Outboard Jet Boat Review
I’ve guided fishing charters with the best aluminum outboard jet boat and most fuel efficient 4-stroke outboard jet motors for over a decade. My last 4 guide boats were custom welded by Greatland Welding in Palmer, Alaska, and I’ve posted my outboard jet boat review further down this page. I’ve used Suzuki, Yamaha, and Honda outboard jet motors. I chose to re-power one aluminum jet sled guide boat with the new Suzuki 90 horsepower 4-stroke outboard motor with a tiller handle and Outboard Jet Drive. In April I became the first Alaska fishing guide to purchase this new power package. Thanks to Gary Feaster of Greatland Welding and Machine, Dean Corbisier of American Suzuki Motor Corporation, Dick Stallman of Outboard Jets, and Bob Marquez of Anchorage Yamaha Suzuki Marine who worked to make my tiller handle Suzuki DF90 outboard jet drive motor a reality for the 2009 Alaska boating season.
Impressed with the smooth performance of my tiller Suzuki 140 horsepower outboard jet I’ve run the past 4 years, I am excited to experience even more advanced technology employed on Suzuki’s new 90 horsepower outboard. From reading outboard motor reviews I’ve learned the new DF90 may be the most fuel efficient 90 horse outboard on the market, and additionally ranks as a quiet 90 horsepower outboard motor. I intend to post my own independent outboard motor review of Suzuki’s 2009 DF90A outboard performance after testing during my summer salmon charter season. Meanwhile, I’ve posted technical information edited from American Suzuki Motor Corporation materials on this exciting fuel-injected 4-stroke outboard:
Ten years since Suzuki Marine started the boating industry’s fuel- injected 4-stroke revolution with award-winning DF60 and DF70 outboards, Suzuki re-invents the category with introduction of the 2009 DF70A, DF80A, and DF90A outboards. The heart of these fuel saving 4-stroke motors is a compact 4-cylinder Dual Overhead Cam powerhead with four-valves-per-cylinder and 91.7 cu. in. displacement.
The new DF90A outboard features advantages Suzuki pioneered in 4-stroke outboards, including digital sequential electronic fuel injection and solid state ignition for improved performance and efficiency, Suzuki’s proven offset drive shaft for compact design and better balance, a powerful 2.59:1 final drive ratio for quick hole shots and great top-end performance, and a zero-maintenance self adjusting timing chain. Suzuki’s compact powerhead and offset driveshaft help make the DF90A the smallest and lightest 90-horsepower 4-stroke outboard available. With a 58-1/2 inch engine height, the new outboard rests nearly three inches lower above transom than the previous Suzuki 90-horsepower outboard’ and up to nine inches lower than competitive outboards. This provides more fishing room near the transom.
2009 Suzuki Milestone — Replacing a 4-stroke Outboard with a Better One.
‘The new DF 90 outboard brings serious advantages in performance efficiency, and size, and delivers benefits to the heart of the midrange boating market,’ says Suzuki Marine’s Larry Vandiver. ‘We planned an outboard motor representing all we’ve learned about marine power. It is quicker, faster and lighter than the competition. Our testing shows this motor leaves other 4-stroke outboards a step or two behind. The new DF90 gives other outboards a serious case of ‘performance anxiety’.’
Suzuki Lean Burn Control System — Better Fuel Economy
Engineers designed the fuel efficient DF90 outboard incorporating the Suzuki Lean Burn Control System. Benefits occur over a wide operating range and achieve significant fuel savings from low speed operation well into the cruising range. Suzuki tests graph the gain in fuel economy with a measured 20 – 40% reduction in fuel consumption when boating the same distance with the DF90A outboard versus Suzuki’s previous DF90 model.
2010 Suzuki DF90A Advantages and Features
- Lighter weight, smaller size, 341 lbs.
- Offset driveshaft = better balance
- Self adjusting timing chain. No belt maintenance or adjustment required.
- 2:59:1 lower gear ratio swings larger impeller / prop for better performance.
- Suzuki Easy Start System. Turn key and release — starter does the rest.
- Suzuki Lean Burn Control System — improves fuel efficiency.
- Computer diagnostic troubleshooting
- Power Trim and Tilt Limit System. Provides trim and tilt motor protection
- CARB Emissions Rating: 3-Star Ultra Low
Its compact size, light weight, and advanced technology thrusts the DF90 forward as the best power match for an extensive range of boat hulls. In addition Suzuki Marine’s 2009 stable of advanced 4-stroke outboards features more fuel-injected models than any other manufacturer. Read more about advantages of Suzuki 4-stroke outboards by visiting the Suzuki Marine website at www.suzukimarine.com.
For Suzuki outboard motor price and purchasing information in south central Alaska contact:
- Bob Marquez at Anchorage Yamaha Suzuki Marine (907) 243-4903 or toll free at 1-800-868-8343
- John Martin at Marita Sea and Ski (Anchorage) (907) 337-2744
- Frankie Harris at Southport Marina (Big Lake) 892-2628 or toll free 1-888-796-2628
Welded Aluminum Outboard Jet Boats by Greatland Welding
Nearly a decade ago I contracted with Greatland Welding and Machine in Palmer, Alaska to custom weld two light weight aluminum outboard jet boats for my guided fishing charters on the Susitna and Little Susitna Rivers. They were the first aluminum jet boats built at Greatland’s welding shop, but now, more fishing guides run Greatland outboard jet boats on Alaska’s Little Susitna River than any other other make available, and private boaters order Greatland boats custom welded to match specific Alaska hunting, fishing, and freight hauling purposes. The best advantages for these local Alaskan made boats are the custom features Greatland incorporates at extremely low prices. Although I’ve experimented with different sizes and features over the years, my best Greatland guide boats have 22 foot long flat bottoms with wide bow decks built to maximize dry storage. All three boats have low maintenance aluminum tread plate floors, padded swivel seats mounted on large dry storage boxes, wide full length tackle trays, lockable battery boxes, reinforced oar blocks, and large bow and transom pipe handles. Trim tab type bottom extensions allow slower planing speeds in shallow water, shorten distance to jump on step in shallow water, and increase fuel efficiency at low speeds. The boats are heavy gauge welded aluminum, provide plenty of room to move around comfortably, but remain light weight enough to row effectively when fishing shallow water flats and deep bends of Little Susitna River.
From boat review information posted above, there should be no doubt that an aluminum Greatland outboard jet boat provides significant performance advantages for running and fishing a small shallow water river like Little Susitna River. What makes me believe they are the best boat available for this purpose?
For ten years I’ve watched anglers inspect charter fishing boats moored at Little Susitna River boat launch, then approach my Greatland guide boat, and ask if I ran the fishing charter company scheduled to guide their trip. In other words, the comforts, features, and advantages of my Greatland outboard jet boat are obvious — even to out of state visitors. Guests say they book trips, specifically, so they can fish on my boat. That is why I and other Little Susitna River fishing guides consider Greatland outboard jet boats the best, and how Greatland outboard jet boats have become the most popular Little Susitna River guide boat in only ten years. For information about how Greatland Welding and Machine can custom weld an economically priced aluminum jet sled boat to match your specific needs contact owner, Gary Feaster at (907) 745-2383 or visit Greatland Welding.
Some outboard motors may be purchased with a jet drive pump unit already installed, and this option provides a significant advantage, as purchase price for a separate jet drive unit can exceed $2000. With other outboard motor makes and models a jet drive pump conversion unit must be purchased and swapped out with the propeller unit. Advantages for using an outboard jet include:
- The ability to safely cruise through less than 6 inches of shallow water versus a standard prop configuration.
- Maximum usable space inside the boat versus an inboard motor.
- Clearing an outboard jet pump, clogged by debris, is often easier versus clearing a clogged inboard jet.
- On the water impeller and liner adjustment is easier with a tilting outboard jet versus an inboard jet boat, as the inboard jet may require removal from water.
Read more about outboard jet drive conversion units, power efficiency of outboard jet motors, how to select a boat hull for best jet performance, motor to transom mounting height, stainless steel impeller versus aluminum impeller, and search the FAQ page to find answers for frequently asked questions about outboard jet motors and outboard jet boats by visiting Specialty Manufacturing Company and DIck Stallman’s www.outboardjets.com.
Independent Suzuki DF90A Outboard Jet Drive Motor Review
Before purchasing a Suzuki DF90A outboard with jet drive pump and tiller installed, I read all available Suzuki promotional information and questioned national staff members, and local dealers about performance expectations for the new motor. From information I received at the time of purchase, it seems I purchased the first retail DF90A outboard fitted with a jet drive pump sold anywhere in the world. Therefore, I believe individuals considering purchase of a 90 horsepower jet drive outboard motor would benefit from knowledge gained during a full charter season driving the DF90A. We ran this motor primarily on a 22 foot Greatland Welding Guide Boat from mid-May through August on Alaska’s Little Susitna River. Russ Colee and I operated the boat while guiding groups of anglers ranging in size from one to five guests.
As advertised the new Suzuki DF90A is definitely smaller, lighter and more compact, and even the transom mounting height is maybe an inch less than with the previous model. While the outboard jet package matches nearly perfectly the height where I would choose to mount it on my guide boat transom, because of the outboard’s shorter mounting height, I lost the ability to adjust the motor either up or down without installing a jack plate or physically altering my boat’s transom.
The DF90A engine layout redesign makes oil changes quicker, easier, and cleaner when compared to the previous model Suzuki 90 horse outboard.
While an item far from the top on my list of needed motor improvements, the new power trim and tilt limit system will undoubtedly save wear and tear on the trim and tilt system, and likely prevent repair trips to a dealer.
The new turn key and release starting system is an improvement that produces quick and positive starts with less potential wear on the system. The first time I turned the key, my DF90A kicked to life so quickly, positively, and with such noise that I instinctively attempted to reduce the throttle setting, but the throttle was already as low as it would go. While the starting system works wonderfully, and a conversation can be held with the motor idling or running at low speeds, I was disappointed to discover the new DF90A rumbles louder than my older and larger Suzuki 140 horsepower outboard, and in particular, at lower throttle settings. One long-time guest, who had not fished with me during the previous 10 months, mentioned the increased motor noise on his first trip with the DF90A powering my boat.
The DF90A’s lower gear ratio turns a more aggressive jet impeller, shooting more water, and creating a distinct hole shot advantage for the new Suzuki four-stroke motor over both the Yamaha F90 jet drive and the Honda 90/65 jet drive. This power burst allows jet boaters to jump on step in a shorter distance which facilitates skimming over extreme shallow waters without hitting bottom. Additionally experienced boaters know, most vessels operate more efficiently and turn easier once on step, so even in deep water, the DF90A proves advantageous in reaching planing speeds quickly. Finally, which jet boater would not choose kick-in-the-pants acceleration — just for the fun of it?
The direct hole shot comparisons between the Suzuki, Yamaha and Honda outboards were made by comparing my guide boat, also powered by my fuel-injected Yamaha F90 jet drive outboard, and with Greg Acord’s similar guide boat which had been re-powered with a new Honda 90/65 jet drive outboard during the 2009 season.
Increased Fuel Efficiency
While fuel efficiency was not measured quantitatively with a fuel flow meter, it was measured by distance traveled with full 6 gallon cans of gas. Once again, when compared to my Yamaha F90 jet drive and Greg’s Honda 90/65 jet drive, the new Suzuki 90 set the standard, by traveling the furthest distance. With guest anglers onboard, the Suzuki consistently travelled 20 – 24 miles round trip on one 6 gallon can of gas. With my Yamaha I could make it about 20 miles, if I was careful, and Greg’s Honda seemed to max out at about 20 miles as well. This means, while operating the Suzuki DF90A, I could consistently travel further without feeling the pinch of fuel consumption or the need to carry additional gas. As a general practice, we hop on step quickly and then cruise at slower speed once on step, to both increase fuel efficiency, and improve safety while boating cautiously around tight corners along a small river.
Ease of Operation
Turning and handling the Suzuki DF90A with a jet unit and tiller handle option is easy, smooth, and enjoyable — and much preferable to operating my Suzuki DF140 outboard jet motor which is similarly equipped, but with a much stiffer dealer installed tiller system. The DF90A’s lighter weight, compact size, and lower tiller angle all contribute to a more comfortable and easier handling experience, and my arm and wrist felt little fatigue when operating the DF90A for extended hours, as compared to operating the larger older model DF140 outboard.
The DF90A tiller handle option provides very fine adjustments on the lower operating range, which I greatly appreciate, however on the upper operating range there is much less fine throttle adjustment going from low cruising speeds through wide open throttle. Providing fine throttle adjustment from low idling / trolling speeds all the way through full throttle operation would be preferable. It would also be nice to have a simple way to attach and read a Suzuki tachometer with tiller handle operation.
While cost of the Yamaha, Honda, and Suzuki 90 horse outboards are comparable, Yamaha and Honda offer their 90 horse outboards with a jet drive option. Since Suzuki does not offer this option, buyers must also purchase an Outboard Specialties jet drive pump conversion, which in this case may cost an additional $2000 or more. A Suzuki dealer may be willing to trade partial value of the required jet drive conversion, for the new lower prop unit from a DF90A, however buyers may still need to pay $1000 – $1500 for this conversion. Bottom line, buyers must weigh whether the enhanced features, performance, and increased fuel efficiency of a Suzuki DF90A outboard jet drive motor justifies the cost premium. It would be preferable if Suzuki followed the lead of Yamaha, Honda, and Mercury in offering a few outboards like the Suzuki DF60A, DF90A, and DF140 with a cost saving jet drive option for shallow water boat operators, who could then avoid the added cost of a lower prop unit they may never use.
When I purchased a Suzuki DF90A with a tiller and outboard jet drive, I believed it could be the best 4 -stroke 90 horse outboard jet drive motor available. After the opportunity to drive a boat equipped with this motor for an entire Alaska salmon charter season, and comparing it with other 4-stroke 90 horse outboards as discussed, I’ve judged the DF90A provides the best selection of features and performance for my Alaska salmon charter business. — Andy Couch, owner and guide, Fishtale River Guides, March 2010
Outboard jet drive conversion units, parts, service, and performance enhancing components mentioned on the Outboard Jets website can be obtained in south central Alaska at Greatland Welding and Machine in the Palmer / Wasilla area or at a the Anchorage and Big Lake Suzuki outboard motor dealers mentioned above.