For snowmobilers who rack on the big miles, they know that two-stroke engines are, well, disposable. Face it, few two-stroke engines are going to last well over 10,000 miles and never get opened up. Even the engine manufacturers readily admit this fact, that compared to a four-stroke engine a two-stroke, especially big displacement ones, are disposable in comparison.
This is one of the advantages Yamaha has been cashing in on since 2003 with their world-class engine families. At the top of the line is their well-known and well-respected Apex four-cylinder powerhouse. While peak horsepower is right there in the class of the 800cc two-stroke twins, the Apex puts out such a broad torque band that it gives you wicked strong power at most any and every RPM, so when you crack the throttle this thing gets up and goes. Power and torque are not an issue. Nor is longevity or durability, this engine will outlast every two-stroke being built today, no contest.
It is this fact alone that Yamaha hangs their hat on. If you ride thousands of miles each winter, or plan on keeping your sled for many years, you know the Apex is going to run good and run the same for all of those years. You don’t have to worry about rings going and losing compression. You don’t worry about rebuilding a top end. You don’t worry about crank bearings. You just don’t worry about the engine. Instead, you worry more about things like hyfax, wear bars and where your next stop for fuel is going to be. As it should be.
In a world of rider-forward snowmobiles, the Yamaha Apex has evolved into almost having a cult-like following of riders who appreciate the benefits, and differences, the Apex offers. Instead of placing the rider far forward over the skis like most all of the 2-stroke sleds and Yamaha’s own SR Viper does, the Apex keeps the rider further back on the sled in a more traditional riding position with the rider’s hips behind their knees, instead of standing the rider up with the hips more above the knees. This isn’t really a matter of right or wrong, but one of personal preference. Yamaha sells a bunch of Apex (and RS Vector) models to snowmobilers who prefer this riding position. This is why we call the Apex a “cruiser” because this is best defined by this kind of riding position with your feet out in front of you. The 128” track length balances out the machine, giving you better traction and a more stable foundation, with a super-durable Ripsaw 1.25” track that is perfectly suited for groomed trail conditions.
The Yamaha Apex, being fitted with a wicked-strong four-cylinder four-stroke engine, isn’t going to be the best sled out there for jumping bumps, but get it out onto a groomed trail and you will be hard pressed to find a better snowmobile. The Monoshock II RA rear suspension has evolved into a capable bump-filtering suspension that isolates the rider from the bumps and moguls found on trails and forest roads, and right up to the point of cross country style riding it is very capable and very comfortable. Yes, the Apex is more of a trail cruiser and lake racer, but don’t fool yourself into thinking it can’t take the bumps – it can – just don’t expect it to take the jumps like an all-out cross country sled can.
The shock adjustability is on a small clicker down on the shock itself. Set the rear track shock coil spring for your weight and proper ride height, and then set the shock clicker for ride quality and comfort. Start out soft and go firmer as needed, you want the suspension to stroke and only bottom lightly on the biggest bumps of the day. That means on smooth trails you can lighten the shock up some, and on rough trail days click it up a few notches. It really works quite well.
From the EXUP exhaust that broadens the powerband to the MonoShock II RA rear suspension to the EPS power steering to the dual-keel dual-runner Tuner skis, the Apex is full of unique features that only Yamaha offers. If you want a sled that you can keep for a long time and just go riding instead of being in the shop, look no further. It comes in Matte Black/Candy Red for $14,149.
From the November 2014 Issue of SnowTech Magazine (Oct, 2014)
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