Staff Sled Review: 2008 Yamaha Phazer RTX


Sled: 2008 Yamaha Phazer RTX

MSRP: $7,599

Modifications: Slydog skis; Slydog Real Cool Bogie Wheels; PowerMadd hand guards; SBM sway bar kit; Fox FLOAT Evol shocks

Every year we are provided season-long demo sleds units from each snowmobile manufacturer. Every once in a while, a season passes and we feel that we didn’t spend enough time with one of our demo sleds.

Our 2007 Phazer FX was a riot. It was our 2007 Snowmobile of the Year, and for good reason. It had the most buzz and interest of any sled in recent years. Whether people loved it or hated it, it was the most talked about sled of all the 2007 models.

We ordered one to spend a full season with it. While we racked up miles on the small, fun, lightweight machine, unfortunately, one of the reasons we felt we didn’t spend enough time with the ’07 Phazer was that we broke a bracket for the rear suspension arm three times. We ordered a 2008 Phazer RTX — the new moniker of the ’07 FX — to get our downtime back after Yamaha insisted it remedied the weak link in its suspension.

We’re happy to report that our re-run machine made it through the season without a broken part. Besides the new name and added durability of the skidframe, we were left scratching our heads to the other changes that Yamaha didn’t discuss during its press briefings. The 2008 model didn’t handle as well as the 2007 Phazer.

The Phazer’s malady was much the same we felt with the FX Nytro — it was unpredictable. The front end was unstable and too obliging to chase ruts. And the ski darting during deceleration made the sled unpredictable. With the Phazer, snow conditions didn’t matter.

To try and settle it some, we installed the same pair of Slydog skis that we ran on our 2007 Phazer. We pulled them off the shelf in our shop, made sure the 4 inches of carbide still had an edge and bolted them on.

The improvement was marginal. Despite setup changes and the different ski profile we thought would be a better match for the machine, we never got fully comfortable and trusting of the little machine’s handling compared to the other machines in our fleet. We updated the Phazer RTX to Fox FLOAT Evol shocks, but regardless of air pressure and sag we couldn’t get rid of the unwanted, stray handling.

The FLOAT-ed front end worked great in bumps with a firm, progressive compression stroke without bottoming and a quick, well-dampened rebound. The rear suspension handled rough terrain well, too, with adequate compression stroke to soak up impacts well. In terms of power, the engine pulls hard enough to thrill and it easily keeps up with other sleds on trails that aren’t railway-straight and it’s comfortable enough to ride on all but the coldest days, when riders are wishing for more protection and warmth.

Despite the handling we experienced, it’s still a fun machine for twisty trails, and it doesn’t need to back down when the conditions turn rough. Because of our previous experience, we had high expectations for our Phazer RTX. We know the handling potential of the Phazer’s chassis, and our 2008 Phazer RTX fell short.

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