Yamafest 2008 – The Ultimate Experience
by Randy Neufeld
I got a call from Gary, my Yamaha rep wondering if North Country Cycle and Sports would like to participate in Yamafest 2008. “What is it” I asked. “Yamaha loads a great selection of sleds in a trailer and goes from city to city letting dealers and customers ride the sleds” replied Gary. “They would be in Thunder Bay January 21st” he continued. I told him we would be thrilled to host the event and that my only concern was that it had been +4 C when I was out riding the day before.
The Set Up
We had a quick brain storming session to determine the best plan. One of our salespeople came up with the idea that we could go out to Dragon Hills Golf Course which would provide a great place to ride as well as have a club house to use while people waited their turns. We contacted Mike Komar who generously let us use his golf course, he even had Danielle on hand to serve us hot chocolate and lunch. We then put up some signs and contacted as many customers as we could to come and join us for the rides.
Although our initial concern was lack of snow Dragon Hills had lots of snow, our concern of the day was extreme cold and wind chill. The cold probably deterred a few people, however we had a steady flow of die hard riders who came out and had a blast. Gary and Steve from Yamaha were on hand to get everyone signed up and ready to go. Many participants stayed around for second and even third turns at a ride.
Yamaha showed up with six 2008 sleds for us to try. The list included a Phazer GT, a short and long track version of the RS Vector, a Venture Lite, and the hottest two sleds on the snow this year, the FX Nytro and the Apex GT
The Apex GT was the fastest sled at the Snow Week Shootout. It clicked off a 12.02 quarter mile time at almost 103 MPH. The 150 HP and gobs of 4 stroke torque are evident as soon as you hit the throttle. I let go of the throttle long before the sled reached its full potential. You have to hang on to this one or you’ll be off the back in a hurry. The sled handles very well and would make a great lake runner.
The FX Nytro and the Phazer GT are both in Yamaha’s radical looking new chassis. Both sleds handle extremely well and give you the feeling of riding a dirt bike. The Phazer is a blast to drive, and if you were doing some ditch banging or trail riding would be lots of fun. The only time you would be disappointed would be if someone blew by you on a new FX Nytro. The FX Nytro combines the handling and nimbleness of the Phazer with 50% more power , more than you’ll probably ever use. One guy stayed around for 3 rides and said it was the best sled he has ever ridden.
The RS Vector and RS Vector LTX are like the little brothers of the Apex. They handle great and pull very hard down the straight stretches. The120 HP is enough to get you in and out of trouble at the light touch of the throttle. Besides the torque, the most impressive thing on all of the Yamaha sleds was how light they feel. The “talk” is always that the 4 stroke sleds are so much heavier, however Yamaha has done a great job of balancing the weight in the chassis and providing enough power that the sleds handle extremely well and feel light.
The Venture Lite was the sled that surprised me the most. This sled is huge, it has more than enough room to fit two people plus gear comfortably, but what surprised me was how well it ran. While doing the rides with our customers I followed the other riders and although it is not as fast as the other sleds it was able to keep up in the turns and through some mogul sections of the trail.
The day of riding was a lot of fun. Many participants got the opportunity to try out some sleds they otherwise would not have had the chance to. I have been fortunate enough to try out several different brands of sleds this year and Yamaha definitely has a winning line up. What was nice was having the opportunity to ride six different sleds on the same day under the same conditions. Several riders commented on how they were surprised by one model over another but everyone agreed that the brute torque the 4 stroke sleds produce is awesome. Gary from Yamaha noted that the Yamafest tour has been a huge success and that hopefully we can see them back again next year