Hey Yamaha faithful: Power steering is back, and it’s better than ever when installed on select new Sidewinder models for 2022. That’s the message from Team Blue, which is expanding its lineup slightly to 21 total models while also acknowledging that it is going to increase its total build of snowmobiles for next season.
The power steering system will be found on 2022 Sidewinder L-TX GT and Sidewinder S-TX GT machines, but it won’t be on the lake-racer-special, the Sidewinder SRX LE. That helps create more space between it and the Arctic Cat ZR 9000 Thundercat – the only Cat machine with EPS for 2022.
Meanwhile, Yamaha is also expanding its Mountain Max lineup with a new “SL” (Super Light) model, is growing its family of machines on the entry-level 7/8th-size chassis with new Transporter Lite 2-Up, and is updating several other machines as well.
Cast into the history books are the Sidewinder B-TX LE 153 and the base-model Sidewinder L-TX GT without power steering.
Welcome Back, Power Steering
Yamaha was the brand that first introduced the advantages of electronic power steering (EPS) to several powersports markets – including the ATV market (2006 Yamaha Grizzly 700) and five years later to snowmobiling. However, this will be its first application on the chassis that Yamaha shares with Arctic Cat. And, after riding 2022 pre-production machines with and without EPS last weekend in Wisconsin, we’re convinced that it is a great addition to the machines on which it’s installed.
EPS changed riders’ expectations in the ATV market, thanks to its ability to not only lighten steering effort but also damp jarring forces that come back through the handlebar. It was introduced to snowmobiling on a 2011 Apex and, later, on select Vector and Venture models, but it hasn’t really caught on in our sport. That said, specifically for Yamahas in the old Delta Box II chassis, it did make a rather notable impact on the machines’ handling because the lighter steering helped mask some of the nose-heavy weight of the machines. Plus, with steering effort minimized, the factory could install more aggressive skis and/or runners. The same holds true in this new iteration.
The new EPS system utilizes a brushless DC motor from Globe that adds a varying amount of assistance based on the vehicle’s speed and torque felt in the steering system. It provides more assistance at lower speeds and then ramps down its input as vehicle speeds increase – just like in your automobile.
For 2022, Yamaha is putting EPS on its two loaded, high-mile cruisers – the single-passenger Sidewinder L-TX GT and the two-passenger Sidewinder S-TX GT.
Last weekend during our test drive, we rode a 2022 Sidewinder L-TX GT back-to-back with a 2022 Sidewinder L-TX SE on grooved-up trails. On the SE, the sled certainly handled OK, but the skis chased ruts and the steering was notably heavier in tight-and-twisty sections of trail. It was just more work to hustle down the trail. On the GT, though, the steering was notably lighter and easier, and we never found ourselves fighting the same ruts that bugged us on the SE.
The EPS-equipped L-TX GT features a 137-inch track and Fox QS3 shocks above the skis and on the suspension’s rear arm, with a HPG center shock. Touring features include a heated seat, heated shield outlet, large tunnel bag and mid-height windshield. The S-TX GT is on a stretched touring chassis with a 146-inch track, 2-up seat and rear-mounted auxiliary fuel tank. It has luxury features for both the driver and passenger.
Other Sidewinder Changes
Other Sidewinder that didn’t get EPS didn’t get forgotten for 2022. Some shock changes and a lot of new colors and graphics decorate the lineup.
For the uninitiated, all Sidewinders are powered by Yamaha’s thrilling 998cc turbocharged, fuel-injected four-stroke triple, which creates somewhere between 180 and 200 horsepower, depending on who is running the dyno. They all ride on what Yamaha calls the SRV chassis and are built on the Arctic Cat assembly line.
The Sidewinder L-TX LE model gets a slight shock upgrade, with a Kashima coating on its Fox QS3 shocks and compression and rebound clickers on the front shocks as well as the rear-arm shock. Those shocks plus a heated seat, lightweight brake disc, added luggage and a silver and blue paint job separate it from its more affordable Sidewinder L-TX SE model. The SE has HPG shocks in the skid, an unheated seat, a smaller tunnel bag and heavier brake disc, but it is typically about $2,000 cheaper than the LE.
The typical star of the Sidewinder lineup is the appealing SRX LE. Functionally it returns unchanged for 2022 – with its lowered ride height and 1-inch lugged track aimed at maximum top speed. It’s retro red, white and gold graphics package, though, is sure to hook some Yamaha loyalists – it’s a visual callback from the 1977 SRX.
Yamaha is also returning with two Sidewinder X-TX models with 146-inch track – an SE and an LE. The X-TX LE is more trail-focused, with a 42-inch stance on the narrower Stryke skis and a track with 1.6-inch lugs, while the X-TX SE features a mountain front end with tilted spindles, wide skis set 40 inches apart and a Challenger track with 2-inch lugs.
Deep Snow Expansion
Yamaha’s re-entry into the two-stroke mountain sled world was warmly welcomes last year by western Yamaha dealers and customers alike, and for 2022 the brand is adding a new model.
New is Mountain Max LE 154-SL, with the letters being code for “Super Light.” To strip weight the SL is the only Mountain Max without electric start, plus it’ll have a shorter seat, fuel tank and heat exchanger and its track lugs will be set further apart than the same-length Mountain Max 154. Yamaha marketing officials didn’t have any weight specs available but said the SL model will likely be 20-25 pounds lighter than the regular 154. We’re hoping for more details soon.
That new sled plus the returning Mountain Max 800 154 and 165 also get the new Arctic Cat-designed clutches that Arctic Cat announced last week. Yamaha officials stressed that the one-pound weight savings on a rotating part was the key benefit.
All three full-sized Mountain Max sleds ride on what Yamaha calls the “Mountain Single Beam” rear suspension, which is code for Arctic Cat’s Alpha One skid. Power comes from Cat’s C-TEC 794cc liquid-cooled, batteryless fuel injected two-stroke twin. Fox QS3 shocks abound, with a lockout-capable QS3L on the rear arm.
The Mid-Sized Lineup Grows
The line of mid-sized sleds that Yamaha unveiled for 2021 grows from three to four sleds for 2022, thanks to a new twin-passenger touring version of the Transporter Lite.
Like the Transporter Lite utility model, the new Transporter Lite 2-Up rides on the 7/8th-size chassis, utilizes a 397cc, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected single-cylinder engine and rides on a 146-inch track. However, that rear end now has solid rails all the way to the back (no articulation) and features overload springs, plus it has a second, raised seat, making it ready to carry a second passenger – thus the name.
Up front, the newest Transporter 2-Up rides on a 40-inch front end with an anti-sway bar – adding stability.
All other machines on this chassis return with the same driveline but with 38-inch ski stances. The base SXVenom is the trail burner, with a 14- by 121- by 1-inch track that makes it a great “tweener” or entry-level sled. The SXVenom Mountain, wields a 14- by 146- by 2-inch Challenger track to make it an entry level mountain sled. The base Transporter Lite is focused on the utility market.
Other Returning Models
The rest of Yamaha’s lineup includes one returning 600-class trail runner, an assortment of utility crossovers and two fun youth sleds.
The SRViper L-TX GT trail sled is powered by Yamaha’s 1049cc, naturally aspirated triple that makes about 130 horsepower. It gets new dual-rate springs for improved cornering performance for 2022.
Returning Yamaha-built machines are the affordable utility-focused VK540 with a two-stroke engine plus the utility/touring VK Professional II and unique RS Venture TF with Yamaha’s 1049cc four-stroke triple.
On the most entry-level possible, the diminutive SRX120R gets new machined suspension rails and updated torsion springs for 2022, while its big brother the Snoscoot is unchanged.
Editor’s Note: This review was originally published in the October 2020 issue of Snow Goer. Every issue of Snow Goer magazine includes in-depth sled reports and comparisons, aftermarket gear and accessories reviews, riding destination articles, do-it-yourself repair information, snowmobile technology and more! Subscribe to Snow Goer now to receive issues delivered to your door or your computer for a low cost.