- The RIDE system was fantastic as a toy and safety system.
- Yamaha have focused on making their WaveRunners more exciting and fun, rather than on increasing speed.
New Engine for Yamaha PWCs
Greg Goulding discusses the changes in the modern-day PWC with a focus on Yamaha’s WaveRunner.
PWCs are like nothing else on the water. Regardless of spec, they are incredibly fast, loud and wild. Without a doubt they can bring out the inner rebel in any rider. But recent years have seen them mature. Apart from a couple of race versions, the stand-up two-stroke boy-racer machines have been replaced with three-seater refined cruisers. But some enthusiasts feel that the character has gone too. In answer to this, Yamaha have made some big changes to their WaveRunners in an attempt to make them more fun.
Yamaha have focused on making their WaveRunners more exciting and enjoyable rather than on increasing speed. Weight has been cut in the form of a new engine, and new hull and deck manufacturing processes. They have also launched a RIDE system, which will help with safety and handling.
The V1, V1 Sport, VX Deluxe and VX Cruiser have an all-new lighter and smaller engine. It’s not a reworked version of the old MR-1, but a marinised snowmobile engine, namely the TR-1. That’s no bad thing, as it appears to be a great engine looking at the figures: it’s 25% lighter, 13% more powerful – we have to take Yamaha’s word as no official power figures have been released – and 20% more efficient. The power gains and weight savings come from dropping a cylinder, as well as small touches, including a compact performance exhaust manifold and muffler as well as a ceramic and nickel composite coating to the cylinder bores to reduce friction. But the most impressive figure is the reduction in size – it’s 40% smaller, having done away with the forward air intake and various other extremities. This also means that the engine can be mounted more centrally, improving weight distribution and leaving space for vital service and maintenance access.
Four-cylinder engines have a smooth symmetrical noise, but a three-pot can cause unnecessary vibration. Despite that, Yamaha’s head marine engineer told us: ‘The benefits of having one less cylinder outweigh the difficulties we faced in making it as smooth as a four-cylinder.’
The FX and FZ models will continue to have the larger 1.8L engine, but with the addition of the new RIDE system and the NanoXcel hulls.
Rather than using the common bond, Yamaha use exfoliated clay to make the hull and deck, which is a more efficient make-up and makes a stronger and lighter bond. While the V1 models continue to have common moulds, it means the slightly larger and better-equipped VX models are even lighter.
The top models get the NanoXcel 2, which uses glass microbubbles to make an even lighter and stronger mould. The result is the lightest but strongest hull and deck on the market.
Yamaha aren’t the first to come up with an advanced control system, with Sea-Doo launching a similar system last year. RIDE moves away from the traditional mechanical lever that physically redirects the flow of water out of the back, creating a reverse that’s a simple finger lever, identical to, but on the other side of, the throttle. Unlike the mechanical unit, it can be used at speed and takes no muscle to operate. Flying along at 40 knots it’s a brake, but when in the marina it gives the rider far more control and the ability to berth without having to manhandle the craft past moored boats.
V1 and V1 Sport
The V1 and V1 Sport are identical bar the colour schemes, the rear-boarding ladder and mechanical reverse, and with just a few kilograms weight difference the performance is identical. We took the Sport for a blast and ‘basic’ certainly doesn’t mean bad – the V1 is a lively little thing. Yamaha won’t release official power figures, but what ever it has, there’s a lot in that new engine. It revs quickly and it takes no time to get through the torque curve. The waves were surprisingly big for a lake, but that gave us the chance to see how it handled in the rough stuff. It bounced along happily, handling everything that was thrown at it, although it could have done a better job of deflecting the spray away from the rider.
The V1 doesn’t get the new NanoXcel hull and deck technology, so buyers will have to make do with the common SMC bonded plastic, leaving it with a lower power-to-weight ratio. But with less kit fitted as standard, the weight difference between the V1 and the VX is minimal at 305kg compared to 301kg.
VX Deluxe and VX Cruiser
The next one up is the VX range, available in Deluxe or Cruiser guises. The differences are minimal, with the Cruiser having a more supportive seat as well as a waterproof glovebox and cup holders. The TR-1 engine works a treat on the water, offering the same quick performance as the V1. There’s no noticeable difference in performance from the V1, but as the waves had calmed slightly, we could throw it around a little more and experience how it was at higher speeds. Even with the calming waters, I let off the throttle before the VX would stop accelerating. It felt fast, really fast, and I never felt that I wanted any more power. The RIDE system was fantastic as a toy and safety system. Boats don’t have brakes, but pulling back on the left-hand lever slows the craft down considerably, resulting in endless sharp turns and manoeuvres.
Time to compare the smaller WaveRunners with the beast that is the supercharged FX. It feels a much bigger machine when jumping on the three-person seat. When in the marina you just have to use the No Wake system, as even the most sensible rider will find the urge to speed too great. Once in open water, a quick flick of the throttle and the display is reading 40 knots. Pull it back fully and you’re going too fast, and will need that brake. It’s insanely quick, and if we were to be bold, too quick. It’s capable of going at motorway speeds.