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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 2003-Yamaha-SX-Viper-Profilebackground 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.

ViperNext 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.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 abcanalogy 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.

cheers cr

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14 Responses to “SCUD Due”

  1. Krom says:

    I believe that Arctic Cat had the rights to using that name on a sled, from back when they owned scorpion, and assume they just let it expire

    They must have because we did not negotiate with them for use cr.

  2. Jason says:

    Hi CR

    It always get me wondering each year when you see new names come
    Out for new sled models. And this goes for all 4 oem. Why don’t you bring old names back from the dead. Eg. Exciter, GP,GPX ,Enticer,SR,
    Is it that hard to bring back an ol favorite? Or is it that you want the name to suite sled? Hence why Yamaha hasn’t tried bring back some ol favorites. Ski Doo seems to be only one bring back the names of sleds past.
    Me personally like seeing Things brought back to life. To me if you can bring back an old name means the company hasn’t forgotten their past and where they have come from.
    And please bring back the original red and white color. It’s been far to long. Time to ditch the blue.

    Thank you

    Believe it or not a lot of those old names have expired. That’s not to say we couldn’t resurrect them. The a Vmax was resurrected as was the SRX so maybe you will see another down the road cr.

  3. Justin says:


    I have honestly hated the name since the thing launched. Seemed random and corny. I never knew how difficult it really was to come up with a name, especially as it pertains to trademarks. Anyhow, I must say, great job again sharing the logic behind the decision. I now seems cooler and appropriate. If the production units deliver what AmSnow has confirmed, Sidewinder owners will be happy 🙂
    Can you still just cruise on this thing? Tighter trails trail able? Seems hard to believe with that much jam. But it would be sweet if it’s true!
    I’m just glad to see you guys moving forward. Thanks for keeping this thing going. I always enjoy your insights.


    Hey Justin as far as cruising tight trails the power delivery is smooth and seamless. Some have described it as ‘electric’. I find it just as easy to throw around as the Viper but when you grab a handful you better be ready to go. Cheers cr.

  4. Wes says:

    Hi Chris,

    Just curious as to why you guys decided to keep the Apex in the lineup for 2017 even with the introduction of the Sidewinder? I own a 2016 Aoex XTX myself and lovd it. But, I assume sales of the Apex will be projected to be quite low with the introduction of the Sidewinder?



    Fair question Wes. You are correct, the Apex sales are shrinking but we recognize still some demand. The Apex really is a great snowmobile and the 4 cylinder engine has a lot of fans. It also helps to keep the home fires burning in Iwata and last but not least, for some of us EPS is a big deal.. cr.

  5. Rob says:

    Hi awesome editorial.nice to see Yamaha moving forward not sure on the merge or sharing tech.biulds.Been always Yamaha core sledder from the beginning to 433 EL to 433 GPX to 1987 Exciters to 1993 vmax4 and still going strong with a 2008 apex skid.under it..Been awhile since purchasing another sled(Yamaha).Now since the kids grown up time to move on.. I see the Sidewinder is my preferred choice but would be disappointed if Yamaha moves on and brings another top sled on there own. keep up the great effort on moving forward ,an as always dependable technical product. VMax .Rob..

  6. Mr T. says:

    EPS is a huge deal! My wife says the 2012 Vector we picked up for her this year is to easy to drive! She says she forgets her driving skills with it and forgets to lean into the corners getting the occasional ski lift. Coming off a 150lb less 2001 Phaser that is saying alot! She loves this sled! EPS is awesome!

  7. Bob R says:


    Will there be room for performance dampers on the Sidewinder?

    Thanks Bob

    I think so but we need to calibrate a setting. No time this season. That said the Viper set up might be a bolt in solution.
    I’ll check with testing. cr

  8. Todd S says:

    Hi Chris

    Thanks for a little insight to the naming of new product and the process involved. Seems Coming up with a new name gets more and more difficult as time goes on as the obvious choices are already taken. The more I learn about the new sled and with the insight you provided, I think you have two winners.

    I was wondering if you could provide some more insight. Does Yamaha test their new sleds side by side with other manufactures sleds or is it more like testing in a vacuum and comparing to your own brand? It’s easy enough to compare HP and weight numbers to get a handle on straight line performance, but how about thing like handling, rear suspension, steering effort, seating position, gauge function and appearance, etc etc. Do you benchmark each of those against the Ski-doo and Polaris competition?

    Thanks for the blog.

    Todd S

    Hey Todd, I could spend a little time answering your questions. I think it best if I devote a post on testing and evaluation process. cr.

  9. Scott says:

    I like the name Sidewinder. After looking at the photos I thought the name correlated to the turbo charger coiled up on the side of the motor.

    It’s great that you guys gave the sled a proper name. I think machines should have names since a series of letters and numbers just isn’t the same. It’s like with Ski-Doo, I don’t even remember for sure what their new sled is called but I thought it was pretty cool. The name Rev I could easily remember. After that their designations became more like alphabet soup to me.

    The V-max name always sounded bad ass. Banshee was a great name as well.

  10. JRT says:

    Hello Chris,

    A couple of questions:

    1)With the introduction of the Sidewinder, in which market segments you think Yamaha is currently in need of a refreshment or to put it straigth, behind competitors? Not talking about 2strokes of course.

    2) How do you see sleds technically evolve during the next say, 10 years?

    Thanks in advance,


    Those are both fairly complex questions and worthy of a dedicated post. Thanks, its quite helpful to have this kind of feed back, gives me ideas for fresh content. I’ll try to address in the near future. cr.

  11. Gary says:

    Hi Chris…any reason why Yamaha didn’t mount the naturally aspirated version of the Sidewinder engine in the same chassis? It seems like it would have been a simple thing to do and have another sled in the lineup, don’t you?

    This would still require a lot of money for no real gain. The YXZ ( and Waverunner) versions would not be good snowmobile engines as their tuning is specific to the application, and the SRS engine would be a dog without boost. The current 1049 is pretty much the same engine with a 3mm bore up, same stroke, same crank etc. Short answer, a lot more money with no benefit. cr

  12. John says:

    Hi Cris
    Went to the sneak peak in Barrie, did not see any
    se model Sidewinders, was hoping to have a look
    at the front shocks.On the LTX LE models, how would the shock valving compare to the SE or DX models?I really like the QS3 shocks on the LE,just concerned they may be valved too stiff,as
    this model looks to be the same as the Arctic Cat
    RR models.Also will the plastic side panels be a closer color match to the hood color on the production model.I have a deposit on a DX now, but was thinking of changing it to a LE model instead.I could not get an answer at the show.
    The new body panels fit nice, under the hood looks great,can’t wait until fall.

    The calibration of the LE models is not as firm as in the past. Arctic addressed this with their ‘RR’ version moving from Float EVO to the QS3’s. The valving is similar on the SE model with the new shocks being closely related to the QS3. The three position adjuster on the QS3 is slick, it makes noticeable differences. I don’t think the SE has quite as much range of adjustability especially when you consider the rear skid shocks. I don’t expect the blue plastic color will change in production. The plastic pellets used have not changed since last year as far as I know. Lighting can make a big difference, if you view indoors under fluorescent tubes or outdoors in sunlight. Its really hard to get blue plastic, blue paint and blue vinyl to all match perfectly so I expect it is what it is. cheers cr

  13. Mr T. says:

    You replied to Gary that a NA 998 would not be a good snowmobile engine. However don’t we need a 100hp or 60hp sled for that matter! Again we need to find a unit that is an entry level sled! If we want to keep our sport going we have to get newbies involved!

    Yes good points T but the critical part you missed is the smaller horsepower numbers must be reflected in the price. An engine designed to produce 200hp is not the best platform to tune down 50% to sell in a sled for thousands less.
    The biggest reason no one is building this snowmobile is the price barrier. Strong, light, cheap… Pick 2 not 3. cr.

  14. Krom says:

    Found this, not sure if the link will work, but its a scorpion add for a sidewinder, from back in the day.

    Cool find! Might have to be buying a round of beers next time we visit TRF 😉 thx cr


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