Review: 2008 Yamaha Nytro RTX Snowmobile
Four years after Yamaha introduced the RX-1 as the first competitive four stoke machine in the snowmobile market, they released the all new Nytro for 2008.
Although Yamaha’s 4-stroke assault on the snowmobile industry has been a long and hard battle, the Nytro marks a big turning point for 4-stroke snowmobiles because it is the first 4-stroke sled that has a power to weight ratio that can compete with the 2 strokes. Yamaha has built some excellent 4 strokes in the past few years but they did require a lot of help from the aftermarket to make them competitive in the mountains.
In our eyes what makes the Nytro such a big deal is that right out of the crate it is light enough and has enough power to be a good mountain machine.
The Phazer that was released last season really opened our eyes to the direction that Yamaha was pushing the snowmobile industry. But although the Phazer is extremely fun to ride, it is more directed at new riders to the sport than to the average mountain rider.
Make no mistake, we absolutely applaud Yamaha for building a machine to bring new riders into the sport because aside from more snowfall there is nothing the industry needs more than fresh blood.
Basically Yamaha took the successful FX chassis from the Phazer and merged in an all new 1050cc triple producing a sled they could market to riders in all disciplines of snowmobiling and competing in the 130hp class.
So how competitive is the Nytro? Well Robbie Malinoski's win in WPSA snow cross on a prototype Nytro should begin to answer that question. Robbie and the Boss Yamaha team made history in Brainerd Minnesota when the Nytro became the first 4-stroke machine to ever win a WPSA National.
Arriving at Snow Shoot '08, there was no sled we were more excited to ride than Yamaha’s new Nytro, but thanks to Mother Nature we got some of the worst snow of the weekend during our Yamaha ride. This was very disappointing because it hindered us giving the Yamaha’s the thorough testing that we had planned.
Nevertheless we gave it our best attempt and we were immediately impressed with the responsive power of the Nytro. The triple has excellent low-end torque but unlike the Phazer’s engine that falls flat at higher RPMs, the Nytro pulls really hard all the way to the redline. The EFI system provides power any time you need it and with enough grunt to push the sled where it needs to go. The 130hp Nytro engine has a new Engine Braking Reduction System (EBRS) feature that gives the rider more of a “coast” feeling when the throttle is released. The EBRS does a good job of taking away the harsh engine braking characteristics of a 4-stroke engine.
Four strokes are inherently heavier than their two-stroke counterparts and the Nytro is no different, but at 520lbs (FX Nytro RTX) it is only 26lbs heavier than a Polaris 700 Switchback. Honestly we hardly noticed the extra weight of the Nytro on our test, the excellent ergonomics and riding position definitely helps to make the machine feel lighter than it is. The FX chassis used on the Nytro utilizes a lightweight CF die-cast frame that moves the engine down and back towards the tunnel.
As debuted last year on the Phazer, the Nytro uses a integrated chaincase with a magnesium cover. The lightweight FX chassis coupled with an over-the-engine steering system makes for a very good handling machine. The handling of the sled is an excellent compromise between the responsive feel of the Phazer and the planted stable feel of an Apex. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and you can definitely tell that the Nytro uses a very similar chassis to the Phazer but the chassis handles more aggressively than the Phazer and responds well to rider input.
All '08 Yamaha’s uses a new simplified naming system that easily shows the horsepower and class of machine. Each model is assigned a horsepower class; for example Apex 150hp, Nytro 130hp, Vector 120hp, and Phazer 80hp. Each model is also assigned a suffix designating its intended riding style. For example all rough trail models get the RTX badge, while mountain machines get MTX, and trail versatility machines are badged as LTX. The differences between RTX, LTX, and MTX models are limited to suspension systems and track lengths.
The Nytro RTX machine we tested at Snowshoot was equipped with Fox float suspension on the front and a Dual Shock Pro rear suspension system, and the set-up did an excellent job of soaking up all the impacts we could find. While the rear suspension could have been set-up slightly firmer for our riding style, the front did a good job of soaking up the bumps while still cornering flat on the trails.
All in all we were impressed with Yamaha’s line up of sleds for 2008. While the Apex, Phazer, and Vector models received minor updates, the Nytro is an all new machine that brings a lot of innovative technology to the snowmobile market.
While the Nytro is not the lightest and most powerful machine available in 2008 it definitely has more technological features than any of the other machines, and these are the type of features that will allow us to continue to ride snowmobiles long after the environmentalists put an end to the production of oil-burning 2-strokes.
It is good to see four stroke machines now being able to compete with the 2-strokes. Good job Yamaha and long live the 4-stroke.