love him! Thanks for the update.

  2. Hans says:

    Happy New Year to everyone. Just a comment or observation. You made mention of old style riding on the Bravo and Bob C. made coment in the previous post on how his guests enjoyed the stinky 2 stroke. I own a 83 Bravo, 88 XLV, 91 Phazer, 05 Vector, 06 Apex and 07 FX Phazer. The light weight easy to throw around 2 strokes are a lot of fun and novice riders will always go to them first for short run playing in snow. That is (I believe) is because they are lower powered and less intimmitating. Once these same people get more accustomed to sleds or go on longer rides (50 + miles trips) they always run to the newer, cleaner better riding sleds. But there is no denying that I crave a new light weight clean running trail sled. Yamaha Please make a light weight sled.

  3. Stephen Burdick says:

    Chris,

    When will you be in Revelstoke? Around Yama-Fest time?

    -Steve Burdick

    Looking like mid-February, but not sure if I can make it. Yamafest is another deal entirely. cheers cr

  4. Ken Oberg says:

    Hi Chris,
    Thanks for updating us on Y things. Do you have any feedback on latest Snocross experiment? I hate to say it, but seems like everytime they try to comeback in, they are farther behind everyone else.This was a little surprising this year, with the new Cat layout being used. Anyway, we are cold now here in NE, but have had another weird Winter so far…. We got snow though (for the time being). Going out for a little ride into Franconia Notch in a bit on the beloved Vector Ltx. Should be nice!
    Take care! Ken O.

    My understanding, the early snowcross races were attended by the cross-country teams to get some shake out time on the new sleds. They are not trying to compete in against the dedicated factory snowcross teams. Our buddies at Cat are doing pretty good with the Pro X based chassis!! cheers cr

  5. DNR says:

    Thank you for the update, cr. Think I’ll warm up the ’77 ET250. Always the first one to start right out of the ‘bull pen.’ Stale conditions in this Okanagan mountains make ‘Vortex’ interesting. The amount of road riding to be done here this winter, makes the PD attractive in some ways. Cheers!

  6. Niklas says:

    So the pd works as bolt-on current chassies wich are designed towork without, how about building a new chassie with the pd in mind, w
    ould it be any different than current?

    My guess is pretty much any new chassis we develop will have the PD as an option. It appears it will have a positive effect as long as there remains any flex or chassis vibration (movement) in the frame

  7. Kevin K says:

    I have been a Yamaha fan since my sons dirt bike days and have a Vector that I would like to hand down and get an Apex or as I hear some scuttle butt regarding either the 4 cyl apex motor in an expanded JV chassis with AC, or a more powerful turbo enhanced motor on a new model again on the JV platform. I am not asking for any insights if you cannot provide them, but do you know the dates when the 2015’s will be released so we can see what is coming????
    Thanks!

    Hey Kevin, not sure what a JV chassis is, unless it is a reference to an engineer I know. Anyway the 2015 line will be announced on line Tue Feb 11. Cheers cr

  8. Kevin K says:

    Thanks for the quick response. I will circle the Feb 11 date on my calendar and light a few candles hoping for the best!!!

  9. Hal says:

    Chris,

    The pd sounds interesting and effective. There hasn’t been any talk about its use on the Nytro. As a Nytro owner I am obviously interested in why it seems to be left out of the testing.

    Thanks

    Hal

  10. Jordan says:

    Chris,

    As a fellow Apex owner you should understand my high excitement for the next 5 years to see when a new hypersled/Apex replacement/redesign is in the works. Can you provide any more insight on this and will 2015 be my year? Or should I be looking forward? Thanks.

  11. snoguzzler says:

    Seeing the picture of the older Phazer above reminded me that I wanted to bring up an idea. We did some work on a ’91 Phazer for my son – new track, shocks and rebuild. It is a super fun and unbelievably comfortable sled. i read in all the mags that we need a cheap beginers sled to get newbies into the sport. Why not resurect this classic sled. I would think since you allready have the research done that the costs should be in line? Can you imagine picking up a new Phazer for less then $5000? You must have enough credits witht the emission people that you could sell the 2 stroke for a few years as well.

    I wish we could… the tooling would be long destroyed, the engineers who designed it long retired and the cost to resurrect would be as much as starting with a clean sheet of paper. Nice thought though. My next project sled is going to be based on a PZ pogo stick! cheers cr

  12. Bob Hogg says:

    We call this winter..I laughed..ya..this is just a normal snowfall from our younger days here in Muskoka..

    Nice info on the PD…makes good sense..it has to work..

  13. Rob says:

    Hi Chris,
    First off great blog I really think what you doing is an industry first by an executive in your position. Kudos.
    On the topic of Enticers and Phazers I had to break my silence and say something. My first sled was a 79 ET300 “special twin” and my second was a 92 PZ480. The Enticer is gone but after 22 years, 10,400 miles the Phazer has watched other sleds come and go yet remains in my garage. Why? Yamaha quality and reliability of course but I credit the long travel M-10 suspension and RPC pipe. Mile after mile this little sled has remained true to the most basic elements of the sport: the light weight feel of an enticer with modern long travel and a snappy engine. They say a good design is timeless and I feel this custom PZ is onto something. I hope Yamaha does something similar but to a slightly larger scale soon. I would buy that. You would not believe how many people have asked my to ride it over the years. I’ve tried lots of new sleds and the fact that I can pick up the front end and toss it over a couple feet when Im stuck and still drive it 70mph through anything is why I just cant sell it. Call it what you want but every fall that unassuming Phazer face brings a smile to mine.
    If you would like to see some pics shoot me an email address! Thanks for the blog and being the voice of North American snowmobilers in Japan.
    Best regards, Rob Piluso.

    Amen brother!!!!! Thanks for sharing that with us Rob, very well stated. I’ll pass along for some of our overseas team to read. cheers cr

  14. Mr. T says:

    Rob,
    I said this on here before, bring back the Phaser II!! Use the pogo sticks with some modern day spring and shock technology which I’m sure we have in our Motor cycle R&D. Then use a 50 to 60 hp four stroke, air cooled, we have on the shelf,(Yamaha, engine company first)there has to be one in a scooter or something that is being used. With the present Phaser’s rear skid. Keep it at around 7 to 8 grand and we secure the future of Yamaha snowmobiles and the sport as a whole for that matter. I also bet that the sled wouldn’t weigh over 480lb dry and would get 30mpg! I know I’m ranting again, Sorry!

  15. Yellowknife says:

    Question posed on TY for my ongoing review of the Outlast Clothing Chris: Who is making the clothing for Yamaha this year that has the Outlast Technology in it?

    Cheers,

    YK

    Good question! We commissioned a supplier to build our garments for us directly (no middleman). They are the same company who used to make the FXR product before they moved to a new supplier in China. Their quality is quite good but they rely upon us heavily for input on the design ideas (patterns colors etc.) I would like to see us hire a full time designer who specializes in outdoor lifestyle to take full advantage of their ability… cheers cr


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