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2017 Yamaha Sidewinder Break-In Report

By Andy Swanson

 

It was a holiday weekend filled with winter goodness for Snow Goer staffers because we were able to log quality miles on some of the 2017 demo sleds. Late last week, Editor/Publisher John Prusak rode in the Minnesota Arrowhead Region and gave a report about the sleds he rode.

I rode in the same area on Friday with our 2017 Yamaha Sidewinder L-TX SE demo, and then Sunday I ventured to the town of Cook in far northern Minnesota with a few friends where we put miles on the Sidewinder, plus our Arctic Cat ZR 6000 RS (a special-edition machine built to honor Arctic Cat engineer Roger Skime), Polaris 600 Rush XCR LE and Ski-Doo MX Z X 850 E-TEC. In this report, we’ll focus on the gray-and-orange Sidewinder.

2017 Yamaha Sidewinder L-TX-SE review

With nearly 400 miles on the odometer of our Sidewinder, we’re excited to tally a bunch more miles on the mighty sled.

There’s a lot of power, no doubt, and too much power can often translate to poor manners for trail riding. But power delivery from our Sidewinder L-TX SE is seamless and easy to manage. Similar to well-tuned two-stroke-powered sleds, response from the 998cc boosted powertrain is quick so the driver enjoys the payoff when he or she squeezes the throttle to blip the front end off of a mogul or skip over a row of bumps. Laying into the throttle at the apex of a corner will boggle the mind because the Sidewinder accelerates startlingly quickly, but fortunately it maintains a nice balance of traction between the skis and track so that speed is easy to control.

Through all conditions I’ve faced with the Sidewinder L-TX SE so far, the chassis felt stable and predictable. As mentioned above, the amount of traction between the front and rear ends is well balanced, and the sled tracks straight and predictably – whether off or on the throttle. Handling is sharp and cornering is flat. Only through one corner did I experience sudden, unexpected inside ski lift. The mass felt evenly distributed, and I’m sure it’s the 137-inch track that contributes to the good balance.

2017 Yamaha Sidewinder L-TX-SE review

Before spinning a mile on the Sidewinder, I installed 192 Stud Boy studs in the 137-inch track and replaced the stock Yamaha Tuner III skis with a set of Starting Line Products MoHawk skis and 6-inch carbides. The scoop-shaped Super-Lite Pro Series backers provide extra acceleration traction for the ultra-powerful Yamaha Genesis 998 Turbo powertrain.

On an ultra-rough trail we rode yesterday, the chassis felt tight and was up to the task of bombing over the bumps at a quick clip. I could definitely feel the machine’s weight but the suspensions absorbed the bumps quite well, the chassis flew flat and straight when it went airborne and handling remained predictable through rough corners.

Ergonomics are familiar, with the wide console and roomy foot wells of the ProCross/SRV chassis, but there’s one key element that’s different: the handgrips. Yamaha models built on the shared platform also received the updated Arctic Cat handlebar grips that have a thinner-diameter and make the machine easier to hold onto, plus make it feel smaller.

Overall I’m impressed with the new boosted Yamaha. It has fun power that’s easy to use not only on big trails that have sweeping curves and good visibility through turns, but for tighter trails that command slower speeds and more on/off throttle situations. Handling is good and ride quality is excellent, so I’m looking forward to more rides this winter on this 2017 Yamaha Sidewinder L-TX SE.

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