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Give Yamaha credit for a pretty cool idea. Several years back, the brand took its big-displacement 1.8-liter engine and dropped it into a lightened version of its most entry-level hull and deck. With such a big horsepower-to-weight ratio, the boat’s creators left off the supercharger and intercooler. Foregoing them not only substantially lowered the price, but also the craft’s fuel consumption. That hull, well, it didn’t need much tweaking. With just a little fine-tuning the previous year, it was already a sleeper, confident and predictable in a beginner’s hands but with the soul of a racer in its DNA. The end result was the same VXR you’ll find today, a craft that can hit that magic 65 mph mark touted by the flagships, but require nowhere near their investment.
Putting The Fun In Fun Factor
Of course, there are tradeoffs. But Yamaha gambled – correctly – that this audience would not miss them. You won’t get cruise control or no-wake mode, and forget about tilt steering or trim. The goal was simplicity, a reminder of the sport’s earlier days when people just got on their boats and rode the heck out of them, not worrying about the extras. The only nods to modern amenities currently found on the boat are Yamaha’s keyfob-style remote, which can lock out the ignition to prevent unauthorized use or be used to tame the engine for newcomers, a reboarding step, reverse, and oh yeah, mirrors. In short, no gadgets or gizmos.
What this audience wants, however, is ready and waiting. Even without the supercharger, that 1.8-liter engine packs a punch. With my 150-pound body in the saddle, I recorded quick 1.8-second 0-30 mph times in calm conditions, with my arms feeling that satisfying stretch the quickest boats deliver. On the top end, I nudged past the 65 mph mark and then some.
And as previously mentioned, in the handling department that Yamaha DNA shines through. The VXR can carve turns as tight as you can push it once you learn the correct body placement. The key is to shift your weight around and find its sweet spot. For me, that meant positioning my weight a little further back in the saddle to keep the aft end locked into position, and chopping the throttle ever so slightly to drop the bow as I cranked into a turn, before powering on out. With such power and light weight (the boat weighs under 730 pounds), the playful, aggressive handling is thrilling.
As well as intimidating at times. Position wrong and the boat can get a little skittish, which at full speed can raise the heart rate fast. I found it to be a quick learning curve, however, so spend the time dialing things in to fully appreciate what the boat has to offer later.
I’ve glossed over the lighter hull. Astute readers will note the VXR is lighter than even the VX Sport. So how did they do it? While Yamaha kept the basic VX hull platform for the VXR, it saw fit to switch the hull material to its trademark NanoXcel material. There’s plenty of science behind it. Long story short, the brainy types figured out a way to use a different filler material in the sheet molding compound (SMC) used to mold the hull. The different filler bonded in a way that required less of the fill material, and yet also produced a stronger bond between its key ingredients. The result is a stronger, yet lighter end product.
In a way, that description also fits the VXR in general. Stronger, yet lighter, and at a cost that will allow you to run with the same guys who spent all that money on their flagship muscle machines.
It’s not a combination for everybody. But for those that want a hard-charging, aggressive machine without the distractions of the latest bells and whistles, it’s arguably a recipe for success.
Related Reading2013 Yamaha FZR Review2013 Yamaha VX Cruiser Review2012 Yamaha VXS Review2012 Yamaha FZR Review
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