So what would you say if we told you Yamaha was coming out with a brand new 2-stroke snowmobile for 2017? You’d probably think we were nuts, right? Ha, joke is on you, Yamaha is coming out with a brand new 2-stroke powered snowmobile, but it might be what you would first suspect. But, it is a step in the right direction, agreed?
Feast your eyes upon the all-new 2017 Yamaha VK 540V. OK, so Yamaha has had VK 540 sleds before, and while there were model years it wasn’t offered in the states (version 4 was never offered here), it has always been available somewhere on the planet. You see, the rest of the world uses their snowmobiles much differently than we do here in the U.S, as in they depend on their snowmobile for survival and prosperity. Their riding areas are not groomed trail netowrks, rather remote areas in the middle of NOWHERE with deep snow and no trails. They use their snowmobiles to stay alive, primarily for hunting and trapping. Thus, they need a sled that will not let them down. They need a sled that they can keep running and keep going, in the most extreme of conditions. They need a sled that can and will function in extreme cold, even when conditions get down to minus 40. Celsius or farienheit, it does not matter, at -40 they are one in the same – damn cold. And the fact of the matter is, even Yamaha admits it, a 2-stroke powered snowmobile best fits any and all of these above-mentioned criteria. That my friends, is the simple fact of the matter.
Now that we have that as clear as day, let’s continue. The VK 540V is built for riders who depend on their sleds day in and day out as both transportation and as a work tool. This sled has been engineered to be tough, with excellent deep snow flotation and functionality. Thus, the 2017 VK540V returns as a virtually new snowmobile, yet with the heart of the legendary machines bearing the same name that came before it. The new engine is actually EPA-compliant, which not only means lower emissions but also increased fuel economy. Combine this efficiency with a large fuel tank and this version delivers nearly much more range than the previous version.
Since operation in brutal cold can be, well, brutal, Yamaha spent extra time in the wind tunnel developing body panels and windshields that actually deflect air out and around the operator, also helping to reduce snow swirl (what a concept!). They also focused on minimizing snow ingestion and icing under the hood, something the previous model needed to have improved.
Now for the details. This new version of the classic 540cc fan-cooled 2-stroke gets some heavy duty upgrades. First on the list is the added power generation via an added pick-up coil, now producing 390 watts instead of 150 watts, and replacing the old AC CDI unit with a DC CDI unit, giving us the benefits and reliability of digital ignition.
Meeting the EPA Phase III emissions was done with the new ignition and a new flat slide carburetor. Carb bore has been reduced from 34mm to 33mm, which also helps improve the throttle response, specifically at mid-throttle positions. The new carb also features an electric heater to prevent icing in the worst of condiitons, whether it be snow ingestion or extreme ambient humidity. Operators will also appreciate reduced plug fouling & improved cold start/warm up performance, while maintaining the same top speed as the old carburetor. EPA emissions numbers for this engine are 291.4 for CO and 105.9 for total HC, well below the EPA limits of 400 & 150, respectively. These changes result in improved fuel economy with overall mileage improved by 25%. With the fuel tank size increased from 10.5 to 11.6 gallons, total range is improved as well. When you are a long ways from home out in the bush these are the critical numbers, far more important that emissions targets.
Yamaha engineers also improved the ergonomics of the latest version of the VK, with a 2.3” (60 mm) taller seat and taller bars to match the new seat. In the chassis department we find a new “YTBB”. What is that, you might ask? A Yamaha Tree Bashing Bumper, good to have when traveling off trail through the brush. We also find the revised front suspension has less parts to catch trees and less parts to catch snow, with big wide floatation skis. In the rear we have a mammth footprint with the 20” wide Camso Cobra track in a whopping 156” length sporting 1.5” tall lugs. This sled can pretty much go anywhere it wants to, or fits. And when you need to back up, there is an articulating rear suspension to help prevent trenching. You know, how the tail of the sled digs down when you try to back up, this sled tips up the rear axle and end of the track so it doesn’t do that. Nice, huh. The rear suspension has also been re-calibrated for imporved ride comfort and performance. There’s also some new holes in the running boards for snow evacuation, nice to keep the running boards cleear of snow and ice build-up.
Being a VK, we still have the utility features intact. Like a big standard rear cargo rack, plus roomy under-seat storage to carry equipment, gear and all the supplies you need to bring with you to get the job done, or to simply survive. In addition to the generous storage and cargo capacity, the VK is fitted with a standard tow hitch to easily hook up a pull-behind tow sled, as is so common in these applications. Pulg big loads is made easier with the 3-speed transmission, able to gear down and handle the mass. As it should.
The 2017 Yamaha VK 540V (version 5) comes in three color options; orange, black and white, with a retail price of $9,299 in the U.S., and will very likely be Yamaha’s number one selling sled worldwide. Believe it.