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Yamaha Sidewinder XTX 141

Turbo train keeps truckin'! The sidewinder is still unmatched for fast fun!
Yamaha Sidewinder XTX 141
It is still a trail sled.

Even at 141 inches and sporting a 1.6-inch lug, the 2018 Yamaha Sidewinder XTX we tested all last season was most comfortable on trail, and comfortable to ride! The longer dual shock SR 141 rear suspension really soaked up the bumps with the Fox Float 3 as a rear shock. The bump bridging ability at aggressive speeds, from what is a fairly large and heavy sled, was very impressive.

This Yamaha hugged the trail extremely well, more so than any other Sidewinder we tested before … but the SRX is going to take that crown away in 2019!

■ Top gun speeds
The Sidewinder is still the fastest sled on snow, and in our top speed and acceleration tests the rest of the competition was not even close. Even the comparably-sized and lighter-weight 850 Ski-Doo Backcountry X with its 146-inch track and 1.6-inch lugs was over 8 mph slower on top end. Oh, and the Sidewinder was substantially quicker and posted higher top speed at every interval throughout the ¼-mile testing than the two 850cc demo sleds and two 800cc demo sled we had at the test. We marked 103.01 mph as the top mph, with 102.64 in the ¼-mile at an elapsed time of 12.59 seconds. Not like we aren’t saying anything that everyone already knows, but the Sidewinder is the undisputed king of speed and engine performance.

We were not exactly happy with the fuel mileage we saw from this sled, coming in under 9 mpg for the season. The Sidewinder got worse gas economy than both the Polaris 800s and Ski-Doo 850s we tested alongside it. That was really surprising; however, this chassis tends to hold a lot of snow in certain conditions. We definitely had those conditions many times this year, and this sled was heavy after most every day. At one point we also had a big block of ice freeze the steering because so much snow built up and melted right over the main steering knuckle. We talked about this as well in our Real World Shootout article in Spring 2018 (pg. 19).

There is plenty of power to churn this track through a couple feet of snow, but it is not the ideal sled to take off-trail in deep snow. Open meadows with lots of fresh snow or mellow off-trail hill climbs are a blast and you can keep the skis in the air for long wheelies!
Yamaha Sidewinder XTX 141
Up front this sled has Fox Float 3 shocks above the skis. While we like these once they are dialed in, they are not our favorite shocks. Honestly, after years of carrying around an air pump, I am kind of over the whole air shock craze. Fox makes lots of other shocks that I believe are much better and you are seeing that migration away from air shocks already seriously taking hold. Heck, I am probably one of the few people that still always has a Fox pump on hand!

This sled was a big head-turner all winter long, though. Folks really seemed attracted to the Hi-Vis and gray color scheme. And for a price tag of $15,799 my feeling is that any OEM better have some cool color options available like this. Finally, we still love the heated seat on these sleds. It is hard to live without!

■ Two things
There are really only two factors that we felt Yamaha missed regarding this sled. First, the steering effort needed to keep it glued to the trail is a little much. Even for strong, seasoned riders this sled took tendon straining. But, that straining always produced aggressive high-power fun! The second thing is the weight. At 636 pounds wet (and a lot more once it is packed with snow!), this sled is not realistic for most riders to take too far off-trail, but this sled is warm, comfy, fast and an absolute riot!
Take 2!
The Yamaha Sidewinder XTX 141 is as fast as it looks, the longer track really helps this sled hook up. We added a larger windshield from Yamaha for added wind protection. This sled was a blast on the long straights and sweeping corners. The gray and Hi-Vis color scheme really stood out on the trails!

Ryan Veltum, Test Rider
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