Legend has it that Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting before he passed in 1890, Oscar Wilde died as a penniless ex-con and Edgar Allen Poe never made enough money to support himself. And the Yamaha SXVenom? Like these others, it is now significantly more popular after its death than it was during its life.
Admittedly, Yamaha’s last trail-focused two-stroke snowmobile will never sell for $82 million like one of Vinny’s paintings, nor will it have a Simpson’s episode based on it like Poe’s “The Raven,” but it will create many fond memories when it is bought on the used market by a rider looking to enjoy the sport at an affordable price.
The SXVenom was introduced for model year 2004 as an upgraded Vmax 600 SX-R. It was essentially the little brother to the 700-class SXViper that had been introduced two years earlier, sharing its chassis layout, top-notch switches, up-graded seat, LCD gauge, twin headlight and other features. But the SXVenom was introduced at a time when Yamaha ofﬁcials were already starting to tell the world its snowmobiling future was in four-stroke-powered sleds – a year after introducing the RX-1 and the same year that the RX Warrior was unveiled – so it was overshadowed.
Beyond that, Yamaha’s 600 triple – while smooth and linear – didn’t offer as much punch as competitive 600 twins and, possibly more impactful, the SXVemon was priced closely to the signiﬁcantly more fun and entertaining SXViper. The results were profound.
“Even going back to the 600 SX-R and the Vmax 700 and 600 Deluxe models, I sold 10 or 12 700s for every one 600”-class snowmobile, said Bob Sell of F&S Yamaha in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania. “The 600s were the same weight as the 700s, they were down on power and they were priced too close to each other. People would almost always pay the extra $200 or $400 and get the 700. The same thing happened with the SRXs.”
But now? The 600-class snowmobiles are very popular on the used market. “People like to buy them for their kids or their wife or as a second sled,” Sell said. “Those 600 triples are desirable to a lot of people and they hold their value pretty well, especially when compared to the previous 600 twins Yamaha had from 1994 to 1998 – they don’t carry nearly as much value.”
Why did people prefer Yamaha’s 593cc triple (introduced in 1999) so much better than the older twin-cylinder engine? First, the engine and clutches were more bulletproof, Sell said, plus they were smoother, had less vibration and got better fuel mileage.
“They were gold – you could go high, high mileage between engine [rebuild] jobs, and they were very forgiving for jetting – you could ride from 50 degrees above to 40 below zero and not change the jets,” Sell said. “Those triples were ex-tremely good and reliable.”
The ProAction chassis has proven to be just as reliable. It stayed tight through time, with no obvious weak points. Ride quality was good, with ﬂ at handling through tight corners and ad-equate suspension, though the Venom used inexpensive, non-rebuildable hydraulic gas-bag shock that could be taxed if worked hard. The seating position was tradition – meaning lower and further back on the chassis at a time when rider-forward designs were starting to become more fashionable.
“That chassis was good – the suspension were bulletproof, the rails didn’t break like on some other models at the time, the clutches last forever and ever, there were no power valves to clean or related cables to go bad,” Sell said. Even the 1-inch Predator track used on that model has been durable.
When taking one in on trade, Sell said he always checks the status of the drive-line bearing – most notably in the chain-case and on the jackshaft – because they tended to wear out. Beyond that, it’s all about looking for signs of excess abuse.
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