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If you’ve been keeping up with what’s going on in the off-road business you may already know that Yamaha has a 998cc version of the 1049cc triple used in the Viper.

The company claims the engine is “completely different than the 1049” but viewing the photos we’ve seen of the two engines and on observation of the real flesh and blood YXZ press unit we had access to a few weeks ago, we’d swear the engine’s external dimensions and head design are pretty much identical.

To be fair, we’d certainly concur its inner dimensions and construction are quite different than the engine presently used in the Viper, including its crankshaft, cam specs, piston and rods. Enough about that.

Yamaha says this new 998 twin-cammer makes somewhere around 107 to 110-hp using EFI and no turbo. After driving it, we have no doubt those estimates are accurate.

This is a high revving, responsive mill that churns power seamlessly up to its 10,500-rpm redline. Since the YXZ uses a gear-on-gear tranny, there may be some questions as to whether it would need fine-tuning to work with a CVT – but we think Yamaha may be working on the availability of a CVT-equipped YXZ down the road, anyway.

Our big question is: Is this engine ever going to make it into a snowmobile? If Yamaha has been looking over the fence at what Ski-Doo is accomplishing with sales of its 900 ACE, it makes sense that some version of this engine would fit the same market. Maybe a mid-market range 105-hp Yamaha powered Viper, priced to appeal, would be a big seller and open up even more space in showrooms for Yamaha.

Another possibility would be that Yamaha would use this engine for a production turbocharged Viper. Power in the 160-170 range could easily be obtained with a liter of displacement and it should be noted that Polaris’ off-road RZR turbo (925ccs) actually has 75ccs less displacement than its naturally aspirated 1000 parallel twin.

We think there’s credibility with this guesstimate as it seems inevitable the YXZ will eventually be factory turbocharged to match Can-Am and Polaris’ pressurized offerings.

Kent Lester
Kent Lester
Kent Lester is Co-Publisher of SUPERTRAX Magazine and a regular contributor to this website.

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