Archive for the 'Tech Talk' Category
April 15, 2016
There is a little confusion surrounding the difference between the Sidewinder R-TX 129 LE and L-TX 137 LE models in the rear skid frame area.
Last year the 129 LE mirrored the Arctic Cat ‘RR’ which included some heavy duty bits in the skid, bigger cross-shafts, beefy rails etc. Along with special geometry and premium shocks calibrated with a distinct lean towards racing.
Based on market feedback, it was decided to calibrate the ‘RR’ model with a more ‘real world’ approach. The sled offers more bump compliance for longer days in the saddle, yet still maintains a high level of durability. The skid frame design, geometry and components are now common to all the other models. The shock calibration reflects its aggressive positioning but is not as harsh as last years setting.
This set-up has been carried over from the 129 LE to the 137 LE. The only difference in components is relative to track length. In case you wonder, the Arctic Cat RR models reflect the same direction.
I confirmed the question regarding tunnel protectors on the Sidewinder. None of the sleds come with tunnel protectors. However the new tunnel strip heat exchangers have been designed to serve double duty as the protectors. You only need to add three short aluminum pieces to the rear most cooler and you’re good to go.
Hope this helps, remember the sleds we have in the field are not final with some components mocked up from last years parts bin.
April 13, 2016
Too Little – Too Late
I arrived at my cabin this past weekend to find the lake with some open water in places. Several inches of fresh snow hid the fact we had already lost our base and beneath the skiff of white was spring. Saturday was the predetermined date to remove the Six Star bridge that connects our lake to the OFSC trail system. It’s a big job to remove the decking and timbers, capable of supporting a full size groomer but its part of the deal with the MNR (government) to have trail access. By the time we were done, mother nature in a cruel ‘in your face’ turn, went and refroze the lake and tightened up the snow as much to say ‘never count me out’!
About 20 guys showed up for the work party aboard quite an assortment of machines. ATV’s were the most abundant but a few poor buggers arrived on muddy sleds that quickly froze into brown blocks of ‘snirt.’ Brad rustled up a big feed of baked beans and burgers over an open fire and we all had a good time lamenting the season that wasn’t, once the work was all done.
Fortunately the conditions are still holding good in the west. I’ll be heading to the airport in another couple of weeks for what is sure to be my last ride of the season. Most of the guys I talked to on the weekend are way down on mileage this year and it is showing in the industry sales figures for the first couple months of the year. I have seen inventory levels worse in past seasons but there is no doubt in my mind that we’ll be riding another rough trail this fall.
Some questions have come in on the comments side which may be best answered here:
Did the turbo engine come before the YXZ? Interesting question, chicken or the egg… I don’t think there was really a first or second. The concept was to build an engine platform that could be customized for a given application. The crank-shaft is common to all four motors but there are many individual parts that are unique to each.
I guess you could say that we were developing the turbo concept over a longer period of time and the short block followed along. Both the YXZ and Sidewinder engine early proto-typing started with a Nytro based engine (as did the Viper) and all the requirements for both applications came together in the final layout of the 998. I have no idea where the Waverunner version fits into the equation. Really it was a lot of joint work that came together in the end to yield three distinctly different engines sharing common parts, actually four when you consider the new Vector/Venture 1050’s.
Will the new YSRC roller secondary fit on the Apex? Short answer- no – the jack-shaft is a larger diameter. This is the same between Nytro and Apex. Therefore the new clutch would fit on a Nytro and a Viper but not the Apex/Vector (without extensive modification.)
I am still waiting to confirm the Sidewinder skid frame components on the R-TX LE (129) versus L-TX LE (137) and which models (if any) will come with tunnel protectors. I’ll answer when I know – in the meantime there is a very interesting post over on Totallyamaha explaining some key points on all the new track lengths and pitch. If you haven’t seen it, I’d say it’s worth a read. Kevin did a great job on researching the subject.
So back to Mother Nature – enough already, you blew it when you had the chance. Now lets get on with spring!
March 30, 2016
I Didn’t See A Thing
A post caught my eye today on the TY forums. ‘Is it the End for EPS?‘ I was eager to see what was being said on the subject as I’m on record as being a big fan of power steering on snowmobiles. The authors logic was pretty simple – with more and more of our sport sleds coming out of the TRF factory, he wondered if Yamaha has given up on the technology as it’s not integrated into the newest Sidewinders. I was just getting into the discussion when things got a little sideways (re off-topic) as another poster claimed no one inside of the ‘big four’ bother to spend time on consumer forums and if they did, would never do anything about what they read. Really? For the record, the latest trend in corporate social engagement is to have dedicated social media monitoring in place, which can take the form of agencies or internal departments with people and soft-ware focused on what is being brandished about on-line; in related chat rooms and forums. They seldom to never engage but they report to management, anything that may send up a red flag. It’s also my understanding that the motor sports industry is no exception to the rule. Anyway, the convo eventually got back to the pros and cons of EPS which segues well to today’s content.
First let’s review the basics of the EPS system. It is electronic and therefore controlled by the ECU. The ECU itself needs to be designed with EPS as a functional component so this is not a simple add-on. The ECU is responsible for adjusting the amount of steering assist based on speed and operating conditions. It pulls power away as speed increases so it is not (as far as the Yamaha system is concerned) a linear assist. On the mechanical side, the power assist is generally applied to the steering shaft through a worm gear system. What some people don’t understand is this works not only to lower the steering effort, it also isolates a lot of unwanted feedback into the handle bars as the skis bite and break on uneven surfaces. EPS doesn’t just lower the steering effort, it reduces the wrestling match of constantly having to correct for inconsistent traction. End of the day the old elbows have enough left to hoist a couple over a nice dinner without reminding you of the last 400 clicks.
Ideally, EPS is best fitted to a new design but that really wasn’t the case with the Apex and Vector. We found a way to place the unit in existing chassis’ then went about developing the electronics (ECU, wiring harness etc) along with the required shafts and linkage. I am a big believer in EPS on snowmobiles and it seems I am not the only one. I can see ‘gram savers’ rolling their eyeballs and deep snow boon docking is about the last place where I would spend a dime on EPS. That said, I’m willing to bet some of the ‘weight weeny’ naysayers may have cause to pause and reflect given the opportunity to try it in their chosen environment. Where EPS really shines is on the trail. The problem is, you need to live with EPS for a while before you really ‘get it’. Its a bit of a hard sell when the benefit is measured against added weight, added development costs (time included) and a higher retail price tag.
I don’t think EPS is dead by any means. However it will take a bit more time and understanding at various levels before we see it on more models. It would be a really tight squeeze on the current Sidwewinder considering all the additional plumbing it includes and the Viper would need to have a completely new ECU design which is a huge undertaking. It’s a no brainer that chassis updates along with power-trains and suspension are in a constant state of evolution and future designs will see change. Whenever the opportunity is presented you can bet there will be at least one old fart at the table with his hand in the air for EPS.
November 11, 2013
Coming soon to a Trail Near You
Cold rain, snow squalls, commuting in darkness, indeed, we’re on the brink of winter. The doors on the big rigs are sealed and our testing crew, gear bags stuffed, en route to a remote area of Alaska where they’ll run durability on a fleet of production sleds to kick off the seasonal project development sequence.
Never to be left in the snow dust, our management team is spooling up with a flurry of meetings starting next week in our Lakeview office. Jon is off to the corp head office in Cali to pull double duty on future product discussions and MY16 color and graphics. I am going to stay back to keep the home fires burning but will dial in for a quick product plan update via a conference call.
I don’t know if its a past life spent racing dirt bikes or simply growing up in the mountains riding fan-cooled sleds light enough to pick up by the front bumper – multiple times a day – I am captivated by the MX conversion kits led by Timbersled and several others. I know there would be issues on the dedicated trails here in S-ON. But the power line corridors and dissecting abandoned logging roads beg for something like this. Light, agile and narrow with no plumbing to hook a stump or send you to the shop with crumpled clip and an empty wallet. I want one!
The trucks are rolling out of TRF with SR Vipers destined for dealerships all over North America. We had a little hiccup with the shipping dates but we’re now on the gas and sleds are being off-loaded at many dealerships as I write this.
While at the TO Snowmobile Show I met Louie. It was an interesting encounter. One that quickly led to a tire kicking session on a Frankenstein sled, fabricated in his man-cave from an aluminum cookie sheet with hand laid carbon fiber bits and glued on Pogo-sticks off a Tundra. A VK540 mill spinning a forward mounted ‘old school’ secondary layout providing thrust. A Newfie boon-docker if you will.
Turns out Louie wasn’t just into building eclectic bush-wackers , he hosts his own web-base TV show called ‘Powermods’ where he explores some of the after-market industries latest and greatest bolt-on engineering with a ‘how-to’ approach to building and testing some pretty cool stuff. It was only fair that I showed him some of our latest – captured off guard and off the cuff, here’s my spiel with Louie on the Performance Damper. It was fun watching the reaction of people trying to get their heads around the technology, Louie’s ‘awe c’mon’ was perfect. Now if that wasn’t enough, here’s a brief explanation on the Dupont Hyfax display.
September 6, 2013
Bad Vibes – Part Deux
First I gotta say thanks for keeping an open mind regarding the chassis damper system. I was prepared for a bit of ‘flaming’ and what I have received so far are positive, intelligent comments and questions, which I’ll try to answer in this post.
Mr. T wanted to know if the snowmobile application would be in pairs and the answer is yes, in all applications.
The sled I rode in Shibetsu was an Apex as shown here but we have not made any decision on what, when or even if we will go to production with this. (I for one, recommend we do)
Another related query was if the damper system would have as much effect if a different engine was used, the example being our cross plane R1 design. When I posed this question it was explained that the damper system has basically the same amount of impact regardless of the application. In other words if it improved an 800 2-smoke by X%, it would also improve a CP1000 4-stroke by X% – a flexy chassis by the same X% as the most rigid chassis. The one thing I found really interesting; it is thought the overall impact (the real X% value) will be greater on a snowmobile than on a car, where a lot of effort has already gone into control of the elements and the conditions of operation are far more consistent.
Of course the ‘biggy’ to many is weight. We pulled a damper off and hit the scales, the complete system mounted should come in under one Kg, (that’s about the equivalent to your morning constitution). In this case I think it would be worth every ounce.
My first comment upon getting off the Apex, was it felt like there was some kind of gyroscopic effect being applied. The sled settled down, feeling less nervous and more stable right from the first pull on the trigger but more on riding impressions later…
For those guys going to Haydays, we will have the system available as part of a ‘future technology’ display, you may want to take a closer look and go for a pint (or two) to discuss afterwards. 😉 Unfortunately I can’t be there this year but the weather looks good and there’s lots of ‘buzz’ out there, have fun!
December 7, 2011
Someone Pinch Me!
Closing time last night and Blaicher comes bounding into my office with the winter 2012 edition of OSM magazine tucked under his arm.’ Have you read this one yet?’ To which I replied; ‘No I have been too busy doing what I’m being paid to do, what’s up?’ He dropped the copy, post-it notes clearly marking some pages, ‘well you will want to’… and snickering, off he went.
Checking the BB emails this morning from the throne, I spot a growing thread on the same magazine so while I was waiting for my ‘puter to boot-up at the office, my curiosity got the better of me and I flipped to the post-it book-mark to see what all the fuss is about.
I haven’t been following the OSM crew of late, not really since they struck off on their own after separating their ties to Supertrax as the official publication of the Ontario snowmobile federation. They have since gone national in Canada and now international publishing in the USA as ‘On Snow Magazine.’ The publisher, Richard Kehoe, has brought on board quite a list of editorial contributors, many from the USA and is clearly putting a lot of effort into bringing the rag mainstream. But I digress.
The subject of all the attention is an article entitled ‘Throw Down: Real Sleds, Real Riders, Real Trails, Real Results. They captured my interest in the first couple of paragraphs where the author supported my long standing opinion on the validity of snowmobile evaluations performed at the big media events as nothing more than seat of the pants opinion made with very little real world connections.
They took the time to perform some very controlled and quantifiable set-ups and test-runs and unlike most sled evaluations, they used methodology similar to what we would use during a ‘joint test’ evaluation to arrive at their conclusions. The Apex SE was the only 4-stroke of the four models chosen to represent each manufacturer. I was expecting the status-quo dismissal of the Apex as being ‘old and overweight’ in comparison to the latest 2-smoke sizzle.
A couple of the test riders are well known to me. One was a former employee of our competition and a journalist, well known for his extreme viewpoints. I think these guys were sincerely surprised at the outcome of their evaluations but not as surprised as I was to find they were open minded enough to tell it like it is. The formula for the end result was found in reflecting upon the experience the majority of riders can expect, with ego in check, on the trail, over the long haul.
There are a few notable quotes in the article but the one coming from Richard in conclusion, sums it up rather well: “The Yamaha Apex SE was the dark horse of the group. If I would have placed a few side bets on this sled, I could have retired, as this sled turned out to be the preferred trail sled of the group. Remember the Throw Down is about real world riders, the norm if you will.”
In case you are wondering, the Apex was up against the Polaris 800 Rush Pro-R, the Skidoo 800MXZ-XRS and the Arctic Cat CFR 800. I know some of you have opinions on the journalistic integrity of the main-stream sno-mo mags being heavily supported by the big-4’s advertising dollars. For the record, OSM doesn’t have a lot of corporate ads with two of the four OE’s being absent (and we are one of them). The magazine is available on newstands in both countries if you are interested to read the whole article. I have tried not to spoil the outcome too much 😉 .
As a bonus OSM uses photography from an old friend and newly appointed Snowmobile Hall of Famer, Wayne Davis and his images alone are worth the price of admission. cheers cr
May 18, 2011
Reverse and Turbos
I logged on this morning and was hit between the eyes with a couple of excellent questions, which when I began to answer, occurred to me I could base a whole post on my thoughts. So without further adieu…
I currently have 6 Yamaha snowmobiles and have just ordered 2-2012 Nytro XTX’s. I like these sleds but the reverse engagement lever is very hard to use. I have tried various ways of using it, including using a strap to pull on it but nothing makes it work any better including adjustment or a dealer working on it. My non Yamaha buddies get a real charge out this. Also Artic Cat, Bombardier, and Polaris have a factory turbo, but nothing from the leading 4 stroke manufacturer, this seems puzzling to me. Having owned at least 35-40 snowmobiles, 90 % Yamaha and 90% of those bought new I would appreciate and answer to these questions. Repectfully yours, Murray, Sask. Canada
Hey Murray, regarding the reverse gear system on the Nytro; it follows suit with every reverse gear Yamaha has designed to date. In a nutshell, it is ‘quirky’, which is odd when you consider the number of gear systems and transmissions to come out of our engineering group. I find it works best if you are left handed, reach across the saddle while looking over your right shoulder and sticking your tongue out of the opposite side of your mouth, simultaneously blipping the throttle. It also helps if Venus and Pluto are aligned… seriously, there is a bit of a ‘knack’ to it, sometimes the gears don’t mesh just right and a small amount of throttle to move the jack-shaft a bit helps, also having the idle speed set correctly as well as the clutch C2C and OE drive belt will keep the gears from being pre-loaded. If everything is set right it comes down to the angles and order of force exerted upon the reverse mechanism. Occasionally it works like a charm, effortless, then the next time I’m in need of some reverse thrust it can be a real struggle. I will pass along your comments to our engineers (it is not the first time they will have heard this one). And a word of caution, don’t be forcing it too much or you may find yourself clutching a broken handle, it’s all about the ‘angle of the dangle’ so to speak.
On the subject of turbos, we have been pushing this one for a while now (pardon the pun), especially for the mountain application where altitude effects horsepower. There is an argument to the point that a low boost turbo can compensate for the loss of power at elevation without stressing the engine beyond its design parameters. Our engineers work to very exacting standards much of which has come about from years of motorcycle design. They will not sacrifice the durability / reliability of the engines to achieve more power with a ‘bolt on’ device. That said, the testing standards we have to meet appear to be quite a bit beyond that of what the real world requires… catch 22.
There is also inherent pride in knowing our current engines, normally aspirated, are very close to the power output of our competitions boosted engines. Historically, Yamaha has dabbled with boost, most recently in the marine side of things, but we tend to shy away from using turbos or superchargers in favor of building state of the art engine technology taken from pages of MotoGP racing development and auto partnerships.
The current market trends and acceptance of boosting smaller engines in autos and the adoption of the technology into more baseline motorsports has got to have an impact on our planning somewhere down the road. The simple fact that we have many engines operating under high boost pressure for several seasons in the mountains tells me our motors can ‘handle it’ and supports my theory that the ‘bench test’ for our sled engines most likely leaves a significant margin of error when it comes to squeezing some more juice for the real world.
To counter the additional cost of boost, the base engines (like those you refer to from our competition) do not have to be as costly to produce, with lower hp/liter output when normally aspirated. This, along with our ‘rule-book’ of engineering standards would most likely conclude, we would have to design a new engine from the a clean sheet of paper to offer factory boost.
I am not saying such a project is under way, in fact I can say, to my knowledge it is not. But one thing is for certain things are changing at Yamaha. Much of this change is a result of the recession and its impact on our business model. Efficiencies, global demands, parts suppliers, exchange rates and not the least, the internet are all having a profound impact on our future. It’s a mighty big ship to turn but I sense some big changes looking over the bow at the shifting horizon.
… Time will tell. Cheers cr
January 26, 2011
Man, I don’t know whats happening this season but I am having a hard time keeping up with the blogging. I am going to start banging out some content without all the links and photos at least for the next few submissions… So what’s going on?
Well Jon and I were out on a couple of 2012 snowmobiles yesterday doing some video shooting for next months launch. We are going to do things a bit differently this year by providing our dealers with an online introduction to the new sleds and then upload much of the content to our web-site, Yamatube and Yournextsled.com for all.
Another recent development that is going to net me a couple of days on trail, the president of Yamaha Motor Company is flying in here from Japan on business and wants to go for a ride. I was volunteered to assist which is really quite an honor. I have had the pleasure to tour several of our presidents and directors over the years and without exception it has always had a positive impact somewhere down the road. I think if one only looked at the numbers without knowing the passion of the ride, the decision to be a snowmobiler, a snowmobile dealer or a snowmobile manufacturer would be in question. There is a lot of juice to be found in snowmobiles but only from the perspective of hanging onto the bars.
I had a chuckle when DanBro pointed out a little clip in a snomo rag earlier in the week. It was covering the launch in November of a new blog from Skidoo focussed on their mountain sleds. They conclude with ‘we applaud the open communication effort and hope other brands follow the yellow lead’… Nice! makes me wonder where they’ve been the last four years of Sled Talk. Come to think about it I remember Polaris had Tom Tiller blogging a couple of years ago and Cat has had a blog for quite a while covering the races and special events. Regardless, its a good move for them to connect with the online community, alas we’ll just have to follow along 😉
I sat in on a very interesting session with an engineer from Nippon oil regarding oils and lubes a few days ago. I have read the conversations on some of the forums when the guys go off defending their favorite brand oils often quoting the different properties and advantages. I asked the question which prompted an answer that never occurred to me. Our engineers test Yamalube blends in each specific application. First right out of the bottle, then in use. It is the ‘in-use’ results that make or break the deal. He used one of the most popular automotive synthetics as an example, where it tested superb right out of the bottle but within 5 hours of engine operation, one of the areas where it ranked highest deteriorated to the point where we would not accept it for a Yamaha application. He went on to show several more examples based on hard data. The point I took from all this is many of the oil brands that claim to be great in so many applications are not tested in those same applications and the data you see in marketing print is based on clean oil in the bottle. Our oil has to pass tests that are based on new and at the drain interval and several points between. He also mentioned that Yamaha engineers have a reputation in his industry as being some of the most thorough and difficult to satisfy. I thought that was a good thing.
December 2, 2010
Carbides and Shocks
I’ve been getting a few inquires and requests for info which I thought I would add to this post. First: carbides on the new 2011 Apex ski. From all accounts the traditional runners from our old ski will mount up fine, a small amount of bending may be required. The SnowTrackers bolt right up no problem which is good because there is no way you’ll be bending that flat host bar with the carbide wafer! Hey Sled Freak you can pull down your Kijiji ad for the ‘Snowtrackers almost new, only used by a little old lady on Sundays’ and bolt them to your XTX 😉
The other popular ‘odd-ball’ is the Cobra-head which appears can be made to fit but as far as we know they were going to put some additional curve in the bar and set-up as a new part number.
Fox Shocks: we have put together a new shock kit for the Apex consisting of two RX ‘SE’ spec front shocks and an air pump, suggested retail is 559.95 which ain’t bad for FOX! On the same subject due to popular demand we are making the FOX mega-Float rear Monoshock that comes standard on the 2011 Apex SE available as a kit that retrofits all previous mono skids. Properly aired up this puppy will breath new life into any of our older models offering a very wide range of spring adjustment, plush to bottomless.
Another one I was asked what cover will fit a Nytro with the accessory tall windshield. I am told our deluxe cover just fits but gets ‘er done. With all the talk about studding, I have had a couple of inquires about the pre-studded Camoplast offerings. We have them for the 144 and 121 but the 128 is still in the works. I hope to have the chance to mount one on my sled this year, if so I’ll write up a review from the hip.
In closing, I know I am preaching to the choir but I’ll say it anyways. If you are heading out for that first ride, please take all the regular precautions and be extra wary of obstacles covered by the snow. No base = big bang! Save the testosterone for the good conditions… isn’t that right Bellymon? 😉 ride safe – ride sober – sled smart.
November 26, 2010
I recently posted a survey on Totallyamaha and Sled Talk to gather some information on the long standing practice of snowmobiler’s adding traction devices to their machines, or more simply put… track studding. I was able to conclude several interesting points which brings me to today’s topic which I will submit as a ‘tech-tip’ for anyone who is considering the addition of studs to a new Yamaha.
First off the disclaimer: Yamaha does not recommend or endorse the addition or modification of our snowmobiles with regards to studs. Why? It’s simple, studs have been known to rip out and cause damage to the machine. I read many accounts within the survey confirming heat exchanger penetration, resulting in the loss of the engine coolant. This generally causes the headlight to stop working if one isn’t paying close attention to all the flashing lights on the dash and that funny, sweet odor of boiling glycol. Of course, if we endorsed the use of studs and something went sideways, it would be our fault and we’d be entertaining warranty requests to repair engines that went down through no fault of their own. We have no alternative than to say: No, don’t doo it!
Now if you were to chose to ignore this advice and add some studs to your track, there is something else you should consider. The heat exchangers are not your only concern. The exhaust system is exposed on our four strokes to aid in cooling. The chance of a random stud tearing out and causing damage is not really a ‘biggy’ but it occurs to me that we have added something new to the equation – extrovert drivers.
No, I am not referring to some of the more charming riders type A personalities here. In older models, track tension was pretty easy to monitor. If the track was run out of spec (loose) it would ‘ratchet’ due to the rubber track drive lugs (involutes) slipping against the force of the drive sprocket. Studded machines needed to run pretty tight tracks to keep them hooked up to the drivers which helped keep those sharp little bits in the belt away from the expensive little bits up inside the tunnel.
The advent of the extrovert has benefited both performance efficiency and assisted in reducing track noise, its a good thing but the self-policing need to keep a taught track full of nails is now gone out the window. Think about that rubber band under your butt for a moment At top lake speed it is trying desperately to become a circle from the centrifugal force. It is also being stretched on one end by the drive system and retracts towards the other in reaction, causing some really cool wave patterns within its radius of travel. Now add a few pounds of steel to the middle and you have a recipe for some serious distortion and deflection.
I don’t want to tell you what the new one piece titanium exhaust system which includes the EXUP valve is worth because you may have a son or daughter in university but I will tell you this. You don’t want to discover it’s scratched up because you forgot to adjust the track before heading out to the radar runs on Big Boost Lake.
Personally I don’t stud my machine but I think if I did, I would pay very close attention to the length of stud that I chose and I would also keep a very watchful eye on my track tension and underside of my tunnel, keeping everything adjusted to the tighter side of the recommended spec. I also figure that a good tuner, upon reflection will pull off the seat (which by the way is far easier on the 2011 Apex than previous models) and give some thought to maximizing the clearances and effectiveness of the tunnel protectors etc. The adage of an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure applies.
As of today we have some significant snow on the ground, Jon just sent these numbers around:45 cm in Winnipeg, 38 cm in Northern Quebec, 40 cm in norther Ontario and 150 cm in certain areas of BC.
Here’s what it looks like now compared to Dec 1 last year, fingers crossed we are in for a good run this season.
In closing I want to say Happy Thanksgiving to all our American friends, with any luck you’ll be able to work off some of that turkey before Christmas.
Posted @ 3:41 pm in Tech Talk