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It’s a fact – supercharged craft are cool and fast, but they cost more, both up front and over the course of their life. That’s why many consumers would do better to accept a minimal drop in top speed and keep a little more money in their pocket to buy fuel down the road.
Yamaha’s FX HO gives its competitors a tough run for their money in this regard. Let’s see why.
The FX HO follows the typical midrange formula — forego the supercharger and intercooler, and let a naturally aspirated engine do all of the talking. It’s a strategy that knocks obvious money off the bottom line, but also proves more economical over the long run. Naturally aspirated engines aren’t as thirsty as their supercharged alternatives, so refueling is less frequent.
In the case of the FX HO, the engine in question is Yamaha’s big-displacement, 1,812cc MR-1, which, when combined in the lightweight NanoXcel-formulated hull, provides above-average performance. As always, top speeds can vary slightly depending on the water conditions, rider size and skill, but 62-63 mph is a realistic average. That’s notably better than much of the competition, which feature similar models that peak closer to the 55 mph mark. It’s also plenty of power to do all those fun things that make up a riding season, like towing your kids on a tube, pulling each other on a wakeboard or skis, or just not feeling left behind when your friends on pricier craft tear off toward the horizon.
As to the hull/deck combo, it’s the familiar flagship FX, 140” in length and featuring a chop-busting bottom vee that makes it still ready to hit the water when conditions are less than ideal. It’s stable and predictable, yes, but never boring. You can lean it intuitively into a curve and crank aggressive, performance-minded turns without hesitation. Crank down the trim and you can enhance those sharp corners even further, putting a little more of the bow in the water. As part of the RiDE retooling several years back, that trim is electric, replacing the manual trim design that many consumers were anxious to bid adieu. Trim the bow up and you’ll improve your top speed performance, as well as make the ride a little drier in trying conditions.
The RiDE retooling, of course, is Yamaha’s dual throttle system. Yeah, yeah, in theory it’s a lot like Sea-Doo’s iBR — the reverse bucket is used to provide stopping force at speed, and redirect thrust at lower speeds to allow the driver to easily maneuver forward and back while keeping both hands on the handlebars. RiDE, however, is unique in that it really is two separate throttles. You don’t “shift” in and out of forward, neutral and reverse but rather apply forward or reverse thrust. Thrust is redirected out the sides of the reverse bucket, keeping the craft level when under hard deceleration, and providing the force in the appropriate direction at low speeds. I still think reverse thrust comes on surprisingly strong at first, but you get used to it quickly. And once dialed in, there’s little hesitation to movements, allowing you to quickly switch between levers without forethought. Grab the right throttle lever to go forward and control your speed, grab the left throttle to go backward with similar, albeit more limited force, or just release both and go into a neutral mode. In short order it becomes second nature.
As to additional features, Cruise Assist and No Wake Mode are standout features. Most people think of cruise control as something to use on long rides, as it allows you to set your speed and then just fully squeeze the throttle to eliminate fatigue on that trigger finger. But it also comes in very handy when towing those skiers and board riders. Maintaining a steady towing speed is difficult, to say the least. Let the computer take over that aspect of the job and end the complaints about a jerky hand on the throttle and lousy pull. Other electronic enhancements include a low RPM mode that tames speed for new riders (or to conserve fuel), and a security mode to guard against unauthorized use. Both can be activated via an automotive-style remote transmitter.
More visible features include a spring-loaded reboarding step, adjustable tilt steering, multifunction info display with buttons located just fore of the saddle, handy rear “trunk” for items like a ski rope, and 33-plus gallons of storage (including a watertight canister below the aft section of the seat). Speaking of that seat, it’s bolstered, but subtly. I miss the Cruiser models more-pronounced bolsters on long rides, but appreciate the normal saddle’s subtly when moving around with a crew, especially if one’s a rear-facing spotter. There’s also a cupholder in the dash for those that want to take the idea of leisure cruise to the limit.
As already alluded to, price is a big reason consumers consider a midrange craft like the FX HO. That’s why I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that the FX HO’s $13,099 sticker price is more expensive than its direct competition. But don’t forget to compare features. The FX HO is a more powerful boat than the average, and it offers the RiDE system, cruise control and no-wake modes, tilt steering, etc. That makes it a compelling buy for those willing to stretch their budgets just a little bit further…
…as well as those who just see the economic sense of not crossing into the realm of superchargers.
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