The all-new Yamaha WaveRunner VX series is longer and wider than the best-selling previous VX model it replaces for 2015, and features RiDE, a new Yamaha electronic reverse control that can also be used to help decelerate the WaveRunner. The new models will begin arriving at Yamaha dealers in October.
Go for a quick ride on the Yamaha Waverunner VX
The 2015 VX series includes five models. The three-passenger VX, VX Deluxe and VX Cruiser are powered by a 110-hp 1052cc Yamaha Marine engine. The 180-hp 1812cc Yamaha engine powers the high-performance VXR and VXS models. Each VX models uses the same 131.5-inch hull form that’s about three inches longer and two inches wider than the previous VX hull, and with the exception of the base VX, is now formed using Yamaha’s proprietary NanoXcel composite material. It’s significantly lighter than the standard SMC (sheet molding compound) it replaces, and Yamaha says the use of NanoXcel reduces the weight of this new hull by 50 pounds. The VX Deluxe has a published dry weight of 725 pounds.
By making the VX longer and adding more features, Yamaha is closing the size and price gap between what used to be its entry-level model and its premium FX line, which is 140 inches long and powered by standard and supercharged versions of a 1.8-liter engine up to 250 horsepower. The previous VX hull will stay in production as the WaveRunner V1, with the task of waving the entry-level banner. V1 pricing ranges from $7,699 to $8,499 (a price reduction of $1,000 compared to the 2014 VX models). The new VX price range is from $9,299 to $10,299, and the big FX models start at $13,099 and top out at $15,799.
Adding a drive-by-wire throttle to the new VX enables the addition of Yamaha Cruise Assist and No Wake Mode speed controls to these models. RiDE is a new feature that combines electronic throttle and shift control in a single-hand lever on the left handlebar grip. When the VX is started, the system defaults to a neutral setting for the reverse bucket. Squeezing the left-hand lever instantly engages reverse thrust and also controls the throttle in reverse. Releasing the left-hand lever takes the system back to neutral. Squeezing the right-hand lever engages forward thrust and throttles the engine normally. It only took a little practice to get the hang of using RiDE around the dock, and it’s much faster and more convenient than reaching for a manual reverse control on the cowl. Steering control in reverse is also outstanding.
With RiDE, Yamaha answers the Sea-Doo iBR (intelligent Brake Reverse) feature, which trickled down to the mid-range Sea-Doo GTi models in 2011. RiDE and iBR are similar in that they each electronically “shift” the thrust through a lever on the left side, but the Sea-Doo system relies on the right-hand lever for all throttle control.
The RiDE lever also acts as a decelerator – calling it a brake would be over-sell – that can be engaged at any speed but is most handy for slowing down when some urgency is required. The RiDE control over-rides the left-hand throttle, so it’s possible to apply full power in reverse while the right-hand throttle is still engaged. Freezing up on the throttle is a common panic reaction of inexperienced riders, so RiDE does mitigate that situation, as long as the rider also reaches for the “brakes.” Engine RPM, and thus power, are limited to 4500 in RiDE mode. Fully engaging RiDE from full throttle slows the VX quickly, but not so abruptly as to the pitch the rider over the handlebars or bury the bow in the water. There’s also good steering control when RiDE is used to slow the VX.
All of the VX models are restyled and look more like the FX models now. The mirrors have been integrated with the cowl, a nice change as the side-mounted mirrors on the previous VX were too easy to snap off on a dock. Ask me how I know. A new two-piece seat is easier to remove for access to the engine bay and a dry stowage compartment below the aft seat section.
All VX models feature RiDE, and the VX Deluxe adds Cruise Assist and No Wake Mode. The VX Cruiser has a touring seat with very deep bolsters. The VXS has a three-passenger seat, while the VXR offers a sportier two-up seat. The VXS and VXR are not equipped with the speed control features but do have electric trim, the first time Yamaha has offered power trim on a WaveRunner.
The Cruise Assist mode is most handy when towing a tube or boarder as it maintains a steady speed, allowing the driver to focus on the water ahead and the action behind, rather than the throttle and speedometer. All VX models have a flip-down reboarding step, but the grab handle, located at the top of the seat base, was a long reach for even my rangy arms. Yamaha should consider adding a second, lower grab point like the handle on its FX models.
I spent several hours bombing around Lake Oconee in Georgia on a pre-production version of the new VX Cruiser. While it’s larger than its predecessor, it still feels compact and nimble compared to an 829-pound FX HO, which is enormous by comparison. With the 18.5-gallon fuel tank about three-quarters full I saw a top speed of 51 MPH, which I could stretch to 55 if I moved back on the seat – effectively trimming up the bow – and tucked down behind the handlebars. This VX is very smooth and quiet at about 6000 rpm and 40 MPH.
Considering this is a model aimed at family use, I was surprised to find that the hull responds rather abruptly to initial steering input – there’s a lot of “bite” that could surprise a beginner. Yamaha explains that the hull’s somewhat aggressive nature is intentional, but that’s only with a solo rider—with even a light-weight passenger on board the bow lifts and the handling becomes much softer. The idea is that the VX will feel sporty for a single rider, but get family-friendly with a passenger or when towing.
The new Yamaha VX models are larger and more comfortable but weigh less than the models they replace, offer more features including RiDE, and cost just $500 more than the 2014 VX models. Sounds like $500 well-spent, to me.
See Yamaha WaveRunner VX listings.
For more information, visit Yamaha.