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2008 Yamaha Phazer RTX Trail Test


by Pascal Bastien ,

During the development of the new FX platform, Yamaha engineers had a specific goal in mind: to create a distinctively unique snowmobile -- kind of like the black sheep that everybody would be talking about. Like its ancestor, the Phazer of the 1980s, the new model has probably as many fans as critics. Since coming to market in March 2006, much has been said and written about its innovative styling, ATV-style riding position and unprecedented engine.

Skeptics will be proven wrong : this small twin-cylinder is really impressive.

At first, performance enthusiasts were extremely skeptical about the actual potential of this small 4-stroke mill, but a brief road test quickly proved them wrong: the Phazer's twin-cylinder is far from being shy. With a 499-cc displacement and a 43-mm dual throttle body, it boasts a higher power/liter ratio than any 2-stroke engine in the entire industry. Moreover, this powerplant uses a double overhead camshaft and 5 valves per cylinder for an impressive compression ratio of 12.4:1.

Notable improvements
For 2008, the Phazer benefits from several technical and aesthetic upgrades. If you recall, the exhaust system is cooled by the snow thrown from the track, as is the case with every other 4-stroke snowmobile from Yamaha. No doubt the opening in the tunnel improves cooling efficiency, but as we found out during our 2007 model long-term trail test, snow transforms into water vapor upon touching the muffler and then freezes on the sides and floorboards, thereby making the riding position fairly slippery. However, thanks to new protective panels similar to the ones installed on the new FX Nytro, this is no longer an issue and the exhaust system benefits from adequate cooling. Said panels also enhance the machine's look and fit.

The new, wider handlebar featuring curved handles makes the Phazer more nimble than ever while providing a surprising feeling of lightness. In fact, the steering seems lighter than the old model's, making the riding experience more pleasant. The 2008 Phazer RTX also includes motocross-type hand guards and a short, redesigned windscreen for a sportier look. The latter offers little protection against the elements, but you can easily install a taller one for safer rides at high speeds. You don't even have to change the anchors.

The size and design of the handlebar allow better control.
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