Captain's ReportTested By Vince DanielloThe HistoryYamaha introduced the first WaveRunner in 1987 as an alternative to “stand-up” style personal watercraft. WaveRunners were much more stable than their competition and had a seat, making them easier and more comfortable to ride, yet they retained the go-fast, tight turning, soaking wet fun of their stand-up cousins. Early on, few thought of personal watercraft as cruising boats, but like many products consumers found unexpected ways to enjoy personal watercraft. PWC excursions, voyages lasting from a few hours to a few days, became popular and clubs and commercial outfitters sprang up worldwide. Promoters of the sport say that PWC riders feel a closer connection to nature than in boats, and can cover much more distance in a day than possible with canoes, kayaks, or sailboats. PWCs are also easy to trailer and capable of venturing where larger boats with propellers dare not go. New Seat DesignWhile distance-riding has its niche, manufacturers generally balance riding comfort against other features in designing personal watercraft that do everything reasonably well. But with its Cruiser series Yamaha narrowed in on the features important for straight-line riding, providing a more secure, supportive seat for both driver and passenger, a relaxed riding position, and a more stable ride. For 2005, Yamaha has taken this concept further with a completely new seat design and subtle refinements throughout. Whether exploring the lakes of America’s Southwest or the Tennessee Valley or just cruising to the beach for a family picnic, the WaveRunner FX Cruiser High Output is uniquely designed for the task.Innovative FeaturesRather than simply add features for cruising, designers worked to “make the boat more comfortable to ride,” according to Scott Watkins, Yamaha’s Product Manager. When I ran the boat, I realized that each improvement cannot be fully appreciated until all are experienced together. For example, the unusual-looking seat was comfortable enough, but did not do much for me until I tilted the steering column and relaxed into the seat. Next my feet naturally found their way into the foot chocks and I realized that the boat was so stable that I could easily drive with one hand. Most PWCs are a bit too tender to feel secure without both hands on the controls, but Yamaha redesigned the stern of the boat for a much more forgiving, considerably more relaxing ride. Any of these refinements are nice, but combined together they offer a completely different riding experience than “traditional” PWCs.The boat is capable of carrying three, but Yamaha’s marketing research showed this happens infrequently, so the accommodations are designed around a second rider, not necessarily a third. For the passenger there is room to spread out, a second seat support, and well placed hand-holds. A third passenger has to hold on to the back of the driver, as is the case on most PWCs.Performance and HandlingI tested the “High Output” version of the FX Cruiser. High output generally means more horsepower, and on four-stroke motors this is often accomplished with a turbocharger or supercharger. Instead Yamaha added a modest twenty horsepower through internal engine adjustments, and improved performance in other ways as well. While the High Output hull is an exact twin to the standard model, technology and advanced manufacturing techniques make the high-performance hull fifty-four pounds lighter. This significant weight savings adds speed and acceleration. Yamaha also tweaked the jet pump for better efficiency and therefore higher output. The net result is a boat that hit 30 miles-per-hour in less that 3.2 seconds and topped out at 58 miles-per-hour at 10,000 RPM. While this is much higher revs than most marine engines, Yamaha has been turning their motorcycle engines this fast since the mid ‘80s, and they have gained a reputation as very reliable motors.While Yamaha’s redesigned stern sponsons noticeably increase the stability of the boat while riding, the tradeoff is that the FX Cruiser does not lean into tight turns as well as their other boats. It is not that the boat won’t turn tightly, just that it stays a bit more upright during turns. As I pointed out earlier, this is a huge advantage for straight-line riding but does not offer quite the same sporty feel as Yamaha’s other WaveRunners. If your typical PWC riding involves aggressive turns with little straight-line riding, ask to test both a Cruiser and standard WaveRunner before deciding on one. But if you want a more stable, relaxing ride and extra power to carry gear or pull a skier, the FX Cruiser High Output is definitely the boat to choose.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Yamaha FX Cruiser High Output (2005) is 58.1 mph (93.5 kph), burning gallons per hour (gph) or N/A liters per hour (lph).
- Time from 0 to 30 of the Yamaha FX Cruiser High Output (2005) is 3.15 sec. seconds.
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