Surprise! The new Venom is pretty much a carbon copy of Arctic Cat’s BLAST introduced earlier this season!
Although that revelation won’t go down in snowmobile history as one of the most momentous new-model announcements ever, it is an important step for Yamaha.
Why? Because the Venom is a 2-stroke! This means there are several 2-stroke sleds on Yamaha’s 2021 model menu in more than one category.
Yamaha’s new Mountain Max sports a 794cc Semi-Direct Injected twin and the Transporter Utility sled also gets this engine replacing last year’s 600 Transporter (not available in 2021). Yamaha also added a Transporter Lite featuring this same 65 horse 2-stroke and a Venom Mountain as well.
This is big stuff from the company that pledged 18 years ago to go all 4-stroke. Yamaha stuck to its word for a long time but now has succumbed to the pressure from its own super-loyal customers to include some 2-strokes in its brochure. Good on them for responding, too!
This is good because it gives us media types something to talk about and inevitably compare to the competition.
We won’t compare the Venom to the BLAST because, well, it is the BLAST. However, if you’re a Yamaha customer, it really fills a gap in the showroom – both in claimed horsepower output and in price.
This 400cc 2-stroke single (yes, it only has one cylinder) makes about 65 ponies, is liquid cooled – not fan cooled – and is placed in a pretty sophisticated and slightly downsized Arctic Cat chassis. The sled is lighter, more nimble than expected and has gutsy throttle response down low.
At the recently completed media shoot held in Montana in late February, our team of test riders, to a man, agreed both the BLAST and the Venom were two of the “most fun” sleds at the event.
No, it wasn’t about power – not at all. It was about the ergonomics, agility, handling and personality. Our guys pretty much described the riding experience as … er, a blast!
Now this is where a potential problem may crop up. We all agreed this was a great snowmobile – maybe one of the best in the last few years – however, its pricing seems a bit steep for a 65-hp sled.
If you’re a Yamaha person and recall the now discontinued 500cc Phazer 4-stroke, the pricing of the Venom and that sled are very close. But the Phazer made 80-hp.
Even accounting for inflation, and the fact that one ride could convert a vegan over to pulled pork, this is a pricey sled in this category.
We’ll be watching to see how the faithful respond to the Venom. Without question, it’s a lot more sled than we expected. It might just be less than enough sled at the price they’re asking.