Old Sled Sighting: 1980’s Yamaha Phazer, “the sled that began a new era of snowmobiling”

The Phazer would become the best-selling snowmobile in the world and rocketed Yamaha to No. 1.

A vintage Yamaha Phazer.
A vintage Yamaha Phazer. Photo: Keith Powell

I recently stumbled across the snowmobile that some claim, “began a new era in snowmobiling.” I am talking about an early Yamaha Phazer model.

Developed to offer real sports riding in a variety of conditions, the mid-1980’s to early 1990’s Yamaha Phazer was light in weight and featured a powerful, lightweight fan-cooled engine and an aerodynamic, handlebar-mounted fairing that began a new era in snowmobiling.

The Phazer would become the best-selling snowmobile in the world and rocketed Yamaha to No. 1.

Phazer, according to a Wikipedia post, was introduced by the Yamaha Motor Corporation in 1984. With cutting-edge design it quickly became one of company’s most popular models. It spawned several follow-up models (such as the Phazer II, Phazer Deluxe, Phazer Mountain Lite, Phazer FX, and Phazer GT).

The Phazer’s design features were also incorporated into other models (such as later-model Exciter as well as the Venture Lite). Of particular note on the Phazer is way in which the headlight is directly connected to the handlebars so that the headlight follows the direction of a turn.

Yamaha claims that it and other trail-friendly features 'began a new era in snowmobiling'. The Phazer was always known for its sharp handling, free-revving 480cc fan-cooled engine, solid reliability (most notably on Phazer II), light weight, and most importantly, value.

Snowmobiles under the original Phazer name appeared until 1989; new models such as the Phazer II and Phazer Deluxe were sold until 1998, when it was revamped to the more traditional looking snowmobile and was known as the Phazer 500 (1999-2001).

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