|Max Headroom||open||Bridge Clearance||N/A|
|Std. Power||1 x 60-hp Mercury BigFoot FourStroke|
|Tested Power||1 x 60-hp Mercury BigFoot FourStroke|
By Capt. Steve--
The mission of the Bayliner Element is to create an inexpensive, entry- level boat that can easily go from the garage to the ramp and into the water and return to the starting point without any fuss. In keeping with the theme of maintaining a low cost, everything is an option… from the Bimini to the cooler. She's the direct result of Bayliner scouring feedback from scores of new boaters to determine what they were looking for in a boat, and the #1 item was "stability" -- so she has it in spades.
Some of those items that are addressed in this Element are among the following:
Bayliner's "Entry-Level" Criteria
The new Bayliner Element represents a completely new design from a company well known for its affordable and good handling boats.
• Handles More Like a Car. Some new boaters feel uncomfortable when a boat leans 16-degrees into a turn or the bow comes way up on acceleration. So, the Element doesn't do those things.
• Remains Stable When Stepping Aboard. Typically the solution to keeping the boat stable is to make it bigger and wider. That's a little difficult on a boat with a LOA of 16'2" (4.9 m) so Bayliner was able to accomplish this with the "M" hull design.
• Inexpensive. Bayliner says the Element "starts as low as $12,359," and with no down payment required, the monthly payment example of about $150.00 given on the Bayliner website is based on a price of around $13,500 and a 5.74% APR for 120 months. She comes standard with a 60-hp Mercury FourStroke BigFoot outboard, a 12 gallon (45.4 L) fuel tank and trailer. Anything else that adds to the base price is up to the buyer to specify.
• Easy to Trailer. We've yet to come across a boat that's easier to get on and off the trailer. She literally centers herself between the bunks requiring no effort or precision on the part of the operator. If there were ever a trailerable boat that was screaming to be called idiot proof, this would be it.
• Lightweight. The Element and trailer are so light -- 2,145 lbs./975 kgs. -- to be towed by the average family car.
The Element is an attractive boat with molded in contour lines. Most everything on her is offered as an option.
• "M" Shaped Hull. This is, in effect, a dihedral hull, but regardless of what it’s called it clearly has an "M" shaped cross-section. Only a few boats are built this way, but it is a highly stable design. On the other hand, it is not intended for high speed or rough water use.
• Standard Full Beam Aft Sun Pad. Where we usually see a walkthrough from the stern this Element has a full aft sundeck. She's easier to board from the side.
• Molded Helm Seat. There's no separate bucket seat behind the helm but rather cushions are secured to a molded seat. This also means that there are no seat adjustments.
• Molded Transom Seating. Since this is where boaters spend a good deal of their time Bayliner made this a comfortable place to relax.
• Dual portside seats. The separate molded seats on the port side allow two people to sit near the operator. The stereo remote is even within reach at the side of the helm console.
• The Most Uncomplicated Panel Ever. We’re only talking one large speedometer with a voltmeter embedded in the bottom, a few switches, a steering wheel and drink holder. If it's not here, you don't need it. A fuel gauge? It's sitting on top of the removable tank.
• Midship Cleats. There are only four cleats total on the Element but instead of putting two at the bow, Bayliner moved it back to the midships area where it makes much more sense for single-handed docking. For those planning to anchor we recommend adding a bow cleat in the aftermarket.
Our test boat was fitted with the optional Bimini top. The optional Sport configuration comes packaged with a sports arch with board rack, a 25 quart Igloo cooler, gel color choice of black or red, a bow filler cushion and special graphics.
The Bayliner Element has a LOA of 16'2" (4.9 m) and a beam of 7'5" (2.26 m). With an empty weight of 1,700 lbs. (771 kg.), full fuel and two people on board we had a test weight of 2,120 lbs. (961 kg.).
With a 60-hp Mercury Bigfoot FourStroke turning a 13.8'' x 13'' four-bladed propeller we reached the Element’s top speed at 5500 rpm of 29.2 mph. At that speed fuel burn was 5.1 gph giving us a range of 62 miles.
Best cruise came in at 4000 rpm and 20.9 mph. That reduced the fuel burn to only 2.6 gph which the Element could keep up for 4 hours and 12 minutes and 87 miles while still maintaining a 10% fuel reserve. It’s important to note that we were a bit heavy when we tested the Element -- two passengers and gear weighed 420 lbs. (190 kgs.) and as such I would easily categorize this as a 30 mph boat with 50 lbs. less weight.
We had a time to plane of 3.7 seconds and reached 20 mph in 9.1 seconds.
By the time the testing was over, the winds had kicked up to 20 mph blowing a considerable chop across the bay. So, considering that we were testing this boat in choppy conditions on open water it's clear that we were putting her through conditions well outside her design envelope.
With that said, she still seemed to handle the conditions adequately. Yes, there was some pounding, but no more than I would expect from a boat with a relatively flat bottom when hitting consecutive speed bumps at 30 mph. She tends to remain relatively flat in the turns, as she was designed to do, but that is something that again should only be done in calm conditions. Staying level and slamming into beam seas does not make for comfortable conditions.
I really wish I had been able to test this boat in the protected waters she was designed for because I really did have a lot of fun in the chop even though the ride was rough. I suppose the bottom line is… if she was this much fun in less than ideal conditions, then she's very likely going to be a blast in the ideal conditions.
I was, however, able to verify a couple of things. First, she does seem to remain relatively flat when accelerating, and two, she also remains flat when turning. This flat turning characteristic also manifests itself in the Element bleeding off a lot of speed in the turns. In fact, if she's turned hard enough then she'll bleed off enough speed to the point where she spins out in the turn, much like we've seen in jet boats which, coincidentally, are also relatively flat bottomed. This is not a scary "spin-out" but more of one in slow-mo and children will probably like to do it.
The Element offers storage under every seat in addition to an anchor locker at the bow. Notice the removable fuel tank under the port quarter storage.
The bow is straightforward with U-shaped seating that will accommodate an optional filler cushion to turn the entire area into a sun pad measuring 4'5" by 5'2" (1.3 m x 1.6 m). Even with its relatively small size I still had enough room to stretch out my legs. The 2” (5 cm) caprails are flat allowing them to double as comfortable armrests. The required grab handles are located inside the bulwarks. The seatbacks are curved to allow me to sit facing completely forward, or tucking myself into the corner for little more support. There's storage under each seat cushion and a covered anchor locker under the forward cushion.
The seatbacks curved around the bulwarks to allow for more comfortable seating in a variety of positions. Notice the nonskid step between the seatbacks. This was not an afterthought as it's a natural place to step aboard, particularly from a fixed pier above the boat.
With the sun pad removed, the seat cushions are 22” (56 cm) apart allowing sufficient footroom for two people to sit facing each other. The grab handles are also far enough forward so that they weren't digging into my back while sitting.
Optional filler cushions turn the bow into a roomy sun pad. With the filler removed the seats are 22” (56 cm) apart.
The Element is a single console boat with seating to the portside. There's 25” (63.5 cm) of space to transition between the bow and the cockpit. This is quite generous for a boat this size as I've seen the walkthrough space on bowriders as narrow as 16” (40.6 cm).
The portside seating allows one person to sit while facing forward, aft or facing the captain. With two people, a welcome conversational atmosphere is created. Notice the optional cooler under the aft cushion.
The portside seating comes across as simplistic at first glance but in reality some clever outside-the-box thinking went into it. It's comprised of two molded- in seats 14“ (43.2 cm) apart that allow for two people to sit facing each other. Because, much like the bow seats, the seatbacks wrap around, and the individual occupants can sit facing each other or facing the helm. Additionally, a single person can sit facing forward or aft in lounge-style with the opposing seat being used as an ottoman.
This is probably the most uncomplicated helm we've ever seen. It consists of a large speedometer with a voltmeter embedded in the bottom. To the right was an optional digital depth finder. A plastic drink holder is to the left. The wheel is mounted to a fixed base. An MP3 port connected to the optional stereo is located in close proximity to a 12V supply near the drink holder. Switches for the lights, bilge pump and horn are to the right of the wheel. Bayliner thoughtfully added a recessed foot well under the wheel. A smoked windscreen lies above the panel.
With the molded-in seat I'm sitting a little too far away from the wheel. A simple adjustable seat on tracks would be a fair compromise between comfort and affordability.
The helm seat is molded-in, much like all the other seats on the Element, 25” (63.5 cm) away from the portside seats. Being molded-in means that this seat is in a fixed position with no adjustments, but you can reposition the throwable cushion to accommodate more comfortable seating. That is one area that I think could use a little bit of work as it was located a little too far aft for me. And if this is a boat that I'm going to give the kids the keys to, then they'll likely be smaller than me. A simple seat on tracks might be the way to go here.
Our test boat was fitted with the optional Bimini top for sun protection.
A sun pad at the stern measures 6’ (1.8 m) across x 2’ (.6 m) fore and aft and rounds out the list of places people can relax on the Element. I'd like to see padded bolsters secured to the bulwarks to make the area a little more comfortable. Underneath the center cushion was an optional 25 quart (23.7 L) carry-on cooler with handles secured to molded-in recesses. I would add a small lip molded into the deck across the bottom to further secure the cooler.
The aft sun pad has storage underneath.
The removable fuel tank is secured by straps to a position under the port cushion. Additional storage is under the starboard cushion.
To both sides of the outboard engine are seats measuring 15.5" x 20" (39.4 cm x 50.8 cm) with curved molded-in seatbacks. This is a clever idea as more and more people are spending leisure time on their boats while sitting at the stern. Your feet will be resting on one of the two molded swim platforms with the starboard platform also featuring an offset reboarding ladder and grab handle.
A curved seating area at the stern becomes a comfortable place to relax while watching the kids play in the water.
I'd like to see the port side swim platform be fitted with a grab handle much like the starboard side. This would give people in the water something to hang onto while waiting their turn for the reboarding ladder.
One of the most intriguing features about the Bayliner Element is how easy she is to trailer and transport. Because of her "M" hull she centers herself perfectly on the trailer every time. The bunks are positioned just inside the two sponsons that create the legs of the "M", so regardless of how you drive the Element onto the trailer it will automatically find it's correct positioning.
Here is a good example of why Bayliner refers to this as an "M" hull. Notice how the bunks of the trailer are positioned just inside the sponsons.
Here is a forward shot that shows how the Element will position herself correctly on the trailer.
Let's remember that this boat is about affordability and Bayliner is making that happen with a price that is about as low as anything we have seen in class. The price for boat, motor and trailer including destination charges is $12,359.
As pointed out on the Bayliner's website, with no down payment, about $150 per month will payoff this boat's base price in 120 months at 5.74% APR (options will add a bit to that monthly charge). Put $5k or so down and then the monthly payment will be about the cost of one big meal a month out for the family. It doesn't get much better than that.
One thing that I have not touched on in this report is the fact that the Element has an inner liner which also becomes the boats seats and deck. This is a departure for Bayliner's entry-level offerings and I think it is an important one. By eliminating the carpet in the bottom of the boat, the Element will be easier to keep clean, and will look better, longer.
The inner liner itself adds some rigidity to the hull, but more importantly makes the interior structures more solid and durable. All of this should add up to a starter boat that should look better, longer.
It’s hard to imagine a more capable starter boat than the Element. She has all the ingredients needed for a fun, and safe time on the water. She's easy to transport, trailer, and launch and she has very forgiving handling characteristics. And if there are any grandparents that want to spend more time with their grandkids, this should serve as the perfect way to lure them in.
|Tower: Watersports||Watersports arch|
= Standard = Optional
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Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!