March 11, 2016
This post contains no mechanical details on the new sleds. It is simply dedicated to making me feel better.
When we pulled the sheets off the new Sidewinder I read more than one comment to the tune of ‘interesting sled but whats with the name?’ Well ‘supposen I am more qualified to answer this than anyone at Yamaha and at the end of the day, I quite like the name for reasons I am about to explain.
Whenever we decide a new name is required a process referred to internally as a ‘name chase’ ensues. Now you might think it’s easy to come up with a cool handle but trust me – it is not. First we have to pass international trade mark registrations which are open to interpretation and vary from country to country. Yamaha, being very global minded, has a policy that any name we intend to register must be applicable in every country, wherever in the world we do business. Ever wonder how the NA companies seem to be able to share names with other vehicles? There are multiple vehicle types called Frontier, Explorer, Tundra, Commander, Expedition, Crosstrek etc. Well the off-road vehicle makers on this continent aren’t too concerned with snowmobiles infringing on a car trade-mark in southern Italy. They will use a name provided it clears the TM regulations in North America which pretty much say if its not the same kind of product, you can use it.
The way it worked with the Sidewinder started with product planning (in this case me), sending out a ‘name chase’ notification with some background logic and suggestions to stimulate the creative juices of our development team. The logic was simple enough. We have a snake theme opportunity with the SRViper. The path of least resistance: call it the SRViper T or Turbo. Done deal, we already own the SRViper name. But let me digress – what the hell is an SRViper anyway? It was brought forward because we still owned the trade mark from the original 2-stroke SXViper. It required the SR/SX prefix to distinguish it from the four wheeled Vipers sold here and that, we gambled, would not draw too much attention from Detroit, considering the vehicles were quite different in application. This is what the lawyers and courts consider in dispute. If I recall we did get a letter from a European motorcycle company claiming infringement but that went away in a hurry. We considered using SRX but that was never a family of snowmobiles, it stood alone as a top dog muscle sled and remains pure to its roots. Come to think of it, the SRX 120 kids sled name originated from my desk. Anyway, just think of the acronym soup. ‘How do you like my new SRX LTX LE package?’ It’s got the SRV-T front with QS3R, Gen3T’s / RS2 with QS3’s in back. ughhh.
So, anyway, the sled really deserved better distinction than a Viper with a T but worse case we could use it as default. I went to my good friend Google and searched ‘names of snakes’. Couple of hours later I had a list of about ten that might work for a snowmobile. For the record; Asp, Garter and Boa were not on it. I sent the list to the team for feedback and votes which, in due process, we ended up paring down to three. These names were submitted first to our trade mark attorneys in the USA who quickly nuked one. The final two were sent to our planning group in Japan to seek legal approval globally, which can take up to six months. I was actually shocked when Sidewinder came back as available and even more surprised to find we could use it without the need of a pre-fix. It is almost impossible to find a new name these days.
Next step was to justify the name to internal stake-holders with some background so I went about doing research on Sidewinder’s. I checked with Arctic Cat and at the time they intended to keep the ‘9000’ series with no special names, so no conflicts there The Thundercat came along later in what I think is a really good move on their part considering the power we made.
The more I leaned and thought about ‘Sidewinder’ the better I liked it for marketing. The first analogy came from the product plan to build some new models (B-TX) that were well suited for deep snow riding, carving nice sharp turns with the skis pointed at the sky and winding through the back-country – carving the meadows, kinda like a Sidewinder.
Back to Google and another interesting twist (pun intended) emerged. The latest bird in the F-16 family of fighter jets is the F-16 ‘Viper’, a state of the art, mach 2 plus aircraft. It is often outfitted and deployed with the most advanced infrared tracking air-to air and air-to -land missile in the world, the AIM 9X ‘Sidewinder’. OK so how cool is that? The Viper is used to deliver the Sidewinder, both state of the art, technological marvels that command more than a little respect.
The last analogy was found in the layout of the turbo on the Sidewinder. It is side mounted and the vanes of the compressor and turbine can be described as winding up to create boost – ok, its a bit of a stretch but it does work. It’s a long story to justify a simple comment but considering the number of models and what this new engine represents to our company, securing the Sidewinder handle was a bit of a coup IMHO and one that I believe will grow on people in time. Thinking about it creatively, between jets, missiles, fire breathing turbos and venomous snakes, there is potential for some wild and crazy artwork here…
I’m off to the airport in the morning for a grand tour of the Islands. In case you missed it, Amsnow got the hole-shot and has published an interesting article on the Sidewinder’s bite. I only point it out because its all over the web and Sled Talkers should be in the loop. I wasn’t there and have no comment on their findings but I will say my jaw is getting sore from the spit eating grin I’m sporting. Thinking I’m ‘due’ for a large ‘hoody’ with a tracked ‘missile’ on the chest.