March 15, 2008

Yamaha 2009



Filling a (really small) hole

Yamaha Motor spotted a hole in its lineup—not a big, gaping hole, mind you, but more of a niche the company felt it could go after more market share.

Yamaha is aiming to grab a bigger piece of the pie in the crossover segment. What, you say, but Yamaha already has sleds in that segment, with its Apex LTX and Vector LTX., both with 136-inch tracks. Or go farther back and Yamaha offered the Rage and Attak. This is where the narrow niche comes into play. It’s all about track length in the crossover segment these days.

It’s an especially popular segment for those snowmobilers who live in the Midwest but frequently travel to the West to ride. In the minds of those riders, a crossover sled is just about the best of both worlds. They can trail ride at home and still enjoy the deep snows of the West … or the deeper snows off trail where they live when the white stuff piles up to decent depths.

Sledders know the crossover segment isn’t new to snowmobiling. You can give Polaris credit for starting the crossover phenom with the introduction of the SKS several years ago. Yamaha is the latest of the Big Four to jump into the fray, at least with the longer track, with the new FX Nytro XTX. The first X in XTX stands for crossover. The XTX fills a hole in Yamaha’s lineup between the Nytro LTX (136-inch track) and Nytro MTX (153-inch track).

The FX Nytro XTX could become a real contender in a crowded market. That’s thanks to the longer 144-inch (a Camoplast 15 wide by 1.25-inch deep Ripsaw) track, which will help the sled have a bigger footprint (read: better flotation) off trail in the deep snow, regardless whether that snow is in the woods of the Midwest, the Dakota plains or any western mountain range.

No Sacrifices

In going after that off-trail capability, Yamaha, which is carving out a solid reputation in the flatlands with its worry-free line of 4-stroke trail machines, didn’t want to sacrifice any trailability of this hybrid Nytro.

That necessitated designing a new suspension, the Dual Shock CK 144, featuring a tipped up rail (again, not new in the snowmobile business) that should help in keeping both trail and off-trail characteristics of the Nytro. The back few inches of the rear suspension is tipped up 6 degrees, which means, when the sled is on the trail or hard pack, it handles like a shorter trail sled. When you dive off the trail into deep snow, the entire length of the track comes into play, allowing more flotation.

The rear shock is a 40mm clicker with compression adjustment while the center shock is a 40mm HPG. The rear suspension is fully coupled and has an adjustable control rod and tri-cam preload adjuster.

Yamaha also designed a new tunnel for the XTX, which sledders will notice rather quickly a difference between this tunnel and other Yamaha tunnels. The XTX tunnel is steeper (11 degrees vs. 9 degrees on the Nytro RTX) and has some rather impressive and long awaited improved running boards. You won’t find the old star punched running boards found on Yamaha trail models like the Nytro RTX, which offered okay boot traction but were fairly weak when it comes to evacuating snow, which we admit is not usually a high priority for a trail sled. But now that Yamaha is going for a more capable off trail crossover something had to be done to help the rider keep the boards clean. The new design of slashes should go a long way toward that.

Reworked Front Suspension

Another XTX exclusive is a totally reworked front suspension geometry, aimed at better steering and reduced tracking, among other benefits. Changes—10 in all—in the front include new ski rubber, new spindles, new tie rods and new A-arms, to name a few. The A-arms are shorter and have a new look. The shocks are GYTR dual clickers.   

We took the XTX through the bumps during a January ride and while it was only for a little while, we were impressed by how it handled the whoops—we’re talking the 1-3-foot moguls western riders sometimes face on their way to the backcountry. We took the XTX through the stutter bumps too and liked how it handled, but we were pleasantly surprised at how well it did in the deeper bumps. Besides the better steering and reduced tracking, Yamaha was aiming, particularly with the redesigned front suspension, for better predictability and stability from the suspension, as well as flatter cornering. We think the XTX is all over that, but a longer ride will shed more light on that aspect of the sled.

The steeper tunnel should help in deeper snow, too, although we didn’t get a chance to test that particular aspect of the sled out—yet. We’ll do that in Grand Lake at the annual photo shoots.

If we’re allowed a wish list, we wish (and this comes directly from our mountain roots) the XTX had a mountain strap. We think a mountain strap just adds to the handling ability of any sled designed for off-trail riding.

No surprises in the engine area. The motor is the same as what’s found in the entire Nytro lineup—the 130 horsepower Genesis fuel injected three-cylinder four-stroke.

“We needed this model to expand our market share,” Yamaha U.S. snowmobile product manager Adam Sylvester said.

A season on the snow will tell us if Yamaha’s move to fill a hole in its lineup will pay off.







VOHK
Hill's Resort


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