Quick Tech: Customizing Your Ski With IPD Graphics and Hydro-Turf

We went with Hydro-Turf’s pink-and-black two-tone mats as well as a custom silver-and-pink Cruiser seat cover. Because of HT’s high volume, turnaround between our initial order to arrival was about a week.

Despite a price tag dancing around $11,000-$13,000, Yamaha’s FX High Output Cruiser is one of the most popular full-sized naturally-aspirated runabouts on the water today. Equipped with cruise control, manual trim control, a No Wake mode and plenty of other comforts, the Cruiser manages to be both sporty and economical, while being just a lot of fun.

The problem is that with only two available color combinations (double that of similarly-equipped competitors), the Yamahas tend to be a little conservative in their styling cues. That’s why many are turning to find new ways to personalize their newest toys. While there’s no shortage of performance goodies to eke out some much desired miles per hour from their machine, giving your ski a unique look to match your personal taste is still a rare art form.

To give this ’14 Yamaha FX HO Cruiser a bit of personal flair, we reached out to IPD Graphics and Hydro-Turf. Many will recognize IPD as a major vinyl graphics sponsor for a collection of top notch PWC racers around the globe, including Jimmy Wilson, Tommy Bonacci and Bibi Carmouche.

The ease of removal of the factory traction mats depends on age and weathering. Because our ski was so new, the adhesive-backed factory mats peeled off effortlessly.

Prior to gluing the mats in place, first clean the surface of any residual adhesive. Then place the mats in the desired area and mark your corners.

Hydro-Turf makes installing their mat kits incredibly easy with their adhesive-backed mats. It’s as easy as peel-and-stick.

Likewise, the gunwale mats are just as easy to install. Just make sure to place them on straight the first time.

Of course, Hydro-Turf needs little to no introduction, but as the title sponsor for the Pro Watercross Tour, major traction mat supplier for Kawasaki, Yamaha and BRP as well as boat builders around the globe, they’re no stranger to providing unique and durable materials.

Ordering from both companies was as easy as a couple of emails. Both IPD and Hydro-Turf provide high resolution color swatches to compare to your desired combination. Because we wanted a little retro action, we opted for a hot pink, silver and black combination. With only a new graphics kit, seat covers and traction mats, we were surprised at how dramatic the change was – and we think you will too.

Here we’ll show you a complete step-by-step process how we transformed this “plain Jane” FX HO into a cool, customized ski that grabs everyone’s eye – and how quickly you too can do this. (Altogether, it took us about four hours of work.)

We suggest applying some weight (although it’s not mandatory) to get the mats to adhere evenly across the surface.

Next, we went about removing the factory graphics. We left the adhesive-backed chrome “Yamaha” emblems as we thought they provided a nice touch, but opted to replace all the vinyl decals.

Because the IPD Graphics kit we chose wasn’t covering a lot of space, we didn’t have to chase bubbles and wrinkles as much as kit that cover larger surfaces.

The IPD Graphics kit is not cut at the seams for the hood or other fairing panels. You will have to do this yourself. This is why it is best to apply your vinyl decals wet (using a spray bottle filled with water is best), so you can slide them around.

Admittedly, applying new graphics to a personal watercraft can be tricky (just refer to our previous article on custom graphics kits). Thankfully, the IPD Graphics kit for the FX HO was nowhere as complicated, nor required much effort to contour over complex corners and convex curves.

Rather, we opted for a rather simple kit that merely highlighted the angular lines of the Yamaha’s fairings. Many kits cover a large amount of surface area, and thereby require a lot of bubble and wrinkle chasing. The hardest part of our IPD kit was knowing where to place every stripe, and doing so in straight, equally spaced lines.

Also, pay close attention not to accidentally discard your instruction card. IPD includes a glossy instruction card that forwards you to a web address. This website will show you how to instal your kit, where to place your stripes and how to trim around edges and splits in panels.

Although we would’ve preferred a regular printed-out instruction sheet, rather than running back and forth to our computer, the online format did provide a lot of good information.

We found the most difficult part being simply getting the individual stripes parallel to one another. Be patient and don’t rush the installation or you’ll find mistakes that are all but impossible to fix.

With the decals still a little wet but tacky, we slowly ran a putty scraper over what few bubbles and wrinkles we could find. Don’t press down too hard or you’ll “burn” the vinyl or stretch out the decal.

Disassembling the Yamaha’s Cruiser seat is very easy when you’re not modifying the seat foam. Simply remove all of the factory-applied staples from underneath the seat. We let the foam air out for a few hours as we installed the graphics kit, and then went about installing the new Hydro-Turf seat cover.

The only tools needed are a decent upholstery staple gun. We also suggest using a spray adhesive to shoot on the foam around the tighter corners of the Cruiser seat.

With only a few hours’ worth of effort, we turned this bone-stock ’14 Yamaha FX HO Cruiser into a cool customized machine that is both unique and eye-catching.

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Kevin Shaw

Kevin Shaw

Editor-in-Chief – kevin.shaw@shawgroupmedia.com Kevin Shaw is a decade-long powersports and automotive journalist whose love for things that go too fast has led him to launching The Watercraft Journal. Almost always found with stained hands and dirt under his fingernails, Kevin has an eye for the technical while keeping a eye out for beautiful photography and a great story.


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