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!”

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     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.

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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!”

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     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.

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