Looking at the snowmobile line-up from Yamaha for 2018, it quickly becomes evident that this is the land of the turbocharger. Their Sidewinder models were so popular for 2017 that they have been expanded out to a total of 18 different versions. Yes, you can choose from 18 different turbocharged Sidewinder models.
How is this even possible? Yamaha did most of the model expansion in their mountain segment. Last year there was one Sidewinder M-TX, now there are six variations. We have two track lengths, 153” and 162”, each offered in a base 2.6” lug height, with SE and LE versions in each length with 3” lug heights. The LE models are the high-end spring models with premium shock packages, where the SE models have lower cost shock packages.
Last year there were two SR Viper M-TX models, now there are zero. Something odd happened with the introduction of the turbocharged Sidewinder – it brought sales of the SR Viper models to a screeching halt. For the most part. We see this in the model offerings, as there are 18 different Sidewinder models for 2018 but only five different SR Viper models. Part of this could be due to the amount of existing inventory of carry-over units, which is a wise move by Yamaha to limit the number of 2018 Viper models as there are enough units in the pipeline as is. It is all a juggling act.
In fact, there is only one remaining Phazer model for 2018, the long-track Phazer X-TX. Well, if we count the Phazer-based PZ Venture there are two. But, there are only two RX Apex models, four RS Vector/Venture models, two VK work sleds and two youth machines. Wait! Two youth machines?
That’s right, Yamaha has a new youth sled for 2018. They have resurrected the “SnoScoot” name for their new small-chassis 200-class sled. SnoScoot is powered by a 192cc 4-stroke Yamaha generator engine, modified for the snow application, producing 9.1 HP and able to scoot right along at speeds of 30+ mph. That said, it just isn’t big enough to carry a full-sized person like the original SnoScoot could, so we have to qualify it as being designed for “smaller riders”. It is difficult to assign a rider age or weight to the new SnoScoot, but we should be safe in saying that when a rider becomes too big for a 120-class sled they will find several years of fun on the next size – the 200cc SnoScoot.
It is an all-new machine, top to bottom. It features a dual-arm front a-arm suspension with a mono-shock rear suspension. The track is a 10” wide, 93” long Cobra lug pattern with 1” lug height. It actually hooks up quite well and motors through some impressive snow depths, something the (4 HP) 120-class sleds are poor at. CVT clutching keeps the engine spinning at a happy RPM with brisk acceleration and adequate top speed. There’s even a hydraulic brake, which also works quite well. With a 2.2 gallon fuel tank it should run for hours, be it doing laps in the back yard laps or zipping along with dad through the woods. We’re told the SnoScoot will be SSCC certified, making it trail legal as well.
Yamaha hopes there will be broad appeal for the SnoScoot. Of course, there will be gobs of snowmobiler families that have been waiting for s sled of this size, as we have been starved for years for something bigger than a 120, but we still have a big gap between the SnoScoot and the next size up, pretty much being a 570 fan-cooled or a 600 ACE, all full-sized chassis machines. But, we had to start somewhere, so maybe, just maybe, the introduction of the SnoScoot will lead to yet another slightly bigger machine to upgrade to. All of the old Enticers, Ovations, Bravos and Inviters are getting worn out and parts are getting harder and harder to come by. Even the old SnoScoots and slightly larger SnoSports are getting harder to find, commanding a premium price well above what they retailed for back in the day.
The logic for such a machine is valid, the question remains who will buy one? With the retail price expected to be somewhere in the $3,600-$3,900 range, it is not exactly inexpensive, but compared to the price of popular dirt bikes for riders of this size we seem to be in line. What we have here is a very fun little sled that works extremely well. That is what this is all about – having fun. The new SnoScoot will enable a huge number of growing riders to have more winter fun. We sure need as many young riders as we can get into the sport, so we applaud Yamaha for doing their part to grow the sport by offering a sled like this.
The SnoScoot is being offered in both Yamaha Blue and a white graphics version, so it should appeal to both traditional Yamaha riders and those from other brands, as well as non-snowmobilers. The white version will allow for a host of wrap kits so the sled can be customized and personalized, as it should be.
Yamaha is celebrating 50 years of snowmobiles with their 2018 model year, so they are offering select 50th anniversary models for 2018. This consists of four different Sidewinder models, two Apex models, one SR Viper and one SnoScoot, all being limited editions that are spring-only versions. Now for the crazy part – the two Apex models will be fitted with a Yamaha-exclusive YRSS – Yamaha Reactive Suspension System. Say what?
YRSS is a snowmobile adaptation of an interactive suspension system Yamaha developed for the automotive industry, known as REAS, X-REAS or DRC, depending on the vehicle. YRSS hydraulically links the two front shocks together, compensating the gas pressure to control body roll. The two front shocks share a remote reservoir, with fluid lines running from each shock to the reservoir. Oil flows between the shocks through a proprietary YRSS control module that applies damping force where required, based on speed of movement, direction and amount of energy being introduced at each ski.
The system helps control lateral roll without compromise to bump compliance and comfort. The net result is an overall improvement in ride quality with more stable handling over conventional shock absorbers which must compromise ride comfort for roll stability. In simple terms, the sled will remain flatter going around a corner, allowing you to rail around a corner like never before, but stay supple through the chop. Additionally, a “mountain valve” allows the rider to have free flowing fluid, similar to not having a sway bar. Leave it to Yamaha to come up with radical new technology to improve an aging machine – as we’re told this will be the very last year of the Apex. It’s been a good run, and the last ones will easily be the best, ever