Sheer Brilliance: 2014 Yamaha FX HO Cruiser WaveRunner

Yamaha’s FX HO Cruiser shines like a beacon in Pure White. The deep creases and sharp lines are handsome and gives a very mature look to the three-seater.

If there is one thing we’ve seen the Yamaha Motor Company excel at over the other OE manufacturers is offering a runabout that is neither bare of amenities or swimming in top-of-the-line features. In recent years, Yamaha’s FX HO and FX HO Cruiser models have struck a chord with older buyers looking for a machine that is both mature in design and execution, all the while delivering big on three key attributes: fuel economy, smart storage and ride comfort.

A couple months ago, we had the opportunity to review Yamaha’s outgoing 2013 Yamaha FX HO and found it to be an apt solution to the consumer looking for a fun, spirited ride that wouldn’t drain the wallet. Yesterday, we boarded Yamaha’s 2014 entry in the next class up, the Cruiser.

The 2014 FX HO Cruiser retains its fuel-mileage friendly naturally aspirated 1,812cc four-cylinder four-stroke pushing its thrust through a slightly smaller 155mm than the SVHO’s race-ready 160mm pump, producing approximately 180-horsepower.

From behind, the FX HO Cruiser’s attributes really become apparent, like the large swimstep, tiered “stadium-style” seating and wide footwells.

Without the aid of the higher-octane SVHO model’s centrifugal supercharger, the HO’s oomph is not found off the line, but throughout the mid-range, delivering a smooth but noticeable surge of bottom-end torque.

But do not be dissuaded, the HO Cruiser is no wilting flower. We had plenty of fun careening through the ins and outs of Kentucky Lake, the Cruiser’s big displacement plant sprinting through the serpentines without breathing heavy. Reaching a healthy 62mph top speed bests many naturally-aspirated models, particularly with a full tank (18.5 gallons) and a 220-pound rider.

The brand’s handlebar-mounted Cruise Assist and No Wake Mode are marked by large, easily accessed buttons that provide a gratefully audible acknowledgement when activated. Setting your speed is easily done with a second confirming press of the button and readily adjustable via the up/down toggles. We were a little dismayed that the Cruise Assist capped at 45mph, but shrugged it off as more evidence of Yamaha’s commitment to safe, enjoyable riding.

Many features, such as Yamaha’s high visibility rooster tail and right-hand reverse lever are more identifiers of Yamaha’s strides towards increased rider safety. The new reverse lever is a mechanical affair with a scrolling gear indicator in the grip itself announcing when the ski is engaged in “Neutral.” Other touches – such as Yamaha’s retractable Pull Up Cleats and twin watertight storage compartments are as underrated as they are understated.

On the water, the FX HO Cuiser’s hull shows itself as one of the sport’s most diverse designs, as in its present form is smooth, comfortable and responsive, while racers have used the same design to reach tremendous speeds and perform daring acts of athleticism in a variety of water conditions.

Although the the FX HO Cruiser is one of the driest rides we’ve enjoyed, its front storage is cavernous but not watertight, so a drybag is recommended for items that you want to keep dry.

With over 33 gallons of available storage, we discovered the specificity of Yamaha’s design: cell phones, wallets and keys fit snugly in the in-dash screw-top (and padded) bin, while gloves, drinks, sunscreen and GPS would fit in the glove box. Larger items like backpacks, dry bags and flipflops are best suited for the ample bow stowage as towels or a change of clothes belong in the other screw-top underseat container. Lastly, tow ropes, swim fins or goggles slide in place in the rearward deck bin.

For 2014, Yamaha really stepped up the classiness of the FX line with attractive two-tone traction mats and improving upon their already iconic tiered Cruiser seat. Standing at 6’2″, we found the forward-most seat bolster a little too close to the steering than we’re used to, but thoroughly enjoyed the cushy padding and lower back support.

We have to applaud Yamaha for what we consider possibly the most comfortable handgrip found on a production PWC today. The pistol-grip style contour of the grip and oblong shape fit naturally in the palm of your hand. It, like so many other features, are something you’d normally overlook unless we mentioned it, and we think you’ll agree too.

It’s unusual for us to heap so much praise on such a minor detail, but Yamaha has managed to execute what we feel to be some of the most comfortable hand grips available on a production vehicle.

Small touches like the two-toned coffee-and-charcoal traction mats or the supple three-step Cruiser seating provide small touches of luxury.

Aesthetically, the new FX HO Cruiser is strikingly handsome, angular and adult in its overall look. We have an unusual fondness for the Pure White paint but be warned, you’re going to want to wear sunglasses. Even on an overcast day, this ski reflects light with unmatched brilliance – so much so we wondered if was actually a safety feature!

The FX HO dashboard is spartan, with a single analog gauge that trades between RPM and MPH upon demand. Flanked by a single LCD screen, the available information includes fuel levels, speed and little else. If water temps, a depth gauge or compass heading are important to you, you’ll have to go elsewhere.

One major trait that we were very satisfied with was the Yamaha’s solidity. From the sturdy-feeling adjustable steering to the secured locking of each storage compartment, the FX HO feels stout without being cumbersome. At 825-pounds (dry weight), the Yamaha remains lightweight due in large part to its proprietary NanoXcel hull and deck material.

Besides the large boarding platform, Yamaha’s commitment to excellence is found in unnoticeable details like the flattened swimstep that retracts flush with the bond rail or the snap-shut rear deck storage that stows ropes and diving gear.

At speed – be it seated or standing – the Yamaha greedily sluiced through windblown chop with nary a rattle or chatter, it’s big plant thrumming beneath the seat. In fact, we paid close attention to the engine sound while riding. Without the staccato whine of a supercharger, the natural baritone of the 1.8-liter was a refreshing change of tune.

Priced at $13,399, the full-sized three-seater is no entry-level machine. But with gas prices where they are, the 110-plus-miles on a single tank of fuel that the HO Cruiser offers will quickly recoup the initial asking price. All in all, we find the FX HO Cruiser as a great solution for riders who are looking for the ideal balance of limited luxury, comfort, efficiency and fun.

IMG_4329 IMG_4335 IMG_4344 IMG_4348 IMG_4350 IMG_4355 IMG_4363 IMG_4366 IMG_4368 IMG_4378 IMG_4384 IMG_4399 IMG_4405 IMG_4416 IMG_4422 IMG_4437 IMG_4444 IMG_4454 IMG_4457 IMG_4471 IMG_4477 IMG_4487
Tags featured

Share this post

Kevin Shaw

Editor-in-Chief – 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.


Add yours

Post a new comment

No Thanks