Boat Review Date: December 2010
Author: Mike Brown
Value for money is the key feature of the 175 Bayliner bow rider; $33,890 gets a turn the key and go package that ticks most of the boxes for the family buyer. And that is the typical buyer, particularly the first timer. The dedicated fisho will choose something else.
At 5.33m overall with a 2.36m beam it is near the bottom end for a bow rider and, being powered by a sterndrive, it could well have had a cramped interior. The builders wisely chose to use the space at each side of the motor for quarter seats rather than having a full beam motor box with sun lounge on top. There are seats for two more at the windscreen, a jump seat for an observer, and two adults or three children in the bow cockpit. Seat comfort is about average.
The fit-out is tidy rather than plush, reflecting the boat’s cost-conscious philosophy. More of the visible interior is gel coat than padding or upholstery, and there are no side pockets or glove box. Oddly, considering the absent glove box, there is remarkably little knee room under either console; actually getting the legs under there required a knees together, feet well apart stance. But there is carpet, drink holders, plenty of individual grab handles, and an under deck ski locker.
There is certainly the motor to launch a skier: Mercruiser’s 135hp, three-litre four-cylinder. Not much sophistication, and the carburettors in our motor gave a little of the traditional reluctance to start, but it delivered plenty of honest urge. A fuel-injected V6 is optional, but the extra dollars would probably push the price beyond what the likely buyer would want to pay.
The starboard console says ‘drive me’. Its seven analogue gauges are laid out vintage Aston Martin style, and with all the car’s appeal. And the driving experience has more than a touch of the sports car about it. The 175 has a quickness and precision of response that is beyond a lot of the imported boats of this style, and the grip of boat and propeller in tight turns is right up there.
Even the ride is sports car-like, or more accurately like the older ones I am used to: tight and resilient without being harsh. The hull has enough shape in it to give plenty of cushioning, and the excellent response to power trim sets the boat up for varying conditions with very little movement of the leg.
One of the curiosities of bow riders, the quintessential family trailer boat, is that they so often lay on no shade. Perhaps the near impossibility of neatly extending a canopy over the bow cockpit persuades the fair-minded owner to leave the rear cockpit naked as well. In my view, though, a folding canopy over a decent share of the rear cockpit would be worth whatever it cost. Sunburn is no longer fashionable and it never was fun.
This is probably not a boat you would want to take beyond the one-mile reef or outside Cockburn Sound, but within those limits a lot of water is available and the 175 is capable of delivering plenty of fun: casual skiing, family picnics, cruises up the Murray to Ravenswood to suggest a few. And it is light enough for almost any car to tow it.
Length overall 5.33m
Fuel capacity 80L
Motor fitted 3L Mercruiser 135hp