I spent yesterday riding a new, presumably 2011 Yamaha snowmobile. I don’t know its name, I don’t know what engine it features, and I’m not exactly sure what makes the steering so light. In fact, here’s everything I know about this exciting new sled….um….uh…..well, it has a track….

OK, that might be an exaggeration — it comes in a version of the Deltabox chassis, it has a four-stroke powerplant, and it features the Mono Shock rear suspension. Beyond that,  Yamaha officials are being unbelievably coy about this new machine — opting for this approach with the media: “Ride it, and give your impressions, but you can’t open any panels or the hood.” The Snow Goer team will learn the real answers soon, but I can tell you that it has the lightest steering of any snowmobile I’ve ever ridden, and it has the best handling of any four-stroke snowmobile I’ve ridden.

My guess? Electronic Power Steering has made its first entry into the snowmobile market. Yamaha is the same manufacturer who first introduced power-assisted steering to the ATV market, and with that has completely changed the market in the past three years.

On the snowmobile I rode, the light steering had a dual effect — first, made it easy to ride in any conditions I encountered. Beyond that, the lighter steering seems to have allowed Yamaha to better dial in its suspension setup — the front end stayed much more planted than other recent Yamahas, carving corners with ease, and with most ski lift eliminated. My guess on that one? Because the heavy-steering penalty of dialing in more front end is removed by the addition of power steering, Yamaha set up the sled with more transfer to the skis.

Now, the powerplant: I don’t know what that is either!! But, it felt like a three-cylinder engine on steroids. It ran with the Apex we had with us, leading me to think it has 140-plus horsepower, and it spins up to just over 10,000 rpm if you stay on the gas long enough. That said, it’s a different powerband than the Apex and the Vector. Could it have a slight turbo assist? Possibly, but it’s so unbelievably smooth there’s no turbo feel to it.

We’re leaving the hotel in 9 minutes for another day of riding. I’ll update this post tonight with more feedback after more time in the saddle.

–John Prusak

One thought on “New Yamaha Sled: Power Steering?

  • Sounds like a neat idea but another machine that will be best on the trails that are just smooth? Are they letting you take it on any bumps to see how it steers there or just pancake-flat trails? Want to now more disappointed that its a monoshock and not the torsion spring skid that is better in rough. Hope they have more than one model with this setup.

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