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    Future Snowmobile Innovations

    Posted by Ross Halvorson
    on Friday, May 22, 2015

     AmSnow editors had a chance to to attend Yamaha's annual Editorial Workshop this past week. Here we explored products a little bit deeper, and we are/will be passing all our findings along to our valued readers. Be sure to subscribe here if you haven't already. It also gave us a chance to look a little deeper into Yamaha as a company and find out what the folks at the blue team envision as future innovation possibilities for sleds.

    Everyone can clearly see technologies migrate and adapt from one motorsports application to another. A perfect example is Yamaha's YCCT engine management system that debuts, on sleds at least, for the 2016 snowmobile model year. Although it is new to the sled industry, YCCT technology has actually been in use for about a decade in consumer products, first debuting on Yamaha's R6 supersport bike in 2006. Why did it take 10 years for this to make its way to snowmobiles? Companies have a lot to consider when making large technological changes, such as consumer demand, cost, packaging, market trends and the ease of adapting the technology to a new application, to name only a few.

     This week we once again looked to Yamaha's supersport bike line to see what might potentially work it's way to the sled industry. The 2015 YZF-R1, the top performance supersport bike on the consumer market, was our topic of dissection for this exercise. The bike uses a 6-axis gyroscope to collect data such as pitch, roll, yaw/slide and more and calculates those inputs, along with many more, at the rate of 125 calculations per second. Those calculations result in info that's transmitted to different systems throughout the bike and actions made instantaneously to help the rider control things like launch, lift, traction, slide, braking and more. You can program engine performance, traction control, slide control, wheelie control, and more into different preset 'profiles'. You can literally have your own custom and predetermined driving 'modes' for varying conditions, unique riders or specific tracks and locations. The technology is as cool as the slim LED lights up front! I encourage you all to check out the simulator on Yamaha's website.

     We're not saying it's coming anytime soon, but wouldn't that be a great feature for a sled? Having your own set of specifications for hard-pack trails vs. powder, or suspension settings from one rider to another changed at the push of a button. What about traction control, weight transfer control, side-slide control, or holeshot control on a consumer sled also done digitally at the touch of a button? Several of these technologies have already been tried on sleds to varying degrees, but these are just a examples of possibilities I think we'll someday see in the snowmobile world. We're tantalizingly close to getting there from a technology standpoint. The timing of OEM delivery on these concepts, based on the considerations listed a couple paragraphs above, are the hurdles to overcome. 

    We'd love to know what you'd like to see on a sled, what you think might be coming based on what you see in other motorsports, and what innovation you've liked the best so far. Leave your thoughts and questions in the comments below. Let the discussion begin!

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