Yamaha Nytro ER: Smooth Engine, Soft Suspension

One of our most eagerly awaited sleds last fall was Yamaha’s Nytro ER with the yellow-and-black Backdraft graphics package.

What made the Nytro special is the fact it was the first 600-class ditch banger to be powered by a four-stroke engine.

“Smooth,” “responsive” and “surprisingly quick” summed up test riders’ impressions of the 973cc powerplant. Our Nytro out-accelerated a Polaris 600 HO Fusion during impromptu drag races early last winter.

During the dead of winter, all cylinders fired up after a few cranks of the starter motor; the engine always ran reliably and consistently.

In its stock form, we had the most fun with this sled on smooth trails that allowed us to carry a steady throttle position to reduce the effects of the four-stroke engine braking. Coming into wide, sweeping corners let us stay on the gas then make the rpm ramp up as we exited the turn.

We gave props to Yamaha shortly after the Nytro debuted for creating such a comfortable ergonomics package. Riders of our sled last season agreed the position was easy on the knees and back. The tall, sturdy, hooked handlebars mated with the tall, firm seat provide a sit-down-and-go setup that just felt right — right from the get-go.

The sled’s stock front end felt tippy before we softened the “spring” preload in the Fox FLOAT shocks. Initial settings were about 70 psi, but we reduced them to about 55 psi and had much better control through turns. Bump absorption was compromised a bit when the listed 542-pound sled met moguls.

The rear end worked fine over smooth trails that had zero to minimal texture. Handling there was decent, though the sled could have used skis that are more aggressive to provide a more-confident bite. Opinions from staffers and other test riders became more strong-willed when the trail turned rough.

Riders said the sled lacked the gusto to handle moguls and all-out aggressive rides. The front end kept up OK, but the Pro Active rear end seemed to get softer the farther it was pushed into its 11.5 inches of travel. The skidframe’s bottom-out stoppers definitely got a workout.

Toward the end of the season, we saw that several of the idler wheels had grenaded. Rubber that was supposed to roll against the track delaminated from the wheel’s plastic body.

The machine’s low-cut, sport windscreen was skimpier than Paris Hilton’s bikini and did little to protect a rider’s torso and head from the elements. Fortunately, the sled included hand guards that kept our digits out of the cold. The console and cab proved to be warm and was comfortable for active and easy-going riders.

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