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October 6, 2010

Suspension Engineer Ron R

I had a surprise phone call from an old friend this past summer which I thought would provide a good blog post.

Every year the IZOD Indy car series comes to town, taking over the streets of Toronto. It was the week prior the big show when I got the call. On the other end was Ron Ruzewski, an engineer I had the pleasure to work with back in the late nineties and early years of our 4-stroke development leading up to the Nytro. Ron’s specialty and main contribution to Yamaha snowmobiles, is found in our suspension. He was deeply involved in the front A-arm project development, the leading arm snowcross layout of the Viper open sleds (remember Chris Vincent? Ron was in the race trailer) and much of the mono-shock design. He made a tough decision and amicably left Yamaha for a new challenge before the actual launch of the Nytro.

Driving to work this morning I spotted a Penske rental truck sporting the line ‘dedication at every turn’ on it’s bright yellow, front quarter panel and it got me to thinking about Ron. It was Roger Penske who lured Ron away from our snowmobile division and I had not spoken with him since, not until I got the call.

I remembered the voice immediately, ‘I’m in town for the Indy and was wondering if you would be available to hook up for a couple of pints and a bite?’ Heck yes! We spent a pleasant,  hot summer evening at one of the trendy downtown restaurants talking about snowmobiles, race cars, careers and family. Ron has done very well within the Penske organization. He originally signed on to work under wraps as a suspension designer but this quickly changed when he demonstrated an advanced ability to translate driver feedback and data acquisition programs into effective vehicle set-ups. Check out this ESPN interview with Ron for a little more perspective.

He laughingly told me at one point they were stuck on a suspension design issue and he ‘winged it’ applying something quite radical to the car by falling back on his sled experience, ‘it worked on a snowmobile so why not a race car?’ …and it did.

He is now the chief engineer for the Penske open wheel team (all 3 cars) plus he is the lead engineer for the number 3 car driven by his good friend Helio Castroneves. All glamor aside, he spends half his life away from his wife and two little girls, attending testing sessions, meetings and events where ever he’s required.

I know many of you like to tinker with your sleds, tweaking the suspensions, massaging the drive train trying to get that extra bit of oomph out it. Let me tell you something I learned from Ron, the best tuners in the biz aren’t even close to the level of precision and detail that the winning Penske team has developed. As Ron succinctly put it, his whole world is measured to three decimal points. Practically every part they use is hand-made and in a constant state of testing and refinement in the quest to improve another thousandth of a second.

On the human side he made a comment that impressed me a lot regarding the driver / engineer relationship. Before he and Helio became a team there had to be a deep trust established. Simply put, Ron will make changes to the car after practice, sometimes big changes, then put the car on the start line where Helio must immediately commit to speeds well in excess of 200mph driving on blind faith that it will perform as expected. That first corner must be a real rush 😉

So how does this connect to you and your sled? Well for starters, you can rest assured that much of our current suspension design was brought forward by one of the most progressive and capable minds ever to shine in our industry. And if you come across a ‘magic-spec’ claiming to improve your performance by out-thinking the engineering, you might question the source and look for the compromise, as there most often is one.

But more than the depth of our design it’s about the people working behind the scenes within the snowmobile industry, most of whom share the same passion and excitement that gets you out every frosty opportunity. Ron still likes nothing more than to pull on his helmet and go for a snowmobile ride… come to think of it; me two!

cheers  cr

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Posted @ 8:52 am in Yamaha People and Communication   

September 29, 2010

New sleds New people

For some reason I had to chuckle when I saw our new ad…  then I thought it would provide a nice little segue into my first post of the season. I’ll give you a snap shot from a ‘mile up’ on some of whats been going on this summer.

First we have a couple of changes in the corporate line-up. Rob Powers has taken the helm of the snowmobile division in the United States. He is certainly no newcomer having held down a regional sales manager position as well as assistant product manager when Mike Doughty was wearing the hat and marketing communications prior to Greg Marier. Rob is a hard core sled head and I’m stoked he’s running the show in the US. Here’s his official intro.  Rob Powers

We have been short one key member on our team since Vic Ikuta was called back to product planning in Japan. Ace Oyama is now in the process of moving to Canada and will be the official snowmobile voice (assistant to the president) for North America at factory, (no pressure there!).

I went on record last spring as saying the new Apex had around a 5% increase in horsepower and a wider torque curve with no drops… Dynotech has had the opportunity to flash a production unit and heres what they came up with: (you can click to enlarge)… under promise and over deliver?

I don’t mind saying it’s been a ‘rough row to hoe’ through-out the rocky global economies but the atmosphere here at Yamaha is now one of cautious optimism. We know real snowmobiler’s are in the game for the long run and we have our fingers and toes crossed for good snowfall with lasting trails this season. The big fall trade shows are getting ready to kick-off and if Hay Days is any indication, the attendance will be strong and there will be bargains to be had.

Speaking of Hay Days, Yamaha racers had some great grass-drag results. Check out this video posted to Youtube of the OSP turbo outlaw sled:

On the out, I want to thank you for your support and encouragement in keeping Sled Talk up and alive. I will do my best to offer more insight into our business and continue to share in your passion for snowmobiles and Yamaha.

Cheers cr

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Posted @ 1:55 pm in Competition and Racing,Yamaha People and Communication   

March 16, 2010

Avalanche Tragedy – Testing

As most of you will know by now, there was a terrible avalanche at the Big Iron Shootout on Boulder Mountain in Revelstoke last weekend. (Note: The Big Iron is not an organized event but an annual gathering of riders intent on challenging the hill and each other in some unofficial runs.) I have known some big slides over the years but never one that came down in front of so many sleds. The fact that only two lives were lost can be attributed to many of the riders being avalanche aware (educated) and prepared to deal with such an event. The reason I say this is because of the unlikelihood of anyone in the media recognizing the fact that the risks assumed by many mountain riders are very calculated and acknowledged with formal training and safety equipment. They would much rather paint the picture of a bunch of yahoos running amok in the mountains as they call on governments and law enforcement for restrictions. The efforts of the survivors should be applauded as they were prepared and able to save the lives of many. That said, our hearts go out to the families of the two men who lost their lives.

Last week was interesting, Jon, Richard and I traveled to our testing center in Wisconsin to evaluate some future projects and discuss everything from the new Apex release to the latest accessories plans. The testing was difficult due to the trail conditions. We ran a section outside of Hurley which ranged from mush to muck with lots of rocks popping up, sink holes with sucker snow on the edges ready to pull you off the trail if you tried to hug the sides… The test terminated in a freshly plowed logging block with skidder tracks deep enough to swallow a snowmobile. Given the conditions the sleds ran great, I’m just glad it wasn’t mine!

Next week I am heading for what will likely be my last ride of the season. There is still lots of snow in northern Japan and I’ll be doing planes / trains and automobiles for at least 48 hours of the trip… Will make a point of snapping a couple of pics for Sled Talk and visiting my most favorite sushi bar in the world in honor of Karl Ishima, who will retire the end of this month.

Karl is the father of the Bravo and both VK models. He was also influential on the SnoScoot project, Vmax 4 (from his post in the USA) the OMP that almost was and the RX-1.
It would be great to get some comments from people that have owned any of the above mentioned snowmobiles as I want to put together a little presentation for his retirement party… anyone have any farewell wishes for one of our most seasoned engineers?

cheers
cr

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Posted @ 11:42 am in Travel and Events,Yamaha People and Communication   

January 29, 2010

Quebec Meeting

I just returned to Toronto from Quebec City where I was holed up in a hotel with our regional reps for three days of ‘spit-balling’ about snowmobiles. We had a chance to get out on the trails with the new sled(z) but unfortunately a freak rain storm dampened the fun. There was one section of trail that got completely wiped out by a flash flood which left huge chunks of ice strewn about the forest. I didn’t get a chance to see it but Jon did and had an image on his i-phone that made me cringe.

Got word today that an old friend Max Aoshima has chosen to retire. What is notable about Max’s announcement, he is, to the best of my knowledge the only engineer left who started working with snowmobile in the 60’s development period which resulted in the SL350 and he has been with snowmobile ever since. His knowledge and sled history is brilliant! Max-san please enjoy your retirement and if you make it to Canada we must go for another ride 😉

Well we’ll hoist the blue dress high soon enough but if you’d like a little peek at what’s under the hood, here’s a little Sled Talk bonus. I am heading out on the road to meet and ride with our Ontario dealers Monday but will post again around this time next week. I have really enjoyed all the comments that have come in on Sled Talk and TY and it will be interesting to see what happens next week. I was asked to do a little video blog on the new sled which will no doubt be popping up pretty soon, sure to get me in some more trouble 😉

I need to ask a small favor. It’s report card time for Sled Talk and I have made a brief survey that I am asking everyone who reads Sled Talk to take the three minutes required to complete. All you need to do is click on this Sled Talk Survey link.

Thanks in advance!  cheers  cr

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Posted @ 4:29 pm in Travel and Events,Yamaha People and Communication   

January 22, 2010

Viral launch of the 2011 Apex

IMPORTANT: SLED TALK SURVEY, please click here

It has been ten days since I took a group of great guys for a ride on the new ‘mystery sled’ which by the way is not so much of a mystery any more ;-). I have spent a ton of time on the forums reading what the men who actually rode it had to say and all the comments and conjecture from the folks who haven’t. I notice something on Sled Talk that I see on the forums as well. Each post is read by approximately 100x the number of people than actually write a comment. It really makes me wonder what the silent majority thinks of it all and more importantly how powerful is all the word of mouth being generated outside of the internet?

Sledfreak made a good comment here last week comparing magazine articles to social media  “I find way more valuable information on the internet forums.  There is also a lot of misguided information, but you have to read through the dirt to get to the good stuff.” I have observed the well moderated forums like Totallyamaha and Dootalk (hats off to the owners and mods) maturing over the last few seasons . There is a lot less ‘bashing’ than in the old days. That said, there is such a wide range of users participating that there will always be a contrary view point (or 10).

I am preparing to address our field staff at a meeting next week in Quebec and plan to hit some topics using examples I have learned right here on Sled Talk and over on TY. Some of you might remember a survey I posted on-line for Apex owners a couple of years ago. Several questions referred to your satisfaction levels of various components and functions. I was able to filter different model year data (06 to 07 to 08) and found some significant trends all relative to the ongoing changes that were made in production to each model year. The mono rear suspension is a good example with far fewer issues (much higher satisfaction) in 08 than 06. The point is; when I read comments on the forums comparing an 06 with what is perceived as the same thing coming in 2011, suggesting it is not changed enough to be worthy of a trade up, I have to shake my head.

There is another whole cross section of guys who are looking for the next generation of 4-stroke off-trail machines, basically a revamped Nytro on steroids. Clearly the ‘mystery sled’ is not a mountain machine or a snow crossing boon-docker. No – its a dedicated trail sled and clearly, a disappointment for those that are looking for something else. I have been checking out the avatar, location or signature after reading a negative rant on the OMG often to discover the author is riding a Nytro or competitors equivalent machine. It’s good to vent and its helpful for us to see where your interests lay, just remember that we all have different needs and expectations regarding our sleds. Interesting fact: over 60% of the machines sold up here are used on the trail.

Anyway the coolest thing about all of this is that you can participate in the forums if you choose. When someone who has experience with a machine posts, you can challenge him or ask a question. You won’t find that little feature on any of the corporate web-sites (with the exception of Sled Talk 😉 ). You will also find plenty of ‘dirt’, the negative and sometimes off-colour comments, but give it some time and the ‘self policing’ attribute of the on-line community will generally put things in proper perspective, either confirming or denouncing the source and their agenda.

Many of the 2011 model comments have addressed the issue of lightweight and EPS (power steering) often in the same reference. Did I just confirm that Yamaha will be the first manufacturer to offer EPS on a snowmobile? Of course I didn’t. But if we did… could EPS possibly offer the same benefits of having light weight? Could it offer some new benefits, even greater than light weight alone? What is the real benefit of having light weight in a trail machine when you are seldom if ever stuck or faced with carving a turn in deep powder? Is it possible that there are still some features yet unknown and the sum total of all could far outweigh the spec sheet? Naw it’s just warmed-up left-overs, right?

I can find just about every possible answer to the above, the good the bad and the ugly. What I’m really liking is what the guys that have actually rode the sleds have to say (okay at least 90%). That’s why we released it ahead of the official date. Real riders, their own words speaking on neutral ground. Sure we could post rider testimony on our own web-site but who would believe it? I sure wouldn’t! After-all we would edit, dip it in sugar and whitewash it with cream-cheese before showing anyone, its what most big companies doo right? These days even the magazines editorial credibility is suspect (I refer back the SledFreaks comment).

You might hate the lack of disclosure, you might enjoy the chatter and imaginative conjecture or you might appreciate the preview coming from real riders with no corporate censorship or financial influence. But no matter how you look at it, we have surly given you something to talk about!

Cheers  cr

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Posted @ 1:16 pm in Opinions and Insights,Yamaha People and Communication   

January 18, 2010

What is a Game Changer?

Well it has been really interesting watching the reactions to the comments and sightings of our newest snowmobile. For those who might not have stumbled upon it, we let a select group of customers and some media folks ride a 2011 sled last week without giving away any specifications or details on what the sled actually was. (All that will be released on February 2nd). The whole point was to have them ride the sled and comment on what they actually felt not what they assumed it should feel like which often happens once you are given all the mechanical specs and features.C ya

One reaction I had not anticipated (but in hind sight should have) is in direct reference to calling the sled a ‘game changer’. This term is kind of trendy of late and has been used by a lot of people to describe various products. I’d like to add my viewpoint on this little ‘figure of speech’ and how I think it should apply to motorsports.

I think the traditional ‘game’ of snowmobile product progression is ‘bigger / faster / better’. Ever since the return from the brink back in 1981, the OE’s have been adding horsepower in steady doses to keep sled heads falling off their wallets and it has worked pretty well. Of course the sleds have also gotten bigger and stronger in the process but that has been the name of the game. What struck me was how many people that have said if Yamaha was to build a game changer it would be by adding more horsepower and subtracting some weight. I don’t see how that will ‘change’ anything, it is the same game we have been playing for years.

From my point of view, a ‘game changer’ is based on a design or technology that first, has not been applied to the subject before (in mass production) and most importantly, adds enough value or impact so as to cause a shift within an entire industry. In other words a true game changer should be based on a new idea and cause everyone to react and follow suit in short order.

Yamaha has introduced a few game changers to snowmobiles over the years. The first that comes to mind is ‘Autolube’ oil injection. We were the first but within a couple of seasons all mainstream sleds adopted the technology. Another ‘game changer’ was our DCI or digitally controlled ignition, yep we were the first back around the Exciter 2 / Vmax4 days. This technology allowed the spark to be 3D mapped to help control the combustion over a wide rage of conditions which allowed larger displacement twins and assisted the move to electronic fuel injection, again everyone quickly adopted the technology. There have been many contributions from all the companies over the years: involute drive tracks, plastic skis, independent front suspension, slide rail skid frames, liquid cooled engines, ride forward ergonomics and 4-stroke performance mills just to name a few. Subtle improvements for the most part but very important to the evolution of the species.

But that’s the problem with ‘changing the game’. The product must first prove its worth and then the competition must either copy it or engineer the benefit somehow into their newest offerings. My friend Wade reminded us that we should not use the term ‘game changer’ in reference to our new sled because Polaris had done the same thing last year when describing the new Rush. But was it a game changer? I don’t know yet. The idea of removing the shock from inside the skid frame in order to control the function is a good one. We had that in the Snoscoot and Snosport years ago but no one followed the lead and the idea died (along with a couple of sleds that were far ahead of their time).
Will all the builders start engineering around the patents so to have external shock layouts? Maybe- and if we do then by gum Polaris will have game changer.
Right now it’s just another sled with a different skid frame layout.

Herein lies the rub. It takes time to determine if something is truly a game changer. Until that happens its nothing more than a marketing hook to capture your imagination. Will our newest 4-stroke trail sled prove to be a ‘game changer’?
Personally I really think it will. From the first time I rode it (over three years ago) to watching and listening as people got off it last week… It works so good that I don’t see how our competitors can afford not to react and follow our lead.
Quite honestly… I hope they don’t.  Cheers  cr

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Posted @ 12:42 pm in Opinions and Insights,Yamaha People and Communication   

January 4, 2010

Supertrax Ride 2010

Happy New Year! It was nice to have a few days off over the holidays and I hope you all had some of your own. I have been busy today getting caught up with the desk duties and spent a bit of time in the shop to install a couple of accessories on the Apex. I did have a chance to get out for a good run between Christmas and New Years with Mark and Kent Lester (Supertrax Intl Magazine). Mark had made a couple of inquiries (always nice to know the groomer guys) and we found some absolutely brilliant trails to ride.

The temperature had fallen to a very brisk, minus 18C following a couple of milder days with some rain and wet snow. The sun was shining and the light dust of fresh stuff on top of the glitter made for some stellar riding.

I am more impressed with the Yamcharger ever time I ride it. Huggy tagged along and the boys brought along the new Skidoo 4-stroke and a Polaris Rush for us to try. So we had an Apex, a doo and a Polaris but what was the fourth sled you ask? Well lets just say it’s new, it’s special and it’s a Yamaha of course.

We logged on about 230km and I had a good chance to try out all the sleds. I had forgotten how to ride a 2-stroke but once I remembered where the brake lever was and stopped sneezing, I got along quite well with the Rush. Mark had the skid set-up for our weight but really I wasn’t even thinking about the rear, it was more the balance and handling that caught my fancy but Polaris generally have that figured out.

The skidoo 4-stroke was interesting and I’m embarassed to say this is the first chance I have had to ride one. Part and parcel of being a desk jockey these days. It did a lot of things well but I had a hard time adjusting to the throttle response which felt like there was an elastic band attached to the throttle cable and the steering effort was a lot more than what I was used to. It felt quite heavy but handled flat however and the motor pulled hard. It was the warmest sled in the group and showcases their latest technology nicely but back on the Apex I felt much more at home.

For the record, I maintain that all the current snowmobiles are worthy of ownership and I would ride any one them on a regular basis. That said, I have developed a deep relationship with Yamaha products from years of exposure but I am not brand blind. All the new sleds have continued to evolve, they all have their own character, their strengths and their weakness.  The trick is in understanding what they are and how they apply to you but more on that later.

I know you guys are beyond this but I feel the need to urge everyone to use some extra caution during your first outings of the season. Pay extra attention to whats going on around you and anticipate the other guys aren’t. I had some bad news about a real good friend of mine over the holidays and if it could happen to him it could happen to any one of us. Get well Damian.

cr

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Posted @ 4:29 pm in Yamaha People and Communication   

December 10, 2009

Photoshoot fire!

Every year about this time, our marketing guys get with the new sleds and accessories and produce all the photography required to build the brochures, ads, point of sale materials etc. This year was no different… that is until yesterday. Jon is down at a ranch in Wyoming assisting with the photo mission where they have been clicking away for several days. Wayne Davis,  pro snowmobile photographer extraordinaire and his team were close to completion when tragedy happened.

The ranch features a large main lodge which is their base of operations. All the cameras, computers, riding gear new accessories and supplies are kept there. The lodge also is the home for the owners and provides the main galley for meals and living space for their guest relaxation.

burn1A chimney fire last night blew out of control and the beautiful log structure was totally gutted by flames, including all the gear mentioned above. Thankfully no one was hurt. Most of the staff on site were housed in separate ‘bunkies’ or at another lodge 30 minutes away.

Here’s the report that came in from he field: I’m very sad to report that this morning burn2at ~4:00am MST the east end of the lodge caught on fire here near Saratoga, WY at our 2011 photo shoot.  THANKFULLY everyone at the other end of the lodge (owners Tim, Debbie and boys) smelled the smoke and got out safely.  Yet, as you can see, the east end of the lodge is burn3destroyed.  Inside was all the lodge’s rec room, all YPAD riding gear and parts, along with all of the photographer’s computers, hard drives and most all of their high dollar camera equipment.  It appears we have lost 4+ days of beautiful action photos.  However, the computers and hard drives are currently in route to Denver to see if any data can be recovered.  In the meantime, our “All-Star” team is out on the trails continuing with some photography work and all video work as planned for today!

cameracomputer

Please say a prayer for Tim and Debbie and their family, as they have just lost their home here during the holidays.  We will all continue to help them clean up, but it will obviously take a long time to rebuild.  Our thoughts will definitely be with them during this time.  The most important thing is that everyone is safe!

Clearly we have had a big set-back to our marketing plan but thankfully no one has been hurt. All of us here at YMCA echo the sympathy for the family who just lost their home.

I am truly hoping that’s it for the bad news, as I say every year at this time. Don’t push the season. Take it easy on the first ride, there is no base under the early snowfall and what ever you do, respect the equipment. I don’t want to read about some over zealous sled head, nailing a parked car, sideways,  ’cause they just couldn’t wait! As our friends at Honda say… Stupid hurts!

cr


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Posted @ 11:42 am in Travel and Events,Yamaha People and Communication   

November 20, 2009

YMUS Visit – Blog SLed

IMG_4433I am writing this post at 36,000 feet, jetting home from California. Seems an odd place to go for snowmobile discussions but that was only part of the agenda for our pow-wow with YMUS. This was my first official meeting with the senior staff of YPAD (Yamaha US parts and accessories division) and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

These guys have been on quite a roll of late, introducing many new lines of accessories to their dealers. In a rather unique fashion, they have established themselves as a distributor for select brands offering multiple products outside of the genuine Yamaha label. The benefits are many as they can now offer dealers a much wider selection of products with superior service than they will get anywhere else which ultimately translates to better service (and value) for Yamaha customers.

The gentleman heading up the division is a rather unique individual himself. I assumed (falsely) that he was a normal Yamaha So Cal resident, (well as normal as anyone living on the fault line is). Stoked on motorcycles, ATV’s with wide axles, surf”n sand and no real concept of snowmobilng outside of the fact that they are really cold. Turns out I was right on one count, Mo Murray is stoked on motorcycles alright, the faster the better.

courtesy of Mo Murray photogrpahyHis current post at the head of YPAD affords him access to the ‘big show’ and he has penetrated the MotoGP circuit -on several continents- with his camera gear and pit pass. His personal website says it all, check out some of his photography of the worlds top riders in action, up close and intimate.

To make matters more interesting it turns out that Mo and I know many of the same people within the snowmobile industry, a result of his former role running the Skidoo race team after Tom Rager left Doo for Polaris. He spent a lot of time in Quebec and even moved his family there for a period, prior a reassignment with the Seadoo racing division before moving to Yamaha (if you can’t beat ’em…) . I was even wrong in assuming his roots were deeply American, he’s as Irish as Bono 😉

I am always impressed with the quality of people who work for Yamaha. It seems most folks leading the charge for team blue have premium petrol in their veins. The passion for motorsports, be it racing or just riding runs deep in our corporate culture and is the fuel behind much of the companies accomplishments. Mo has surrounded himself with a talented, like minded team which is reflected in the advances being made south of the border.
I am bringing home with me a brief case full of ideas and a trunk full of new challenges for us here in the great white north.

IMG_4437I need to give you a quick update on the Blue Blog Sled. It’s in our shop getting ‘greased up’ and ready to roll. Okay so RJ’s idea of a tune-up is a little excessive but the motor is not being touched. IMG_4440We have had some excellent candidates stepping up or being recommended for the miserable task of riding it for us. I’ll be going through all the comments with the goal of breaking out a short list of test pilots and a schedule which I’ll post here and continue to update as we go.

On another note, our latest Redline e-magazine referenced Sled Talk in one article mentioning that I was dropping hints about a new model forthcoming in February… really! that was news to me. Well you know how rumors go. Totallyamaha was all over the topic with 9 pages at this count and I can tell you no one has nailed it entirely in any of the predictions, if in fact we are going to release something new at all. But if we did, I found pretty much everything on my wish list buried somewhere within that post. Having said that, I guess I just dropped a hint, giving the more skeptical guys another reason to denounce the excitement as ‘manufactured marketing hype’ most sure to disappoint… 😉

Stay tuned, cheers cr

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Posted @ 11:12 am in Yamaha People and Communication   

November 11, 2009

The Blue Blog Sled Challenge

Huggy Bear is  our PR guy, often referred to as a creative guru or resident rodent (you decide). He came up with the following idea a few months ago. I had completely Huggy Bear forgotten about his scatter-brained scheme (50 plus years of breathing exhaust fumes). After looking at it again, I’m thinking it could be kinda entertaining and even has a modicum of practicality.

Huggy controls our fleet of demo sleds which he signs out to magazine and TV types as well as other ‘expert’ evaluators. Some of those who grease him up with offers of ‘great product exposure’ get to ride the wheels off our sleds, (free of charge ) often returning them, dirty,  abused and out of fuel. Trying to find a thumb-nail image of the sled somewhere in print or a few kind words, often proves futile. Trust me when I say, at times we really question why we do it.

Well one of those is sitting out in our barn with 18,000 hard km on it. It started lifblue blog slede as a long term test sled for the well known Quebec online rag Sledmagazine after that it fell into our general loan pool where it’s life became miserable. The once sweet blue Vector LTX pre-pro is now dirty, lonely and in need of some good lovin’. Did I mentions this sled already has 18, count’em, 18 thousand clicks on it. We didn’t want to see it end there, so you’re going to see just how many we can get out of it!… here’s the deal:

Instead of writing it off, we’re going to run it through our service shop for a complete massage and spa treatment. ed. we will not be touching the engine except for an oil change and filter. After it’s revitalization we are going to rack up as many more miles as possible during the coming season.

I’m going to have some of our new accessories bolted on, like the TRIC scratchers, Snow Trackers, maybe an Ice Ripper track (you get the idea) the only problem is Mr Yamaha doesn’t think it would be a good idea to turn me, Jon (and certainly not Huggy) loose to ride all season in the quest of high mileage. Something about our productivity and ROI.

Instead, we are going to insure and permit the unit for operation on OFSC trails and offer it up to anyone to ride, provided they are responsible (explains why Huggy will be holding down his desk), take care of it and ride lots (oh yeah, you’ll have to sign the waiver). In essence it is a free loaner sled for the season.

Now having said that you are probably thinking OK whats the catch; I already have an Apex / Nytro… whatever. No problem, I figure you probably know someone who doesn’t! Perhaps someone who is still rockin’ the old school on a ticking stinker. Maybe your stubborn, brand blind bud who’s sled has a history of gripping pistons during you’re seasonal, week long epic tour up north, oops wait a minute, that would be my buddy, anyway… We’re open to any wimpy sob story as to who and why someone might wanna have a free sled for part of the season.

I’m still getting my head around how we can manage this deal and get some decent feedback from the test riders but here’s what I’m thinking: We don’t want to incur a lot of shipping costs so we’ll keep it in Ontario for starters. If someone is planning a trip to say, Quebec and wants to drag the blue blog sled along with them, cool, just bring it back in one piece with lots of miles on it. We can also enlist our dealers to help for example; you could drop it off in New Liskeard with the excellent folks at Ag’Nor where someone up there could grab it and keep the crank spinning.

I’m hoping we get a few experienced riders writing in and we’ll put it to a vote as to who should get the blue blog sled next. So what’s in it for us? We’ll require the pilots to test pilotssubmit an honest report of what they thought of the sled, the bolt-on accessories and let us know about the trail conditions with any local knowledge gained. Of course any amusing tales of what happens during the ride  will be welcomed and shared amongst the crew, heck I might even post it here on Sled Talk if it doesn’t land me up in the dog house. We have several options open for sharing the adventure including our Twitter account, the Yamaha ‘in-your-facebook’ page and Sled Talk.

There you have it, time for all those who hang out here but never comment to weigh-in. Do you know somebody that wants to ride the blue blog sled? Spin us a good reason why we should give it up to them. Is it you? Remember, we want lots of miles on this sled. How about it? Got any thoughts or suggestions? Got any snow in Hornepayne yet? The blue blog sled beckons…

cheers cr

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Posted @ 10:12 am in Accessory Stuff,Yamaha People and Communication