Even though we are in our second year of SR Viper models built by Arctic Cat to Yamaha specifications, there are still a huge number of riders who want the tried and true, the proven and reliable, built by Yamaha in Japan models – like the RS Vector.
When Yamaha told their dealers and consumers their SR Viper models would be built by Arctic Cat, not everyone jumped up and cheered. Sure, we look at the change in riding position going to the famous Cat chassis and suspension package, but to a large number of traditional Yamaha riders, they simply were not convinced. They like how the RS Vector runs. They like how the RS Vector sits. They like how it is built. They like how it lasts.
When we look at why the RS Vector continues to be so popular, it’s because it delivers exactly what trail riders everywhere want and are looking for – great handling, smooth ride comfort, thick meaty power, strong acceleration, super reliable engine, great fuel economy, durable and reliable performance with protection from the cold and wind, all at a decent price. And with the large trunk space at the rear of the sled, you have room to stash some gear, lunch, water bottles, or whatever you might want to bring with you as well.
The RS Vector has legendary reliability and a perfect engine for groomed trail veterans. After the addition of the Yamaha-exclusive EPS power steering system a couple of years ago, we got improved handling again in 2014 with the addition of the Yamaha dual-keel dual-runner Tuner Skis. These skis had been available as accessory items and are now standard issue on the RS Vector to further improve the handling characteristics. They’re called Tuner Skis because they provide many options for tuning them to your liking, but right out of the box you will realize easier initial turn-in when you crank on the bars and straighter tracking through the ruts. It’s a really nice improvement.
In addition to the EPS system and Tuner Skis the RS Vector has the third generation front suspension geometry equipped with HPG shocks, an oil pressure sensing system, a functional windshield with great rider protection and an adjustable clicker shock in the rear suspension. All of this on top of the smooth-riding Mono Shock CK suspension and ultra-rigid Deltabox III chassis and we still have one of the best trail sleds money can buy, at any price.
Under the hood is the rock-solid 3-cylinder Genesis 4-stroke motor. With a smooth and linear 125 HP, this motor delivers simplicity, fuel economy and great performance. The advanced fuel injection system automatically keeps it running crisp and clean all of the time. The low end response makes the Vector feel like it has an even more powerful engine, but that’s just the wide torque band. Where a 2-stroke 600 feels, well, peaky, the Vector’s power feels thick. It just pulls and pulls.
The key feature here is the Yamaha 4-stroke reliability and low cost of operation. Spend less time in the shop and more time on the trail, mile after mile and year after year. There is no need to buy a new sled every couple of years, they can and do last far longer when you buy the right one. Very few snowmobiles will run for thousands of miles with no engine problems like this one. It will run the same ten years from now as it does the day you bring it home. The RS Vector has proven itself worthy when it comes to long term reliability, and nobody can argue with that track record.
But, we come back to the built by Yamaha in Japan thing. We will admit the SR Viper might be the best sled ever built by Arctic Cat, as Yamaha held them to their own higher standards for build quality and durability. Yamaha taught Arctic Cat a few things about mass production, and Yamaha has different test procedures that had to be satisfied. Some are not yet convinced that the SR Viper is of the same quality as an RS Vector, and some want the traditional seating position instead of being further forward like you’re riding a bike. Might be their knees, might be what they’re most comfortable with. That’s OK, the RS Vector is here to keep everyone happy regardless of what they like.
The 2015 Yamaha RS Vector comes in Matte Black with Candy Red accents, priced at $11,999.
Republished from the September 2014 issue of SnowTech Magazine. (August, 2014).
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