Yamaha has released a new entry-level model range, the EX Series, of Personal Water Craft aimed at attracting new buyers to the market. The Yamaha EX series, which is available in two models – the standard EX and the slightly specced up EX Deluxe, is built to appeal to the first time user. Yamaha believes that while this group of buyers is not looking for a high-powered machine but they still want something that is easy to use, exhilarating to ride and can tow if needed. The EX Series will also give Yamaha a genuine competitor for the SeaDoo Spark which has owned the light recreational market segment in recent years.
And with a starting price of under $10,000 the EX Series is also very affordable.
Our first experience on the 2017 EX Series at the national launch at Lake Macquarie, about 100km north of Sydney revealed they have developed a machine that is fun and exhilarating to drive. With seating for up to three people it is ideal for families looking to share time on the water.
WHAT YOU GET
The Yamaha EX Series is built to target a price point and with a sub $10,000 starting price you could be forgiven for wondering what they have left out. The answer is nothing. Yamaha has done well to maintain a classic personal watercraft appearance and reduce the costs.
It differs from the Seadoo Spark and Spark Trixx, which we have tested previously, in that SeaDoo uses a plastic polymer construction and a trimmed down body to deliver an affordable package. The EX features a fibreglass hull and is a genuine three seater size in a lightweight package. To me, the Spark is a BMX and the Yamaha a mountain bike.
The standard EX model misses out on some of the elements available in the EX Deluxe including the Yamaha Ride system. This adds a reverse gear that is operated via a lever on left handle bar. It is used to brake and manoeuvre the craft in reverse when needed. Also missing off the standard EX are side mirrors and a rear boarding step. That being said, you can get away without all three. The horsepower is the same in both specs as is the hull.
Looking at the craft pulled up on the beach, it may not have the sleek lines of some of the other models in the Yamaha range, yet there is no doubt it is a Yamaha and to my eye has elements of that classic 90’s Wave runner look, but not in an outdated way. It is definitely more upright although the riding position and handle bars are comfortable.
The foot well has been designed with a side to side and front to back curved outline up and out the back over the rear deck which, like the foot well is lined with Hydro Turf grip, albeit more basic than that used on other models. The seat accentuates the upright position and is grippy enough to stay on but not so much so that it hurts when the G-forces drag you from side to side.
Storage in the craft while minimal is still more than others offer standard. There is a very small spot for a folded up towel under the cowl at the front of the ski. There is also storage under the rear and the glove box in front of the riding position is enormous. All up there is approximately 30-litres of space across the three zones.
Immediately in front of the column of the non-adjustable handlebars, which honestly I had no need to move at all, is a small LCD readout displaying speed. Again I don’t think I looked at this once.
The three-cylinder, four-stroke Yamaha Marine engine powering this craft is a beauty. It delivers more than ample power in a reduced engine size and therefore overall weight, which is important to the ride-ability of the craft.
It has been detuned and puts out 100 horsepower, although Yamaha don’t often publish such figures, preferring to focus on other aspects such as acceleration and overall efficiency and reliability of their engines.
Regardless, the engine feels beautifully balanced in the hull of the Yamaha EX Series. It responds well to throttle input from the rider and is still capable of quick acceleration and a reasonable top speed approaching 80km/h (43 knots) which is more than enough for your entry level rider. It’s also very quiet.
The fuel tank is about 70% bigger than equivalent competition models which should not be underestimated when you’re out on the water for a full day.
ON THE WATER
The Yamaha EX Series hull is small, lightweight and maneuverable. That makes it amazingly enjoyable to ride in any conditions. You can stand or sit, both are comfortable, but when you put the hammer down the light weight of the overall package comes into its own. As we crossed Lake Macquarie, I was able to use the slightest bump to get the craft airborne, something I was unable to do in the larger and more powerful GP1800 (we will provide a separate review of that next week).
The hull does feel as though it rolls from side to side easily which makes it very maneuverable across the water. Despite this rolling feeling it remains very stable in the water. Don’t be put off by the smaller engine either. It has plenty of power. You can perform spins, slides or hard corners just by shifting your weight around the craft and using the handlebars accordingly.
Underway the hull is predictable and coped with the chop on the surface assuredly. I didn’t get to see the bottom of the hull on the test day but it felt as though it had a suitable entry that flattened out at the rear. It has a loose and playful feel.
ON THE TRAILER
Sitting on a single axle trailer, both models of the Yamaha EX Series are small enough to fit in a garage. It would weigh less than 500kg on a trailer, so anyone with a Holden Barina up could tow one provided they have a tow bar.
I really like the feel of this package. The Yamaha EX Series is powerful enough for experienced riders to sill have a lot of fun yet is easy enough to use that first time riders will enjoy it equally. The fact that it’s a true three seater is a bonus and given you could pick one up for less than $10,000 it should see a whole new market open up. It’s also going to be perfect for owners of larger boats looking for affordable tenders or fun craft to use while on the water.
- Easy to manage
- Fuel capacity
- Hard to Find
NUMBERS THAT MATTER
Price (from): EX $9,990; EX Deluxe $12,770
Length Overall: 3.13 metres
Beam: 1.12 metres
Hull weight: 262 kg
Trailerable weight: 427 kg
Engine: Yamaha TR-1
Fuel Capacity: 50 litres