In the fall of 2007, Yamaha’s new 2008 FX Nytro started appearing in dealerships across North America. Previous Nytros were found in the stodgy Deltabox chassis, but this new model, in the more upright, aggressive FX chassis, was aimed at mogul-mashing, ditch-pounding maniacs — a four-stroke for the performance special crowd.
After testing one the previous spring at Rode Reports, we were excited to get our hands on our demo model. In our spring tests, we loved the engine’s punchy powerband and the sled’s lighter weight compared to other four strokes. But the sled handled nervously — it was twitchy, it darted and swapped on deceleration and it rode tall. We wondered whether a better set of skis would help stabilize this machine.
In fact, here’s what we printed after our test season: “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.” We bolted some new CurveXS skis to our 2008 demo unit and they made a notable improvement.
Since 2008, Yamaha has made several changes to Nytro models, including reworking the front suspension geometry to try to minimize the handling nervousness. That helped, but it took until now for Team Blue to finally address the skis.
For 2013, the new FX Nytro RTX features Yamaha’s Tuner Ski — a unique, dual-keel, dual-runner ski that can be tuned with varying runner combinations. It also gets a different grip in back, thanks to the RipSaw II track that reduces side bite to allow the rear of the sled to be pitched into corners easier.
Combined, these touchpoints to the snow significantly improve Nytro models for the coming season, and allow the rider to enjoy the other benefits of a machine that were previously masked by ill handling characteristics.
How It Fits
When a rider first swings a leg over an FX chassis machine, the ergonomics feel somewhat awkward. Yes, with its narrow beak but wide tub up front showcasing the full body of the Fox FLOAT X dual clicker shocks, the FX Nytro RTX doesn’t look like any other sled on the snow, and at first it doesn’t feel like any other sled either.
The chassis feels wide at the knees, and particularly tall. The seat is narrow enough, but the cab in front of the seat forces knees to spread. The handlebars almost seem to dangle in space, with a notable “U” shape at the center. Those bars partially hide the oddest looking gauge in the sport — it’s rectangular and tall, like an enlarged iPhone is tucked beneath the short windshield. Huge handlebar-mounted controls for the hand and thumb warmers seem almost as big as the gauge pod.
The running boards have traction on the outer rolled edge, but when riding hard it sometimes feels like you can’t get your feet far enough forward — a prominent horizontal bar catches the rider at mid-boot. And, in a show of how fast the norm has changed in the sport, the Nytro sticks out from the crowd because it has a clunky mechanical reverse lever in front of the driver’s right knee. From the cockpit, the nose seems short in length but tall in stature, but when hanging off the side the rider gets a good view of the dual A-arm front suspension.
The foreign feel only lasts about 5 miles on a good trail, however. Once we got rocking and rolling on the Nytro, especially now that it handles better and more predictably, the trust level came up quickly and soon we forgot we were on something that felt different — it started to feel right. Like the others, it was about timing your lean and deciding how much driver input it needed to successfully get through the turn.
The blacked-out Nytro is at its best ever, looks-wise. With the black front suspension components leading into the similarly dark body panels, with subtle gray graphics, we feel it looks more cool and mysterious versus the louder blue, black and white package.
How It Performs
Much like we stated with the ergonomics, the FX Nytro RTX also seems odd to drive at first after coming off a competitive machine. The powerband is more herky-jerky and you don’t know how much you can trust the front end through turns. But, like the ergos, it begins to normalize quickly.
Let’s start with the powerplant: The fuel-injected, 1049cc triple is the class of this field in terms of horsepower output, but it’s also the overall four-stroke champion when it comes to “stab-ability” (we know that’s not really a word, but hear us out). One thing we and many riders miss when going from a two- to a four-stroke snowmobile is the immediate reaction of a two-stroke, where a quick stab of the throttle can pick up the skis and allow you to jump the snowmobile or carry the nose over a bump. There are four-stroke sleds with more power than this low- to mid-130s unit, but none are as fun to bomb down a ditchline or rutted-up trail as the Nytro because of this unique stab-ability. Go ahead, jab that fun flipper at the bars — the engine reacts immediately, the chassis transfers the weight and suddenly you’re in controlled wheelie-mode.
One problem with early generation FX Nytro models, however, was that weight would transfer forward too quickly when letting off the throttle, which would over-bias the skis, causing the nose to plant too hard and the rear end to swap. With the suspension changes Yamaha has made over the years and now especially with the new Tuner skis, most of that feeling has been erased. Suddenly on smooth to lightly worn trails, the Nytro can be run hard, with a high level of confidence. There’s still occasional ski lift and more push in the front end than some competitive models in some conditions, but not much. The rider can carry more speed through sweepers and have a lot more fun. The handling is also aided by a new RipSaw II track that makes it easier to drift the rear end a bit in turns.
In straight line trail bumps, both the front and rear suspensions handle most situations well. This machine doesn’t erase bumps like the Ski-Doo or track as straight as the Polaris, but it’s not the liability it used to be. And, in the right sort of bumps, it can be a lot of fun. It does struggle a little bit when you ask it to do two things as once — a rutted out corner will have the Nytro driver sawing at the bars more than on the other sleds in this test. And in huge off-trail rollers, it can be harder to time the bumps like on the two-strokes in this test — occasionally this sled would get out of time and bury the nose into an upcoming bump.
We have been quite critical of the FX Nytro models over the years. The handling was too skittish, the center of gravity too high. For Yamaha customers, the RS Vector or Apex were more worthy of consideration for the vast majority of riders.
Those days are gone. We thoroughly enjoyed our time on the Nytro RTX, and can’t wait for our next ride. Yes, the Tuner skis are a huge improvement, but it took years of improvements for Yamaha engineers to get this model to this point, starting with the second generation front end geometry and now culminating with the ski and track changes.
Now, the rest of the machine feels about as fun as the engine always has, making this the most fun four stroke ever built for hard-charging in bumps.
Yamaha FX Nytro RTX / $12,199
ENGINE: 1049cc, liquid-cooled, four-stroke triple with EFI SUSPENSION: FXG2 dual A-arm front with Fox FLOAT X shocks, 8.5 inches of travel; Dual Shock Pro 46 rear with C40 R16 Aluminum HPG center shock and C46 R16 Aluminum HPG rear arm shock, 14.5 inches of travel, DIMENSIONS: 110.4 inches long by 47 inches wide; 15x121x1.25 RipSaw II track STANDARD FEATURES: Mechanical reverse, electric start, hand guards NEW FOR 2013: Tuner Dual-Keel ski, RipSaw II track