Like many other snowmobile enthusiasts, we wait anxiously every winter to see what the snowmobile manufacturers have coming for the following year. And, like everybody, we dream big – eagerly anticipating new sleds that will have twice as much horsepower and twice as much quality suspension travel in an all new chassis that is half the weight… Easy, attainable goals, right?!
So, when we eagerly waited for details on the 2016 Yamaha lineup, we started making big predictions. One of those most certainly was NOT an all-new engine and rear suspension for the RS Vector. Who would have thought that this dated-yet-popular model would be at the center of new technology for Team Blue? After riding one at the 2016 Rode Reports test event recently, though, we came away highly impressed. Here are five quick thoughts:
- Programmable Throttle Done Right – The programmable, throttle-by-wire system that has been found on Ski-Doo ACE engines for the past couple of years (and will be used on the 1200 4-TEC engine in 2016) has received mixed reviews from our team of test riders for having a delay in throttle response. Frankly, we feel the same way about some current pickup trucks – we don’t always like the lag experienced between when we push on the fun flipper or gas pedal and the actual engagement of the engine. Well Yamaha got it right with the Yamaha Chip Controlled Throttle (YCCT) system. Drivers get the advantages of three driving modes – S (Sport) is the quickest, T (Touring) ramps up slightly slower and E (Entry) caps top speed and improves fuel economy. Yet there is absolutely no lag in throttle response or performance. In fact…
- Mid Performance? – The new engine features the same 1049cc displacement and bore and stroke geometry as the “old” engine and comes with a new crankshaft, pistons, connecting rods and castings. Yamaha isn’t claiming any performance gain, but this new “mid-performance” triple absolutely ran away from the “high-performance” 1049cc triple in the SR Viper L-TX we
had with on the same ride. Even at horsepower-robbing 8,000 feet in altitude, the new Vector easily climbed above 90 mph in the Sport and Touring modes and even the Entry mode got us to 75 mph. That fast of an Entry mode had us a bit confused – that seemed rather aggressive for “entry” – but the overall performance of the engine was exhilarating.
- SingleShot Rear Suspension – Another improvement found on the RS Vector for 2016 is the new SingleShot rear suspension. Like the Mono Shock II that it replaces, it features just one shock absorber – in this case, a Fox FLOAT 3 XV (meaning it has an eXtra Volume chamber). But this new design has a notably simpler design and lighter and more sculpted suspension arms and other components. That makes it 10 pounds lighter than the skidframe it replaces. Ride quality? Well, we didn’t have it back-to-back with a Mono Shock II-equipped model, but it felt more plush, and we appreciate the weight savings. This isn’t a jump-it-far and land-it-hard setup; it’s definitely more of a sit-in-the-saddle-and-enjoy-the-ride feel, and for that, it does its job quite well.
- Sit Down & Shut Up! – The ergos of the RS Vector remain the same, and what that means to you may vary. The host Deltabox II chassis definitely feels lower than most modern sleds and encourages riders to stay in the saddle. Its wide feeling starts at the ankles, is accentuated by
the wide fuel tank between the knees and is finished off by wide bars with hooked ends. That said, this is a chassis that many traditional snowmobilers may feel very comfortable on, particularly those who feel that the snowmobile manufacturers have gone too far in placing riders too tall and too far forward. This snowmobile has made the Snow Goer Top 10 many times in the past 10 years for that very reason – it’s a comfortable, capable, high-mile snowmobile for the sit-down-and-ride crowd, and for 2016 it’s even better.
- Dump The Lever – So we’ll give Yamaha a pass on the old feeling ergos because we definitely understand the appeal for some customers. But the clunky reverse lever mounted in front of the driver’s right knee? Its time has passed. Getting this thing to lock into reverse and back out of reverse is far more complicated and clunky than need be, especially when Yamaha has had a push-button-to-mechanical system on some of its other sleds since model year 2007.
Those who order their RS Vector model in the Spring Power Surge program that ends on April 18 can get their machine in Limited Edition (LE) trim, complete with factory installed, vibration-absorbing Performance Dampers front and rear, plus Fox FLOAT 3 shocks up front replacing the HPG coil-overs found on the base RS Vector.