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November 19, 2009

Yamaha Impresses with New Product Rollout

4.2-liter V6 powerhead and weight-reduction tactics produce lighter, stronger four-strokes

Yamaha called its mid-November debut of engines, props and systems the largest product premier in the history of Yamaha outboards. Indeed, the event, held earlier this week in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and at the company's Bridgeport, Alabama, test facility, showed marine media:

  • three completely new V6 VMAX SHO four-strokes,
  • three considerably redesigned V6 offshore-series four-strokes,
  • a new four-stroke 70,
  • new, portable 4- and 6-hp four-strokes
  • a next-generation Command Link Plus electronic-control system with YCOP, an electronic anti-theft system,
  • three new propeller series, including one with a Shift Dampener (anti-"clunk") System, another designed specifically for the V8 F350.

Yamaha also announced it would bring back its 3.3-liter F250 mechanical-shift outboard for boaters looking to repower without upgrading to electronic controls.

Fortunately for consumers, Yamaha plans to offer various ways for you to get to know the new products over time through dealers, boat shows, pros and traveling exhibits. Some products will be available this month, others in spring. Here's a quick roundup of highlights; look for more detail in upcoming issues of Sport Fishing:


VMAX SHO - A four-stroke version of the popular VMAX Series 2 two-stroke outboards, available in 200, 225 and 250 horsepower. Faster out of the hole and to plane with impressive midrange punch. Features a completely new 4.2-liter V6 powerhead, redesigned lower unit, larger throttle valve and water pickups yet is 34 pounds lighter than its two-stroke predecessor. Yamaha employs a lighter-weight cowl, engine pan and bracket; the company also removed the muffler to drop weight. The outboard rumbles at idle, though it's still quieter than the two-strokes at all speeds (provided you can hear anything over the rush of the wind at chart-topping speeds). V6 VMAXes come only in 20-inch shaft lengths. Available in January, the outboards will retail for $19,370 (VF200LA), $20,620 (VF225LA), and $21,870 (VF250LA).


V6 offshore outboards - Employing the same V6 4.2-liter powerhead as the new VMAXs, Yamaha launched new F225, F250 and F300 outboards. The V6 F300 replaces a V8 version that weighed 246 pounds more. The company used plasma-fused sleeveless cylinders in the new powerhead instead of steel sleeves to offer more room for the pistons and a more durable surface for the rings. The offshore series also features a lightweight composite engine pan and a lighter, though more powerful, alternator. The company says the F300 is up to 13 percent faster at cruise rpm than its competitors with 17 percent better fuel economy. The series is available in 25- or 30-inch shaft lengths and left/right-handed configurations. Available this spring, the outboards will retail for $23,125 (F225XCA), $23,750 (F250XCA), and $24,875 (F300XCA).


Command Link Plus - The new offshore outboards and the V8 F350 are all designed to operate with the "plus" system, the new generation of Command Link. The system uses a 5-inch single LCD display (at the same height as current displays) offering a variety of screen configuration options - oil/water pressure, charge level, rpm, fuel-flow rate, tank levels, water temp and depth - compatible with single, twin or triple applications. (Quads require two displays.) New key panels offer one-key operation for up to three outboards; with twins/triples, one push of the start button cranks each outboard, one at a time. Lights indicate which engines are running, and Yamaha included an "all engine" start/stop button. Also new, is a gateway device that allows engine-operating info to display on NMEA 2000-compatible devices for regular Command Link and plus versions, and a YCOP electronic anti-theft system that the owner can arm with a key fob. The signal tells the outboard's electronic control module to prevent starting. Option pricing and availability has not been released.


New Propellers - The Saltwater Series II SDS features a new Shift Dampener System that helps eliminate the "clunk" that sometimes occurs when shifting gears. An internal damper absorbs the energy created when a shift takes place. SDS will be available in 13-, 15-, 17-, 19-, 21-, and 23-inch right- and left-hand rotations on Saltwater Series II props. The VMAX Ventless series of props were designed to harness the power of the new SHO four-strokes. They will come in 23-, 25-, 27-, and 29-inch pitches in right-hand rotation only. The Performance XL4 series of four-blade props were designed for applications requiring enormous thrust to plane, such as with the 5.3-liter V8 F350. They come in 15- and 17-inch pitches and left- and right-handed rotation. The Performance XL4 HP series improves speed and handling for  high-performance offshore boats, and come, initially, in a 24-inch pitch, left- or right-handed rotation. Prices and availability were not yet available.

For more information on all the new products, visit