Yamaha Apex vs. Yamaha Phazer — Which Sled is the Best For You?
Ahhh the age-old question: Apex vs. Phazer — which one is better? Interestingly, you’ll hear a wide range of opinions on the matter, and more often than not, quite polarized. And there is a reason for that — like with most things in life, what works for some people might not work for others, and vice versa. So the right questions here should be: which sled is actually best for you? To try to answer this question as objectively as possible, we’ve put the Yamaha Apex snowmobile in a head-to-head battle with the Phazer and compared performance, fuel efficiency, and handling.
Still, those parameters form just a fraction of what these fun machines can offer. Both snowmobiles come with many hidden features out of the scope of our article. For the list of all functionalities, we recommend going through a Phazer or Yamaha Apex owner’s manual, providing a much more comprehensive insight and helping you decide which model is best for you, especially if you require specific accessories.
With that being said, let’s dive right in and see what these two popular sleds bring to the table.
Power and Acceleration
The Yamaha Phazer is the smaller and less powerful of the two and comes with a Genesis parallel twin 4-stroke engine producing around 80 hp. Meanwhile, the Yamaha Apex is a behemoth and packs Yamaha’s biggest snowmobile engine, the Genesis 150 TFI, producing a good 150 ponies, more than enough to climb the steepest trails with ease.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that there is a big difference between performance figures on paper and real life, and not everyone necessarily needs the most powerful machine out there.
Still, based on my 15 years of experience as an avid snowmobiler and having driven both, I would say the Apex is a different breed. Despite being much heavier at 670 pounds, the Apex launches like a rocket. With a slight twist at the throttle, you’ll feel your head move backward, and in no time, you’ll be cruising through fresh powder at 111 mph — yes, that’s how fast the Apex can go. Driving it feels more like riding a powerful superbike, to be honest.
Coming to the Apex’s little cousin, the Phazer bears an uncanny resemblance with a dirt bike — light, agile, and just enough power to fight the snow’s resistance. The throttle response is quite good, but of course, nothing close to the Apex. Still, thanks to its relatively light construction, you can easily pull off a wheelie and impress your friends, which should be more than enough for most enthusiasts.
Handling, Agility, and Stability
The Phazer’s dirt bike DNA is even more obvious once you start traveling through deeply rutted trail sections. Its front shocks can absorb any oncoming impact, and the specially designed skis are built to tackle the harshest terrains.
Yamaha also offers the Phazer MTX, taking handling to the next level. While some may find the lack of power steering problematic, it is highly appealing to buyers who like the raw feel of fresh powder slithering beneath the skis.
Furthermore, being lighter than the Apex, the 580lbs. Phazer is a dream to handle. I went on several mountain expeditions with my Phazer MTX, and every time I had nothing but a big smile on my face, jumping over crevices and rocks like there was no tomorrow.
The Apex Mountain SE takes the same experience even further, combining the agility of the Phazer with extra power. However, handling the 150 hp Apex requires a bit more practice, and it simply can’t do the same tricks as the Phazer.
Nonetheless, I find the Apex’s seat to be more ergonomic. It is wider and raises your hips about two inches higher, which may not sound like a big deal, but it is if you are a regular rider, frequently going on long runs with your sled.
The Apex also uses gas-powered KYB shocks that allow a great deal of adjustability and the 128-inch Monoshock RA 2 rear suspension provides a buttery-smooth ride, even on rough trails.
However, taking your Apex over big bumps and rocks also means the shocks might need to be rebuilt more often. If you are an aggressive rider, check for a damaged shock shaft and leaks regularly, and conduct the necessary repairs as needed.
If this is your case, I would highly recommend getting your hands on a Yamaha Apex service manual and replacing or rebuilding your shocks at home. Snowmobile repair shops ain’t cheap and frequent jumps are not easy on suspensions. Luckily, your repair manual contains everything you need to take fix your sled with only a couple of tools and some free time. Not so sure where to find one? Have a look at eManualOnline — you’ll thank me later.
Price and Running Costs
It’s important not to forget that both snowmobiles fall into different price slots, and comparing them head-to-head is almost wrong. After all, the Phazer is Yamaha’s entry-level snowmobile, with prices starting from $8,599, while the Apex was one of the Japanese giant’s most expensive models, costing almost double when new. Indeed, it came with a base price tag of $14,249, but could go up to $16,000 when adding specialized accessories such as specially designed tracks for mountain use or extra storage fender bags.
Moreover, the initial price tag isn’t the only expense to keep in mind as snowmobiles tend to be quite heavy on the pocket when it comes to fuel and maintenance. Unsurprisingly, the Phazer is much more fuel-efficient due to the smaller and less powerful engine, but also significantly cheaper to maintain in the long term. Just like with cars, more expensive snowmobiles and high-end models also cost more to run and keep running. No need to say that if you are on a tight budget, the Phazer might be a better choice.
On the other hand, if you choose to go for the Apex, servicing and fixing your sled on your own is an easy way to reduce maintenance-related fees and it’s fairly simple to do if you follow the instructions found in your Yamaha Apex repair manual.
Ok, it might not always be easy per se, but it’s sure more satisfying than giving all that money to the mechanic for a job you could have very well done yourself.
The Yamaha Apex and Phazer have a difference of 70 hp, and in the world of snowmobiles, that’s a lot. The Apex seamlessly glides through the snow without skipping a beat and doesn’t mind being pushed to the limit. And when riding on the Phazer, you might miss out on that raw power.
Still, some riders might prefer the Phazer, much simpler to ride fast thanks to the lower weight and agile handling. It’s also a better choice for newbie drivers, who can exploit its power to the max, unlike the overly-powerful Apex — and nobody likes to go half-throttle, right?
Long story short, the Phazer might not be your cup of tea if you are a performance-oriented or experienced rider like me. However, if you are new to snowmobiles and want to try your hands first (or maybe just on a budget), the Phazer would be a better choice. It’s a bit tamer, sure, but the smaller engine and lighter frame make it a lot easier to handle; and a lot cheaper to maintain too.