We’ve had an interesting, storied relationship with the Yamaha FX Nytro RTX. Call it an on-again, off-again romance.
When it first hit the snow as a 2008 model, we loved its engine and admired its bump performance. However, like many personal relationships, there is a part of it that left us puzzled. In the case of the first-edition Nytro RTX, its handling was peculiar in that it was moody — serene and calm one moment, and just when you’re about to cue the mojo and make a move, she’d surprise you and rattle your confidence.
Snow Goer had a 2008 Nytro RTX as a demo sled the first season it was on the snow, and try as we might — we didn’t reach understanding for all its behaviors. It was wildly terrain sensitive. Changing snow conditions would influence its handling beyond conventional parameters and trailside setup adjustment introduced a whole ’nudder malady. We spent money on her and accessorized her, but it wasn’t a bitter break-up at the end of the season.
A substantial revision to the front geometry introduced a new layer of improvement to its behavior in 2009, and for 2010 there was a Nytro SE that had features that carried over into 2011 that make it a better Nytro.
2011 Yamaha FX Nytro RTX: Showing her Softer Side
The 2011 Nytro RTX is last year’s Nytro SE (Special Edition) with softer shock and spring calibrations. That means an upgrade on both ends: Fox FLOAT X dual-clicker shocks up front and Yamaha’s best bump suspension — its Dual Shock Pro 46 skid — is new to the rear.
A softer calibration to widen the appeal for RTX buyers was an elegant move. It increased the ride comfort, but it also created a wonderful byproduct: the best-handling Nytro to date. Most noticeable with the front shock upgrade was flatter handling. The sudden twitchiness we’ve grown accustomed to — which, in the worst cases felt like the chassis wanted to high-side the driver — was nearly erased.
There are hints of remaining corner mannerism drama, but because the machine stays flat there is a greater sense of confidence. In firm snow conditions the Nytro RTX front end hooked up remarkably, but it pushed in soft snow. Terrain changes will still influence handling on the Nytro more than other machines, but it’s less of a concern. There is still considerable steering effort, and we assume Yamaha’s electric power steering (EPS) will benefit the Nytro models next year. Yamaha more or less admitted it was using the Apex line as a season of testing before expanding its EPS technology.
The front end on the 2011 RTX is both more comfortable and more forgiving than its predecessors, in either RTX or SE packaging. The softer spring pre-load in the Fox FLOAT X shocks (adjusted by air pressure, remember) combined with setting the front-end compression to a soft setting made the sled much more manageable in bumps and handling. We dialed down the rebound so it was less abrupt, which improved comfort and bump performance in our conditions. It transferred less energy into the chassis and to the driver through the bars, too.
We encourage owners to work with these highly adjustable shocks to find a handling preference that suits the conditions. The wider range of front end adjustability gained with this shock package will be appreciated.
The rear suspension was likewise improved with the Dual Shock Pro 46 upgrade. Yamaha said four years of development went into this suspension. In our testing, we ran it through a bump course with 1- to 3-foot bumps at speeds up to 70 mph and the skid performed well. The front arm shock, which is a dual-clicker, was always ready for the next hit. Even with the skid’s torsion springs set full-soft, rebound was quick. Obviously there is adjustment room to tighten it up with the springs, and the Pro 46 rear shock is an adjustable gem: a three-way clicker, offering high- and low-speed compression damping and rebound adjustability.
The Dual Shock Pro 46 is a good suspension supported by a great shock package, but our drivers noted it didn’t outperform any competitive offerings, so it didn’t set itself apart. It uses control rods, devices Yamaha has used for adjusting weight transfer and coupling since the late ’90s. They are functional and durable, but offer the impression it’s an area to shave a few pounds from a sled that could still benefit from reduction.
Slim is More Appealing
The engine didn’t change but it didn’t have to. Already more powerful than its closest competitors (whether comparing to other naturally aspirated four-stroke engines or 600-class two strokes) the powerplant evokes no criticism. Test driver Tom Kaiser penned, “I love the sound and pull. It’s a bit rough sounding, but in a good way.”
It’s difficult to find anyone who doesn’t admire the throaty growl of the engine formerly known as the Genesis 130FI — now renamed the High-Performance 3-Cylinder Genesis. The 1049cc, four-stroke triple provides seamless, smooth acceleration and power with audible pleasantries exiting rearward.
The tapered tunnel, with its 11-degree angle (also a new migration from last year’s SE), slashes upward to the tail section attractively. Think about someone’s successful diet and exercise campaign that made them startlingly more attractive. The Nytro gives us the same impression. It looks slimmer and sexier in its newest skin.
The tunnel update on the RTX also has better snow evacuation and grip, useful when rising off the seat or leaning farther to improve handling and visibility through turns. The slim, supportive seat is easy for moving from left body English to right quickly, something we’ve learned not to take for granted. The Nytro’s cockpit arrangement is well appointed for fluid movement.
We’re still not fans of the awkward steering angle or, more specifically, the plane on which the bar rotates. In tight corners, the inside bar end lowers. It helps to get the shoulders low to promote a better body lean, but it doesn’t leave the driver squarely positioned for mid-corner terrain imperfections.
The windshield protected little on the taller drivers. Our six-footers took wind blasts to the face, but find a performance sled these days that gives a driver anything functional — they are designed to look cool. The Nytro’s appearance is unpopular with some, but our eyes don’t find disfavor. In 2011, Team Yamaha blue and the black base with red accents are the color options.
Our relationship with the Nytro RTX is one that’s on the mend. We’ve had some nervous moments on Nytros in the past, and we’d like to put them behind us. We’re working toward faith in the 2011, but we’re only to the hope stage. Nevertheless, we’re content with where things are at today.
Indicative of our combined sentiments came from test rider Jeff Oberg’s notebook: “Best Nytro I have ever ridden from a predictable, fun-to-ride, handling perspective.”
There are 2010 models out there, but unless you find a give-away price, your money is better spent on the 2011, which lists at $12,099. The confidence and relationship gain is worth the difference.