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The suspension and brake-equipped Sea-Doo RXT iS 260 may have a lot in common with the suspension and brake-equipped GTX Limited iS 260, but Sea-Doo fans know the difference is in the digits…and yes, the letters, too.
Those new digits are 260, a number that reflects a subtle tweak to recapture some of the horsepower bragging rights Kawasaki snagged last year. And those letters reflect an R — think race-inspired — that indicates the RXT iS 260 is aimed squarely at the performance crowd.
In fact, its biggest competition may be from within its own family. More on that later.
Bigger and Better
Certainly the RXT iS has the goods to be a racer. Power is provided by Sea-Doo’s 1,494cc Rotax Triple, and boosted by a potent supercharger/intercooler combo. Last year that combo received a 255hp rating, but this year a few tweaks have upped that number to 260. Not so coincidentally, that’s the same horsepower rating as Kawasaki’s Ultra 260X. Obviously, bragging rights are important.
The suspension-style hull introduced in 2009 has upped the boat’s weight, as well as made it a little more top-heavy in feel. That arguably makes the boat a little less of a performer than the light and nimble old-school RXT line. It also, however, makes the boat a more worthy competitor to the aforementioned Ultra in rough water conditions. The boat feels big and secure in rough water, able to handle the waves with nary a twitch.
And thanks to the suspension, it’s pretty cushy, too. Like the GTX iS, the RXT iS features a computer-controlled suspension that aims to take a little of the pounding out of rough water. Sea-Doo accomplishes this by separating the rider’s area from the hull, linking them via an aluminum arm supported by a coil spring and gas shock forward, and additional aluminum arm aft. The craft’s computer brain controls how much to pre-load the spring. An operator can override the system and select a softer or harder ride if they choose.
One of the primary differences between the GTX iS and RXT iS is in that spring. On the sportier RXT iS it’s slightly stiffer in order to produce a more performance-oriented ride. The seat is also slightly firmer and features a profile that keeps the riders more on top of the craft, again with a nod to performance versus cruising.
Stop and Go
You may not think a performance-oriented machine needs brakes, but you get them on the RXT iS. Squeeze a lever on the portside handlegrip and a modified reverse bucket drops into the water flow, redirecting it forward and to the sides to arrest forward motion. Depending on the conditions, stopping distance is reduced by anywhere from a third to a half of the normal distance. The computer controls how much throttle can be applied when stopping, preventing the boat from submarining. I never feared I’d go over the handlebars old-school style, and with minimal practice I found myself feathering the brake lever to achieve the smoothest stop.
Brakes are cool, but as I’ve stated so many times I like the system more for the handling abilities it provides at low speeds. Start the boat and it stays pretty much in place, the forward motion kept in check by the partial deployment of the reverse/brake bucket. You can then opt to go forward or reverse with intuitive input of either the throttle or brake lever. That means no more ski lurching forward when started, and a fantastic degree of control when docking or negotiating the launch ramp. It also keeps your eyes on the water and your hands on the handlebars. On some machines, simultaneously working reverse and throttle can feel like a game of Twister.
Also mounted on the left handgrip is Sea-Doo’s high-performance electronic trim. It, too, has advantages over the competition. Riders can preset a favorite attitude (like bow up a certain amount for top speeds, or bow down for cornering), and then go directly to them with a double-tap of the button. The electric motor responds quickly, and again your eyes can stay focused on the water.
When you raise or lower the handlebar the gauges move with it, so you’ve always got a clear view.
Sea-Doo does the little things well. Instrumentation is linked to the pivoting handlebar, meaning when you raise them for more comfortable stand-up riding the bars don’t block your view of the gauges. The seat doesn’t have to be removed to check on the engine, but instead rises on a pneumatic strut. (The suspension, however, does require one more hatch to keep things watertight). One big thing the new suspension-style hulls lose, however, is storage. Maybe racers don’t need it, but it’s down to a mere 16.4 gallons, split between a small forward tub, glovebox, and shallow nook aft. Leave anything other than the essentials at home.
Now back to that family situation I mentioned earlier. I think the biggest decision a potential buyer will have to make comes down to deciding between the RXT iS 260 and the new-for-2010 RXT-X 260. Both feature the same basic hull and engine, the same braking ability, and the electronic throttle pluses like cruise control and no-wake modes. The RXT-X 260, however, shaves weight, money, and a whole lot of moving parts by eliminating the suspension. Which way you go will likely come down to just how you like your performance…
Hard and firm…or with just a little touch of softness?
Related Reading2010 Sea-Doo RXT 215 Review2010 Sea-Doo GTX Limited iS 260 Review2010 Sea-Doo RXT-X 260 Review2009 Sea-Doo RXT iS 255 ReviewAll Things Sea-Doo on PersonalWatercraft.com
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