Get'em While They're Hot: The Last of the Performance Outboards
We are almost in the last month of 2017 and it is exciting to think about what is in store for the marine industry in 2018. Some of the big boat shows, like Miami International Boat Show, are great venues for new product introductions and Miami in particular is one of the best places to see all kinds of boats for almost every kind of boater. If there is one thing that seems to be certain is that outboard sales are through the roof and we will continue to see innovation in the outboard segment and continuously see new engines. Four-strokes are getting lighter and better each time a new models is introduced. But, if you’re a performance boater, you are out of luck, mostly anyway.
For performance boaters, there are really only 4 consumer level outboards available under 450 Lbs. Not long ago, every engine in the 150 to 225 range was less than 450 Lbs, closer to 400 Lbs actually. Here are the last affordable light outboards available and you may want to act now if you’re thinking about repowering because it looks like they may not be around for long.
These are the most potent engines available that are under 450 Lbs. In fact, the 175 has a better power to weight ratio than all the big block 200 HP engines on the market. The 175 is actually around 190 HP and is a time tested 2.5 Optimax with semi-solid mounts, it weighs 431 Lbs. Mercury Marine has priced it right too, these are great options when replacing old 2.5s. They aren’t going to replace a 225 Pro Max, and they aren’t as potent as the Gen 1 200 XS Optimax but they are very efficient and your best bet right now. Both come with 1.87:1 gear ratio.
One of the only options in the performance consumer outboard market for lighter single engine boats. It checks most boxes but could use about 25 more horsepower.
Evinrude Etec G1, 135 HO and 150
Evinrude has diminished there G1 offerings as you would expect but you can still get the 150 and the 135 HO. Unfortunately, I don’t think you can get the 150 HO anymore. The 135 HO is dyno’d at 148 HP and features the streamline lightning (L2) gearcase, in 1.86:1 ratio. The Etecs are actually really efficient and are 3 star energy compliant as well as EU compliant. If you can get your hands on a 135 HO, they are great and you may be able to find a 150 HO in inventory somewhere, those are really great engines. The Etecs are slightly lighter than the Mercs at 418 Lbs. but not quite as potent. Evinrude did have a G1 200 based on the same 2.6 block, wouldn’t it be amazing if they offered that in a HO version with the L2 gearcase. Evinrude, are you listening?
A solid repower option for smaller boats as it is the lightest on the market, has a nice gearcase and sips fuel. If it had 200 or 225 HP, nothing could touch it.
Another unfortunate thing is that tuning these direct injected two-strokes is costly and not super effective. It’s best to just retain your warranty and use as is out of the box. These are literally the last of the consumer performance outboards, everything new is over 500 Lbs. And when you see weights advertised by manufacturers, it is dry and often with no cowling. One boat builder I spoke with did some weighing of his own and reported the actual weight of one particular engine was the engine with no lower unit and no cowling to get to the advertised weight, so be aware.
In light of the dilemma faced by performance boaters, we are going to initiate a petition for a couple of the leading manufacturers to see how much interest there is an a consumer level outboard in the 200 to 225 HP range. I am confident the big manufacturers missed this market and we can prove it with data. This includes the performance segment, bass, flats, performance center console and other types of boats, the repower market alone is quite large. And, it doesn’t have to be a two-stroke, although many modern two-strokes are just as efficient and have better emissions than some of the four-strokes.
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