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April 23, 2016

さようなら – Sayonora

RU2 (1024x768)Today’s post will be my last. I have decided it is time to pull back from my career and focus on family and quality-of-life in the few good years I have left. If I include time spent at the dealership, I have been with Yamaha for well over 30 years. And for those of you who have alluded to me having a ‘dream job’ – you’re  correct; it’s been one helluva good run. I can’t imagine another uneducated, country boy with little more than a great love for motorcycles and sleds, slipping past the regulated HR qualification process now. Yamaha gave me ‘my shot’ and for that, I am most grateful.

This blog in itself is testament to the visionary management this company maintains. When we launched in the winter of 2007, there was a lot of trepidation around letting an individual employee go on-line, representing the company with no formal set of rules or policies to fetter and control the ‘conversation’. At the time, no one in our industry had a corporate blog; Twitter had not been born, My Space was bigger than Facebook and ‘social media’ was a new buzz-word companies were struggling to understand (many still are). At the time I was communicating on the sled forums and got singled out by a fellow, hiding behind his key-board, challenging everyone and everything to stroke his own ego. It was frustrating to post legitimate information only to have it discredited as bull-spit . I figured there had to be a better way for me to play!

One individual was extremely instrumental in getting Sled Talk past the corporate goalie: Maggie Fox. I met Maggie at a trade show in 2006 where she was speaking on this new thing called ‘social media’. Sensing some opportunity, I attended her ‘lunch and learn’ on corporate blogging. Fortunately, as things turned out, I was the only one who showed up and received her undivided attention. This was a new venture for Maggie and she was motivated to see this blog get up and running under the Yamaha brand. After several meetings here, it was her compelling presentation to corporate that I believe, broke down the final barriers of risk, putting many of our fears at ease. Maggie’s career since has been a turbo-charged success story. First expanding her former company (SMG) from a family consulting business to a highly successful social media agency with locations in Toronto and Vancouver; then leapfrogging into the corporate sphere to head up Ford Motor Companies global digital marketing operations. I’ve lost touch with her but understand she is now the senior VP of digital marketing for software giant SAP. She once told me, having the Yamaha shingle hanging on the office wall went a long ways to opening those early doors. Well, without her guidance, I would not be writing this ten years later.

Once we established the ‘rules of engagement’ – I was trusted to use common sense and turned loose to talk about Yamaha snowmobiles openly as the ‘lucky guy’ speaking from the inner sanctum trying to ‘tell it like it is’. Truth be known, I have ‘stepped in it’ on more than one occasion. Actually, according to my boss, defending my rhetoric and shielding my ego from criticism has become a fairly regular occurrence for him. On the flip side, his guard has allowed me to write 275 articles and personally respond to nearly 3,500 comments. I’m not really known for sugar coating my delivery so the odds of me peeing on somebodies Cheerios really are not all that surprising. I’m just glad I didn’t have to respond personally.

Today there are upwards to 14,000 unique visitors a month coming here seeking nuggets of information on our sleds. One thing has amazed me from day one. Not one of you has ever gone on ‘the attack’. The comments I receive have always been thoughtful and respectful of the position regardless of whether the author agreed or liked what I had to say. I have approved every comment except one and only because it was basically spam. Nothing I have ever written here has been taken and used against me or Yamaha in any way and for that I am so thankful. Maggie once told me – ‘stay honest and transparent,  your audience will grow and rise to your defense if threatened’ – so true!

And to be clear, comments offered here have been referred to many times in various meetings, in emails and sometimes over beers. It’s been said we don’t listen, that what is being talked about on forums never gets to the boardrooms. I have often used Sled Talk (and TY) to reference or support a point. This site has had an impact on our business and our sleds.

Well; there it is. What started off as an experiment to add some ‘ballast’ on the forums has ended up in a decades worth of conversations with many of you, some I’ve met, others I feel I know from your regular comments here. And you should know, it has been your interaction and feedback that has kept me motivated, to write. I want to say a special thanks to Tom and all the admins at Totallyamaha. You guys rock! Many of us here at Yamaha realize and appreciate what a great service you provide for our customers. TY sets the bar very high regarding QDR standards for the motor-sports forums.

I don’t know at the time of this writing, what is going to happen to this site and the archives it contains when I’m gone. It would be sad to see the articles on specific model development disappear. They are records of our history with very few, if any people left that can recount first hand. I have recognized many individuals in my stories who mean a lot to me and who contributed to many of our snowmobiles in many different ways. In my mind, they are the most important of all to preserve. Yamaha is made up of people – the brand and the products are a result of their passion. They are the real creators of our ‘Kando’ and should not be forgotten. I hope somehow Sled Talk will live on as a resource for no other reason than this.

May 5th is my last day as an employee of Yamaha. It’s a bitter sweet feeling as I’m going to miss so many of the people I have worked with over the years, many of whom I consider close friends. I’m also going to miss opening Sled Talk to see if someone has left a question or comment for me. On the other hand, I am finally going to finish some projects like my Phazer ‘trials’ sled and am looking so forward to being there for my family every day, even if that means holding the end of the dock down on a Muskoka chair while they enjoy our ‘cottage life’.P1020708 (1024x768)

Guys, it’s been a great ride and I sincerely hope you have enjoyed this space. I have – I am truly a lucky guy!


cheers cr


march-07-039.jpg march-07-098.jpg jim1.jpg img_0870.JPG mrk-cr.jpg mar08-086.jpg tim_cr.jpg cover-boy.jpg rx1-pic.jpg jim.jpg group.jpg lid.jpg A-LORES-Brando-strapped in. proto testing march 09 Tapatoo 004 rrrr uuu Gordy 014 YAMscan 082 IMG_6594 pic gf Fuji Moon nobi1 IMG_2763 RU1 image Cr Hat

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42 Responses to “さようなら – Sayonora”

  1. MNBlizzard says:

    Chris, Thank you for the great reads over the years and all the great cliff hangers on the newest developments in the world of Yamaha snowmobiles. Best of luck in your future endeavors! I do hope the blog continues.

  2. Steve says:

    I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blogs. Hopefully this site was as much a learning experience for Yamaha as it was for all of us readers.
    Thank you for your insight. Best of luck, enjoy retirement!

  3. PAsledhead says:

    WOW, I’m Speechless… Thanks for those 275 Articles. Its been a great Ride.
    Hopefully it will continue, It just won’t be the same.

  4. Gary says:

    Congrats on retirement Chris. Do you have to sign a “gag order” so that you don’t spill the beans on Yamaha’s future sleds? 😝 Will you be posting on TY as a sled buff? Will your next sled even be a Yamaha?😄

  5. scott says:

    Dang! I’m sorry to see you retiring as I’ve enjoyed reading the blog all these years. You did a great job writing the columns and providing feedback to us.

    What is the significance of the helmet with all the signatures? I recognize Tom Berkely’s name as he was a dealer & lodge owner here in Alaska who I met 20+ years ago. My understanding is he was also a former Yamaha engineer who had a big part in developing the ’84 Phazer.

    I wish you all the best in your retirement!

  6. Steve Roberts says:

    Time , most valuable human ” commodity” . Yet some ignore its fleeting and irreplaceable nature.
    There is an art to timing , the verb or noun version doesn’t matter, The Art ah, most important .
    To develop a sense of timing one must first live through a substantial portion of ones allotment of time , and then have the intellect to reflect , assess, critique and develop .
    I have enjoyed all the blogs , and all the posts, read everyone. Passion for power sports and Yamaha has kept this blog free of the rants and ravings that pollute much of social media. Kudos to you . Your friend Maggie would be impressed. I think / suggest she may be an old acquaintance worth the effort of reconnecting, if I may be so bold to suggest.
    There will be a void left , I hope it will be filled , just not soly by corporate marketing .
    If bikin or sledding around White Lake an open invite exists , just ask about , a challenge to find me so to speak.
    Congratulations on making your decision in time about you and your family.
    Holding down Muskoka chairs on your dock is also an Art perfected .Life timing lessons proving their worth.
    Here’s to you Chris Reid and to Yamaha ….an end and a beginning……….. Rock On


  7. Tony says:

    Wow – I’m speechless and there is a pit in my stomach. I can’t tell you how much I looked fwd to your posts – and when you went missing for a few months last year many of us went stir crazy!!!

    You gave so much and for that – thank-you! For me your approach to the blog has caused me to think how I best incorporate social media into my own business life (I guess your my Maggie!).

    While we never got to ride together, we did exchange a few notes, talk a couple times at a show or two and bump into each other at Deerhurst. What about a ride on the new SW’s next winter – sounds like you got some free time!!!

    All the best in retirement Chris – plse don’t fail off into the sunset though. As you well know there are lots of ways to stay engaged in our sport while still enjoying the family and retirement!!!


  8. Don Southern says:


    I appreciated all that you have offered us over the years but the most important to me was the chance to hang out with you, your crew and fellow Canadian TY’s during the 2006 sled ride. That was a chance in a life time to ride the new Apex in some of Ontario’s finest trails. It was a great day, with excellent food and informative conversation. That day left a permanent scar in my memory bank. Thanks for that opportunity and enjoy your new uncharted direction with your family and friends.


  9. John says:

    Sorry to hear you are leaving, Sled Talk was like a bonus part of Yamaha ownership.If it continues whoever takes over will have big shoes to fill.
    Enjoy retirement, hopefully we see you at some sled shows.

  10. Eric White says:

    I am happy to hear you will be enjoying retirement and free time soon, but the selfish part of me is sad to be losing you and your insight. I always look forward to the posts you make and the info you share, they have all been GREAT! I still have a few posters of the 97 600sx and the srx (like you posted here) hanging on the wall. I’m curious if you feel Yamaha is headed in the right direction, and more so if the suspense of what will happen will be killing you like it always has the rest of us “civilians.” I truly hope someone else steps up and takes the reins, although they will have enormous shoes to fill. I will greatly miss your comments, but as I said earlier, I hope the next chapter is amazing! Eric

  11. Garret says:

    Good luck and have fun. Will miss reading your Blog!!!

  12. Jason says:

    Sad to see you go CR. You’ve been great over the years and everyone
    Looked forward to your next post.
    I’m sure you won’t be to far away as like you said. You have the passion
    Of the sport and once you have that it’s very hard to truly leave behind.
    Wish you all the best in your retirement and hope you enjoy it.
    May I make a suggestion in a replacement. Jon Blancher. He seems to have the same passion as you. He will not be you of course. But I bet
    He could do very well in his own way in this blog.

    Cheers and all the best you and your family .

  13. Dave Matson says:

    Wow Chris it has been quite a run! Gonna miss your comments and insight.

    Believe it or not when you retire you will be busier more than ever! All the best and see you on the trails!


  14. Patrick Saunders says:

    Best of luck, and good luck from the crew here at atvpt.com.


  15. Yellowknife says:

    Chris! Congratulations. Retirement, your career with YMC, this blog, congrats to all of it. What a series of accomplishments. I bow to you for everything you’ve done, some of which I’ve been fortunate enough to brag about over the years. I love the group photo from the test ride you invited Tyler and I on. That was a great once in a lifetime experience. You are one of the few in the industry who really go the extra mile to stand with the consumer. I appreciate that. I’m thankful for all the times you helped me out over the years, the things I know about and the things I don’t. There’s too many to count. I really appreciate the friendship that came with bending your ear, and I’m really happy you’re getting to hang up the full time corporate life and enjoy the full time family life. Looking forward to staying in touch and getting a couple more rides in with you down the trail. That trip to Yellowknife i’ve been harassing you to embark on? No excuses now! 😉

    Cheers to an icon in the snowmobile industry – you deserve all the best in retirement.

    Thanks for everything,


  16. Jerry Darvell says:

    Chris it has been a great to read every article that you wrote an when i talk to you on the phone, Happy Retirement and Happy Trails.

  17. Greg Marier says:

    Chris -Congrats on your successful career and upcoming retirement! It was great working with you during my time at Yamaha just south of your border.

    As much as the job can seem to define you, there is a life after Yamaha and I am sure you will live it to the fullest.

    Take care,

  18. Kevin K says:

    Best of luck to you and I hope you have a LONG and FUN FILLED retirement! Many of us will really miss your thoughts, analysis, and insights. Enjoy the next phase of your life!

  19. Dave Weman says:

    Good decision getting out while you can still enjoy life. I may have waited too long.
    Thanks for this blog & your occasional posts on TY. They have made a difference.
    It would be great if you could have a part time position with Yamaha as their Social Media person for sleds. Your compensation could be a few Demo sleds etc each year.
    Hopefully we will see you on TY 4 Stroke in the future.

  20. Curt Diesner says:

    You can’t leave now, things are starting to get real exciting. Can you say Side winder. Just kidding. There is never a good time or a bad time to retire and make everyone happy.
    Wishing you all the best in your retirement. Your blogs will be missed.
    One favor before you go. What is Yami going to give us for a 50th anniversary sled? Your secret is safe with me.

  21. Viper S says:

    I haven’t viewed long, but it’s sure been good! Thanks for all your hard work and view from the inside. Enjoy the important things now and happy trails!
    Viper S

  22. Jason says:

    Just want to say thanks and good luck in the future. Really enjoyed all your articles. I hope someone steps up and keeps it going, as it means so much to us enthusiasts. Just to give you an idea how important, your post a few weeks back with a link to 37 pages of Sidewinder engine info was a major factor in me snowchecking one this spring. It made me realize all the tech in this motor and I was just blown away. No pun intended,lol. Thanks for all the great work.

  23. Gaylor says:

    Its been a good run Chris, thanks for the entertaining and knowledgeable posts over the years!

    Enjoy your time with the family!

  24. Todd S. says:

    Congratulations on your decision to retire from YMC. Thank you for all your contributions to the snowmobile industry. Your blog should be a model for the other manufactures to follow. Your passion for the sports is obvious which leads me to believe we have not seen the last of you – at least I hope not. Enjoy retirement!

    Todd S

  25. Low Slung says:

    Sad to see this end Chris.You answered many questions(If you had a dollar for ever time you heard “Why can,t you bring back the sno-scoot?),Shared timeless stories(Boil-up in Newfoundland,Bravo history,Yamaha worldwide snowmobile testing areas,SRX/SXviper development are my favorites)and introduced the people who design,build,test,and ride the snowmobiles we love so much.Many thanks Chris,and all the best to you and your family.

  26. kevin (jmp2204) says:

    Thanks so much Chris. I have been out of sleds for a few years now (kids in minor hockey) but have been riding Yamaha since my parents sl433f. Since your Blog started i have subscribed and read and found it to be excellent . Good Luck enjoy your retired ment

  27. Phil A. says:

    Thanks Chris,

    Yamaha, as in most things they do, was ahead of the curve letting you share insights on the internet.
    Thank you for sharing, Chris, and thanks for time and effort. It was appreciated by all of us who followed the blog.

    Enjoy retirement!!!

  28. Rich O says:

    Wow Chris, congratulations on your retirement you will be missed!!! Hopefully get to see you out on the trails whether it be on the sleds or on the mountain bike.


  29. paul reid says:

    on the dock sled talk bro……..welcome home

  30. Mr T. says:

    This one for me and I’m sure others is a tough thing to see end! I would like to thank you so much for doing this blog for us. It was a blog that you couldn’t wait to see the next post! Congradulations on your retirement! It’s been a helluva ride!

    Mr T

  31. Hal says:


    all the best in your retirement. I really enjoyed your blog over the years and all the readers who have commented. Every day after work I get on the computer and check a few sites with this one being near the top.

    Enjoy the family and the lake and have a long a fruitful retirement.


  32. sledjunk says:

    Chris, Congratulations on your retirement. I will miss your insightful threads on here and wish you all the best.

  33. TK says:

    Enjoy your retirement. It was a good run.

  34. sledfreak says:

    Wow!!! Never seen this coming… You have added so much value to Yamaha Customers over the years with priceless amounts of free information. Your knowledge and admiration to Yamaha and to the snowmobiling Sport will truly be missed. Happy Trails.. I hope you made a deal on your retirement that you get to still test ride new Yamaha sleds… Maybe now you can truly rack up some miles during the next few winters. Rubber side down..


  35. Bosco says:

    Nothing else to say, It’s all been said. Thanks for everything from one old Yamaha guy. Take care and enjoy !

  36. Mattias says:

    Thanks Chris for all the insights into the industry, especially the one of Yamaha, a brand that I was born into 40 years ago and never have left. Truly your blog has been unique in the entire industry.

    Leaving for the Swedish mountains this weekend to have the last miles on my Apex SE. Next year a Sidewinder BTX will force me to break new trails!

    Enjoy your retirement. Thanks.

    Best Regards

  37. Bob says:

    Really enjoyed the stories that made me want to get back into the sport again. Hopefully, the industry continues to grow and Yamaha stays in the snowmobile business.

    Happy retirement.


  38. Niklas says:

    Thanks for everything Chris and happy retirement you will be missed,and if someone keeps this blog alive like others said it will be big shoes to fill,just hope that out will be sombre deeper content like yours, not just a couple pod lines but something you actually learn from, I think sledders like too know allot about their stuff,I know I do. Sayonara Cris

  39. Mark Lawson says:

    Thanks so much Chris. I feel very selfish when I thank you and only think about what I will miss, when in actuality we have not thought about what you have been missing.

    Good luck in retirement. I hope to someday share a trail and a beer with you. That could be in Ontario somewhere, Northern MN, or next fall at Haydays.

    I do love the fact that you are posting under your real name on TY. We can only hope you will milk what connections you can maintain with the mothership. As that is what I truly enjoyed was the comments back and fourth that made us owners feel like we had a connection to the Yamaha.

    Thanks again!

    Mark Lawson
    biffdotorg (on TY)

  40. snoguzzler says:

    I’m really going to miss the blog, and your advice even more. I have alot of memories from here, from being in the commercial to winning a Nitro piston display. Your advice on carbides, your invite to a preproduction ride were both amazing gestures. THANK YOU!!!! enjoy retirement and hope to see you on the trails!

  41. Frank McGachy says:

    Been a while since I checked in, hope I’m not too late for Best Wishes. Like you I am retiring at the end of this year at the ripe old age of 56! Looking forward to fun times with friends & family at the cottage also. Maybe we will cross paths some day and I can buy you a beer for all the great feedback you have provided. You’re style and refreshing honesty will be greatly missed but I am very happy for you to get out so young and enjoy life. I wish you a long and enjoyable life full of love & health. Funny how I consider you a friend even though we have never met, your writing style has encouraged this. Ciao Chris, until we meet again! Regards Frank

  42. Andy says:

    Hey is anyone going to keep this blog going? Chris did such a great job, it deserves a new young sledding enthusiast.

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