Half way on our 2018 SideWinder dream meter
One thing is always certain, the snowmobile seasons goes by quickly, too quickly. For that reason we try to make every day count in our Long Term Trials. The time between our first ride and the halfway point still goes by in the blink of an eye and this year has been no exception.
So far, our 2018 Yamaha SideWinder XTX 137 trial has been everything that we or any other performance snowmobile junky could hope for. You may recall that we requested the 2018 XTX 137 SE model specifically for its coupled rear suspension, its more aggressive/deeper lug 1.75” BackCountry X track and the SE model’s easily adjustable Fox QS3 shock package.
The neon HI Vis graphics were just an extra eye catching bonus to help our SledMagazine.com SideWinder stand out in a crowd. It definitely has and we continue to enjoyed many positive comments on this stunning Yamaha.
We must point out that even in the “more than a little” confusing alphabet soup of Yamaha models the 2018 XTX 137 is possibly the most confusing model. In recent Yamaha history, models with the LTX label feature 137” track lengths and coupled SR 137 slide action skids while XTX sleds are typically outfitted with a 141” track with the uncoupled suspension design (model featured by SledMagazine.com in 2017) which was more focused on off trail performance. So why an XTX 137? This naming abnormality has no doubt led to confusion and possibly the overlooking a great model choice. For all practical purposes we should more accurately call our 2018 SideWinder an LTX-X SE for the extra lug height of its 1.75” BackCountry X track which is nearly the only difference from LTX models.
First and foremost, our time with this 2018 model of SideWinder has confirmed beyond any doubt everything that we experienced in the first year of the Yamaha SideWinder. Our first long term trial of the 998 Genesis Turbo that proved to transformed snowmobile propulsion was specifically focused on the characteristics of this new engine. Our experience with its ultra smooth delivery of power, seamless throttle response and reliability was well documented in last season’s 3,000 miles on a SideWinder article. We stand by it and invite you to revisit it.
Our 2018 trial is all about which model of SideWinder might best match the trail environments that are unique to our Northeastern North American experience. We really see it all here in the Northeast.
Sometimes we push impressive amounts of new snow in either smooth or bumpy trail conditions; sometimes we encounter very hard or icy conditions. We need snowmobiles that are able to perform in all conditions. So far this winter the 2018 Yamaha SideWinder XTX 137 has been such a snowmobile, offering traction, calibration and suspension capabilities that have been well matched to everything that has come our way. Just like you, we’ve been in soft, hard, smooth, deep, icy, bumpy and very bumpy stuff.
We outfitted our 2018 SideWinder with a medium windshield and Yamaha’s easy view windshield mounted mirrors. This combination of wind protection and visibility has worked very well in extreme sub 0 F cold, heavy snow or rain conditions.
FOX QS3 shocks
We liked these shocks since they were first introduced. The QS3s on our SE model are not the FOX QS3 Kashima coated models that are featured on the 2018 LE models. We continue to be impressed with the QS3s as they are ultra easy to adjust with very effective non fading performance. Our 2018 SEs center shock is an HPG 1.5 shock which has performed admirably and without disappoint.
SR 137 Dual shock suspension
Yep, this is the right suspension for the SideWinder! The 137 length bridges the bumps more effectively and offers the increased traction that a Sidewinders’ pilot desires. The superior capability of this SideWinder suspension was both physically and visually very clear as I followed a friend down a particularly harsh and nasty portion of trail. He was riding the same XTX 141” model that we as we trialed last year. As I watched him taking an unpleasant thrashing he looked like a rag doll tied to the handle bars compared to the ride I was getting from the SR 137.
The unique XTX 137’s 1.75” track
The stop and go traction of the 1.75” BackCountry X track in looser snow conditions is beyond impressive. The angle that is molded into the outer edges of its 1.75” lugs allow it to effectively release energy in the turns. You can really feel this release and it allows you to swish your way into or out of the turns at will. Our test riders have been pleasantly and unexpectedly surprised by its turning agility. The lugs on the 1.75”are notably ridged, this design reality results in a slight vibration to moderate rumble in harder trail conditions as well as being more than a little nervous in icy conditions.
Right next to the impressive power characteristics of the SideWinder’s engine is the exceptional balance that is evident when riding the SideWinder chassis. It may tip the scales a little more but that is most definitely not the feel that you get at the handlebars.
At this midpoint of our 2018 SideWinder experience, it has become increasing apparent that the SideWinder is much more than a snowmobile for those who desire powerful capabilities, the right SideWinder model is a comfortable snowmobile that can be a great choice for everyone.