With the addition of power steering, however, Yamaha was able to take the heaviness of the steering out of the equation. With the 2011 Apex, Yamaha went with more aggressive skis featuring a deeper keel that starts farther back on the ski. ??? Also, the engineers changed where the spindle mounts to the ski – adding more “trail,” which helps reduce ski lift while adding precision in corners.
In our testing, the Apex definitely handled better and cornered flatter than previous Apex models, though the more aggressive setup did add some darting where we were testing on in March. That said, we didn’t physically fight that darting as much as we would have on a non-EPS sled.
With the EPS, Yamaha made some changes to the Apex XTX models up front. The ski has a shortened but deeper keel, ??? so there is greater weight per inch of length. There is also less keel in front of the spindle and more behind it to further assist keel down-pressure. Also, the new Gen III front geometry has 15mm of trail ??? and a new steering gate to be compatible with the EPS hardwear.
The result is more positive steering and a feel that there is more carbide-tipped keel carving through every corner. The bottom line is that the steering on the Apex XTX – as well as other 2011 Apex models – is more predictable and flatter than on previous models. This is a welcome replacement for front ends that could be unpredictable, gripping and biting in one corner and sliding or pushing through the next with some inside ski lift thrown in just to make the handling even more interesting.
The amount of assist reduces with speed, but to reach the point where there is zero assist drivers have to approach “ludicrous” speed, to use the word of one Yamaha official. We would prefer it to trail sooner so we had more feedback in the bars at speeds about 60 MPH. At that speed, some drivers felt too isolated from the terrain but felt busy with near weightless effort to combat darting. ???
Unfortunately, it’s not a solution for darting in the ultra-firm snow conditions we encountered during our test. We’re guessing EPS mitigates darting in some degree, but that gain is covered by the added aggression of the skis so the net change was nil during our tests.
Pondering and Prattle
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