Wicked Fast Yamaha Sidewinder M-TX 153

High HP heavyweight ... again
2018 Yamaha Sidewinder M-TX 153
If Hell freezes over, the Devil might be riding a Sidewinder. It is a demon-beast meant for the powder!

Basically the Sidewinder is an F-18 jet fighter on snow AND it boasts the most comfortable seat in the industry. Want to impress all your friends? It will do that. The power overcomes the heftiness of the sled when you’re on the throttle. To be honest, if the sled was less beefy it might spontaneously take flight!

■ The big easy
The M-TX 153 with 3-inch lug is much easier to handle than you might think. The narrow 36-inch front end can hold a side hill and go where all the other sleds go and often gets there faster! Don’t believe us? Come on out and ride with us … we can play follow the leader and switch off who leads and who follows. We urge folks to spend time on a Sidewinder as it is unlike anything else on the market.

That said, it has its strong, and not-so-strong points. It is a 4-stroke and therefore heavier, but dang is it fast! Yes, you will be tired at the end of the day, but as I have stated in past articles, the amount of torque this sled generates is addicting, ask our test riders! It also has a 36-inch front end which some may like and others may dislike initially.

Speaking of power, the triple throttle bodies and instant turbo boost generate enough track speed that it actually generates its own “lift” or way to get back up on the top of the snow in a way no other sled does. This contributes to it feeling much lighter than it really is. There were times that to get unstuck you simply pinned the sled and it lifted itself up out of a hole. Executing the pin and wiggle move (exactly what it sounds like) on the Sidewinder worked better than any other sled in the fleet for getting unstuck and I have no doubt the track speed generated had a lot to do with this.

If reliability and savings is what you’re after, then the Sidewinder will give you both. Being a 4-stroke you won’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on oil during the riding season, but do have oil change costs. Historically, 4-strokes last much longer than 2-strokes, so you can have a sled that lasts years with very little cost associated with it and almost nuclear power at your thumb.

A test rider fave, the MTX 153 3-incher had a positive, often surprised response from visiting riders. Many did not anticipate a stock turbo to perform like it did, often outshining after-market turbos on other sleds. When doing long uphill races, test riders would give a three-second lead to the other sleds and still come out ahead, even against other turbos.
2018 Yamaha Sidewinder M-TX 153
■ Little comparisons
With the heavier front-end weight, we found the sled pushing through corners and diving on deceleration. It was not as bad as the Viper, but if you were not ready, it could put you over the handlebars in certain conditions. This quick deceleration and diving made turning tight corners tougher. If unanticipated, it could send you hard into the bars. We made some easy adjustments though.

First, an after-market ski made a big difference. SLP makes a great option, the Mohawk ski, and it works really well. The Mohawk bites harder in the turns and felt more predictable. In deep powder the Mohawk handled the weight transition better when backing off the throttle and the tendency to dive was mitigated.

Curve Industries also sent us a couple sets of skis to try out, the XSM ski and the XS skis both were unlike anything we had used or seen out West. Originally we had tried the XS ski, which worked better than stock, but then we switched to the XSMs and were amazed at how the sled responded in turning and diving. It no longer felt like a submarine when you let off the throttle. They did a great job holding up the weight of the front end in all conditions. The shaped design gave it increased edge surface in turns, allowing it to grab better and not push nearly as much. The ski is shaped wider in the front and narrows to the middle, then gets wider in the back. What makes it so unique is that it has “thrusters” - essentially wings that come off the side of the ski and make a rounded 90-degree turn down into the snow about two inches. You can add them on the outside and inside of the middle part of the ski. The outside thruster is eight inches long and the inside thruster is 17 inches long. This gives the rider added handling and control in varying conditions, plus added lift in deep snow as well as a better turning radius by biting into the snow more aggressively when you initiate a turn in both hard pack and powder. Where you will really notice an improvement is in side-hilling. They hold a much straighter line without wanting to kick you out. The best part is you can take them on and off as needed, but we were happy with them in all conditions. The Curve ski is worth the money and an easy way to improve handling in certain situations. On the trail though, the stock Sidewinder skis handled corners with precision and ease.
This 4-stroke rocket shines in the straight, steep climbs but requires more rider input to stay in the tracks of other sleds or to make tight turns in the trees. If you are in a boondocking, tree-loving crowd, be ready for a workout. We eased that workout by adding slightly higher handle bar risers for more leverage. And, while the grab bar on the handlebars is often removed, we suggest you leave it on for this sled. Having taller handlebar risers standard would be nice for future models as the increased leverage improved the capabilities in technical conditions. The 153 Sidewinder loves fresh deep snow and making its own line through the trees, but the 162 is even better! And, as of 2019 Yamaha will only be offering the Sidewinder M-TX LE in a 162.

Make sure your clutch is balanced too. At the beginning of the season we blasted through a couple belts, but after a shop balance this problem was decreased dramatically. Remember, this sled is producing a lot of torque and over 200 HP!

Holding on to that power all day is not for the faint of arm strength. But nothing will pass the herd on a wide-open range, or beat your buddies up an uphill climb like this cruise missile.
2018 Yamaha Sidewinder M-TX 153
2018 Yamaha Sidewinder M-TX 153
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