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February 11, 2014

Time to Pin It


I’m writing this post from Valemount BC, smack dab in the middle of the mountains between Edmonton  and Prince George. This morning we lifted the embargo on the new sleds and I just finished reading the thread on Totallyamaha along with a bunch of magazine reviews. As usual the comments are all over the map, from good to bad to worse. Thought I would take a minute to offer my take on the 2015’s.

Mountain sleds – yes – If there was one area we have been suffering, it is in the mountains and deep powder back-country riding areas. We watched our market share decrease in the mountains going back before the recession and it was with trepidation that we launched the Viper last year without an M-TX version for our dealers. Mountain models make up over 30% of  total sales and we were not in the game. The Nytro mountain made for a good platform to modify and in the hands of a good rider, performed some magic but for the average guy who wasn’t looking for a 300 hp assault weapon – there were better choices.

When we looked at the Viper platform for mountain it was pretty clear that we imageneeded to do more than simply add a long track and narrow it up. The Pro Climb frame brought some good features into the mix with  dedicated mountain tunnel and steering layouts but is was still designed around a 2 stroke engine. We took the extra year in development for chassis modifications focused on the targets of agility, balance and manoeuvrability akin to the lighter competition.



Our engineers collaborated with the mountain specialists at Arctic Cat and Fox to figure out the best ways to manage the additional weight of the 4-stroke in terms of balance and handling. We also brought in some of the best riding talent on snow to help in the evaluation and testing, Guys like Randy, Chris Brown, Chad and TJ have had significant input on the sleds. The cherry on top was the addition of boost that was achieved working closely with MPI, our official supplier.

We now have a line up of mountain machines that have narrowed the gap dramatically to the 2-stroke world both in terms of weight and handling, add to that the availability of consistent high horsepower at altitude and we are back in the game, big time. Lots of stuff we didn’t talk about like special ECU program and clutch calibration for response; analysis and consequent weight reduction in many small areas like fasteners and materials, all add to the equation. I am heading out this afternoon for a ride with Randy and Chris to see how it’s all worked out first hand.

The LE models are another departure for us. Traditionally we would only have used BNG and paint to create an LE. Not this time. Each LE has a spec change along with the brilliant ( love it or hate it) color scheme . The L-TX gets a 1.75 track in a more trail able package, the X-TX gets the mountain chassis with a 2.25 lug and wide trail stance as a pure cross over. The R-TX gets a whole lot of Tucker influenced suspension and a choice of tracks, while the M-TX gets a premium FOX front shock package.

The coil over, gassers have been coined DX models as having the heated seat, tall windshield and additional storage makes them ‘ deluxe’ compared to the SE line.

The S-TX is a groomed trail cross-over with an optional 2-up seat and storage system (think cross – tour).

This leaves the pure Yamaha models built in Japan virtually unchanged and I know this comes as a great disappointment to many. To those who have called it a sign of Yamaha becoming only an engine supplier to AC and the demise of the brand. I am saying sorry but you are wrong. MY 2014 was very successful for us and we have completed the line with the addition of mountain and crossover for 2015. We are having a great winter in the Midwest and eastern provinces which bodes well for next fall. We have done what we needed to do and are are back in black, making some profit in snowmobile. All these things will factor highly in how much the mother ship is willing to invest and how quickly, in future R and D towards more pure Yamaha product, along with the engine supply to AC.

We are looking forward, up the trail as we exit the second corner and get on the gas.


cheers cr


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58 Responses to “Time to Pin It”

  1. Jason says:

    Hey Dave M

    If your looking for a Viper check out Irwin Supply
    In Cornwall ontario Canada he has a 2004 viper S with
    1900 miles on it. For sale.
    It’s on Kijiji aswell under Cornwall Ontario Canada.

    Hope that may help you


  2. Anthony says:

    Been riding all last week in Quebec and what I have heard in club houses on Yamaha Vipers is pretty much the same that people say on this blog. Some like it , some don’t, some hate it
    Chris,why Yamaha downsized the fuel tank capacity from 40 to 37 liters on their 2015 Viper?

    The tank hasn’t changed to the best of knowledge. I believe the spec itself is the issue and wasn’t a full 40l in 14. EPA compliance has effected gas tank production in the last couple of seasons, requiring thicker plastics and action to stop any vapor from getting into the atmosphere though osmosis or venting. The acid test is to take a completely dry tank and slowly fill it to the rim, it’ll be pretty close to 40l.
    I like to look at the bright side and compare it to the 28l tank on the Nytro! 😉 cheers cr

  3. Greg M says:

    HI Chris

    My first snowmobile was a 2008 40th nytro shorty. I loved this sled i quickly put over 10,000 kms on it in the first two seasons . The yamaha brand quickly got instilled in me as minor warranty issues quickly got fixed and fixed for good ( Ball joints front subframe etc). I sold my nytro quickly at a reasonable price to a 18 yo who is still destroying drifts with it. I purchased a 2012 arctic cat turbo and a non turbo for the wife and was immediately shown the difference in company warranty. i currently ride a 2013 turbo RR cat and love the ride and power but i cannot afford the cost of ownership . The belts are a constant issue and at $260 cad. are not worth the average 500 miles i get on them . i have over 6000miles on my sled . I do love the chassis and am pleased that i can now look at buying a yamaha with the same suspension and characteristics of my cat. unfortunately you guys are not offering the power surge turbo with the short models . I know at least 12 ppl who would switch to a yamaha turbo. The reliability that yamaha has to offer with there clutches is what we need in a turbo for the short sleds. how do i get my hands on a yamaha with a turbo??

    Hey Greg, MPI our turbo accessory supplier has options available for Viper. We elected to with hold the turbo kit application to short track / sea level operation until we are assured of the durability. We are still working on the validation but had some set-backs. It was and is our intent to have ‘boost’ available for sea level but will ‘serve no wine before its time’. Stay tuned…
    cheers cr

  4. GT says:

    I’m surprised at all the short sighted people who can not see the benefit of the supply arrangement between Yamaha and Arctic Cat. Do people not realize that these supply arrangements happen in other industries? Fisher were/are the body of how many trucks?

    I have been a long time Yamaha owner and believe they make the best built sleds. I currently own a Nytro XTX and an old ZR580. While the manufacturing on the old Cat is rough there is no denying that their suspensions have always worked in real world conditions. When the Yamaha Power Tour came through Alberta in January I spent time on a Viper XTX and Apex XTX. The Viper handled great and had that smooth triple power that I’ve come to love.

    As you have pointed out numerous times this agreement is good for business we consumers just need to have a little faith!

    X2. Thanks for that. I think most people get it but it’s a tough pill for some in a game where brand loyalty runs so deep… Cheers cr

  5. Tristan says:

    Any chance of developing the traditional MTX ski for the use on the viper chassis? I built a Viper MTX out of my XTX with boost this year. I am really missing my MTX skis that are on my nytro. The powder pros are similar but just are not the same. They do not hold an edge as well or as wide. I really feel that the MTX ski is the best OEM mountain ski out there if not one of the best mountain skis available. Plus I really miss the Yamaha ski loops…

  6. cody says:

    I just bought a 2015 yamaha viper MTX 153. i have 600kms on it and I did not expect a lake racer being as its mountain tuned but its top speed is 90km/h, less than 60mph. also I find it hits the rev limiter all the time. i am trying to break it in nicely but when i am going 40km/h and i go to give it a little pep it jumps to the rev limiter at 8000rpms, i can only imagine how hard this is on the motor. my altitude is 600ft at Sudbury Ontario. Is this how they are susposto be? or is their possibly a issue?

  7. jeff green bay says:

    Am I the only one who is disappointed with the top end speed of the 2015 viper? I had a 1980 Polaris txl that had a top end of 95mph my viper tops out at 84mph Just tired of being pass by yellow.

  8. scott says:

    I have a 2016 Yamaha viper, bought it two days ago hit a stick on the trail. Broke a radiator line and the cooling system drained, replaced the line and filled the system back up. But now the coolant temp sensor is going off even in the garage and the sled will not fire. Any suggestions for an old school snowmobiler like myself to get this thing to fire back up?

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