For the 2020 model year we’re happy to report Yamaha is again growing with more models and building more sleds. Last year we told you how Yamaha was cutting their production, both in the number of models being offered and total number of sleds being built. The logic for this “inventory correction” was simple – their dealers had too much unsold inventory and building a whole bunch more sleds didn’t make sense.
They’re not back to wide open throttle quite yet as they’re still actively working on inventory correction, but they have made and continue to make significant progress. For 2019 Yamaha had cut the total number of models down to 12 (vs. their 34 models of 2018). For 2020 Yamaha is back up to 16 models, and a couple of them are Japan-built machines with the return of the RS Venture II (value touring) and the VKPRO II (work sled) in addition to the VK540, which was in the 2019 line-up.
Looking at the 2020 Yamaha line-up we find some new models, some returning models, and a couple that are not going to be offered for 2020. Like the M-TX LE 162. There will be no new M-TX mountain sleds, at least for this year. We’re told there are still a number of 2018 & 2019 M-TX units in stock, in both 153” & 162” track lengths. And in a show of strength, we have some all-new models and configurations for 2020.
The remaining 13 models for 2020 are basically Sidewinders, SRVipers and SnoScoots – the bread and butter of the Yamaha line-up – and can be segmented into four feature categories; SE special edition, GT grand touring, LE limited edition and the SRX must-win racer.
Grand Touring you ask? Yep, there are two brand new Grand Touring L-TX models for 2020, one being a Sidewinder and one a SRViper. These are both premium models that are perfectly suited for the high mileage rider who values performance luxury, but still is a sporty and fast rider. Think 300 miles per day, or riding 7 hours per day up in Quebec and you get the target rider here. Built for the rider who places high value in the shock package performance, handling and wind protection. One who wants a balanced machine with speed, comfort and luxury. One who takes multiple long trips each season, maybe even riding for a week at a time. These new GT models, in both Sidewinder and SRViper engine packages, come with QS3 shocks, a new ARCS front suspension for even flatter cornering, a high windshield and ample storage for the high-mile rides.
Then there is the new S-TX GT, a 146” Sidewinder with 2-up seating and an auxiliary fuel tank for added range, with fiberglass overload springs for added capacity. The 2-up seat comes off in seconds for those looking for the long track trail sled with the range to tackle the really long rides between fuel stops.
One new entry is the addition of the 600cc two-stroke Transporter 600, previously sold in Europe but now being offered in North America. This is the sport-utility sled with the 153” utility skid, 38” ski stance and a 2.25” Powerclaw track powered by a 600cc Arctic Cat DSI 2-stroke.
The Sidewinder B-TX LE 153” returns for extreme crossover duty, and while not a narrow 36” front end width mountain sled the B-TX is still a very capable deep snow and off-trail machine in its own right. Those who still want an M-TX should still be able to find a 2018 or 2019 unit if that’s the feature set they’re looking for.
The rest of the models for 2020 have been changed or significantly enhanced. For example, the X-TX LE & X-TX SE. These are Yamaha’s latest crossover sleds, with the track length and rear suspensions are now stretched out to 146” with a torsion spring skid for added ride capability. The SE is more off trail biased (70/30) with a taller 2.25” lug track and narrower 40” front end, with the LE being more trail friendly with the 42” front end and 1.6” Cobra track for more of a 60/40 bias. These machines will give you more transfer and more off trail capability than the 141” machines they replace, but the theme remains the same with the SE having the narrower front end & taller lug track than the LE.
Yamaha’s research indicated many of the Sidewinder buyers wanted the fastest sled, period. They cared less about long travel and big bump capability. Thus, for 2020 we find the S-RX LE back in black, looking meaner than ever. Yamaha has not used the black-out color scheme for an SRX since back in the 1980s, so this is a special treat indeed.
Unique to the SRX is the suspension package with lowered ride height. The dual rate front and center springs provide lower preload with same final force at end of stroke. The rear torsion springs also reduce the preload with the same final force at end of stroke. This gives us an equally balanced machine, front and rear. New this year (on many of the 2020s) is an ARCS Advanced Roll Center Suspension which features a new spindle and upper a-arm that places the roll center of the machine closer to the center of gravity, shortening the moment arm for even flatter cornering from an already excellent cornering machine.
Another trick feature is the FOX IQS (Intelligent Quick Switch) Electronically adjustable suspension, used on the front ski shocks and rear arm shock. A handlebar switch allows the rider to vary the suspension calibration automatically. Instead of having 3 modes for 2020 there are 2 new modes, driver 1 and driver 2, which allow you to custom tailor differences in the settings between the front and rear suspensions. If you would like to have the rear set firmer than the front you can now do this. So, in total you can have five unique settings instead of only the 3 of soft, medium and firm.
Next up is the 2020 Sidewinder L-TX LE, going back to taller gearing and a 1.25” Ripsaw II track. For 2019 the gearing had been changed to 24/50 and was fitted with a 1.6” Cobra Track, but for 2020 we’re back to the higher top end and 1.25” configuration. Feature-wise this sled is very similar to the S-RX but the L-TX LE has straight rate springs instead of the dual-rate springs so it sits slightly taller and has a bit more travel than the S-RX, making it more of a bump sled and less of the all-out top speed demon. We again find the Fox IQS Electric Adjustable Suspension on the L-TX LE.
All of these machines now come with a push-button electric start and magnetic tether system for 2020, and the SRViper models have also made the migration to the new (Sidewinder-style) bodywork and side panels. Additionally, the SRViper models also receive a new ECU calibration to provide even stronger acceleration with more power and improved starting characteristics.
For 2020 Yamaha continues to make BIG upgrades to their popular SnoScoot. Changes for 2020 include a new BS style carburetor and airbox for improved performance and starting, revised clutching calibration to go with the added power from the new carb, new engine mounts for reduced vibration, wider handlebars for increased leverage and a 20% tighter steering radius. For even smaller riders the SRX120R returns unchanged from 2019, but in a new Jet Stream Blue coloration with LE style graphics.