From a time when four-stroke outboards looked set to wipe out two-strokes all together, the tables have turned
MICAH ADAMS fills out the report card for his new outboard motor.
I've recently purchased a new American Skeeter ZX190 bass boat, and the decision of how to power the boat seemed complicated at first. I've had several two-stroke motors in the past, but fished thousands of hours with four-strokes, so I was certain my next motor would be a four-stroke.
Suddenly there was all this hype around the new generation of two-strokes and the company leading this charge ? Evinrude E-Tec. I must admit, I was not immediately sold on the hype and took some convincing, but having now used my new rig for more than five months of solid fishing, boy am I happy with my decision. My motor is the 150hp high output (HO) racing motor. My boat weighs around 700kg dry. With gear, fuel, batteries, motor and two men on board, my running weight would be closer to 1300kg.
Firstly to the claims. E-Tec says its motors are the lightest around in a power-to-weight ratio and the specs sheets back this up. It also claims the fuel economy is comparable to a four-stroke'which I originally doubted'but after testing the motor I've changed my mind, and the spec table within should give you a detailed idea of the fuel consumption figures.
Here's a an example: with a full tank of juice, three on board and all the gear under the sun, I did four full days on the Bemm River, two full days at Mallacoota and a couple of afternoons at Merimbula. When I filled the tank, I'd used 45 litres. This was either at idle speed or full noise, no in-between! I'm sure everyone would agree that is good fuel economy. For the same distance travelled on the water in my old 5m Hornet with its 90hp two-stroke, I would have used more fuel than that 'where is the sense'
E-Tec claims its motors are as quiet as a four-stroke outboard, but I disagree here. This isn't all bad though. You turn the ignition key and the motor starts instantly and effortlessly and all you can hear is this low-down, grunty, awesome-sounding noise. It's far from loud'like you'd expect from a two-stroke but it's a nice throaty sound that would get any car or engine buff smiling.
While at idle, I believe the best four-strokes are slightly quieter than the E-Tecs, but it's at higher speeds these motors excel. As quiet as fours are at idle, I reckon some are worse than old fashioned twos at running speed with a real screaming pitch.
The E-Tec, on the other hand, is still low throughout and I can comfortably speak (not scream) to my passenger while doing more than 80km/h as the engine's pitch hardly changes!
The E-Tecs have incredible top-end speed, acceleration and grunt out of the hole. When I put my foot down in my new rig I get up and going in a hurry'this is one fun fishing machine! At around 5800 revs, I'm reaching more than 110km/h, but what I really like is my cruise speed of 80km/h when the engine is only pushing 4200 revs. My planing speed is at 30km/h and the engine's revs are around 2000.
The 150hp E-Tec is available in either standard or the high performance (HO) version. HO refers mostly to the nose-cone gearbox and lower water pick-up facilities, which allow the motor to be fitted higher on the transom with a jacking plate, allowing a higher planing speed. I'm sure many of you would be thinking the same as I was: what difference could this make ? It actually adds about 15 percent to the top end speed and when you're talking over a 100km/h this a quite a difference from the same weight in outboard.
Aside from the best power-to-weight ratios, pick-up speed and awesome fuel consumption, one of the E-Tec's biggest selling points is its three-year no service period. Factor in the servicing costs you need to spend on another outboard for the first three years and you'll come up with a substantial figure. There's no 'run-in' period either, so my boat package not only came ready to fish, but I didn't have to hold back when it came to putting the motor through its paces.
From a time when four-stroke outboards looked set to wipe out two-strokes all together, the tables have turned! I find it astonishing to see how far two-stroke engineers have come in a short period of time. The difference between old and new generation two-stroke technology is beyond belief and the sales figures of these new twos certainly shows this.