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Remember the Yamaha GP series of old? Yamaha does, as do many of its loyal enthusiasts. But while that boat may be long gone, its soul lives on in the FZR, a boat that combines Yamaha’s most potent engine with a lightweight, nimble hull to deliver a thrilling two-passenger ride.
And it does it with a twist on conventional steering controls. Intrigued? Read on …
Big Power, Light Weight
Like the new VXR, and the GPR series of years ago, the FZR plays to those who prefer a nimble, quick, sporty ride. At the boat’s core is Yamaha’s potent 1.8-liter engine, outfitted with a supercharger and intercooler to force-feed more cool air down its throat. While it’s estimated at only 211 horsepower (substantially less than the 260 and 300 hp competition), it nonetheless competes at the top of the class, easily hitting over 65 mph with a light load, and as high as 68 mph in some of my previous testing. It also gets there quickly, reaching the 30 mph mark shy of two seconds. That acceleration is enhanced by a large pump, as well as Yamaha’s proprietary lightweight hull material (NanoXCel). Electronic throttle also keeps that acceleration clean and crisp, replacing a mechanical cable with an electronic signal.
And yet, as Yamaha proudly notes, this remains a powerplant that can run on basic 87-octange gasoline. No need for premium to fuel this ride.
As to handling, it’s perhaps even more impressive … and fun. The FZR retains a true “lean-in” riding style, allowing riders to throw the boat in and out of corners like a street bike. It’s big fun, especially on a glassy surface that allows the boat’s gently rounded chines to roll the hull into a turn. Top speed is enhanced by full-length lifting strakes, as well as a “dihedral” keel shape that was beloved on the GPR. In rough water, the hull is classic Yamaha, predictable and stable, with the ability to knock down the chop that often derails lesser boats.
Up … Or Down
That handling can be accentuated by a Yamaha-only innovation: a telescopic steering column. The idea was to allow riders who prefer standing to have a comfortable stance, as the handlebars can literally rise to the occasion. Yamaha’s research showed that as much as 81% of owners stand on their “sit-downs,” doing it more than a quarter of their time on the craft. Standing allows the driver to better absorb rough water shocks in the legs, as well as simply get out of that seat and stretch out the back on occasion.
The bars can also, however, be dropped lower than normal, further enhancing that low-to-the-water feel. It’s one of the most aggressive riding positions you’ll find in the market, but one that works exceptionally well thanks to the boat’s overall ergonomics.
Further tailoring the ride is Yamaha’s manual trim system, located on the left handlebar grip. It pivots the nozzle to one of five positions, raising the bow for speed or lowering it for aggressive cornering. A manual system means you won’t have to take your eyes off the water to check a trim display to find your position, but it also means you’re literally fighting the force of the water exiting the pump at high speed. That can make the system often difficult to operate at the highest speeds.
While most buyers are likely buying the FZR for its power and handling combo, it does offer extras. Security is accomplished via Yamaha’s keyfob remote control, which can lock or activate the ignition with the push of a button. That remote can also be used to activate a speed-governing system to limit top speeds for newcomers or those times when you need to conserve fuel. You’ll also get a nice dash display, but it is old school in styling to suit the craft’s personality. Red-faced, analog-style gauges are trimmed in red for a sporty look.
Comfort amenities include over 21 gallons of storage, including a large forward area under the bow hood and a glovebox with self-draining cupholders.
As to the boat’s actual looks, black is the predominant color for 2011, accented by minimal lime green accents. It looks bad … which in this case, is oh so good.
Related Reading2011 Yamaha SuperJet Review2011 Yamaha VXR Review2011 Yamaha VXS/VXR PreviewAll Things Yamaha on PersonalWatercraft.com
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