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March 8, 2016

The Color Purple

Hot off the press

Thinking now is a good time to address some of the questions I have been getting on the Sidewinder and also elaborate a bit on our new 2-stroke – The VK540V.

Steve inquired this  morning about SRS gearing so here is what I have (insert disclaimer – ‘specifications subject to change’).  RT and LT 129 / 137 inch track, XT and BT 141 x 1.6 /153 x 1.75 all use 9T drivers with 21/41 gear ratios. XT and BT x 2.25 Power Claw uses 8 tooth drivers with 24/50 cogs and the MT uses 7 tooth driver with 21/49 gears.

I’ll save you the math and give theoretical tops speeds for these ratio formulas:  21/41 9T = 120mph / 24/50 8T = 105mph and 21/49 7T = 82mph.


The new YSRC roller secondary increases the overdrive to .91 : 1 where the old secondary fully shifted out, offered .98 : 1. this can be added to the top speed equation to explain why we were seeing over 120 mph on the LT version in testing.

Now the chain case has also been questioned – is it the same as the Viper? Yes and no. The chain case received a major redesign for the Viper to meet our QA. The spring loaded tensioner was changed to a fixed bolt adjuster, the jack shaft was changed to accept our secondary, the gear / chain supplier was changed to Borg Warner and various bearings, faces and bits addressed. For the Sidewinder, further upgrades have been made. The top gear material has changed from a powdered metal to forged machine sprockets for additional strength and the chain width is increased to 15 link (plate) from 13 link. We have had no failures during our durability and calibration testing. Zero. I didn’t attend the recent Arctic cat dealer meeting but a little birdie told me a slide was presented that showed some very significant decreases in their warranty costs since 2014. Make of that what you will.

The maximum boost pressure in the system is limited to a conservative 12 lbs. and surprising to me is the fuel range has not suffered significantly compared to Viper. I am waiting for some actual data from testing to elaborate on this before you cry foul, but the general consensus is the consumption throughout all testing combined is significantly less than what I was personally expecting. That’s good news!

I have been asked directly and am still reading speculation on our supply agreement with Arctic Cat and future model development. I met some guys at a watering hole on the weekend that told me we are done building snowmobiles as of 2019. Only one word to say to that. WRONG. There is a big ‘meeting of the minds’ this week between Cat and Yamaha top management and a few of us are heading to the airport Saturday to attend another series of meetings in Japan. Our product plan is already extended well beyond 2019 with plenty of blue and green dots on the matrix.

And now for a quick break. I spotted this very impressive edit by Rick Dobson shot at Snowshoot. The filming, riding and production are all top shelf.

Getting back to the present, although far from being the ‘belle of the ball’, the new VK540 holds great significance for certain people in certain market areas. The sled went away from North America due to the cost of meeting EPA regulations but lived on as our best selling snowmobile due to high demand for Yamaha quality in the Russian markets. We never gave up on our request to clean up the engine and finally convinced our friends in Moscow that a more efficient motor would also use less fuel, make less smoke and offer greater dependability which are all good things in their market. Combined with the many features that were improved there while in hiatus here, it’s safe to call the VK540V  a new model. Here is the background document on the vehicles history and evolution.

VK540 Com Blog V

Looking at the extended weather forecast in Ontario,  I am saddened to kiss this season good-bye. By the time I get back from Japan there will be 37858C77-080D-4398-BF72-AFCC9D1D8A2Bnothing left. I hear there is lots of snow in Shibetsu so that’ll likely be the last ride of the season for me. I hope you get some more saddle time wherever you are – this year has definitely been one for the books!



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16 Responses to “The Color Purple”

  1. Mr T. says:

    Well its good to know Yamaha will still have their name on a side of a sled past year 2019. If they build their own chassie will probably be the biggest mystery at this point. The relationship with Cat seems to be getting better, with the sky being the limit! The future is definitely going to be interesting. In my opinion I see a merger of some type beyond the supply agreement in the future. I think who is even more interested than us, Yamaha and Cat loyalists,in the future of the supply agreement, is Poo and Skidoo! Do you think they are starting to take real notice of where this Yamaha and Cat relationship is going? I would think they are getting nervous!

    Mr T.

    P.S. I love the phrase about the little birdie who seen the slide in the Cat meeting that said warranty claims are down for Cat since 2014! That is good for us Yamaha riders as much as Cat riders!

    Thanks T, I don’t think our competitors are too concerned about anything regarding our snowmobile business. The real focus is on SxS and that appears to be hitting the wall in the USA. I bet the YXZ got a lot more attention in Rosseau than the Cat Yamaha affair. cr

  2. Don T. aka VX1R on TY4stroke says:


    I very much appreciate your time and effort here on Sled Talk. Always looking forwards to your latest news and insights and the way you keep it honest.

    Kudos to the team who developed the new SW series. The sum of all the parts on this new platform is truly amazing and if this is the kind of result that we can look forwards to in the future with the supply agreement I for one can’t wait to see what the future holds. I kind of like the blue and green dots on the matrix.

    I ordered a new SW LTX-LE from Kip at Pat’s Motorsports last week to add to our stable of trusty ’06 Apex’s and am anxiously awaiting what is coming down the pipeline for the big 50th anniversary in MY18.

    I’m hoping for a new flagship model but would not be surprised to see Yamaha come out with something that will totally shock everyone with something that is targeted to actually grow the industry and make everyone take a step back and say “WOW”. The new SW is definitely a shot across the bow and it looks like Yamaha has now set there sights on getting back their fair share of the market.

    Time will tell but it sure is fun to speculate. The information that you posted here on Sled Talk last week was very valuable to me in making my decision to pull the trigger on a new SW. Keep up the good work!


    Thanks Don. That’s very kind and encouraging. I only wish more people on the inside concurred with you. cr.

  3. sledfreak says:

    Hey Chris, Love the new sidewinder! That’s the sled that I have been waiting for. I sold my 2011 1200 Gade approx a year and half ago. Its been 2 winters now where I have been sledless. However, I have been spending alot of time with my son, who is 9, and loves Hockey. We are on the ice 5 days a week, so obviously I have no time to ride and it was the reason I sold it. However, he will be able to get his sled licence in 2-3 more years and I will be back on one then or before, hopefully with him behind me on his own sled. I really like the direction that Cat and Yamaha are headed and you can obviously see the benefits are starting to translate to each corporation. I really hope the agreement continues, because I can really see both OEM’s succeeding well into the future and capitalizing on the sled market share. Great work on both sides..

    Thanks SF. I was riding with my 14 year old this weekend and it was so cool. Watching her handle her sled and just being out there enjoying the ride with her. It’s as good as it gets. Hurry back!! cr.

  4. VTM says:

    I was wondering about the new overdrive clutch. Wont this clutch overdrive be negative i the MTX models making slower backshift?

    And i hear that the 998T will not make it to the scandinavian country’s this seasson to test. Making people ordering this without having a chance to try it beforehand?

    And as of that i think for a new model there is little info and videos coming out really explaining the new sled from the ground and up. Look over at the biggest manufacturer and their new model. Impressive marketing, with videos explaining every ( almost not kidding ) part of the sled. I miss that from Yamaha.


    The overdrive won’t impact the back shift. It just means the belt is settling a little deeper into the secondary when shifted all the way out. The roller cam will actually help the back shift with less friction. Spring and helix angle are what determine the shift. The other cool factor is power. With this much torque the clutching gets real forgiving. Not like a 2 stroke where the sweet spot is small.
    On the Scandinavian marketing, it is my understanding the management team over there chose to delay their launch until the 15th so they can host a dealer meeting, not sure of why they did this. I assume you will see more video and information over there mid-month. We have created a lot of assets and shared with all distributors to use as they see fit.cheers cr.

  5. John says:

    Put my deposit down on a Sidewinder LTX DX, looks to be a big step up from my 2014 Viper.Any info on the sidewinder belt? My dealer thinks it is going to use the 8JP belt but not sure.Keep the blog going, lots of info here.

    I believe its still 8JP. We designed a new belt with slightly different properties but my understanding is we are not seeing any tangible benefit. The 8JP should be just fine, great durability and good performance on our prototypes. congats on your new sled! cr

  6. Jan says:

    Hello cr! I love the Sidewinder it is what i was waiting for. I now running a Lynx Boondocker (146″) 800 e-tec but I will go back to Yamaha as soon as I can aford to. Interesting info on the new secondary roller, will it fit on my -01 SRX so I can keep on killing all other sleds on the lake?

    I don’t think it will fit easily to your SRX, suggest you save you money for the new sled cr 😉

  7. Jan says:

    Keep up the god work the only blog I feel need to follow.

    Thx Jan! cr

  8. Low Slung says:

    Great write up on the VK540.TSS,fan cooled,two-stroke,two-speed transmission are required.Belt driven fan(not like the ET410II),non blown moulded skis for canada(A must for any TSS sled),and 1.5 inch lug track are my only concerns(Extra wheel kits can fix the last one in hard snow to save the sliders)In the future my next sled maybe the last of yamahas two-strokes(Got to grab one before the next round of snowmobile emissions take hold),and to give the 1996 ET410II a well deserve break now and then.

    Well now Low, you got me to wondering if our DuPont Hyfax will fit the rail profile on the VK5. Would be better than wheel kits. The vespel inserts are ballistic! Thanks for chiming in! Cheers cr.

  9. Garret says:

    The new Sidewinder is one of the nicest looking sleds out there. You had talked about building engines to be used in more platforms so is it a good guess that the sidewinder motor set up will be in the YXZ1000R??

    See you mentioned the Dupont Hyfax in a reply. There by far the best Hyfax out there!! Are they on new sleds out of the factory?? If not they should be at least on the spring order sleds!

    P.S Hope we still get a new all new Yamaha sled!!! 🙂

    We did offer a version of the DuPont on select CBU (made in Japan) models stock a couple years ago but YMC took it off with the new Singleshot skid cited improved Hyfax wear with the new design, cough. cr.

  10. scott says:

    I’m always amazed at how much thought goes into designing and building a snowmachine when you provide us a glimpse at the inner workings of the company. Here in AK we’ve got small businesses that specialize in buying, refurbishing and reselling older fan cooled models for the exact same reasons you guys stated about the VK540. Simple, easy to repair, reliable and easy to start and maintain in cold, severe conditions are where fan cooled sleds excel. I love fan cooled sleds for work machines as they are easy to keep running year after year. I hope the OEM’s continue to produce them as nothing putts along better on slow, super hard packed or icy trails as a fan cooled.

    Why was Yamaha concerned about EPA emissions with this one model? Wouldn’t all the credits you guys have made since ’03 easily offset one 2-stroke?

    Low slung,
    Ice scratchers attached to the rails work really, really well to keep your hyfax cool and lubed. They are a common accessory for mountain sleds and work better than additional bogie wheels in my experience. I also know the DuPont hyfax are amazing and the Iron Dog racers used them with great success in the recent low/no snow races the past few years.

    Thanks Scott, on the EPA compliance, my understanding, in order to apply credits earned on the clean engines. There is a scale where ‘ clean ‘ engines have to meet specific levels, then there is a second scale that establishes an envelope for engines that are close but non- compliant. We cannot apply credits to engines outside of this envelope. The new VK moved emissions from outside the box to within the envelope but it is not inside the box of compliance. So we are now applying credits (emissions averaging) to reintroduce our 2 stroke. Cheers cr

  11. Hal Armstrong says:

    Interested in the weight difference between the Sidewinder and Viper with same track length and type.

    Hal, I already addressed this in another post. We haven’t gone into production so we don’t have final weights. The sum total of parts will put it around 12 to 15 kg more ( my educated guesstimate). It should be reported that it is far too heavy compared to the 2 strokes regardless of its superior hp to weight. You must follow the lead of our competitors marketing machines and keep those dark goggles on! You will be ok on your Polaris, Gord will wait up for you. LOL cr.

  12. Steve Roberts says:

    Excellent content, and links.Love the VK and the in depth article.Thanks.
    In the real world market, acknowledging the interest and intelligence of the end users of products is key to long term product development… Read success.
    Along with that the neccasary corporate manouvers neccesary for compliance, finance,shareholder interest etc and you get a very complex puzzle full of contradiction and risk.
    When I take a 10,000 foot view of Yamaha positions it looks well based and positioned for competative advantages all around.
    Ability to design reliable yet innovative products over a wide scope of industrial / commercial and recreational market places and be on the forefront of cutting edge technology in many for decades , is very commendable.
    This blog and its loyal followers , with intelligent and articulate dialog is an extension of that .
    Always worth my time . I read every post and reply and always come away with a respect for the caliber of interest.
    Just finished off the last ride of this short season , 528 km run with my wife on our 13 RSV TF , 13 hrs of running OFSC partial RAP . Flawless.
    The confidence to hop on board and go has always been those 3 tuning forks on the hood.
    Keep on keepin on.

    Thanks Steve, your intelligent input here is appreciated as well! Cheers cr.

  13. Brandon a says:

    There is a hole in the industry for the old viper/Sxr style chassis with a triple 2 stroke.would it be possible to bring the 700 back and make it run clean enough to fit in the close envelop? Update suspension a little, keep it cheap from the factory IE single pipe but strong enough to accept aftermarket triple pipes, base model with no electric start or reverse. Light, reliable, fun and kind of cheap like they use to be.

    Agree with the concept market opportunity but the short answer to the reality of such a project is no, its not possible. It would be no different than starting with a clean sheet of paper. The tooling for engines and chassis is gone and most of the engineers who knew anything about our two stroke era are also gone. We would be better suited to start fresh. cr

  14. Yellowknife says:

    Great video. Looking forward to reading the VK doc. I really hope you guys propel upwards in sales and QDR with the new model launches. It really sounds like you are on track to satisfy many consumers. I’ll try to find a way to get a leg over a sidewinder next year. Never ridden a turbo’d sled before, and maybe I should be banned from test riding one lol. I’m not sure what the EPA has in store over the next 5 years for 2 stroke machines, but if the limits will still allow production as it is today, I’m going to be awaiting that Yamacat 2 stroke release.

    Cheers and thx for keepin’ up the blog


    Thanks Allan, I’m thinking you should be banned from testing a lot of things 😉 LOL cr

  15. Ike says:

    Haven’t written a comment to your blog in a while CR. Friend of mine from Finland was at the meeting up there (he can be seen also in the Yamaha youtube video). He said that the Sidewinder is really a great sled. He also has VK here for tests. Pretty impressive what was done to that old 535 (1979 Excel V) engine. Just what the northern utility snowmobiler needs IMO. Simple and easy to handle. All and all Yamaha really stepped up this time. Thumbs up!

    Thanks Ike and good to hear from you! I enjoyed meeting your friends from Finland. Too bad my old friend Pertti couldn’t attend! cheers cr

  16. JB101 says:

    This blog is a fascinating and refreshingly candid window into the deep dark world of snowmobile OEM’s. We (I, maybe) sometimes forget that the industry is not all that big, and that the manufacturers are not some giant soulless machine. They are made up of real people who sometimes listen to our whining and make real decisions based on that input. Keep us in the loop!

    I certainly appreciate your clarification on gear setups for the sidewinder family, it’s an important variable in the crossover genre, maybe more so than any other segment. I feel like the BTX 1.75 is the snowmobile I never knew I wanted for the crapshoot winters that seem to have become the norm here in Sudbury. I had been eyeing up the 141×2.25, but I feel the 153 Backcountry will yield similar performance off-trail while being friendlier should we catch a low snow year and we’re stuck to the trail. A 153″ sled with a theoretical 120mph top speed, Yikes! The Sidewinder doesn’t appear to have a radiator as the Viper does? How have the engineers dealt with this given the seemingly increased cooling requirements of the engine?

    Your team should be proud of this lineup, and I trust the motor package will be flawless out of the box. When’s the last time Yamaha put out a lemon of a motor? Right, never.

    In the interest of disclosure, I’ve strayed from the tuning fork since selling my 2007 APEX RTX, and have been stuck on a raging white pile of garbage for seven years. It’s about time I start enjoying the sport again without having to worry about getting home.


    Hey Joel, thanks for the input! On the cooling system, you are correct, there is no rad. The engineers increased the efficiency and area of the heat exchanger system. I havent heard of any overheating issues but it is weird to hear the coolant bubbling and gurgling if you shut down right after a long pull. It’s actually part of the cooling system design where the super-heated coolant at the turbo keeps everything circulating so there is no running cool down cycle required.. cr

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