Web Exclusive By: Mark Lester
There’s some pretty weird stuff going on in the sno-mo-biz after the unveiling of the 2008 models last month. It relates to the perception of 4-stroke snowmobiles.
With all the noise over Ski-Doo’s feathery light XP platform, it might be too easy to forget this glaring reality: Yamaha’s new Nytro just shed, coincidentally, a near identical amount of hamburger. That’s right, 50 pounds has been pared from what was one of our favorite 4-stroke platforms last year, the Vector based Nytro.
Let’s state this clearly so everyone can digest the issue: Yamaha shaved more than 50 pounds from the 2007 Vector based Nytro to deliver the completely new 2008 FX Nytro platform. Oh, let’s not forget the ‘08 Nytro adds 15 more ponies and EFI induction. Clearly, this is as impressive as Ski-Doo’s accomplishments. We’ll explain.
The Vector sit-down chassis is all but gone from the Yamaha line-up for 2008. Its superb 120 HP 1000cc triple moves into the Apex platform in most variants. Yamaha has a problem with this move. Not only is the new 2008 Vector a vastly improved sled compared to the previous Delta-Box chassis, it is, in our humble opinion, a better handling sled than the Apex! Doh!
Under almost every trail condition we rode the 2008 Vector, we concluded the new chassis likes the Vector mill better than the Apex Genesis 1000 four. Vector handling is razor-precise but unmistakably lighter and noticeably easier to flick around than the Apex.
Setting up for a run through the bumps, the superb Mono-Shock R/A skid begs you to wick up the throttle. This skid gets real hungry for moguls and literally gobbles them up. The lighter weight engine is 30 HP softer than the Apex but on trails you’re gonna think its king regardless of its horsepower deficit to the mighty Apex.
Back to the Nytro. The big issue with 4-strokes has been weight. While we love riding 4-strokes, they’re just not as light as their 2-stroke kin. Not any more. This is the new benchmark for the 4-stroke marketplace. There, we said it.
Last year pressure on Yamaha’s 4-stroke dominance was jacked after sampling Arctic Cat’s Z-1 Jaguar. However, we didn’t expect Yamaha to respond quite so quickly to the gauntlet thrown down by Thief River, nor did we expect them to respond with such a radical sled.
With a claimed dry weight of 513 pounds (no reverse) the 2008 Nytro places itself squarely on 2-stroke turf. Here’s what really counts after you slide around the web and compare the weight numbers with other sleds: the Nytro doesn’t feel like any other 4-stroke snowmobile.
Not like any previous Yamaha, not like anything on the market right now. On my first ride I actually had to reprocess my perceptions of the vehicle with this: the Nytro is a 4-stroke. Sounds weird, right? You should have been there.
Essentially this is the un-4-stroke, 4-stroke. It has an anti-engine brake like the Arctic Cat Jaguar, but in this application it contributes in an even greater way to the sled’s 2-stroke feel. Why? There’s an unmistakable feeling of lightness here.
The sled wheelies with enthusiasm on take-off. Engine noise is different - different than the old Vector and different than any other 4-stroke. Throw the sled into a fast sweeper at 50 per and the chassis stays laser level, no inside ski lift. Crack the loud handle at the apex of a corner and the Nytro responds instantly, throwing both skis skyward.
Oh yeah, this is righteous riding and not a common experience in my 4-stroke repertoire of sensations. Keep in mind, this fighter churns out 135 ponies (Yamaha actually claims off the record, the number is 138) using magnesium engine bits and a plethora of trick engineering, including EFI, to deliver what we felt was Apex rivaling acceleration and big end numbers well past the C-note.
Looking over the bars there’s more un-4-stroke. The sled is Phazer-lean up front but with more driver protection from the elements. The ski tips are in full view and your knees can crease the side panels when you crowd the bars without any harsh feel in your legs.
The panels are actually soft and flexible. The seat is excellent for gymnastics and the riding position is the best yet from Yamaha. Even better than the Phazer, particularly when standing up in the ditches.
If free riding is your thing, the Nytro is perfectly happy to leave groomed hard pack and jump into powder, something 121-inch 4-strokes are usually just not happy doing.
The benefits of the Nytro’s dramatic diet really show here allowing full-on powder hooks, one ski antics and drift jumping with uncanny, un-4-stroke finesse.
Okay, that’s enough inside info on the Nytro – you’ll have to wait for SUPERTRX late this summer to fill in all the details.
Yamaha’s problem? We’re betting the competition wish they had this kind of trouble.