2020 Yamaha RS Venture TF – 2,938 Mile Test Report
By Wes Shemanski
When one thinks of Yamaha’s 2020 snowmobile offerings, the Japanese-built RS Venture TF two-up cruiser most likely doesn’t come to the mind of many riders. As a snowmobiler in my mid-thirties, my riding style and other snowmobiles I primarily ride with (Yamaha Sidewinder XTX, Ski Doo 900 ACE Turbo, Polaris XC 850 and 2018 Yamaha Apex XTX) would also not seem to align with an RS Venture TF.
With that being said, I had an honest heart-to-heart with myself last spring when deciding what I truly wanted and expected from a snowmobile. The group I ride with primarily does so in the U.P. of Michigan, with large sweeping corners, railroad beds, and constantly changing trail conditions, from smooth hard packed trails to frequent fresh lake effect snowfall depths to whooped-out weekend moguls, then back to smooth and fast again. With this area in mind and the high mile days and years we get to ride, I knew I wanted a 4-stroke – a Yamaha – and one that would fit the bill for cross-country touring.
It should also be noted I did not buy the Venture TF for two-up riding, but rather solo touring. Having previously owned a Viper and an Apex, I was well aware of Yamaha quality, durability, and ease of ownership. The snow season is short and I appreciate the low maintenance, attention to detail, and turn-key drivability Yamaha traditionally offers.
All of this led me to the RS Venture TF. The Venture TF has been in the Yamaha line-up since 2013 and has changed minimally since its introduction. The basic makeup of the Venture TF has actually been around since 2009, starting with the Venture GT in 144” form. The Venture TF comes in the Deltabox chassis with the 1049cc mid-performance 3-cylinder 4-stroke “Vector” motor, Pro-Comfort rear suspension, 9-tooth drivers, 151” Ripsaw track with 1.25” lug height, EPS (electric power steering), two-up seat, 7-gallon storage trunk and YCCT (Yamaha Chip Controlled Throttle), otherwise known as “throttle by wire”. YCCT offers three driving modes (Sport, Touring and Economy) and is strictly available only to the Vector/Venture line of Japanese-built snowmobiles. Throttle by wire technology was adopted from Yamaha’s line of sport bikes, including the infamous R1.
Upon taking delivery of the Venture TF from Pat’s Motorsports in Greenland, Michigan, I was pleasantly reminded that the Venture TF’s seating position is higher than previous Deltabox snowmobiles I have ridden (Apex and Vector). By placing the rider’s hips higher in relationship to their knees, the seating position really blurs the lines between a “traditional” seating position and “rider forward.” I believe a significant number of riders would be pleasantly surprised with the seating position of the Venture TF for all day comfort. In fact, if Yamaha had adapted this to their Apex and Vector sleds they might have continued to be produced yet today.
The next thing I noticed was how light the throttle pull was with the YCCT: exceptional, to say the least. I kept it in “Sport” mode most of the season, but when switching to “Touring” or “Economy” mode, there was a clear difference in its power delivery characteristics. I believe “Touring” mode would be most effective when riding two-up, as the throttle is so linear. In my testing, I was able to get the snowmobile up to 51 mph in “Economy” mode, but can only see this mode as being useful for beginners or when needing to desperately conserve fuel – which actually does come in handy at times.
Throughout the season I added some accessories to my Venture TF, mainly to make it unique to my riding preferences. Some of the accessories include a windshield bag, bar riser from Lake Effect, GYTR aluminum bumper, Fox Float 3 EVOL air shocks up front, and a different windshield. It’s important to mention that accessories for the Japanese-built sleds are now becoming harder and harder to find, as Yamaha has discontinued accessory production for these models. I made no further additions or adjustments to the Venture TF during the season, other than setting the rear suspension spring preload for my weight (turning the cam blocks to the stiffest setting on the rear skid). I ran the stock carbides and slides for the duration of the season. The only hiccup throughout the entire season was the manual reverse linkage came loose, which the dealer quickly addressed and got me back on the trail within 30 minutes. After the initial 500 mile service, it was simply gas-and-go the rest of the season, in true Yamaha fashion.
When considering the drivability of the Venture TF, the “Sport” mode feels very torquey, especially in the low and mid-range. For riders familiar with the Vector line since 2016 (first year for YCCT), they’ll notice nearly identical motor characteristics. The Venture TF has no problem keeping up with the “Big Iron”, as long as you keep in my mind what its intended purpose is and that Yamaha places it within the “600 class” category. The Venture TF is an exceptionally warm snowmobile, super stable at speed, and has a fit, finish, and style befitting that of a Royal Star Venture motorcycle. Our riding group has begun to affectionately dub it “The Bentley.” The difference in overall quality is clearly evident.
It bears mentioning that the sled is quite heavy and although the power steering does an exceptional job of masking the weight, you can feel the Venture’s girth if the trail gets whooped out or when you “venture” off trail. The main takeaways for me after my first year on the Yamaha Venture TF include the efficient Yamaha YVXC drive system, the ease of steering (especially useful with a 151” long track), but also the standard touring features like rearview mirrors, articulated rear rails for reversing, and the added traction and flotation of the 151” skid. The added length also does wonders for ride quality and comfort, but it slows you down through the corners as the trails get tighter. The 151” length completely balances out the front end weight of the 4-stroke motor and, in my opinion, it is mandatory to have nothing less than a 137” track length on a 4-stroke.
In conclusion, if you’re honest with yourself about the Venture TF’s intended purpose, which is solo or two up trail cruising, any long-distance trail rider will be well satisfied for years to come. The build quality, versatility, engine durability and silky-smooth power delivery all add up to a first-class long distance touring machine. Even better, it’s available again for 2021.
Want more snowmobile content like this? Subscribe to SnowTech Magazine here to recieve all 5 issues for only $15! (US Price).