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April 8, 2015

Engines Happen!

Still in triage at the office but want to share an article I have just received approval on from YMC. I was asked to sit with Sawabuchi San, one of our key engine guys and pick his brain. He had just completed an analysis of the ACE 900. We often do this just to compare what our competitors are doing to our own offerings but very seldom (re: never) do we go public with the information – until now 😉

The main purpose I had in mind when taking on this project was to develop an addendum to our ‘communication platform’ which is the bible of information we use to help educate our dealers and staff. It is a bit wordy but I thought maybe some of you would like to give it a read. The first paragraph is typical marketing cream cheese but it gets into some meat in short order…

It’s a large PDF and I wouldn’t recommend reading on a hand held device but then again, I’m old and half blind.

Engines Dont Just Happen

cheers cr

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Posted @ 3:34 pm in Yamaha Insights   

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21 Responses to “Engines Happen!”

  1. Wes says:

    Great article Chris! Another reason I need to pull the trigger on a spring order Vector XTX LE! Thanks again for all of the useful information.


  2. Gary says:

    Enjoyed reading the article…very informative. Yamaha truly has a line of great engines. That has been the reason why my last 3 sleds have been Yammies. Power, dependability and durability are what I appreciate.

    Are we anticipating a new engine in the making?

  3. Steve Roberts says:

    Nice technical piece
    On the other side of the buisness is the customer base. Yamaha loyalty and customer intelligence originates in this type of corporate engine code.
    When looking at a high end purchase of this nature the engine is at the heart.
    Ferrari , BMW, Porsche draw on the same caliber of philosphy , and enjoy the customer base that subscribes to it.

    Yamaha customers , although maybe not as many In number are on the same wavelegnth .

  4. Carl says:

    Thanks for sharing. Very interesting articles with good information on both engines. But like the conclusion says. They’re are not in the same target category. Shouldn’t the 90hp engine class be compared to the Venture Light engine instead?

    Hey Carl, I think if we had of compared the 2-cylinder many if not all the comments would still apply. Add another cylinder to the Phazer to make it a 750 and it would embarrass a lot of motors out there.
    The exercise was not so much about the target category as it is about the design philosophy. I think the Ace engine was designed to be a very profitable (re: affordable to produce) engine targeted for cross-platform applications (sleds, watercraft, ROV) to maximize volume. Given that – the challenge is to weigh in on the marketing side. No one is going to tell you it was designed to be a cheaply produced engine that can be sold by the boat load in multiple vehicles. In some ways I think Yamaha should consider this philosophy and pull some cost out of our engines. Think about it. The tune up interval on our engines exceed 30K miles. The rest of the machine can be toast by the time you need to adjust the valves… Don’t get me wrong, our engines are the soul of the company, its just gets a bit tricky to have your cake and eat it to. cheers cr

  5. Carl says:

    Since your talking about engines. It would be great to know what goes into the decision making into taking an existing engine in the Yamaha basket and adapting it to snowmobile (RX-1, Apex) vs creating a new engine from the ground up (RS Nytro, RS Vector.)

    Thanks in advance.

  6. Jason says:

    Chris, nobody ever questioned Yamaha’s engines. The problem with Yamaha snowmobiles is they are heavy and ride like crap. Fix the suspension and handling of the machines and give it a better riding position. It has been the same machines for 10+ years.

    Instead of picking apart BRP for a great machine. How about Yamaha builds its own 2 stroke sled to compete with the etec? That would be some news to report.

    Well now Jason, you are going somewhere quite far from the topic at hand (simply comparing our bread and butter 4-stroke to theirs)but I hear you… thanks cr

  7. John S. says:


    Great read, if your a motorhead like many of us it speaks to the reason we love Yamaha. If you have a background in Systems Engineering it provides the background for the Yamaha Corporate culture of high performance with extreme reliability.

    It also gives insight into the Yamaha desire to wring perfection out of every product they make and also the reason why they have difficulty making those giant leaps outside their comfort zone.

    Then along comes Arctic Cat! Opposites attract, I’m hoping they find a way to make their current arrangement a long turn success. We love both of our 2014 LTX Vipers that have been problem free for two seasons and expect to have many more!

    I also suspect that Yamaha has more customers than Ferrari, Porsche and BMW combined. They also make musical instruments! LOL!


  8. Adam says:

    Hey Chris,

    Novel idea.

    “Add another cylinder to the Phazer to make it a 750 and it would embarrass a lot of motors out there.”

    Boy would I love to see that! Let the future speculation begin!

    ooops, that was my inside voice 🙂 cr

  9. Mr. T says:

    Awesome article! That 750 3 cylinder sounds good and we are holding you to it!!

    I knew I’d regret saying that one!!
    lemme see should equate to 120HP N/A, now if we were to add a little boost…:) cr

  10. Bob says:

    The impression I got with the 900 ACE was that it was built to meet certain cost targets and your information confirms this.

    On the other hand, the 1200 BRP appears to be more upscale. Has Yamaha done any analysis of that engine?

    Thanks. Good info.

    Bob I asked the same question, why Ace and not 1200. I don’t think they (engineering) really thought it through that far, they went after the newest and best selling without prior information or insight. Technically it was the correct decision, it’s our biggest competition but the targets differ. If we were to ‘doo’ it again, I’d go after the 1200 because I have a hunch much of the comparison wouldn’t change. thx cr

  11. Thumper1 says:

    its great you are touting what yamaha is already know for. over engineering, over analyzing, over building, over weight. i have been snowmobiling since 1980. i dont know anyone personally who has a sled that they put 30,000 miles on, let alone 20,000. i have never put on over 10,000 before i get a new one. you are essentially trying to justify a lot of things for something that doesnt matter in magazine tests or when i am swapping sleds with my friends on the trail. i used to believe that the yamaha motor would last forever, then i realized, who cares, i wouldnt have it that long anyway. i know a company like yamaha has a hard time not over thinking things, but now that you have partnered with arctic cat, they should serve as a good example and how not to overthink things.

  12. snoguzzler says:

    Can you say Exciter???? YaHoo!!!

  13. Jim says:

    In a highly competitive market, a good engine isn’t enough, you need the whole package.

    It’s the same story in the pick-up truck market. Despite multiple attempts and up to 5 generations (Toyota), the Japanese have barely made a dent against the North American brands. A good engine doesn’t compensate for questionable design, poor styling and lack of innovation.

    BRP outsells Yamaha in 4 stroke sleds and nitpicking at minor engine technical details won’t change that fact . My suggestion is to bring back a high tech 2 stroke in a basic super lightweight sled that will be fun to drive like no other. That would set Yamaha apart and I would buy it. Just like in the automotive industry, it’s all about lightweighting. Be a leader not a whiner.

  14. Scott says:

    I enjoyed reading this article. I wasn’t aware of the differences between the two motors, I just thought a 4-stroke was a 4-stroke. I don’t think you guys should compromise on the quality that goes into your motors, it’s one of the main reasons people buy a Yamaha sled. In my mind the problem is too much weight and the perceived lack of quality with the Yamacat sleds being why they’ve not been too successful in my area.

    I’ve not ridden a 900 as it doesn’t get me very excited but I can see it being a desirable sled for many people. The comment about getting rid of a sled before 10,000 miles holds true for me as well as many others I believe. Snowmachines just don’t last compared to dirt bikes, ATV’s or street bikes. The average sled chassis just start falling apart after 3,000-5,000 miles and while some brands are better than others, overall snowmachines are pieces of junk compared to all other power sports machines in my opinion. That said, I still buy brand new ones but they get replaced at a far more frequent rate than any of my other toys. Thinking about it, it probably doesn’t make sense to build a sled with a motor capable of lasting 100,000 miles when the average sled chassis will go nowhere close to that in my experience.

  15. SXV says:

    One starts too wonder if Yamaha should start selling new chassis that we can use our old nytro engine in, so the upgrade would be in suspension and handling. I imagine a engine would last 3 or chassis without major issues.

    Our parts guys will be loving this thread 😉 cr

  16. Lowslung says:

    Hitting 12000RPM yesterday racing over a lake in the backcountry(you can tell by the RPM what sled I was riding,and it looked/felt like the middle of winter,not april)I got a little nervous and cut back to 11700,and it still was knocking on the door at 80MPH+ keeping my brothers 2014 MXZ 600 sport carb in its crosshairs.Hope this motor holds together cause its the first four-stroke snowmobile i rode that you can,t feel the weight of the engine(most times it feels more playful than the uber-light MXZ 600sport two-stroke,with more torque down low).Would the FZ-09(847cc triple in a snowmobile useage) be any lighter than a 750cc triple snowmobile only motor(or the ACE900)?Love to hear some input or maybe I overstepped my bounds with this question?Forgive me if I did.

  17. Mr. T says:

    SXV. I suggested that a long time ago! Just like a sprint car. Buy a new roller for your engine. Makes sense, they say most of the R&D money is used in the engine development. That way it would free up money for the chassie!!

  18. Mark says:

    Interesting for sure, but would have liked to see the comp against the 1200 as that is more apples to apples in performance.

    Speaking of the 900 – Snowtech has been wondering for a couple years now why Yamaha hasn’t gone after this market – they call the Doo 900 the 1st 4 stroke that isn’t at a significant weight disadvantage to a 2 stroke and even rides like one. Seems like Yamaha would own that market, but they choose not to compete there. Of course Yamaha could win anywhere they choose to invest…oh I wish they would get back to the top in sleds!

  19. Trailcruzr says:

    “….they went after the newest and best selling without prior information or insight…..”

    If this were really true (which knowing how Japanese companies work, it isn’t) YMC will be revamping their hiring processes very quickly to prevent similar future occurrences.

    Don’t you think most of the people who are buyers of new sleds educate themselves before they buy? If they’ve done >< research they will have learned that Yamaha 4S engines are the best and most reliable in the business.

    BUT, the total chassis package is not up to par and is outdated. This is why Yamaha is dead last in units sold.

    But I'd bet $1000 that they are #1 in profit per unit sold. 🙂

    Damn I wish i could take that bet… would be the easiest grand I ever made 😉 cr

  20. Fox_1000 says:

    Very interesting read. Sometimes it is difficult to justify cost of sleds but when you see how Yamaha thinks about all the different ways to save weight but create a very strong durable engine you definitely appreciate what Yamaha is doing. I have been a long supporter for Yamaha and am glad that I am on the team. I often ride solo on the trails and knowing how well the Yamaha 4 strokes are designed I have no worries about making it back home after every ride. It is a good feeling!! Thanks Chris

  21. Yamadoo says:

    No doubt that the Yammy engine is on top… However, it is unfortunate that the whole package is outdated. I recently got rid of my Vector for a 1200 Renegade X. There is no comparison for ride, handling, and fun factor on the Doo sled. I don’t understand why they spent all this brain power on the engine And neglected the chassis… And now they are in bed with Artic Cat! How embarrassing! We go from one extreme with Yamaha quality to the other side of the spectrum with AC drunken, garage philosophy. The recent sneak peak just proved that the new Doos are far superior with their gauges, controls and even the brake lever vs the Viper… Did you guys see that brake lever on the viper!

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