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With the 2015 model year, Yamaha is smartly expanding their popular SR Viper family of sleds to include even more models. Most importantly, they...

With the 2015 model year, Yamaha is smartly expanding their popular SR Viper family of sleds to include even more models. Most importantly, they are bringing us some new deep snow mountain sleds to satisfy their western base. In addition to the new MTX models, Yamaha is also adding yet another trail sled to the Viper line and has clarified some of their other model designations to better identify them.

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2015 also brings a return to offering spring-only Limited Edition (LE) models for Yamaha, sleds that can only be ordered with a deposit in the spring that include special features and special graphics, only available right now. If you want one, you must make a deposit to get one in the fall. Yamaha estimated there are maybe 25% of the spring buyers who wanted unique features and/or graphic packages, so this was a logical move to go back to offering some special packages for the spring buyers looking for that extra incentive to commit.

2015 is a continuation of Yamaha’s mutual supply agreement with Arctic Cat, now in its second year. All of the new models we are seeing for 2015 are SR Vipers, all built at Thief River Falls. All of these machines are powered by the popular 1049cc three-cylinder four-stroke engine, formerly known as the “Nytro” engine. Speaking of the Nytro, all of the FX Nytro models are now gone from the Yamaha line-up for 2015 so we will no longer call this outstanding engine package the Nytro engine. Done deal.

So, how did the 2014 SR Viper models work out? Overall, pretty good. Dealers and consumers provided an outstanding demand for the product and it was well received. Considering how little of time Yamaha had to perform all of the required calibration and durability testing before the actual production run of the machines, they had their hands full and worked long and hard to make sure the sleds truly met Yamaha quality standards. We could critique the sleds and point out calibration shortcomings like firm rear suspensions or low top speed, but overall these were simply calibration issues that the dealer network was able to work through, for the most part.

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The big news for 2015 is really the new SR Viper MTX mountain sleds. In developing these sleds, Yamaha targeted maneuverability & control with a lightweight, yet durable chassis. Maintaining the Yamaha tradition of an ultra-reliable engine was paramount, along with the potential for boost to provide an outstanding power-to-weight ratio and, of course, the wicked performance a boosted engine provides. But making a good deep snow sled is more than pointing it up a hill and having wicked power, it also entails balance, responsiveness, agility and flotation.

The MTX models will be offered in 153 and 162 track lengths using a 2.6” lug height Power Claw track, extrovert drivers and a dual-shock suspension for outstanding deep snow capability. One thing you will notice is how the MTX models have no rear heat exchanger. While the four-stroke engine does add weight, it also greatly adds to the reliability compared to a 2-stroke. The elimination of the rear heat exchanger makes a HUGE difference in the running weight of the sled out on the mountain. Dry weight is one thing, but what does the sled weigh as you are riding it, full of snow and ice and fuel? No rear heat exchanger helps to level playing field. These new MTX sleds are said to be 55-60 pounds lighter than the ones they replace, which is HUGE.

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One of the issues with the 2014 SR Viper trail models was heavy steering. Addressing this for 2015 we find improved calibrations but also a new version of Yamaha’s popular dual-keel dual-runner Tuner skis. This is a next-generation version of this ski design specifically made for the SR Viper models that once again gives you the ability to tune the skis to your liking. Right out of the box the SR Viper trail models (they all come with the new Tuner skis) will dart less and track straighter with reduced steering effort.

Looking through the 2015 SR Viper trail models, you will notice the standard models now have a “DX” designation, with the base SR Viper now also being called an RTX DX. The DX indicates coil-over shocks up front and a less aggressive calibration, where the SE designation means Fox FLOAT shocks up front and a more aggressive calibration.

Yet another addition to the line-up is a new S-TX DX model. This is a 141” track sled that is similar to the Arctic Cat XF Crosstour models, with a modular rear bumper and optional two-up capability. The S-TX is very similar to the XTX, but with the taller windshield and coil-over shocks up front for better trail capability.

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Looking past the USA-built SR Viper models, Yamaha continues to offer all of their familiar Apex, RS Vector, Venture and Phazer models for 2015. All of the FX Nytro models are gone with the continued expansion of the SR Viper series.

The Spring Power Surge blue and orange Limited Edition models are for-sure going to get some attention with their LOUD coloration. LE models are offered in MTX, XTX, LTX and RTX models, all with some really unique features and crazy coloration. MTX LE sleds can now get an optional MPI turbocharger for only $2,000 extra, making it an incredible value (plus dealer install).

Yamaha has also decided to make available their Performance Damper Kit for the Apex, Vector and Venture models. This subtle yet effective system dampens the resonant chassis vibrations for a truer tracking machine with a more planted feeling. This is one of those that you have to try it to appreciate it. It has always been Yamaha’s attention to the small details like this that, at the end of the day, add up to a better snowmobiling experience.

Read the 2015 Arctic Cat New Model Preview from the Spring issue of SnowTech here.

Re-published from the Spring 2014 issue of SnowTech Magazine (March 2014)

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