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2017 Yamaha Snowmobiles Released

Yamaha bets on big power in the new SideWinder with factory turbo
2017 Yamaha SideWinder turbo
2017 Yamaha SideWinder with Genesis turbo
If Yamaha builds it, more people will buy it! That’s the theory behind the OEM’s big news of new SideWinder turbo sleds built by Yamaha (with a little help from Arctic Cat) from the ground up. We think they are right! True Team Blue diehards seemingly felt the old MPI “factory approved” turbo option for the Vipers wasn’t a “real” Yamaha. There is just something about a truly Yamaha-engineered product that exudes the company’s reputation for reliability. But the new SideWinder turbo sled is not the only new Yamaha item on snow for the 2017 model year!

The next generation of Yamaha sleds includes something new for all market segments, from shocks and suspensions to new backcountry sleds, engine updates and the return of a utility legend. Yamaha is pouring it on!

Big Power is big news
Sooner or later, companies have to reinvest in particular market segments. Yamaha felt it needed to increase efforts in the 800cc or high horsepower segment. Its grand splash into the top end of the snowmobile gene pool is the new Yamaha SideWinder with Genesis Turbo. Here are the basics: it’s an all-new sled, an all-new engine with a factory turbo, all-new clutches and more. Now let’s get into it!
2017 Yamaha SideWinder L-TX DX
The SideWinder L-TX DX is where comfort meets velocity, and will have you racking up miles at a much quicker rate!
The latest big-hp effort by Yamaha might even get those oh-so-loyal Apex owners to switch, and not just because of the new color options. Apex owners love their sleds for one reason above all else: smooth and seamless raw power! Hey, nothing wrong with that, but this latest factory-built turbo engine will have a lot of sleds looking at taillights. 

Right off the bat, Yamaha claims this engine is the highest horsepower production engine ever put in a snowmobile available to the general public. This is a 180+hp motor straight from the factory, not a “factory-approved” aftermarket add-on. The MPI turbo agreement is totally done. The new 3-cylinder Genesis Turbo could turn 195+ ponies on dynos across the country. That is according to Yamaha, who stated its goal was to build the first 200-hp production sled. Yamaha dynos say they might be short of the 200-hp mark, but the new SideWinder sleds claim the highest power-to-weight ratio in the industry, as much as 30% higher than the next closest 800cc competitor (Polaris Pro-RMK 800).

The name of the engine may sound familiar, but this is not just slapping a turbo on the 1049cc Genesis in the SR Viper line. It’s a 100% brand-new engine with a lightweight DOHC cylinder head, new four-hole fuel injectors, a new press-forged crankshaft, new rods, new pistons and piston cooler, new coolant pump, hi-volume oil pump … yadda, yadda, yadda. There’s a larger heat exchanger near the front of the tunnel to aid with cooling, which was sometimes a problem with the MPI kits.

The 998cc triple sports the first production turbo ever (possibly in any industry) with multiple throttle bodies – there are three separate ones. The goal behind this innovation was a turbo that doesn’t feel like a turbo, which means eliminating turbo lag between throttle squeezes to create more controlled and predictable power delivery.
2017 Yamaha SideWinder X-TX LE
SideWinder X-TX LE
2017 Yamaha SideWinder R-TX SE
SideWinder R-TX SE
We won’t totally break down the guts of this engine and turbo (look for that in an upcoming issue), but the IHI turbo unit is lightweight and can withstand extreme elements. It’s paired with a Yamaha Mitsubishi ECU, which reads nine different sensors to ensure the sled produces reliable maximum performance. It automatically adjusts for altitude with very minimal boost pressure reduction over 10,000 feet. It currently uses an air-to-air intercooler, but for those who ride at higher elevations, an optional fresh-air intake accessory should be ready for the start of the season.

All this new high-pony fun requires a new YSRC (Yamaha Secondary Roller Clutch) setup to effectively transfer power and stay cool under the side panel, ensuring Yamaha’s V-belt durability reputation is not compromised. The primary is compatible with current YVXC weights so as to remain tunable for various applications. More details found in the sidebar below.

SideWinder skinny
The new 4-stroke engine and new clutching is what should make the Yamaha SideWinder a real performer. As mentioned above, it’s being marketed as a direct competitor to the 2-stroke 800cc offerings from the other OEMs, but we know Cat has had a 180-hp sled for many years, so it might compare more directly to that motor. The best news for consumers in MY2017? SideWinder is available throughout Yamaha’s lineup in every track length they offer, from the 129-inch trail sleds to the 162-inch M-TX mountain machine. Limited (LE) models are also available in the R-TX and L-TX (129- and 137-inch lengths), and these get a heated seat and new FOX Zero QS3 shocks with Kashima coating for razor-sharp trail performance. What we call the Sport (SE) version of these sleds is no slouch for shocks, featuring FOX Zero C shocks all around, but it loses the heated seat. DX models come with the familiar aluminum coil-over shocks and the tall windshield.

For the long haulers who want to cover ground with turbo speed, the SideWinder S-TX DX is available in a 137x1.6-inch Cobra track, aluminum coil-over shocks and a tall windshield, and removable saddlebags are standard.

The longer X-TX Side-Winders lean a little more toward the powder segment, but not entirely. The shorter X-TX LE is available in with a 137x1.75-inch Backcountry track and 42-inch ski stance, or there is a more powder-friendly 141x2.25-inch Powerclaw track with narrower 40-inch stance. The 137 X-TX gets FOX Zero QS3 shocks, while the 141 gets a heated seat and FOX Float 3s. There’s an SE version of the X-TX as well; it has FOX Zero C shocks and no heat to your bum.
The only true mountain offering for the 2017 SideWinder is the M-TX SE. This is purely for the peaks, as it comes with a narrow 36-inch stance, a 162x3-inch Powerclaw track and FOX Float 3 shocks.
2017 Yamaha SR Viper B-TX 4-stroke
The SR Viper B-TX is a 4-stroke boondocker competing against the 600cc 2-strokes. It should have a nice power advantage, especially at higher elevations.
2017 Yamaha SR Viper S-TX DX 137
SR Viper S-TX DX 137
2017 Yamaha SR Viper L-TX SE
SR Viper L-TX SE
SR Viper blotter
Viper fans (and we know there are many) need not worry. The Yamaha-Arctic Cat “supply partner agreement” for continuing to build the Viper sleds is still very valid. A significant change (though maybe not the biggest) for the 2017 Viper lineup, AGAIN, is the elimination of the MPI turbo add-on option. Going forward, consumers should probably think of the Viper as Yamaha’s 120+ hp or 600cc offering, and the SideWinder like its 800cc offering.

Naming conventions are still similar between the two lines, with the Viper R-TX still being the 129-inch length. The Viper R-TX loses its LE version for 2017, but it keeps the DX with the tall shield, and the SE gets FOX QS3 shocks without the rebound clicker up front. 

The longer L-TX Viper can be bought in both the DX and SE versions, but it also adds the LE version with a new shock package. The L-TX LE receives FOX’s Kashima-coated QS3 shocks with compression and rebound adjustment up front. The rear track shock also features compression and rebound adjustability, while the center track shock brings only compression adjustment. With this package, there will be no in-between as far as sled setup goes for consumers. Meaining, if you can’t find your sweet spot in this package, you might be looking for a LONG time.

In opposite fashion of the SideWinder, the Viper S-TX DX comes in both 137- and 146-inch lengths. The 137 version adds the removable saddle bags. The Viper S-TX DX 146 is not only longer than the SideWinder, but it also includes larger cargo carrying capacity and added fuel capacity with an 4.6-gallon auxiliary fuel tank. The Viper X-TX is only available in the SE setup and does not have the additional storage space. 

For the mountains, the Viper M-TX SE is back in a 162 or 153x3-inch Powerclaw track with a newly designed mountain ski. The ski has a wider single keel design to hold a more consistent sidehill line while reducing darting on the trail. The ski loop color is also customizable, similar to the Tuner 3 skis for trail and crossover sleds.

‘B’ is for backcountry
So now that Yamaha has solid ground in the 600cc segment in trail, crossover, and mountains with the Viper, and the 800cc segment with the all-new SideWinder, where is that backcountry sled that seems to be all the rage on my Facebook news feed? It’s here in the form of the SideWinder and Viper B-TX models!
2017 Yamaha SideWinder B-TX LE
Yamaha's SideWinder B-TX LE will really have riders laying down the wood through tree lines with it's high-hp engine.
Designed to be the 4-stroke answer to tight tree lines, boondocking and trail maneuverability with an 800cc or 600cc class engine, the B-TX models are do-it-all sleds. They’re designed for the rider who maybe has to ride a few more trail miles to get to their favorite honey hole of powder or epic tree lines.

The SideWinder B-TX LE will offer a ton of suspension adjustment with FOX Float 3 Evol shocks up front and in the center track, and a FOX Float 3 Evol R for the rear track. The LE is a little more deep snow-oriented with a 153x2.25-inch Powerclaw track, while the more trail-friendly SE version of the B-TX comes with a 1.75-inch lug and FOX Float 3s all around. Both the LE and SE version of the SideWinder B-TX come with the new mountain ski, but a 40-inch ski stance for better trail manners compared to the 36-inch stance of the M-TX.

The Viper B-TX only comes in the LE version with the same features. This is the 120-hp engine class version of the same sled. Both Viper and SideWinder LE come with a heated mountain seat, and the Viper comes with a 36-inch stance and mountain ski.

Working efficiencies
It’s very rare to see two NEW snowmobile engines from Yamaha in any model year. That makes MY2017 quite the anomaly with the introduction of the utility-minded 2-stroke VK540V.

Back in 2005, the VK540III was the last iteration of this capable utility sled to be offered in the U.S. Bringing it back was not an option for Yamaha without meeting the stricter emissions standards set by the EPA. Bear in mind, just because a sled isn’t sold in the U.S. does not mean an OEM quits making it. There was a VK540IV, but it wasn’t sold in the States. It might actually surprise you to learn that the VK540 has been Yamaha’s No. 1 selling sled in the global market!

This latest VK540 version boasts a redesigned engine conforming to EPA standards, and it adds a few more niceties anyone out in the bush will appreciate. The new 540 power plant is centered around new flat slide Mikuni carbs that were reduced in size from 34mm to 33mm in the VK540V. Some of those new carbs have electric carb heaters thanks to changing out the old AC-CDI electrical system (150W) to a new DC-CDI system (390W).

Heating the carbs through the new electric should improve cold starts and warmup times, and reduce plug fouling (because that was still a problem the last time this sled was sold in the States). Even with these carburetor changes, the VK540V is still capable of the same top speeds as the previous engine.

Yamaha also improved on the biggest gripe consumers had of this sled: its range. The engineers attacked the issue on two fronts. First, they managed to increase fuel capacity to 10.5 gallons. That’s up 2.3 gallons from the VK540III. Second, the redesigned engine of the VK540V improves MPGs by 25%. 

Suspension tweaks include recalibration of the rear shocks and an articulating rear suspension that spins a giant 156x20x1.5-inch track. Up front, a streamlined telescopic suspension should create less drag, especially with the addition of high flotation skis.

Other improvements include redesigned plastic that’s better at keeping snow out, a 2.3-inch-higher seat and higher bars to match, and an upgraded front bumper.

Phazing out?
I wouldn’t say that. The R-TX, X-TX and M-TX Phazers are still part of the lineup as Yamaha’s budget sled offering. If you’re looking for value out of every red cent, it’s here as far as reliability and durability go. Just don’t be looking for new upgrades anytime soon. 

The Deltabox II sleds are still on solid ground, as their band of loyal buyers remains strong. The Apex and Vector received very nice updates in the 2015 and 2016 model years with the SingleShot rear suspension and YCCT electronic driving system. The only change between the Apex and RS Vector lineup is the elimination of the RS Vector LE. You can, however, still buy the LE package on the RS Vector X-TX, just not the shorter track version.

We don’t see these sleds going anywhere, but maybe getting a front suspension overhaul in 2018-19? Here’s to hoping.
Kort Duce photo
SideWinder L-TX SE
Yamaha SR Viper MPI turbo aftermarket
No More MPI Turbos?
If we’re speaking candidly, we can clearly see now that the MPI-Yamaha agreement for the dealer-installed turbo kits was a stopgap until this engine (which was in the works before any Arctic Cat agreement, per Yamaha) was ready for production. It wasn’t a bad idea, but Yamaha was essentially adding a turbo to a sled that was meant to compete with 120+ hp or 600cc sleds. That said, extra power was much needed to compete with 800cc mountain sleds. We just don’t know if it ever really worked out as either party had hoped.

The snorkel-style cold air intake wasn’t all that appealing to consumers, and when they went with the under-hood intake mounting on the trail sleds, the machines seemed to heat soak themselves. The net effect was the extra money only put you a little closer to the power-to-weight ratio of 800cc 2-strokes. Now that has changed though, 800s look out!

Clutching: YSRC vs. YVXC
New for YSRC Primary: Fixed sheave, sliding sheave, spider, slider, roller pin, bolt (roller, weight-pin), pin weight 
Same as YVXC Primary:
Bushing (sliding sheave), cap, bushing (cap), roller, rivet (weight), spring
New for YSRC Secondary: Fixed sheave, sliding sheave, ramp (now a roller), secondary spring seat
Same as YVXC Secondary: Bushing (sliding sheave), bushing (spring seat), spring
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