It doesn't matter if it's a high-performance model, a cruiser or a runabout, Formula always seems to go the extra distance with its boats. The 240 Bow Rider that the Decatur, Ind., company brought us in Sarasota, Fla., was no exception.
The collection of amenities, creative features and attention to detail was hard to match. The bottom line is that the 24-footer, which boasted a swept-forward, stainless-steel wakeboard tower, was a lot of boat for its size.
Drivers will enjoy its drivability, but passengers will rejoice when they step foot into the 240 Bow Rider. And priced less than $100,000—about $70,000 without the upgrade to a MerCruiser 496 Mag and a few other options—this boat is tough to beat when it comes to the most bang for your buck.
The production V-bottom responded well to the 375-horsepower engine under the hatch. With a Bravo Three drive with a 2:1 gear reduction and 28"-pitch propellers off the transom, the boat reached a top speed of 57.6 mph as the engine turned 4,900 rpm.
But it was the boat's handling that stood out during our test runs. From slaloms at lower speeds to tracking at high speeds, the boat offered a remarkably stable ride. Tracking was nearly perfect at all speeds, and the boat wasn't affected by weight shift or crosswinds.
Visibility on plane was terrific—the adjustable bucket seat helped—and it took less than 5 seconds to come on plane with and without tabs. Our lead driver was especially impressed with the tinted, tempered curved-glass windshield.
Acceleration was about average for a runabout but was also a reflection of a boat that weighs 5,000 pounds. From a standing start the boat reached 26 mph in 5 seconds and was running 48 mph after 15 seconds. In the midrange, the 240 Bow Rider ran from 20 to 40 mph in 5.4 seconds and 30 to 50 mph in 12.1 seconds.
From the dock, the 240 Bow Rider looked polished. The high-density, fiberglass-
reinforced polyurethane hull was laid up with gelcoat, chop glass and Fabmat. And the sides and deck had Coremat and Divinycell in the core.
The off-white hull featured a subtle paint job with yellow, black, red and silver graphics. The bold yellow color carried over into the accent striping inside the boat. A plastic extrusion with a stainless insert served as the heavy-duty rubrail.
Stainless-steel handrails and Accon Pull-Up cleats highlighted the deck hardware, which also included stainless grab handles and two stainless ladders—one concealed in the swim platform and the other extending out of the anchor locker on the bow.
The entire floor of the boat was accomplished with a nicely tooled one-piece mold that was part of the deck. The liner even included a molded-in cockpit galley with a stainless-steel sink and a Corian countertop.
Formula installed a power engine hatch to support the innovative sun pad and starboard-side walk-through while providing plenty of access to the smooth, gelcoat-finished engine compartment. Installation inside the compartment was well done and included a special compartment for stowing the removable cockpit table top and its pole.
The engine was secured with Mercury mounts and L-angles through-bolted to the stringers. Wiring was supported in Flexguard conduit and attached with aluminum cushion clamps in a neat and orderly fashion.
The heart of the 240 Bow Rider was found in the interior, where the amenities caught our attention. It started in the stern as we boarded the boat. On the port side, next to the sun pad, was a large hinged locker supported by a gas strut that provided stowage for fenders, lines and a removable ski pylon, which sat in a stainless receptacle at the base of the sun pad.
Gray, snap-in marine-grade carpet lined the entire cockpit, which was finished in nonskid. The L-shape lounge in the rear had stowage under both sections. The port-side bench featured a cooler in a molded-in recess.
Each of the stowage compartments included a rubber matting liner in the bottom—a prime example of the extra effort Formula put into the boat. Another standout feature was the resourceful sun pad. Not only did the padded lounge feature an angled backrest for passengers to relax on but the manufacturer made it adjustable.
The backrest of the bench in front of the engine was connected to the lounge's backrest, but with the pull of a pin and a couple of adjustments, the bench back laid flat creating a sun pad that was more than 6 feet long.
Finished-off stowage compartments continued under each of the facing lounges in the open bow. Again it's the little things such as all of the cushions being on stainless hinges that caught our eye. Not to mention the exceptional gunwale padding surrounding the open bow.
The flip-up-style bucket seats for the driver and co-pilot were thick and swiveled. Made with the same heavy-duty vinyl that covered all of the seating, the seats were mounted on aluminum pedestals.
The driver's spot was roomy and a standard Mercury throttle and shifter was easy to reach. The light gray dash included panels with a simulated wood grain look, which matched the wood grain on the tilt steering wheel.
The Formula-labeled gauges had black faces with blue and white markings in silver bezels. The larger tach and speedo gauges sat at the top in pods that gave the dash, which included two stainless cupholders, a little flair.
The 240 Bow Rider was definitely not a typical runabout considering the conveniences it offered that aren't traditionally found in boats of its size. The upgraded MerCruiser 496 Mag power helped the boat nail its performance audition, but it was, once again, Formula's top-notch quality that shined—it gets us every time.
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