The 2015 Yamaha VXR shown here has been upgraded with a new control system called “RIDE” which allows the rider to decelerate in half the distance and change between forward and reverse from a left-hand lever.
The 2015 Yamaha VXR was designed to be a two to three person performance PWC that delivers premium handling and features in a machine priced under $12,000. It has also been designed to maximize time on the water through a Marine specific four-cylinder, 4-stroke 1.8L engines specifically mapped for power and fuel economy.
The left side handgrip controls on the handlebar of the Yamaha VXR contain the RIDE lever as well as the electronic trim control.
First and foremost among the differentiating factors of the VXR is the Yamaha RIDE system, which consists of several new components that help to enhance the overall driving experience of this watercraft. The first component is the specially designed reverse bucket. Electronically controlled by the BCU (Boat Control Unit) the reverse bucket has been designed to deflect and vector the thrust of water from the jet pump nozzle in several directions when deployed in reverse/deceleration mode. The vents on the side have been designed to provide maximum turning thrust when deployed in reverse/deceleration mode.
The Yamaha RIDE reverse bucket as seen in this CAD drawing connected to the jet pump nozzle. Note the side vents for lateral directional control.
Shown above are the three positions for the reverse/deceleration bucket as controlled by the BCU.
In our test ride, we made many runs at top speed, midrange speed, and low speed. On each run we squeezed the left-hand RIDE lever to initiate deceleration. Without exception, the VXR decelerated smoothly and more importantly, with the bow staying up in a normal riding attitude. The level of deceleration was proportional, allowing one to let off or fully engage as needed or desired by the rider. An important safety fact about this deceleration feature is that the system will provide the necessary thrust for steering control if the rider turns the handlebars while decelerating.
The Yamaha 2015 VXR with the left hand RIDE lever fully depressed in deceleration mode from top speed at wide open throttle. Note that the main throttle is still depressed.
The Yamaha RIDE system lever and controls are on the left hand side of the VXR handlebars. Note the electronic trim buttons positioned for easy use with the rider thumb.
The next component is the RIDE lever on the left-hand side of the handlebars which also include the electronic trim controls. This lever is how the rider operates the RIDE functions, which include deceleration and throttle control. Having this dual handlebar design and not having to remove a hand to actuate a reverse lever is how all PWCs should be designed. The electronic trim controls are positioned in a way that makes it easy for the rider to operate them with a simple movement of the thumb. This allows the rider to adjust and angle the bow for whatever water conditions they are operating in.
During our test rides we confirmed that the entire RIDE system performs as advertised. We should note that the rider can actuate the left-hand RIDE level whether they are squeezing the main throttle lever or not. In addition to decelerating safely with the bow up and with turning control, maneuverability at the dock was exceptional. The intuitive nature of the design makes switching between forward, reverse and neutral as simple as can be. The reactive steering control from the reverse bucket is spot on making it a cinch to ease up to a dock, even in the tightest of spaces, and gently park. All of the systems activity is displayed for the rider in a large easy to see digital display which indicates when the VXR is in forward, neutral or reverse with a large “F” “R” and “N”.
The Yamaha RIDE display as installed on the VXR WaveRunner.
The last component and the brains behind the RIDE system is the BCU or Boat Control Unit. This is the computer that digitally controls the reverse bucket and the rpm of the engine. The software is optimized with the functionality of the system based on the weight and power of each WaveRunner. The BCU works in concert with the ECU (Engine Control Unit) and it is constantly adjusting the position of the reverse bucket and the rpm setting of the engine as needed. A safety feature of RIDE is that the machine will also be in neutral when started.
The Yamaha BCU and ECU are the essential components of the RIDE system and are located inside the hull of the WaveRunner.
Another differentiating factor is the purpose designed and built Yamaha 1.8L marine engine. This engine was conceived from the ground up as a watercraft engine intended to drive a jet pump unit. These are also called direct drive since they do not have a transmission, just a drive shaft that connects directly to the impellor inside the jet pump unit.
The Yamaha 1.8L (1812cc) four-cylinder, 4-stroke normally aspirated marine engine is a compact design and has undergone annual upgrades and tweaks which include re-mapping the engine to run as efficiently as possible on regular 87 octane unleaded gasoline.
The compact design allows for excellent access all around the engine when installed in a PWC. This engine also has a race and recreational history of reliability that is one of the best in the boating industry. This engine, combined with the light weight of the VXR’s NanoXcel hull and deck material, makes this 767 lbs. (348 kg) machine perform with quick acceleration and feel powerful at all speeds.
The hull of the 2015 VXR is a new design developed to handle the light chop of lakes as well as the heavy chop of saltwater riding and racing.
Hull and Propulsion
The 2015 Yamaha VXR is an entirely new machine with a new hull designed for aggressive performance riding. Her shape has been modified to provide responsive, lightweight, stable turns as well as hard grabbing when executing cutting power turns. The jet pump intake has a new shape and size and so does the ride plate.
The jet pump nozzle, ride plate, and intake grate of the 2015 Yamaha VXR.
At the business end of this machine is the jet pump nozzle which vectors the water thrust from the jet pump unit. At the heart of the jet pump is a three blade stainless steel impellor. In the image below you can see the reverse bucket is retracted in the forward mode. The nozzle turns when the handlebars are turned and this is what provides all steering/directional control. When the rider adjusts the electronic trim on the handlebar, the nozzle angel will raise or lower accordingly. All of the components of the propulsion system are made from aluminum alloy which greatly reduces the effects of corrosion.
The aluminum jet pump nozzle on the end of the 155mm jet pump unit of the Yamaha VXR.
Our testing was conducted over two long days of riding and the VXR performed as expected. Power was more than enough, even when ridging with one, two or even three riders. Even though this engine is NOT supercharged, the weight of the machine and the design of the hull come together to provide a top-notch performance ride.
The Yamaha VXR is solid in the turns at all speeds and cuts through wakes, instead of bouncing over them.
Aggressive turns at speed were clean and require the rider to get low and hang on. With the racing style shifting of the rider’s weight when riding hard and rounding buoys, the VXR really shows how fast and light she can ride.
Maneuvering around the dock was a breeze with the RIDE system, and it was especially appreciated when coming along side other boats for a quick chat; one squeeze of the left-hand lever and the VXR was in neutral.
Access to the aft compartment is located under the aft seat section and is convenient for betting to the battery. This is also the location of a dedicated and removable dry-storage bin. On test day the bin was filled with ice and four bottles of water to combat the Georgia heat. The freshwater engine flush connection is also located in the aft compartment allowing for flushing after use in saltwater and to cool the engine and run it when out of the water if needed.
The removable dry-storage container on the Yamaha 2015 VXR.
The VXR has two additional main storage areas, the largest of which is the forward compartment, accessed by lifting the forward hatch. Although the hatch can be locked in the open position, I would like to see this spring loaded so it opens once it’s unlatched.
The forward storage compartment on the Yamaha VXR measures a minimum depth of 13’’. The hatch is gasketed and does a fine job keeping items such as towels and additional PFD’s dry.
The driver’s storage compartment is located just aft of the handlebars on the console.
The driver has storage directly in front of them in the main console. This is large enough to hold two water bottles, or a full-sized marine radio along with car keys, cell phone, and a set of goggles.
The seat of the Yamaha VXR is made from premium textured UV protected marine-grade vinyl and the foot wells are covered in Hydra-Turf matting.
The seating of the VXR plays a major part in the looks and comfort. The forward end of the seat for the driver is thin and angled in such a way as to be easy for most adult riders to grab on with their knees and lock their body in turns. The overall amount and quality of the padding and seat covering is very comfortable. The raised back is just high enough to provide a fair amount of support for the rider and raises the passenger high enough so that they can enjoy a view, and not just the back of the driver.
The grab handles for the passenger are well positioned for forward facing or for aft facing, and for when you need a spotter while towing.
The 2015 Yamaha VXR is available in two color schemes: Yellow on Black Metallic or Torch Red Metallic.
The 2015 Yamaha VXR has a large back deck covered in Hydra-Turf matting.
The back deck area of the VXR is large and covered in Hydra-Turf matting with plenty of room to have a firm footing when facing aft as the towing observer. The re-boarding step is easily deployed from in the water, and is spring loaded to self store. Note the large stern corner bumpers, which shouldn’t be needed with the RIDE system.
The standard sponsons on the VXR provide turning stability and control.
Overall, the team at Yamaha has delivered on a PWC that is sporty, comfortable and has all the features the avid rider is looking for. Positioned just below the high-performance luxury WaveRunners of the FZ and FX Series, the VXR is an excellent balance for both worlds.
The only changes we would recommend, other than what was previously stated, would be the addition of docking cleats port and starboard adjacent to the riders’ feet for convenience.
If one is new to watercraft or they have a few years experience, the VXR is well suited for the weekend racer or the watersports junky. With an overall build quality that is superior to most, the Yamaha VXR is well priced at under $12,000.