Read Lenny's Bayliner 170 OB Boat Test Notes

We’re here on the Tennessee River testing Bayliner’s 175 OB bowrider. Now this is a really interesting boat because years ago we saw bowriders that had outboard power, but they kinda died off.

Pat, why are they coming back?

Interview with Pat Blake, Bayliner Boats:
Pat: The cost of catalytic converters coming on the stern drive models now based on the EPA government regulations, the outboard is now a cost-effective means of competing against that. At Bayliner we’re gonna have a full line of stern drive and outboards so the consumer can make the choice.

Now on a boat like this, how much money do customers save by getting outboard power?

Pat: You can save about a thousand dollars over a catalyzed stern drive engine.

Let’s go for a boat ride! Ah, I love those quiet four-stroke outboards. And, they give you great maneuverability.

With a 115 Merc four-stroke EFI on the transom of this boat, it cruises at just under 30 mph. And at that speed, while turning 4500 rpm, we burn 4.7 gph. For 6.2 mpg. Top end? We turn 6300 rpm and it 42 mph.

Bayliner 170 OB thumbnailConstruction and Features
Having the 170OB side by side with a similar sized boat that has a stern-drive rig gives you a really good eyeball on exactly what you get and what you give. You can see the swim platform is much larger on the stern-drive version. And having the outboard causes the transom to come forward a little bit, eating up some cockpit space on the outboard version. But you get a really nice bench seat. And on top of that you get the four-stroke quiet, reliability, the good fuel efficiency, and you save a thousand bucks.

Wow, look at how deep that cockpit is!

Pat: Good observation. We’ve raised the gunnels up on these, a lot more comfortable inside as you sit here, plus it creates a lot of safety for the customer.

To really understand a boat, you’ve got to get below the deck level. We pull this hatch, we can learn an awful lot. The first thing we learn is that there’s no hinge on it. That makes it a little tough to deal with when you’re accessing the compartment, but it does save on cost. The second thing you notice is, there’s no liner in this compartment. Now that’s a cost-saving measure, it does reduce the price of the boat, and it actually adds depth to this compartment.  In fact, if it was linered you’d lose about two inches of depth.

This boat is available with a fishing package, which includes an electric trolling motor, a pedestal seat in the bow, a Garmin 140 fishfinder, undergunnel rod racks, and a live well.

Everything on a boat’s a trade-off and the negative side to having these narrow gunnels is no under-gunnel stowage. Now Bayliner takes care of that by putting in these nets. It gives you a place to put all your gear.

Wrap Up
So, does buying an outboard-powered bowrider really make sense? Hey, times have changed, and so have marine powerplants. If you’re willing to give up that big swim platform, and get all the advantages the outboard gives you, including that lower cost, the new 175 OB is definitely a boat worth your consideration.

Lenny RudowLenny Rudow has been a writer and editor in the marine field for over two decades and has authored five books. He runs his own web site at and writes weekly for reviewing new models and covering marine electronics.

Written by: Lenny Rudow
With over two decades of experience in marine journalism, Lenny Rudow has contributed to publications including YachtWorld,, Boating Magazine, Marlin Magazine, Boating World, Saltwater Sportsman, Texas Fish & Game, and many others. Lenny is a graduate of the Westlawn School of Yacht Design, and he has won numerous BWI and OWAA writing awards.