Yamaha has waited until the third week of March to introduce their 2023 snowmobile line-up, which seems unusually late because Polaris will be closing their pre-order period only two days later. Why does this matter? Both Ski-Doo and Polaris have shown their new models several weeks ago. If a buyer was waiting to see what Yamaha had to offer for 2023 before they made their choice, they now only have two days to order a Polaris if they so choose. In many cases, the Polaris model they might have considered could very likely already be sold out. Yamaha also missed out on press coverage that historically occurs in early March, which really seems counter-productive.
Another consideration is Yamaha likely wanted to wait for their mutual supply partner, Arctic Cat, to first introduce their line-up which just occurred one week ago. It seems each OEM would like to have some of their own time to shine in the light, instead of sharing the thunder with somebody else. Both Yamaha and Arctic Cat have taken the position that it is tacky to be showing and selling new models when people haven’t even received the sled they ordered last year, and they do have a valid point. Look at the animosity towards Polaris right now from those in that that position. They are tweaked, and rightly so.
Yamaha tells us up front that they will be having a shorter “Spring Power Surge” order period this year, down to two weeks by our count. They also tell us up front there will be strict capacity limits, meaning they will only take so many orders for each model they offer. They, out of anybody, will be most concerned with their ability to supply the machines that are ordered. Yamaha is, of course, somewhat at the mercy of their supplier Arctic Cat, but it appears the 2022 Yamaha build was completed before Arctic Cat completed their own.
We also take note of the fact there will be no 2023 models from Japan this time around; we’re told there are enough of the 2022 build to satisfy demand. We do find kind of odd, but Yamaha tells us they actually overbuilt for 2022 and thus have enough left over. You might be able to get one of the Japan-built 2022s if you want, but we’d be surprised if there are very many of them. We’re not quite sure what will happen to the demand for sleds in Russia, as Yamaha is still a supplier of snowmobiles for the rest of the world and most of those are the Japan-built utility models.
We’ll tell you right up front there is nothing truly new and different from Yamaha for 2023. Yes, there are some new models but these are variations on what is already being offered, there are no all-new sleds with new engines or platforms. To some degree this follows what their builder (Arctic Cat) is capable of and as we all know Arctic Cat had their hands full trying to finish their 2022 build and didn’t want to bite off too much for 2023. They will be scrambling to get the parts just to build 2023s as is.
This is not to say they’re not working on new sleds or new technologies, it simply means anything truly new and different is put on hold for now until the supply chain is able to manufacture and supply what is needed to build new and different products.
LE Models are only available during the Spring Power Surge which runs until April 5th.
One change for 2023 in response to build times is the elimination or reduction of using the Kashima coating on shock components, as this is said to increase the lead time and simply adds another step to the shock building process. We also know gauges have been one of the biggest items causing delivery delays, but do not know of specific strategies to rectify the problem. Some sleds were built but sitting at the factory waiting for gauges to arrive and be installed, very late into the season. This is very frustrating for everyone involved.
So while we had openly hoped to see something along the lines of a new 800cc two-stroke crossover sled from Yamaha, there are no new 800cc two-strokes. We do still have the three Mountain Max models and the Transporter 800 like we had last year. There also remains a single SRViper, four of the 400cc 2-stroke sleds, seven Sidewinders and the two kid sleds for a total of 18 models.
By our count we see three new (OK, revised) models from Yamaha for 2023; the Sidewinder L-TX LE EPS; the Sidewinder SRX LE EPS and the Sidewinder X-TX LE IQS. As you can see we now have EPS electric power steering now available on SRX and L-TX models and we have Fox IQS adjustable on-the-fly shocks on an X-TX.
For 2023 the SRX comes back to Team Yamaha Blue, gets the addition of EPS and gets a slightly lower bar riser. It is fitted with a lower profile 1.0” lug height Ripsaw track, clearly intended for top speed capability and traction products.
The Sidewinder L-TX LE EPS now gets the EPS power steering and comes in an attractive black and blue colorway with red accents officially called “Ink Blue and Red”. Fox QS3 shocks all around provide a slightly taller ride height than the SRX.
The Sidewinder X-TX LE IQS gets the new Ink Blue and Red colorway, with the addition of the adjustable IQS shocks front and rear. This uncoupled 146” track length sled combines a 42” ski stance with a 1.6” Cobra track for a versatile deep snow long track trail sled.
The rest of the Yamaha line-up returns for 2023, with the exception of the Japan-built models as mentioned earlier. We’re told there has been an uptick in demand for the SRViper models so they expect to be building a few more of them, and there will be an increase in the build numbers of the SX Venom Mountain model simply due to the demand last year far exceeding the build numbers and supply.
What about the future? Yamaha has been the subject of much speculation, but they remain fairly adamant that they are here to stay as their snowmobile division is profitable and has no reason to go away. They even go as far as to indicate they are looking at multiple options for future engines and fuels when asked about potential electric-powered snowmobiles. Japanese manufacturers are not as keen to building electric products as other parts of the world and this seems to be the case with Yamaha. They serve so many different markets and product groups worldwide that they are actively engaged in pursuing various technologies for each of them. In reality, we could just as easily see continued use of internal combustion engines but through the use of renewable biomass fuels. This is quickly becoming a reality in various race circuits and Yamaha is totally on top of the pack when it comes to embracing these potentials. If we can have an infrastructure of premium fuel pumps for snowmobiles we can easily fill the tanks with a biomass renewable fuel and keep riding sleds that go “bang” to make their power. It might be easier, and closer, that we all realize. Recreational industries like snowmobiling are pretty much along for the ride, but suffice it to say it will be a very long time before internal combustion engines are not the primary means of propulsion over the snow. Yamaha has long been at the forefront of technology, and we expect them to continue to do so as their vision has always been long-term.