Yamaha 2020: Two-Stroke Returns, Plus iQS Advancements & New Utility Options

The 2020 Yamaha lineup has different snowmobiles for any type of rider needs.

How time flies when you’re having fun doing what you love.

It was barely a year ago when Yamaha’s faithful fans were scratching their heads after the company announced it would be making a reduction in its overall model lineup production from 34 total models in 2018, to 13 for 2019.

Today Yamaha announced that for 2020 the company isn’t making waves with double-digit new models, instead increasing its lineup with a slight uptick to 16. But its engineers didn’t just suggest adding a few new sleds, then calling it quits.

Next season Team Blue returns to the world of liquid-cooled two-strokes for the first time since 2005 with its new Transporter 600 – a quality utility sled that’s verifiably fun on and off any trails imaginable – along with introducing a new lineup of GT luxury touring one- and two-passenger sleds.

If that wasn’t enough to keep your interest, the company also tweaked its front suspension geometry on most trail sleds (with claims to improve overall handling), revised its iQS system on the Sidewinder SRX LE and L-TX LE to allow separate control of front and rear shock settings; recalibrated ECM settings on SRViper models for added mid-to-top horsepower; revised its X-TX lineup of mountain machines with a longer track, new rear suspension and new skis; and also added push-button starting and tethers to all Sidewinder and SRViper models.

It’s never too early to get excited for next season – let’s look at the fun that lies ahead. Details on the 2020 Ski-Doo2020 Arctic Cat and 2020 Polaris snowmobiles are also now available!

Sweet Suspension Changes Plus Luxury Rides For All

Regarding performance and comfort on trails, both Yamaha and Arctic Cat created a major buzz by unveiling the Fox iQS suspension system last year that allows riders to switch settings between soft, medium and firm at the push of a handlebar-mounted button. The revolutionary system is even more customizable for 2020 with the addition of two extra settings – labeled “driver one” and “driver two” – allowing riders to differentiate between ski shocks and the rear arm.

“If you’re the type of rider that likes the front end soft, but the back end firm, you can set your ‘driver one’ setting to be soft and the rear shock setting firm,” explained Jaret Smith, product manager for Yamaha’s North American snowmobile division, at its media unveiling. “With the advanced setup, you now have five settings between driver one and two, and soft, medium and firm, for the iQS.”

The company also unveiled a new front suspension system known as the Advanced Roll Center Suspension (ARCS) featuring forged front spindles and revised upper A-arms with heim joints.

“It sits a little bit higher, giving more ground clearance and also changes the roll center of the snowmobile with relation to the center of gravity,” Smith explained. Yamaha officials also claim the new geometry improves overall handling.

The 2020 Yamaha S-TX GT. 

Meanwhile the new Sidewinder L-TX GT and S-TX GT offer high-mileage riders the best features for trail roaming, including a heated seat, tall windshield, on-board storage, visor outlets and more. The difference is that the L-TX GT is a solo passenger vehicle with a 137-inch RipSaw II track, while the S-TX GT is the sport’s highest horsepower 2-up snowmobile, propelled by a 146-inch RipSaw track.

Both are powered by Yamaha’s 180+ horsepower turbocharged triple and utilize QS3 shocks on the new ARCS front end. The L-TX GT also has QS3, while the S-TX GT has an HPG shock on the rear arm plus overload springs to help carry the weight of a passenger and a rear-mounted auxiliary fuel tank that helps provide unmatched range.

“You can take this snowmobile for a ride with your partner on Friday, and on Saturday go out with your buddies – the 2-up seat comes off in about 30 seconds and now you have a rocket of a snowmobile,” Smith said of the S-TX GT at the recent Rode Reports testing event in West Yellowstone, Montana.

The Two-Stroke Returns

You’ve undoubtedly heard it for years – a subset of customers begging for the return of a two-stroke Yamaha snowmobile. The requests didn’t fall on deaf ears: For 2020 the brand will again enter into two-stroke territory with its new Transporter 600, although it won’t be entirely geared toward only performance riders.

The 2020 Yamaha Transporter 600. 

The sled is a mutt of both performance and utility, blending both Arctic Cat and Yamaha DNA. Similar to the 2019 Arctic Cat Norseman 6000 utility crossover, it features a 38-inch front ski stance with HPG shocks and a 15- by 153- by 2.25-inch Powerclaw track, with power coming from Cat’s 599 C-TEC2 DSI engine. Yamaha added its own spin with exclusive bodywork, seat, windshield and mountain skis.

Other amenities include a large rear rack, rear hitch, tall windshield and push-button starting accompanied with reverse, plus the new controls and brake that Yamaha introduced on other models in 2019.

“It can be used for work, but it’s also very playful and fun and will be a blast to use on trails,” Smith said. At the same time, Arctic Cat has dropped the Norseman from its 2020 lineup.

X-TX Changes

Yamaha has shifted its strategy with its Sidewinder X-TX LE and SE lineup, this time adding a longer track and a new skid frame.


“We’ve made some changes and slightly remade our model segmentation,” Smith said at Snow Shoot. The skid is the new 146 Versattak – an uncoupled, torsion-spring design for added weight transfer to make the sleds more off-trail capable. “Think of the front as a more race-oriented performance vehicle, and the back as a mountain-riding machine. Attributes of the front mimic trail suspension, and back mimic mountain – put them together and it’s a snowmobile that can play not only on-trail, but off-trail, too,” Smith said.

The LE version rides on a new 146- by 1.60-inch Cobra two-ply track and has a 42-inch stance over new single-keel crossover skis, while the more off-trail focused X-TX SE has a 146- by 2.25 Peak track with a 40-inch stance on the brand’s mountain skis. The SE also has ice scratchers and race-inspired running boards, with a second row of grips and wider stance standard.

Another change within the Sidewinder family is the color combinations of the second-year top-tiered Sidewinder SRX LE, switching to “midnight black with liquid silver” – the first time an SRX has been wrapped in the scheme since the 1980s.

The sled will continue to have a lowered ride height and short-lugged track, but with improved handling due to the ARCS front suspension design plus the Fox iQS suspension with new settings.

Within the Sidewinder L-TX lineup, the LE version shares the SRX’s iQS shock setup, except with a taller ride height/more suspension travel. Yamaha is also bringing back its 1.25-inch RipSaw II track and gearing similar to other Sidewinders after trying the model with taller lugs and gearing in 2019.

“This year it will go back to being more of an all-around trail sled,” Smith said at its unveiling, also noting that last season it was focused on being “more of a corner-to-corner trail machine.”

The LE returns with premium upgrades like onboard storage, an embossed heated seat and a heated visor outlet, while the more affordable L-TX SE gets a base-level shock, seat and storage package.

Yamaha discontinued its Sidewinder M-TX for 2020, leaving the remaining long-track as the Sidewinder B-TX LE 153 – It’s tailored for backcountry exploring, featuring a 2.25-inch track surrounding an uncoupled skid, a 40-inch ski stance and Yamaha Mountain skis.

Utilities And Youth Under One Roof

Since being unveiled and subsequently winning Snow Goer’s Snowmobile of the Year award for 2018, the Snoscoot ES has continued to impress those looking to get young riders involved.

The 2020 Yamaha Snoscoot ES with new race-inspired graphics. 

For 2020, Yamaha added a new BS-style carburetor (for improved starting and stronger performance), new engine mounts (for reduced hand and feet vibration), wider handlebar (for increased leverage) and new steering (for a tighter turn radius) as well as updated clutching (for faster performance). The SRX120R will return to the fleet unchanged.

Three Japanese-manufactured utility models return for 2020 after being excluded from the North American market last year.

The VK Pro II is back with industry exclusive electric power steering guiding its 130 hp four-stroke engine that’s propelled by a 20- by 154- by 1.5-inch Cobra track with a 38-inch ski stance on wide utility skis.

The RSVenture TF fills the utility/touring niche with its unique setup featuring a 151- by 1.25-inch Ripsaw II track, 42.5-inch ski stance and adjustable passenger backrest, electric power steering and Yamaha Chip Controlled Throttle (YCC-T) with three riding modes – sport, touring and entry. Meanwhile the VK540 will head into 2020 relatively unchanged, featuring a 535cc fan-cooled two-stroke engine.

Vipers Return With Added Power

One year after trimming the overall SRViper lineup down to one model, Yamaha has two models for 2020 featuring some serious upgrades.

The 2020 Yamaha SR Viper L-TX SE. 

It starts with the 1049cc triple engine: Designers gave it new ECM programming with performance in mind, with the promise of additional horsepower and better cold and warm starting.

For 2020, the SRVipers also come with upgrades made to Sidewinder models last year – including modern, more sculpted second-generation bodywork, upgraded handlebar-mounted controls, improved cooling and an upgraded Hayes brake with a shorter, plastic handle.

The SRViper comes in L-TX SE and L-TX GT versions next season. Both have a 137-inch RipSaw II track with 1.25-inch lugs. Where the GT stands out – just like within the Sidewinder lineup – is with its upgraded Fox QS3 shocks on the ski suspension and rear arm, plus an LED headlight, heated seat, expanded onboard storage and tall windshield.

With a wealth of changes and additions to its entire lineup for 2020 Yamaha is hoping it’s found the key for its future success. What offerings have you most impressed? Be sure to leave your opinions in the comments section!

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10 thoughts on “Yamaha 2020: Two-Stroke Returns, Plus iQS Advancements & New Utility Options

  • Avatar for Dave Babbitt

    A pivotal season for Yamaha? I don’t think so. Where is the competetor to the MXZ? Engineering might no- more. They’ve thrown in the towel. I waited a whole extra season for Yamaha to come up with something a BIG. It hasn’t happened so I’m off to my local Ski-Doo dealer. They promised this would be a big year for Yamaha. Great engines. No question. Yamaha has becme the Apple of the sno-mo world. They insist they know what I want and what’s good for me instead of giving what we asked for. Is there any other reason they are in last place in terms of sales? I’m no marketing genius but I do know that if you give the people what they want, they’ll keep coming back. Over 35 years of Yamaha faithfulness down the tube!

  • Avatar for Otahu

    YAMAHA 2stroke it is NOT! it’s a Arctic cat and will always be an Arctic cat! with yamaha Decals. The BIG four.. went to the BIG three!

  • Avatar for Dana Ritchie

    Arctic and Yamaha DNA? All Yamah contributed was the stickers!

  • Avatar for Bob White

    The arrogant decision to go exclusive 4 stroke decimated Yamaha. It has lost the battle. Game over!

    • Avatar for Marence Pierce

      At the time we (I’ve been a proud Yamaha Dealer since 1971) were under the understanding that eventually the EPA would make sure all sleds (like the outboards) would be 4 Stroke, so I thought well if nothing else we would have years of experience ahead of that “impending” time. Well as we all know that clock ran it’s self way past the expected date. So, I personally take offence to such a statement that Yamaha was “arrogant”. But I will add that I do look forward to Yamaha setting up their own production facilities in North America, much as they’ve done in production of the ATV’s, Side by Sides & Watercraft. Trust me, the Japanese are not arrogant, they have to have a tough time swallowing what has been lost by the AC agreement….in that the quality, craftsmanship and reliability that the Japanese hold near & dear to their Heart, isn’t there with the Cat. My family started in the Snowmobile business in 1968, when there were over a 100 brands available….I’ve been there, done that and seen it all.

      • Avatar for Charles M Palmer II

        Hi Marence, I agree with you regarding Yamaha not being arrogant. To your point too once they have Production Facility setup in NA , they will have more options….

        The way I look at it is all sleds have there quirks , I am just trying to enjoy the ride until things change , a Yamaha Sled owner for 15 years , I personally don’t see current state being as bad as others … We have 3 or 4 years running now , the fastest production sled on the Market , ride comfort has improved , and we have the most advanced shock adjustment package available , not to mention our Youth sled, is doing awesome… Good things are happening , I dont beleive they have given up, I think we , well at least I do not know the details of the Contract with AC , who in my opinion , and many others as well is improving there fit and Finish , which is helping Yamaha during this agreement … I am going to try and support them best I can and see what happens….

        • Avatar for Dave Babbitt

          But you’re not listening…..just like Yamaha. I DON’T want a rebadged Artctic Cat! Can you imagine a Chevy Camaro with an engine from a Ford Mustang? Neither loyal supporters of either brand would be happy. We keep hearing about how Yamaha has had a “hand” in making the sleds their own but you’re kidding yourself if you actually take pride in owning a true, Yamaha engineered snowmobile from the ground up. They aren’t! This hurts tried and true, proud Yamaha supporters like me. Fastest snowmobile in the world…yes, but it’s a collaborative effort so I don’t really have bragging rights. One can continue to tell us about how fast the Yamaha sleds are, the incredible longevity of their engines, the long-term value in terms of their high re-sale value etc. etc. but none of that changes the fact that they are dead last in snowmobile sales. Why? Because people don’t want them. Seriously, what other proof does one need that Yamaha is not providing the hardware people are looking for? Where is the innovative thinking like the old Enticers? That was a true turning point in snowmobiling. That was FINALLY the reliable sled everyone was looking for coming out of the 70’s AND IT WAS RELATIVELY INEXPENSIVE ! Right now I need a second mortgage to purchase one of their sleds. I could ho on and on but read comments from people on all snowmobile media sites. Yamaha has disappointed the former faithful.

        • Avatar for Pete Kraft

          I still bleed blue as I own one if the last of Yamaha’s REAL snowmobiles (Nytro), a Grizzly 700, and a Virago motorcycle. However I refuse to buy a re-badged Arctic Cat. Yamaha has the money and resources to kick everyone’s a** in the snowmobile market, but refuses to because of the overall profit margin, and how much of it is owned by Ski-Doo. What about heritage of the brand? What about customers that bleed blue? If they would have revised the Nytro chassis, I would have bought one. Instead, I used the first one as my R&D prototype and bought a second brand new Nytro and cut the front off and re-designed the forward geometry myself. It’s now one of my favorite sleds of all time! That motor is magic! I want Yamaha back!

  • Avatar for Justin

    2020 was a bit of a let down 4 me for many reasons. The biggest let down for me was there was no sidewinder mtx 162 . I bought the 17 mtx and have around 1200 miles on the beast and honestly beast is a understatement !!! That sled pulls so hard and just chews the deep snow up , carves , sidehills no complaints yes it takes a little getting use too and a bit more effort ” I guess”….then my girlfriends two stroke. Would of liked to see the alpha skid under the mtx for 2020 but I knew that wasn’t going to happen. This 600 utility sled sounds like a marketing nightmare good luck getting warranty on that through the Yamaha dealer …can hear it now it comes with a 1 yr warranty from date of purchase… customer, oh ok what’s covered? The decals!!! Give me a break…..black SRX? Ummm no thank you, wouldn’t buy a short tracker anyhow but if I did it would be a blue one!!! Just tell the Yamaha faithful your done so we can move on .

  • Avatar for Gbarchives

    I always thought the 70s Enticers were some of the nicest Arctic Cat Pumas ever built. Because clearly they took that idea and updated it and made it bulletproof. Been in the sport since 1966. I’m just happy both companies are still in the sled business such as it is. But when snowmobiles crossed over the 10000 dollar price point, I thought the writing was on the wall. I have no idea how a modern dealer stays in the sled business anymore. Here in PA it’s all UTVs that are keeping dealers afloat, because they can use them year around.


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