By Matt Trulio
Yamaha FX140 Cruiser: PWC’s Easy Rider
Yamaha's FX140 Cruiser has innovative saddles that makes being a passenger a dream.
Riding shotgun, as in behind the driver, on a personal watercraft ranks pretty high on my list of “Things to Avoid at All Costs.” It’s a little better than riding on the back of a motorcycle, where being surrounded by automobiles fuels my general sense of terror, and a lot better than riding on the back of a horse — because I’m terrified of horses, and the evil beasts know it. But I’d still rather drive.
The problem with any backseat riding experience, of course, is the lack of control and security. You don’t know what the driver will do next, and you don’t feel as if you’ll stay put if anything unexpected happens. And while blind faith or years of therapy can help with the control issue, the security problem is tougher to resolve — at least for personal watercraft passengers.
Yamaha’s FX Cruiser, which the company introduced to members of the marine press August 23 in Destin, Fla., presents the best solution I’ve seen. Based on the three-passenger FX140 four-stroke model the company released in 2002, the FX Cruiser boasts a high-back saddle that helps passengers feel locked in placed in rough water and hard turns.
“I feel like I’m on the back of a big old Harley,” said Terri Cacciutti, who rode on the back of the FX Cruiser while her husband, marine writer John Cacciutti, drove the personal watercraft. “I don’t feel like I’m going to fly off.”
The back of the contoured saddle is approximately 6″ tall, The manufacturer wisely used a flexible, though not overly so, core as the foundation for the well-padded extension. Using more-rigid coring might make the high-back section more sturdy (though it was more than stout enough as it was), but it also could make things unpleasant for passengers who try to “throw a leg over” and come up short.
The saddle setup proved excellent in turns and rough water. The FX Cruiser and original FX140 are inside-lean watercraft, meaning they turn like motorcycles with riders leaning toward the inside of the corner. (Some watercraft actually require riders to lean to the outside in turns, which takes some getting used to.) On the FX Cruiser, a bit of leg muscle tension transferred to the feet in the footwells was all it took to plant a passenger’s rear end in the seat during turns. Using the same technique, a passenger could lift his backside ever so slightly off the seat, while pushing back against the seat extension, to soften the ride in chop.
Like the FX140, the FX Cruiser is powered by a 140-hp four-stroke MR-1 engine. (For a complete report on the FX140 and its motor, see “Related Items” to the right.) Yamaha has other three- and four-passenger watercraft, but the MR-1 motor made FX140 the perfect platform for a passenger-focused adaptation. The four-stroke engine delivers steady power and smooth acceleration throughout its operation, even with three riders on board.
That power package, plus the high-back saddle, also would make the FX Cruiser a good tow boat — as far as personal watercraft go — for wakeboarders and water-skiers. The saddle extension would provide rear-facing observers with something to hang onto while they watched the action at the end of the line.
With three-passenger models still leading personal watercraft sales, Yamaha did wise to focus on passenger comfort with the FX Cruiser. After all, the driver of a watercraft shouldn’t be the only one enjoying the ride. I’d still rather drive, but if I have to ride shotgun then the FX Cruiser would be my first choice.
Yamaha FX140 Specifications
|Engine||140-hp Yamaha MR-1 four-stroke|
|Dry weigh||798 pounds|
|Fuel capacity||18.5 gallons|
|Oil capacity||1.32 gallons|
|Storage capacity||26.42 gallons|
|Color||Black Metallic with Heat Red|
For More Information
Yamaha Watercraft Group Company
1270 Chastain Road
Kennesaw, GA 30144
- Matt Trulio is the co-publisher and editor in chief of speedonthewater.com, a daily news site with a weekly newsletter and a new bi-monthly digital magazine that covers the high-performance powerboating world. The former editor-in-chief of Sportboat magazine and editor at large of Powerboat magazine, Trulio has covered the go-fast powerboat world since 1995. Since joining boats.com in 2000, he has written more than 200 features and blogs.
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