March 3rd, 2016

2017 Yamaha Reveal—Factory Turbo

Factory turbo? Yep, you head that right. Yamaha has released its 2017 models and its new flagship model—the Sidewinder—comes with turbo power installed, straight from the factory in Japan.

This is huge, and just what Yamaha needed to stay afloat in the highly competitive mountain market that is dominated by 2-stroke machines.


Yamaha Sidewinder

The Sidewinder is available in a number of variations for different riding purposes, but we’re interested in the Sidewinder M-TX, the long track mountain specific designation. It comes with only one option—a 3.0″ lug, 162″ track for serious mountain chewing capability. The Viper M-TX is still around for 2017 as well, but this being Yamaha’s non-turbo’d option, it falls into the 600cc class of mountain sleds and therefore out of consideration for most dedicated mountain riders.

It should be no surprise by now that the Viper, and now, Sidewinder “SRV” platforms are built by Arctic Cat, with Yamaha proprietary powerplant and drivetrain components installed. Therefore the Sidewinder is home to all of the major chassis improvements made by Arctic Cat in its MY2016 models. Not much changed for the chassis in MY2017, with the primary exception of improvements to Arctic Cat’s new Mountain Cat that won’t make it to the Sidewinder chassis for now.




Of course the body panels are different, but the big story here is Yamaha’s new 998cc Genesis 4-stroke Turbo engine that replaces the 1049cc Genesis in the Viper lineup.


998T Genesis Engine

We could blather on all day about the new 998T Genesis, but why not get the goods directly from the people who built it? This 2-minute animated video takes you inside the engine to explain how its new key components work.



The short version is that the engine puts out 180-hp of bombproof Yamaha 4-stroke reliability. Nothing beats the durability of a 4-stroke engine, and the engineers at Yamaha make some of the best. It’s not uncommon to hear about turbo’d 1049 Genesis III engines with well over 10,000 mountain kilometers on them and still running strong.

And everyone knows that naturally aspirated engines lose horsepower with elevation gain, but this is not the case with forced induction engines such as the 998T Genesis. The straight-up fact is that this mountain sled has more power than anything else that comes out of a factory.

Paired with the 998T is a new set of YRSC clutches that are designed to handle the extra horsepower of the engine. Gone are the days of messing around trying to modify the clutches on your turbo-application sled with different weights and springs. It all comes ready to rock, straight out of the box, which is pretty exciting.

But with all that power and reliabilty comes a downside. There’s no dancing around the fact that the thing is still heavy. Yamaha doesn’t even publish the dry weight of the sled. Fortunately, the SRV chassis has gone a long way in recent years towards making Yamaha’s backcountry Viper and Sidewinder offerings more nimble in the mountains.

For some mountain riders out there, the benefit of having more power than any other factory sled and the rock solid durability that goes into Yamaha’s products will be enough to offset the drawback of additional weight.


– MS