2017 Yamaha Sidewinder – First Ride! 2017 Yamaha Sidewinder – First Ride!
Every now and then a manufacturer brings out a new sled that exceeds expectations and just plain works, with a magical combination of a... 2017 Yamaha Sidewinder – First Ride!

Every now and then a manufacturer brings out a new sled that exceeds expectations and just plain works, with a magical combination of a strong engine, compliant suspension, capable ride and sharp handling. The 2017 Yamaha Sidewinder will change your impression of what a 4-stroke snowmobile is capable of. Imagine having a snowmobile with nearly 200 horsepower, regardless of the temperature or elevation. Imagine having a turbo-charged three-cylinder one-liter engine that features an intake manifold pressure management system that all but eliminates any and all turbo lag. Imagine a sled that rockets to warp speed, at your beck and call. You whack the throttle and find out how long your arms are as they stretch trying like hell to hang on for dear life!

   For 2017 the Yamaha Sidewinder will be offered in TWELVE different models, ranging from a 129” R-TX SE all the way to a 162” M-TX SE, with a host 137”, 141” and 153” models in between, in all kinds of lug heights, colors and shock option packages. Each is powered by an all-new 998cc turbocharged in-line triple with 50% more torque and 40% more power than a stock SR Viper (FX Nytro) 1049 engine. This new 998 turbo is similar to Yamaha’s YXZ (side-by-side) 998 engine, but fitted with lower compression and (of course) a turbocharger featuring an air-to-air intercooler and a host of features designed to provide seamless power delivery of exceeding and copious amounts. This package delivers power of at least 180 HP (in conservative Yamaha dyno testing) that we expect will be more like 190 HP when tested by other dyno facilities. Yamaha boasts the Sidewinder will provide the best power to weight ratio in the industry with up to 30% more power to weight than the closest competitor (2016 models) – let’s just say it’s FAST!

Most of time when we hop on a sled with this kind of power it is all motor, lacking in the handling or suspension departments, or just plain one-dimensional (on-throttle only). They’re fun to go in a straight line, but suck in the bumps or through the corners. But when you hop on the Sidewinder you are not only BLOWN AWAY by the engine’s hard-pulling and long-lasting power explosion, but you also instantly notice how smooth it is, how quiet it is, how linear the power is on both acceleration and deceleration, how well balanced the entire machine is front to rear, never pitching or diving. You can’t believe a new sled could be so, well, refined, right out of the gate. Like, “WOW they did a great job with this one, it works so well!”

     You wonder how heavy it is, knowing there are three turbo-charged 4-stroke cylinders banging away in there, but the engine’s power masks the true weight with each burst of the throttle. Even when you chop the power and expect the weight to transfer abruptly to the skis, the sled remains planted and balanced with keen cornering prowess, which is a good thing when you are still carrying some good speed. With the engine’s power being so responsive and predictable it is incredibly easy to ride.


The cool part is that it always runs the same, regardless of temperature or elevation. It never needs to be recalibrated, no clutching or gearing changes, ever. Where an 800cc 2-stroke might be making down around 120 HP (or less) at higher elevations, you will be making 180-190 HP anywhere and everywhere. With NO turbo lag it responds to your commands (almost) instantly, lifting the front end to carry you over the bumps, or blasting out of corners with the utmost in authority. You will have mod sled performance with stock sled reliability, but it is so smooth, so linear, so refined.

You can’t help but be impressed and somewhat proud in realizing somebody at Yamaha finally took the snowmobile business seriously enough to allow the development of such an incredibly awesome snowmobile. Every power-junkie on the planet is going to want to ride one of these just because of what it can do and make you smile like hell every time you ride it. It’s damn intoxicating to have this kind of power delivery at your disposal. You will be saying things like “Oh my gaawd, I can’t freaking believe this thing!”

     Given one word to describe this sled, it would be “intoxicating”. You become totally intoxicated by the torque and acceleration and how well-calibrated the entire machine is as a complete and total package. It not only goes fast, but works extremely well at everything else that is important to a high performance snowmobiler. This is going to be as close to the perfect 4-stroke snowmobile as you could possibly imagine. Not only is this a blow-your-mind engine package with power delivery that will make your arms hurt from trying to hang on, but with each model you will find the machine to be incredibly well calibrated. From ride quality to handling, from clutching and gearing to running quality and consistency. From the moment you turn the key and hear the Genesis Turbo to the moment you dare squeeze the throttle to the moment you see the landscape rush by you in a blur, you will not believe a 4-stroke snowmobile could possibly work this well.

  • Tom Freeman

    March 2, 2016 #1 Author

    I just bought A 2016 ltx viper with a turbo and a inter puts out 190 dino. How much different is this new turbo compared to mine.

  • Spike Spikerson

    March 3, 2016 #2 Author

    No turbo lag. Can probably get 220 hp out of it, with a few minor tweaks and adjusts. My understanding it weighs the same as a turboed Viper. Appears to be complete package on all fronts.

  • YamaNytroMCX

    March 3, 2016 #3 Author

    Im note sure Spike! There`s no lag on either Viper or Nytrp @ 190hp MCX. The new Yama engine isnt that strong, so much over 200hp maybe isnt possible without rebuilding whole engine!

  • YamaDealer

    March 4, 2016 #4 Author

    YamaNytroMCX and Spike, the machine is designed to be around 193hp. It has an IHI turbo which IHI designed specifically for this machine. Also, the pistons and connecting rods have been redesigned to accept the amount of power produced by the engine. Therefore, it isn’t that the engine isn’t strong enough, it is more so that it was not designed to be over 200hp. Also keep in mind that the headers are steel which enable it to be able to handle the amount of heat coming from the engine (roughly 900 degrees). Needless to say I think we are all excited to see this in production and available to the public!

  • John Stanley

    March 5, 2016 #5 Author

    I have been a snowmobile enthusiast Since I was 8 yrs old…. It began in 1979…Take it From someone who fell in love with Yamahas as a kid in the late 70’s and early 80’s with fan cooled 440’s and 340’s that would pretty much out perform and out last all other brands of that era… Only to sadly watch Polaris and then Doo move into first place respectively in sales in the the 90’s and 2000’s … And I will admit… I strayed for a few years when Doo got away from Rotary engines and I got tired of getting my ass beat up and kicked by yellow….All I can say is… Yamaha…I have been waiting for this for a long time! It’s about friggin time you put the same passion, Effort and competitiveness into your products for snow that you do into Street bike, ATV, outboards and motocross. I can’t wait to get on one and pull the trigger! It’s an exciting time for snowmobiles …ALL of the manufacturers are bringing awesome new engineering to the table, and I really think Yamaha caught them off guard with this one. BRP may have beefed up their Etec…. This remains to be seen. But many riders are tired of rebuilding their 800 2 strokes due to all too common crank and piston failures.. It may be too little, too late. I really think this new 180hp + turbo 4 stroke is keeping the people in Quebec and Rosseau awake at night. But it’s good news for us ….the consumer…. Better products right across the board due to strong competition. AWESOME!!

  • Mark Giammattei

    March 5, 2016 #6 Author

    For me, snowmobiling began in 1972. Since then, I have designed custom parts, billet cylinder heads, billet clutch and chassis parts and hold national records and class championships as a result of my contribution to the sport and specifically snowmobile racing. I left the sport in 2002 but continue in automotive racing at the professional level. After extensive study of the finer details of the sidewinder engine package, I am absolutely without words to express my disbelief in what Yamaha Motor Company has made available to the RV market place, starting here with the SideWinder snowmobile. The engine is clearly, over-designed for a single RV product use and that is great news for winter sports enthusiasts! The level of detail in engineering, materials of construction both with the engine itself but equally with the turbo, packaging and most importantly “the engine management technology”, leveraged here…is without equal in the snowmobile industry. This engine is a WORK OF ART. I never in my life expected this! Wow…my god, wow! Bravo Yamaha! May the brand loyal blind who have or may have come to dislike Yamaha for some of the past…WAKE-UP quickly. I’m officially BACK-IN-SNOWMOBILING for 2017!

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