Sled: 2008 Yamaha FX Nytro

MSRP: $9,999

Modifications: CurveXS skis; Stud Boy wear bars; Klotz 0W-40 engine oil

Our 2008 Yamaha FX Nytro was a sled we were eager to ride for two key reasons: it was one of the most newsworthy 2008 models; and after our experience at our 2008 Rode Reports, we were eager to try a new set of skis on one.

There were several reasons the FX Nytro was newsworthy. The first was that it was another new chassis from Yamaha — it’s third significant four-stroke chassis in three successive years. It had a true rider-forward position and touted big-bump capability with ergonomics to match an active driver in rough, aggressive terrain.

The ergos on the sled were comfortable. Our model had a functional windshield and handguards that made riding it warmer than it looked. The running boards had great traction, but the stirrups in the footwells weren’t a good fit to the tops of feet on rough trails. In terms of looks, it’s a cool, aggressive appearance but the tall tunnel, from running board to where the seat is anchored, looks like designers were hiding something. It’s unnecessary material, proven by the release of the 2009 FX Nytro SE that has a sleeker tunnel.

The engine is an absolute homerun. The Genesis 130FI delivers about 135 hp, it sounds wonderful, pulls hard and doesn’t seem to have an upper limit. The monster midrange power is stronger than a two-stroke 600 and it certainly has broader torque.

It looks and feels like a four-stroke option for aggressive riders, and that’s what it is. The suspension is the most capable yet from Yamaha, soaking up bumps better than any damping package the company rigged before it.

Our first rides on our stock Nytro skis were a mixed bag, same as our time on the prototype models. We were nervous on the machine in hard, frozen snow conditions. The sled twitched, it darted during deceleration and the skis followed ruts. We attribute it to the combination of a heavy four-stroke engine and an aggressive rider-forward position that put too much weight over the skis.

We were more confident in softer snow conditions when the sled stayed flat and handled more predictably. We didn’t feel any extra four-stroke weight when the sled stayed on its intended path. We figured a different ski profile or different runners might keep the sled going where we wanted it and improve our confidence in a wider variety of terrain.

The CurveXS skis we selected had a 1-inch wide keel at the ground that spread to 3 inches wide under the ski’s sole. Curve Industries included Stud Boy Shaper Bars with two, 1.5-inch chunks of cutting carbide that were separated by 4.5 inches of carbide wear pad.

The simple ski swap helped remarkably. It made the sled much more predictable and gave it better handling across the board. With our boosted confidence, we were able to better appreciate the engine and bump-soaking suspension.

For 2009, Yamaha has improved the handling of its Nytro models with a redesigned front end. The new parts were to accomplish the same goals as our ski upgrade, but the factory effort was more effective. The better-handling, more confident and more predictable 2009 Nytro XTX will be a sled in our stable we’ll be eager to ride. But for those with 2008s or considering a non-current, a simple ski swap goes a long way.

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