by Dom Wiseman

Personal water craft are one of the fastest growing segments in the boating market. Considering some of the, hard to justify legislative restrictions, and the foolish actions of a minority of owners tagged as hoons, tarnishing the sport, this is quite an achievement. This type of growth could not be achieved without new buyers driving the market.

It would be fair to say that Yamaha were a little late to this part of the market with a true entry level craft, but they hit the ground running with their EX models launched in 2017. They were quick enough for most owners and certainly provided a quality sub $10k option for those looking to get into the market and still have fun. You can read a review of the 2017 EX here

After a couple of years on the market, the platform, while still popular, was due for a facelift and new for 2019 is the Yamaha EXR.

Yamaha WaveRunner EXR

WHAT YOU GET

Being an entry level model, there isn’t a lot to the EXR in terms of driver aids and adjustment. It’s designed to be largely usable straight off the showroom floor and obviously to meet a price point. And while it is marketed as a three seater, the craft itself is close to 50 centimetres shorter than another three seater in the Yamaha stable, the FX, so there is some compromise to be had there. While the seat is styled to look like it will accommodate three persons, I dare say, two will fill the space quickly.

Once thing you cannot get away from either is the colour. The EXR is only available in the blue and lime green as shown here. So if you don’t like it, the options are, well, there are none.

Yamaha Waverunner-14

The foot wells are lined with padded traction pads which are comfortable underfoot and provide enough grip to use barefooted, or if you fancy yourself as a racer, while wearing boots or shoes. The handlebars are not adjustable, yet once you settle yourself in though, you will find them comfortable. The LCD screen is however a letdown with reading limited to speed and fuel mainly. And it’s so small and located out of your line of sight while riding, that a cursory glance will not be enough.

Storage is also limited but I think I could manage a romantic picnic on a sunny summer’s day with the aid of a backpack or two. The front storage bin under the hood is limited and will accommodate a rope at most. The storage bin directly in front of the rider has a small opening that opens up inside to be quite cavernous. It will take your wallet and keys easily, and maybe a sandwich if you had to, however, for anything bulky, you’re going to struggle. There is a final bin located under the seat itself.

What you do get with the EXR is Yamaha’s RiDE system. It allows for more precise control of the craft in all conditions and combines a reverse option on the left trigger with an electronically controlled braking system. Close quarters manoeuvring is so much easier with this on board. The standard EX only has forwards, while the EX Sport has reverse operated by way of a lever and no intelligent braking.

The 2019 Yamaha WaveRunner EXR also utilises a lighter NanoXcel2 hull. This delivers a reduction of 32kilograms on the previous model and you can feel every bit of that while riding. The EXR comes in at 240 kilograms, still heavier than its competitor the SeaDoo Spark which weighs around 200 kilograms.

Yamaha Waverunner-16POWER

Underneath all this is the exact same engine that sits in the rest of the EX line-up, albeit with a few modifications. The three cylinder platform has had some work to deliver a higher output and a more exhilarating ride.

To get a little more out of this reliable engine, the ECU has been recalibrated to increase output by 10kW up to 81kW, and is aided by  a rev range limit up by 700rpm to 8,000rpm. The extra power has allowed Yamaha to also increase the jet pump by 10mm which provides faster acceleration and you certainly can feel it. I remember riding the original EX and EX Sport and while fun, felt they lacked the get up and go I wanted from the lively little hull. The EXR doesn’t disappoint. You could corner flat out in those, you could only try in the EXR.

ON THE WATER

The EXR is lively. With a total length of 3.13 metres it’s a pocket rocket with amazing agility. You can throw it from side to side and corner to corner while shifts in weight can produce some exciting turns and slides.

Yamaha Waverunner-30

The power comes on quickly and during flat out runs, every small bit of chop feels like a launch ramp. It is tough to hold on in some instances. But is always exhilarating.

It has some solid handling credentials to a point. By leaning out or pressing down with your outside leg as you turn, you can get it to hold through a corner but if you try that at flat out, at some point it will let go. There is a point where it will slide, a feeling you don’t get with the longer craft in the Yamaha range.

If you are planning some ocean rides, make no mistake, you will find it a little tough in choppy conditions. I switched from this to the FX SVHO, halfway through our ride and offshore it provided a more comfortable ride. It’s longer and the hull designed with more vee to better deal with chop and waves.

Just like a short wheel base car feels every bump, the shorter hull doesn’t have the length to slice through waves. You get every bump and in some cases land with more of a bang than expected. The hull is hard and will be more suited to inshore use.

And in flat water you can expect to extract a top speed of 86 kilometres per hour and a couple feet from the water, that’s plenty enough.

ON THE TRAILER

A single axle trailer will set you back around $2,000 from a dealer bringing the buy price to a still acceptable $14,299 plus. This model is small enough to fit in a garage and could be towed with almost anything, including a Toyota Corolla provided it has a tow bar.

Yamaha EXR on trailer

OVERVIEW

If you’re looking for exhilaration, fun and performance at an affordable price, the EXR is really where you should be looking. It has a little more oomph than the two EX models below it for not a lot more money and I can assure you, you won’t get bored.

POSITIVES Fun and lively hull Has the RiDE braking system

NEGATIVES No changes to digital readout

NUMBERS THAT MATTER

Price: $12,299 excluding trailer

Construction: NanoXcel 2 Fibreglass

Length Overall: 3.13m

Beam: 1.12m

Weight on trailer: 500kgs (approx.)

Engine: Inline three cylinder TR1HO

Fuel Capacity: 50 litres Recommended Fuel: 95 RON. You can run E10 according to the manufacturer’s specs