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Second-year craft rarely get any big makeovers, so it’s no surprise that the Sea-Doo RXT-X aS 260 returns for 2012 mostly intact. Sea-Doo’s answer to the true big-water enthusiasts in the market, the aS offered a twist on Sea-Doo’s suspension concept, enabling users to tailor the suspension stiffness to match differing riding conditions. All that remains for 2012, but some welcome tweaks have made this an even better boat.
I’ll get to those improvements in a moment, but first a little refresh on the aS concept. Like Sea-Doo’s full suspension flagships, the aS features a rider area — seat, handlebars, footwells — that is a completely separate unit from the hull below. Linking the two parts is a pair of pivoting aluminum arms, along with a coil spring and gas shock. The idea? As a rider pounds along in rough conditions, the upper rider pod can literally float above the hull taking all the pounding below. It literally softens the ride, which in these types of conditions equates to longer riding time with less fatigue.
Suspension performance on the RXT-X aS 260 is easily adjustable.
Unique to the aS model was one additional component, a nitrogen-charged remote oil reservoir located in the glovebox that could be used to make the suspension stiffer or softer. Visible beneath a clear glovebox door panel, it looks high-tech. Turn it one way and the suspension gets stiffer, which keeps the upper pod from literally bottoming out in big conditions. Stock suspension is calibrated for 2’-5’ waves according to Sea-Doo; actual compression dampening is anywhere from 65-115% more than you’ll find on the standard suspension-equipped RXT iS. Suspension preload can also be increased via an adjustment screw located under the seat.
In rough-water testing, I found the stiffer suspension does indeed avoid that bottoming-out jolt you could occasionally get with standard suspension in rough conditions. In that sense it avoids the bouncy, springy feel that performance riders loathe.
Forward sponsons have been added for 2012, which are designed to prevent the craft from submarining into large waves. Lateral stability and rough water steering are also benefits of the “bow stabilizers.”
How to make that package better in its sophomore year? One item Sea-Doo addressed was the bow. To prevent it from submarining into large, oncoming waves, forward sponsons have been added just under the bond line. These “bow stabilizers” also promise to improve lateral stability and improve steering in rough water. While I was unable to test the boat in the ocean conditions it was intended for, the idea seems valid. User-adjustable trim tabs have also been added at the rear of the craft to increase the overall planing surface. This can push the bow down for quicker acceleration, as well as provide better all-around handling.
Same Old Power/Hull Combo
Of course, the core of this boat remains a powerful RXT-X. Its engine is the same 1,494cc Rotax triple, with a supercharger and intercooler for max boost. Expect it to top out at its electronically-limited max of 65 mph (up to 67 mph with a light load and the right conditions). Acceleration is strong, and the powerband is smooth and predictable.
The hull below, changed several years back, is a great match for the craft’s rough-water mission, but won’t disappoint in the calm. In fact, it cranks a surprisingly aggressive corner, one so tight you’ll feel like you’re on a substantially smaller boat. The feeling is even more dramatic as the suspension compresses, bringing you lower to the hull.
Small tradeoff? At idle, the suspension’s naturally higher center of gravity can contribute to a slightly tippy feel. It’s minimal, but notable.
Elsewhere you’ll note the familiar RXT-X features. Rear sponsons are user-adjustable. The seat is lower profile, the idea being that you can move your weight around quickly and easily. High-performance variable trim also drops or raises the bow quickly, and with its double-tap functionality, can jump to presets without the driver taking his or her eyes off the water. Steering, like on previous X models, is adjustable, in everything from grip angle to width. Info display includes items like a lap timer, average speed readout, and distance and time-to-empty notifications.
And naturally, the big Sea-Doo items also remain, including Intelligent Brake and Reverse and Intelligent Throttle Control. The former uses a modified reverse bucket to rapidly slow the craft at speed, as well as allow it to have unparalled manners around the dock or launch ramp. Electronic throttle is smooth and crisp, and allows for speed control features like cruise control and no-wake mode. Different acceleration profiles are also featured, allowing the user to choose between the craft’s full power or a gentler curve that’s good for newer users or towing purposes.
One more tradeoff worthy of note? The suspension design minimizes storage capacity. Racers won’t care, so maybe it’s not really an issue after all.
The Bottom Line
This is a hardcore, ocean enthusiast’s boat, so its audience is limited. But for those big-water gurus, the features are welcome and are well thought out, rather than gimmicks.
As always, however, be prepared to play at this level. These types of features don’t come cheap.
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