We’re not saying the Yamaha RX-1 didn’t have a lot going for it. There were two things that stood out on the RX-1 that gave it good ratings: the engine and the effects of the updated rear suspension.
The Genesis Extreme powerplant was the hallmark feature of the machine. Its 140 claimed horsepower was enough to satisfy all of our riders. The engine was smooth, had linear clutching and was an outright riot on an open stretch of lake or field. But there were enough quirks with the rest of the chassis that it was under-appreciated.
In the big bumps, the Mono Shock RA was not as capable as other rear suspension systems. We didn’t like the rough-trail performance of our Yamaha RX-1 and its rear suspension, specifically. The sled was most comfortable on groomed trails, and the Mono Shock RA was fabulous in stutter bumps and smaller bumps at any speed.
Besides the significant ride-quality improvement on the Yamaha RX-1’s hind quarters, the new skid gave the front end better stability. A complaint we had with previous RX-1s was that the front and rear suspensions didn’t work in harmony. The front and rear suspensions would react differently to each bump encountered. The Mono Shock RA was a better match for the chassis, and it also removed some of the tendency for unpredicted, sudden front-end reaction that would throw the RX-1 off its plane. Still, there was room for improved handling.
On the ergonomics side, it was unanimous that the handlebars were too low. Controls were in decent locations and the seat was comfortable, but it was hard to get leverage on the low handlebars for sharp cornering. Running board traction was adequate, but they could have used more. Footwells were narrow, which some on our staff appreciated. The footwell angle was too steep for anything other than sit-down, enjoy-the-ride driving. That made it difficult to stand for an upcoming, heavy hit to the suspension, though. We’re happy that all of the above was addressed with the new Apex models.
Our only problem with the machine was the cable that connects the tunnel-mounted dial to the rear suspension adjustment broke. Yamaha addressed this with a service update kit that included a protective boot and hardware. The kit also included a new shock adjuster cable.
The Yamaha RX-1 was a fine snowmobile. The ride and handling were seriously upgraded with the Mono Shock RA and allowed us to better appreciate the engine. At least until we rode the 2006 Apex line. That’s when our staff realized that the Yamaha RX-1 had been the benchmark of a high-performance four-stroke, but it was suddenly outdated.