Content courtesy ofThe 2016 Yamaha VXR WaveRunner is a newly designed PWC that delivers top of the market handling and maneuverability with the new RiDE system from Yamaha. This allows the rider to decelerate in half the distance previously achieved. With a dry weight of only 767 lbs. (348 kg) and a 1.8L high output engine, this watercraft also delivers on performance and stability. The first part of a two part Captain’s Report on this machine is based on an extensive test and evaluation period over two days.
Prices, features, designs, and equipment are subject to change. Please see your local dealer or visit the builder's website for the latest information available on this boat model.
The 2016 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.
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.
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 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 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.
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 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.
Hull and Propulsion
The 2016 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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 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.
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.
Test Result Highlights
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!
Pricing Range: $11,899.00Prices, features, designs, and equipment are subject to change. Please see your local dealer or visit the builder's website for the latest information available on this boat model.
Test Results - Change Measurement Unit
All speeds are measured by a hand held Stalker PRO radar gun and a hand help digital timer, so the human elements is a factor. Temperature, saltwater versus fresh, load, and water conditions are all a factor and the reason why test results may vary.