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Outboard Motors

Guide To Choosing An Outboard Motor

Australians love their boating. Whether you’re putting around a lake, putting in a fishing line, giving your mates the thrill of their life with some water skiing, or just soaking up some of that brilliant Australian vitamin D, there are few Aussie pastimes that are loved and enjoyed quite so much.

But there’s more to it than just grabbing a boat and hitting the water. It may well be that the boat of your choice requires an outboard motor, but with so many options out there, how can you even narrow down where to start?

Luckily, we’ve done some of the leg work for you, so that you can head in the right direction for picking the right outboard motor for your new or used boat.

Let’s take a look at some of the main outboard motor options:

2 – 3.5 hp (horsepower)

While once you had to pick between 2 and 4 stroke options, the most environmentally friendly option these days for big and small outboards is 4 stroke.

If you have an inflatable boat, a canoe, a dinghy and another very small boat such as a small sailboat, you could get away with a very small 1-cylinder outboard. Normally, they have forward gears only but they’re very light and portable, and often coming with handy carry handles, but the speeds up to about 16kph are quite low.

4 – 6 hp

If your boat is just a little bigger, you’ll need a bigger outboard that can buzz you along at up to 30 kph.

We’re talking about larger inflatable boats, canoes and dinghies at 10 feet and 100 kg and beyond, but the outboards in this range are still typically 1 cylinder.

If your boat is getting bigger – up to 20 feet – then having more than 1 person on board will affect performance, but the motors normally do have reverse gears and are sturdier than their smaller counterparts, but still quite transportable.

8 – 20 hp

This range of outboards is still quite small, but they’re starting to pack some real power and speed with their 2 cylinders. That’s why they’re very popular for slightly larger aluminium and fibreglass boats as well as sailboats at around 14 feet and beyond, now featuring plenty of technology and gauges, electronic starters and less vibration than 1 cylinder options. Finishing off the small outboard range is engines with up to 20 hp, appropriate for small fishing boats and larger sailboats.

20 hp and beyond

When you start to consider bigger boats, such as skiffs that will take you out to sea and swells, you will need much more power. 75 – 90 hp engines are popular for these types of boats, although if you really want to travel fast and do things like water skiing, you’ll probably need a 4 or even a 6 cylinder outboard motor in the three digits and beyond – and then you enter the realm of twin outboards.

This sort of setup is necessary for long travels, such as fishing outings way out at sea, or a larger sport boat that could see you plumping for 400 hp and beyond.

This Post Has One Comment
  1. I didn’t realize that the most environmentally friendly option are big and small outboards is a 4 stroke. You also mention getting a 4-6 hp engine for your boat if it’s a little bigger. I think it’s a good idea to choose an outboard engine that comes with a manufacturer’s guarantee so that if it gets damaged or broken it can be taken care of.

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