They're back! Yamaha Mountain Max 2-Stoke Mountain Sled for 2021
March 9th, 2020

They’re back! Yamaha Mountain Max 2-Stoke Mountain Sled for 2021

They're back! Yamaha has announced that for 2021, it will make a 2-stroke mountain sled available, bringing back the legacy moniker, Mountain Max. Rejoice, legions of diehard Blue!

First, let’s address the elephant in the room. Yes, the 2021 Yamaha Mountain Max will be very similar to the Arctic Cat Hardcore model—which, as we know, is an excellent mountain platform.

But let’s first look at the specs of the new model before addressing why Yamaha has chosen to re-enter the 2-stroke mountain segment in this way.

2021 Yamaha Mountain Max Specifications

  • Single-beam rear suspension
  • 794 cc EFI engine (165 hp class)
  • TEAM clutches
  • FOX 1.5 ZERO QS3 coil-over ski and front track shocks
  • FOX 1.5 ZERO QSL rear track shock
  • Reinforced running boards
  • Adjustable 35.5″ – 37.5″ ski stance
  • 154″ x 2.6″ or 165″ x 3″ track options, both 3.5″ pitch
  • Spring Power Surge order only
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2021 Yamaha Mountain Max Specific Configuration

  • Yamaha mountain skis
  • Suspension calibration
  • Standard electric start
  • Yamaha windshield
  • Colour and styling

The Mountain Max configuration isn’t as unique to Yamaha as some customers would probably like, but this is in part a time-to-market issue. For the first year back in the 2-stroke space, Yamaha isn’t tinkering too much with what is already proven to be a very capable mountain sled. However, along with the success of Yamaha’s re-entry into the mountain market, Yamaha riders will certainly hope to see more brand-specific calibrations available down the road.

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2021 Yamaha Mountain Max Test Ride

In the initial riding experience of Mountain Sledder test riders, the Mountain Max holds a sidehill incredibly well in addition to what we already know about the performance of its sibling sled. Whether that is a result of the different ski or the suspension calibration (or the two working together), we’re not sure.

Also, although Yamaha says there is no clutching calibration or fuel re-mapping done to the prototype models we rode, our test riders noted that the throttle response felt more snappy at low-end than we expected based on our experience with the C-TEC2 engine and TEAM clutching.

2021 Yamaha Mountain Max 2-Stroke Mountain Snowmobile

So, the question everyone wants to ask is: Why doesn’t Yamaha build their own 2-stroke mountain sled?

It comes down to scale. Yamaha builds 4-stroke engines that can be optimized for use in multiple different applications and products sold by the company. That’s what they do. So, while they took a shot at producing a 4-stroke mountain sled for a number of years, those models just weren’t as competitive in the segment as what Yamaha would have hoped. The customers were saying they want a 2-stroke sled for mountain riding, and Yamaha is hearing that request.

However, for the size of the mountain snowmobile market, it doesn’t make sense for Yamaha to produce a 2-stroke engine specifically for that use and no other. So what is the next best thing they can do? Well, they can leverage their supply partnership agreements (if you’re not following, we’re talking about Arctic Cat in this case) to allow the company to be able to offer a Yamaha-branded 2-stroke mountain sled.

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Sure, the 2021 Mountain Max isn’t a fully Yamaha-produced sled like many diehards have been longing for. However, the true-blue faithful can now go out and spring check an excellent mountain product that says Yamaha on the side, and it’ll be their favourite colour too. 

Another benefit is the ability of the consumer to purchase a 2-stroke mountain sled through their Yamaha dealer. The Mountain Max can be acquired through the strong Yamaha dealer network and serviced with a level of expertise that customers have come to expect from Yamaha dealers.

It’s a win-win-win. Yamaha can provide the customer with a modern, 2-stroke mountain sled. Arctic Cat can keep its production at full-tilt. And the Yamaha customer can keep it in the family.


— MS