Many times, when there is talk about which sleds are ideal for those who want to break into mountain riding, the discussion usually focuses on the 600 class or sometimes even the mountain fan class, which is down to one machine for 2010.
The Yamaha Phazer MTX somehow gets lost in the discussion or rarely ever comes up.
The question is: Why is that?
It's hard to pin down a reason why the Phazer sometimes gets overlooked-especially in light of the immense popularity the original Phazer experienced in the 1980s. Afterall, the Phazer still creates a lot of interest. Just about every snowmobiler has a Phazer story.
Today's Phazer has big shoes to fill. The Phazer MTX, Yamaha's latest version of the storied Phazer, has been working hard to fill those shoes since it was introduced four years ago. While some might consider it blasphemy to even compare the 2010 version to the 1980s Phazer models, we think today's consumers should judge the 2010 model on its own merits.
As for the talk about what sleds are ideal for winter recreationists who are looking for an entry-level snowmobile, the Phazer MTX is worthy of a look.
The Phazer MTX offers a choice for snowmobilers not quite ready to break the 100-horsepower mark but who want more power than what's offered in the fan-cooled mountain class. The Yamaha Phazer MTX offers 20 more horsepower than the mountain fan class and a host of more features than a fan-cooled machine.
The Phazer is also the only four-stroke sub 100-horsepower liquid-cooled snowmobile available. The powerplant features a two-cylinder, 499cc four-stroke that churns out 80 hp. That's about 40 hp less than a 600 two-stroke and 50 hp less than the next biggest Yamaha four-stroke, the Nytro MTX. For someone new to the sport or who is not looking for a high horsepower sled, 80 hp will feel just right.
The Phazer four-stroke delivers smooth power with a little kick (torque), thanks to the engine's advanced fuel injection system that helps its run smoothly and efficiently throughout the powerband. Throttle response is good for an 80-horsepower engine but for anyone used to riding a two-stroke and then jumps on a four-stroke, the throttle response might feel a little different. It doesn't take long to get used to, though.
The horsepower is one advantage the Phazer MTX has over the mountain fan class but another is the footprint-or track length-that this machine sports. At 14 inches wide, the Camoplast Maverick is the narrowest track of any mountain sled but it is 144 inches long and has a lug depth of two inches. That will allow you to explore deeper snow and go higher on the mountain than a 136-inch, thanks mostly to the deeper lugs (compared to the Polaris Trail RMK's 1.25-inch deep lug). The actual footprint of the Phazer MTX is slightly smaller than the Trail RMK's, so it's the deeper lugs that provide the added traction.
Good Shock Package
Additionally, the Phazer has a decent set of shocks on both the front and rear suspensions, which helps it soak up the bumps fairly well. You'll bottom the Phazer out in the really rough stuff if you're riding aggressively but in the small chatter bumps and moguls, the HPG shocks do a good job of smoothing out the ride. The rear suspension is a second generation ProMountain, Yamaha's trademark mountain rear skid.
For being what is considered an "economy" sled, the Phazer does come with some nice perks, which include a decent, tall, narrow seat. The seat, in combination with the YZ dirt bike-inspired handlebars and rider-forward riding position, make the Phazer a fun stand-up-and-ride sled. Transition is easy from sitting to standing, allowing the rider to ride more aggressively compared to the mountain fan sleds.
It's tough to overlook the electric start, which comes standard on all Yamaha four-stroke sleds and is just a nice touch, especially when it's really cold. The Phazer also comes standard with push button electric shift reverse.
Although the 2010 Phazer MTX is basically the same as the 2009 version-save for a new graphics package-the price has gone up $500, pushing the retail price of the machine past the $8,000 mark. That puts it very roughly in the middle of the mountain fan segment and the 600 class price-wise. Interestingly enough though, the Phazer MTX is actually within a few hundred dollars of a couple of the least expensive 600cc mountain sleds. It's just the cost of a couple of the higher-end 600s that raise the average price of the 600s to around $9,200. So, at least on paper, the Phazer MTX probably should be closer in price to the 600 class because when it comes to features, this model offers more of what you'd find on a 600 than on the mountain fans, thus justifying at least part of the cost.
Wrap all those features and the price tag together in one package and the Phazer MTX presents another option for entry-level riders. And that's worth talking about.