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Really cool Facebook Post by Greg Marier on Yamaha Snowmobile Development

Discussion in 'General Yamaha Discussion' started by MrSled, Aug 7, 2016.

  1. MrSled

    MrSled Administrator Staff Member Admin Moderator VIP Member

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    I thought this would be a great share for us Totallyamaha Riders as well as some in site from the History of the Nytro by Greg Marier, Retired from Yamaha Motor Corporation.

    From Greg Mariers post:

    My Sunday Snowmobile Post: SuperTrax article covering the Yamaha 4-st snowmobile development story starting with the RX-1 that eventually resulting in the introduction of the FXNytro series. Included are the FXNytro development story/photos. In addition, YMC raced 4-st race sleds in Japan based on the RSVector/RSNytro chassis. I have included photos from a race team press kit distributed in Japan at that time.

    Here is the SuperTrax article: (sorry - but it runs really long ...)

    The perfect snowstorm
    An exclusive look at Yamaha’s 5-year plan to launch the FX Nytro

    If you look back at Yamaha’s snowmobile offering from just five years ago, you won’t see any familiar faces. In that short timeframe, Yamaha product planners and engineers have unleashed a complete, top-to-bottom snowmobile lineup renovation that highlights the company’s commitment to four stroke power and high tech engineering. Throughout the five-year plan’s unfurling, company reps kept telling us, “think this is cool? Just wait till you see what we have for 2008!”
    The Supertrax team got a couple heavy hitters at Yamaha Snowmobile talking after the product launch and enjoyed a very candid telling of the FX Nytro’s long and amazing trail to the sales floor.

    Know thy market
    “We knew that the market’s biggest segment is the Rough Trail Performance segment, which was not especially our strong suit at the time,” said Greg Marier, Yamaha’s Product Planning Manager during the four stroke revolution. “As a team, we sat down with the industry data and it was very clear what we had to do, in terms of product positioning, performance levels and that sort of thing. Six of the top ten sleds on the market at the time were rough trail models and the majority of those had a strong identity connection to snocross racing. Three more of the top ten models were mountain sleds.” The result, according to Marier, was a plan to build a sled that could compete on the track and, thus, compete in the dealership. But in order to do that, Yamaha had to prove to the North American market that a four stroke sled could deliver performance and handling in a lightweight and affordable package. “We put together a five-year plan that culminated with the 130 horsepower class, rough trail model,” explained Yamaha Snowmobile Product Manager Adam Sylvester. “We planned to set the stage for that sled by introducing and refining the four stroke snowmobile’s market acceptance for four years prior to its release.”

    Nurturing the industry
    Each of Yamaha’s four stroke models represented a step toward the capstone model release. “The RX-1 was the first High Performance 4-stroke in the world. The goal was to prove that a 4-stroke can deliver the performance customers demanded. That was our first big step, and it was met with a lot of enthusiasm from both the snowmobile press and consumers,” recalled Marier
    The following year Yamaha entered the growing crossover market with the ’04 Warrior. “That 136-inch track segment was really starting to gain traction,” continued Marier. “So we introduced the RX Warrior as an expansion to the four stroke lineup.”

    By 2005, Yamaha was ready to take a shot at the meat of the market, with its 120hp class. “We had proven that we could build a High Performance 4-stroke engine with the RX-1,” said Sylvester. “The next step in our plan was to put a sled that had wide appeal into the showrooms. That sled was the RS Vector, with its super-smooth Genesis 120 three-cylinder engine. It was the first of our string of home run models.”

    According to the Yamaha braintrust, the Vector, and its many versions became one of the most popular sled families in its 40-year history. “Consumers got on the RS Vector models and instantly fell in love with its smooth, reliable engine performance,” said Sylvester. “The RS Vector models also put us out in front of the industry for fuel economy and ease of use, as well. This is the sled that I think really sold snowmobiling on the merits of a 4-stroke snowmobile.”

    Yamaha followed up the Vector with the 150-hp class Apex. “The Apex launch proved two important product elements to the market,” said Sylvester. “First, we showed that we could successfully incorporate our high tech fuel injection system on the snow. That advanced technology gives us throttle response as good or better than a 2-stroke, while still delivering very impressive fuel economy.
    “The second element of the Apex that really struck a chord with consumers was the comfortable rider forward posture of the lightweight Deltabox II chassis,” Sylvester continued. “It put riders in a very forward and aggressive posture, without being laid out over the handlebars.”
    “With the RS Vector dominating the 120-horsepower class and the Apex providing high horsepower enthusiasts with an amazingly fast and nimble snowmobile, we turned our attention to the sub-100 horsepower market segment,” said Marier. “With all of the focus on higher end four stroke product, we knew the market would be primed for something on the lower end of the performance spectrum.” Enter the Phazer.

    “The Phazer project represented a number of things for us,” explained Sylvester. “We had been dominating the groomed trail markets with the RS Vector and Apex models. But we were still light in the rough trail and mountain segments. We knew that these two markets would be the toughest to crack into with four stroke engines, but the stage had been set with the prior model releases. The lightweight, minimalist Phazer was our plan to answer the market’s demands.

    “We started with a quick-revving, torquey engine and then wrapped the lightweight chassis and bodywork tightly around it,” Sylvester continued. “The Phazer project was pursued down a dual path—we intended it to be both a rough trail sled and a mountain sled. Stylistically it was a big gamble on our part, but we felt the focus on the light weight aspects of the sled demanded we look at a naked, tubular front end with a minimum of plastic body work.” The end result, of course, shook the sledding design paradigm of the sealed pod with skis and the market went nuts for the new high tech look. Not only did the Phazer look cool, it delivered on its promises over the rough trail and in the mountains.
    A checkered debut

    So while Yamaha’s consumer-side four stroke master plan is unfolding, a second development stream is taking place on Snocross tracks in Japan and North America. “Remember that our initial market data indicated that the majority of the top-selling rough trail sleds in the industry were closely tied to Snocross racing,” said Marier. “We needed to be back on the track with a competitive sled that consumers could identify with.”Sylvester added, “We had a plan in mind for what the parameters of the FX Nytro sled would be. But we needed to get a racing rule in place before we went full forward in developing the race version. We worked with International Snowmobile Racing, the overall snowmobile racing sanctioning organization, to put together a rule that all parties and all manufacturers agreed was fair to allow 4-stroke sleds to compete in Snocross.”

    With the three-cylinder, 1050cc rule in place, Yamaha went full-throttle with the racing component of its FX Nytro development program. “We had Yuji Nakazawa dominating the racing scene in Japan on some developmental units,” explained Marier. “Once we had a good sense of the general direction, the race program came to the US for final development with experienced Snocross racers like Jesse Strege riding and providing feedback. We tested a lot of different engine placement, suspension and ergonomic combinations on the track and in the design studio. (see sidebar) Our racing pursuit really drove the final FX Nytro product.

    “When Yamaha made its 4-stroke debut at the race at Spirit Mountain last November, the sled on the track was a hand-built test mule,” Marier continued. “At that point we were still doing the final testing and proving before the project went into preproduction phase. It had some issues that we knew were related to the reality of it being hand built, but everything else checked out and we sent the green light to begin building the preproduction units on the line.”

    When the fully dressed, 4-stroke-powered FX Nytro made its first race day debut on a cold January day in Brainerd, Minnesota, it sent a powerful shockwave through the sport, by not only winning heat races, but also taking the checkered flag. “Of course it was an awesome sight to see the race-tuned FX Nytro pull the competition off the line and hold them off in the Pro Open final,” said Marier with just a touch of fatherly pride. “When a Yamaha Blue snowmobile crossed the finish ahead of a field of green, red and yellow two stroke sleds, it validated every minute of the past five years’ worth of R&D work— both advances and setbacks.

    Putting it all together
    We all know now what Yamaha was up to in its five-year plan. “The FX Nytro is the culmination of all of the research and development and market preparation work we put into our four stroke plan,” explained Sylvester. “Once we knew the market had accepted the idea that a four stroke sled can do anything a two stroke sled can do and more, we knew it was time to put the FX Nytro on the market.”

    Marier gave us a quick recap of the elements from each sled that contributed to the FX Nytro’s success. The RX-1 was the first High Performance 4-stroke. Vector demonstrated the super-smooth three-cylinder design. Apex proved that fuel injected 4-strokes could dependably deliver high horse power, fast throttle response, and Yamaha’s ability to design a comfortable rider forward chassis. Phazer brought about the lightweight minimalist design, fast-revving and high torque engine model as well as a true rough trail and mountain dual-purpose design. The net result is an FX Nytro product family that is as competent on a rough Tug Hill trail as it is scorching up a drainage chute at Mount Jefferson.

    “It all came together for us,” concluded Sylvester. “We made a very aggressive game plan and executed it. Every Yamaha employee who has touched a part of the snowmobile program in the past five years deserves his or her share of the credit— from the engineers to the test team to the styling team to the line worker who puts decals on the hood. The entire company worked hard toward the goal, and it shows.”
    When viewed from the sidelines, Yamaha has executed an amazingly long-sighted and patient masterpiece. They have proven each of their technologies to the sport, one at a time. They built a market for high performance 4-stroke snowmobiles from scratch, creating a pent-up demand for a product they knew would not have been as well received at the beginning of the cycle as at the end. As Yamaha’s four stroke revolution plan comes to fruition, we’ll say that they have created the perfect snow storm for themselves. We can’t wait for the next five years.

    From sketchpad to your pad (See attached photos)
    How the FX Nytro went from concept to reality

    Even though the product planning brains of a company know what they want a sled to be in terms of power output, suspension functionality and so forth, it still has to be styled and designed to appeal and perform. “Yamaha has a very involved design process,” explained Product Manager, Adam Sylvester. “We start with a table full of concept sketches and drawings and begin to whittle them down and combine elements into just a handful of options. From there, the final concept gets rendered in multiple views and serves as the guide.”

    While the beauty techs work on colors, lines, textures and graphics, the mechanical testing team is cranking away on proving designs, testing setups and getting the prototype sled ready for its final approval. “The whole time each of the teams are working on their respective areas, they communicate necessary changes,” said Sylvester. “For instance, all of the early design work had curved lower A-arms on the front suspension. In the end, the testing and engineering team opted to go with a straight design. The sketches are not iron-clad. It’s a very fluid and dynamic give and take process.”

    When the mechanicals are nearly complete, the project enters the ergonomic fitting. “We have a number of processes we use to determine the final dimensions and shape of the consumer product,” said Sylvester. “For the FX Nytro, since we wanted it to have a very racer-like feel to it, we brought in two of our racer/test drivers to use as models. They got on the full-scale clay models and moved around as if they were in a race. In that way, we are able to identify any ergonomic issues like hard edges hitting knees or awkward handlebar angles.”

    Once the final body sculpting is complete and the color and graphics decisions have been made, the clay model is dolled up and presented to for the final approval. “It’s amazing how close the final product resembles the initial concept sketch on the FX Nytro,” Sylvester commented. “It just shows how much thought goes into product development right from the start.”

    img1.jpg img2.jpg img3.jpg img4.jpg img5.jpg img6.jpg img7.jpg img8.jpg img9.jpg img10.jpg img11.jpg img12.jpg img13.jpg img14.jpg img15.jpg img16.jpg
     
    Gone Blue, DGZRT, superfan75 and 8 others like this.
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  3. RTX

    RTX TY 4 Stroke God

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    That was an interesting article.
    Thanks for posting it
     
    MrSled and YamahaSRX72 like this.
  4. yamadoo

    yamadoo Yamadoo is a snowmobile ' aholic'. Lifetime VIP Member VIP Member

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    wow I loved it thanks.
    I was at the Duluth Snocross debut and remember the steps being discussed on TY site and trips, this was a fun walk down memory lane.
    Being a 'loyal' consumer that apparently their marketing brain trust understood they got me. During that time frame I bought an Apex, 2 Vectors a Venture and a Viper. All that started with a great experience on 700cc XTC 2 stroker.
     
    MrSled likes this.
  5. Straight_up_XTX

    Straight_up_XTX Pro

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    Best part about those early test sleds in Duluth was the sound they made! Man they sounded good amongst the 2 strokes! 2 strokes stung your ears and the nytro pressed on your chest. I think the sound was enough to sell me! hahaha Good memories!
     
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  6. stubb111

    stubb111 VIP Member VIP Member

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    liked this very much....thanks for posting
     
    MrSled likes this.
  7. kinger

    kinger VIP Member VIP Member

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    I dunno maybe its me but I see no continuity in their reasoning. It didn't sound like they were listening to consumers at all or if they were their goals didn't have a lot of stretch in them. They wanted a rough trail sled in 2003 soooo they built a RX1, Vector, Apex, Phazer before getting to the nytro LOL

    ie - Introduce RX1 then say the '136' market was expanding, well if they would have listened they would have seen it was growing because people were getting more into off trail riding. So they offered a 136" on the heaviest sled on the market and call the market filled but didn't look at why the long track market was growing. If they would have looked at the root cause of why that was growing wouldn't you have thought they would have shaved the easy 80lbs that most do them and really try to do off trail?

    Introduce the phazer as a rough trail and mountain sled - Really? a 80hp sled with a 14" x 144" track for the mountain that is heavier than 160hp sleds rocking 162" x 2" tracks and calling it a checkered debut? I rode one on a rough trail and it got nicknamed the bucking bronco because it was so poor at it.

    Seems they march on to their own beat! I guess that is what we love about them LOL

    Thanks for posting it, always interesting to see the behind the scenes information!
     
  8. bjowett

    bjowett Lifetime Member Lifetime VIP Member VIP Member

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    Just catching up around here.... Good info, Tom. Thank you for posting.... I always enjoyed the the early 4 stroke delta box chassis sno cross sleds.
     
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  9. scuba335

    scuba335 Lifetime Member Lifetime VIP Member VIP Member

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    Thanks for sharing
     
  10. bjowett

    bjowett Lifetime Member Lifetime VIP Member VIP Member

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    The RS Vector looks great in the grey/black/red sno cross guise.
    image.jpg
     

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