May 16, 2011
Yamaha's latest 25-hp four-strokes are put to the test behind Sundance boats' Flicker, Alumacraft's Lunker 165 CS, Clearwater Skiff's 15-footer, and two Bennington pontoon boats.
We visited Lake Oconee, Georgia, last week to check out Yamaha's newest entry into the small four-stroke segment, the F25.
This isn't just a bored-out 20 or a scaled-down 40—it's a completely new outboard utilizing a 2-cylinder, single-overhead camshaft, 498cc engine with micro-computer-controlled ignition. They did borrow a few parts, however: Pistons, connecting rods and valves are the same as used in the F60.
It's a tough engine in a small package, but not quite what you'd call a portable. The high-thrust “T” model, with electric trim and tilt, weighs in at 203 pounds. The F series comes in around 180 pounds, depending on options, such as short (15 inches) or long (20 inches) shaft, tiller or steering. High thrust, in this case, means a 2.42:1 gear ratio instead of 2.08:1, with the goal of moving larger boats such as pontoons.
Yamaha had a suitable array of test boats on the lake for us to try, including saltwater skiffs ideal for the Florida backwaters.
Performance-wise, the F25 leaves Yamaha's two-stroke 25 in the 20th century: The alternator is beefed up to 13 amps, from 6; fuel economy improves by about 30 percent; top-end speed even increases some, based on some Yamaha studies.
Manufacturer's suggested retail price for the base mode F25 (tiller, short shaft, manual start) is $3,900. The T25, with long shaft; electric start, tilt and trim; and remote steering lists for $4,865. Several models fall in between that range.
Here's the F25.
Our first look at a dandy new poling skiff. It's a prototype Flicker, built by Sundance Boats out of Waycross, Georgia. Sundance is known as a builder of economical, common-sense boats from 14 to 24 feet. This one's 17 feet, 1 inch, weighing in at 850 pounds, hull only.
Think of the F25 as a powerplant for small, shallow-draft vessels. In this case, it's part of the entry-level package for the Flicker, a recession-busting $12,470 MSRP. That's a totally rigged flats skiff and a 3-year warranty on the F25. Nice.
Okay, this was supposed to be mostly about the F25, but we're going to have to run a bunch of pics of the Flicker. Why? ‘Cause that's the kind of boat we like to run.
The Flicker ran best with one angler at the helm, the other seated in front of the console (or, in the case of this photo, lying on the casting deck). This allowed us to get the rpm down to 4,400, picking up about an extra 2 miles per gallon while maintaining proper attitude. Not that the F25 is going to chug fuel at WOT (Wide Open Throttle), but a few summers of $3 per gallon gas have made us cringe when we see 5,000 rpm.
(As a sidenote, we're anxious to run the Flicker with a 40-horse and a pair of trim tabs.)
The business end of the Flicker is a rounded, raised casting deck with an integral toe rail and low-profile hardware—perfect for fly fishing.
The casting deck also comes with a mounting surface and pre-wired outlet for a trolling motor.
Seat cushion lifts to reveal cooler.
Fish box or release well.
Forward anchor locker.
Flip-up 360 light on the poling platform.
Another class of vessel ideally suited for small outboard power is the aluminum vee-hull, such as this Alumacraft 165 CS Lunker. This 700-pound 17-footer was a joy to run, topping off at 26 mph, but feeling faster. Fuel economy at 5,800 rpm: 8.23 mpg.
The Alumacraft zooms away.
Carpeted hull is nice when you're on a school of bass or crappie. Alumacraft builds an astounding array of boats, configured for virtually any type of fishing imaginable.
As you've probably guessed, the 25-hp four-stroke would be dynamite on a flat-bottom skiff. This one's a 15-foot Clearwater Skiff, built in Douglas, GA, and reminiscent of the first Carolina Skiffs.
Console on the Clearwater Skiff.
And of course, a Yamaha 10-micron water-separating fuel filter, industry standard for defense against ethanol-related troubles.
Last but definitely not least, is an 18 ½-foot Bennington pontoon boat. Here's one equipped with the high-thrust T25. Top end for the T25 was a bit shy of the F25, but the advantage is greater control in tight quarters. Recommended props are different, as well. The 25-horsepower was adequate for a gentle cruise across the lake, topping off at 14.5 mph, not sporty enough to pull a skier. (Our suspicion is that rental fleet operators will love the F25.)
We spent some time on the Benningtons, as the air temperature flirted with 90 degrees. That canopy was a mighty popular.
The Bennington has a popup changing room.
“Casting deck” on the pontoon boat, accessible by a swing-out door.
Bennington puts a lot of nice touches on its pontoons, such as below-seat storage with drained gutters.
Comfy helm station.
Durable hardware on the Bennington. With a durable outboard on the transom, you're looking at years of carefree family fun.