Product Review: JetBoatPilot's Thrust Vector XV - Steering You Straight.
Let me guess, you just bought a new Yamaha Jet Boat or you are just about to buy a Yamaha jet boat and you are wanting to know if the steering really is as bad as you have heard. The answer? Yes…Unfortunately, the Yamaha Jetboat steering WILL leave you wanting more. Don’t get me wrong, our 2018 Yamaha 242X is a FANTASTIC boat and we have absolutely loved owning it, however, when comparing its ease of operation to my brothers 24” Centurion, the difference is dramatic.
Not to worry though, a company by the name of JetBoatPilot is here to help! They have developed multiple aids to assist with making the Yamaha range of Jet Boats easier to maneuver and simpler for anyone on the boat to take over when out on the water. We already tested the Lateral Thrusters (HERE) and decided to give you some let you know what we thought of the Thrust Vector XV's below!
What’s In The Box & What You Need
First things first, let's see what's included in the box.
Neatly packaged inside the box you will find all the necessary hardware for installing your Thrust Vector XV's. Additionally, you will find a high-quality instruction guide printed in color (for your viewing pleasure) which neatly describes each step of the installation process and provided wonderful pictures to aid you during your install.
2 Left Fins
2 Right Fins
2 Cross Members
1 Hardware Kit
Things You Will Need
11 mm Wrench
11 mm Socket
12 mm Socket
I am very particular. There, I said it. I am definitely a "Mr. Picky" or even sometimes a bit of a "Mr. Unhappy Because Its Not Perfect" and I will happily admit it. With that said, I was a little unhappy with the fit and finish of the blades themselves. While all of the components felt well made and more than capable of doing exactly what I needed them to do, there were some visual imperfections that didn't necessarily overwhelm me with joy.
As you can probably see in the photos below, there were a couple of flaws on the plastic that appeared to be a result of the engraving. Sure, they were very minor and certainly not a cause for panic, but considering the price of these things, it wasn't something I was expecting.
Now, considering that I have already clarified that I am a perfectionist to a fault, I can honestly say that the components in this kit were more than satisfactory and appeared to be very high quality. To anyone other than the 1% of overly fastidious buyers, such as myself, the quality here is more than sufficient.
Installation and Instructions
Remember when I told you I was very difficult to satisfy? JetBoatPilot did just that when it came to instructions and installation.
I wouldn't consider myself a "DIY - Mr. Fix-It" kind of a guy. While I do have some experience tinkering around the house and doing a bit more mechanical work than some, I am by no means an expert and yet I still felt that the entire installation process was completely painless. I would guess that it took me a maximum of 30 - 40 minutes to install these fins with no outside help - and that was me taking my time. The install required very few tools and the components were clearly labeled and easy to distinguish.
Now to the best part: The Instructions.
To say that I was impressed when I opened the box and found clearly labeled instructions with excellent photos AND in color is an understatement. After reading through the already impressive instructions, I noticed that they had instructional videos online which walked you through the entire installation process. The supplemental videos were thorough, well filmed, and made installation extremely simple.
If you are worried about installing these fins yourself, don't be.
* It is worth pointing out that although we have a 242 "X" model which includes the "Surf Pointe" technology and no modifications were required for these to fit correctly on our boat. This was something we were concerned with when purchasing.
Now the bad-ish news. The Thrust Vector XV's are not cheap or rather, not as cheap as we expected. If you are like us and have a twin-engine boat instead of a single-engine AND you are interested in the Lateral Thrusters (More Here) as well, the bill can get pricey. At $379.95, we wouldn’t necessarily call these cheap… Considering the all-plastic design, we expected a slightly cheaper price but considering the quality of the components, ease of install, helpfulness of the company, and the somewhat frequent sales were much more on board with the price now.
You WILL pay shipping on your items. I do not recall ever seeing a free-shipping promotion and for us it was a flat fee of $24.99. But we bought a lot more than just the Thrust Vectors…
Now to the good news... If you are already a member of the JetBoaters.net Great! JetBoatPilot offers group purchase discounts to board members, and it can save you a fortune! In our case, we managed to get 30% off by calling and telling them on the phone that we wanted to be a part of the "group buy" from the forum. If you are not a member already, sign up is easy, and free! Keep an eye out and you can try to score a deal like we did!
So far in this product review, I think we have had a lot of nice things to say about this product and that isn't going to stop here. It is, however, time to throw in a couple of drawbacks.
+ Maneuverability: See Below...
Question #1. Do they improve low-speed maneuverability?
Answer: Absolutely. These will definitely improve low-speed maneuverability but by how much?
Truthfully, we saw more drastic performance gains from the Lateral Thrusters however the benefits of the Thrust Vectors are hard to ignore. Low-speed tracking and idle speed steering were dramatically improved.
+ Durability - These puppies have held up extremely well. They show no signs of deterioration after a year of use and performance is still the same as when we installed them initially.
+ Spring Loaded - On one hand, we love that the Thrust Vectors are spring-loaded. We can cruise at nearly any depth and not have to worry about our Thrust Vectors catching the bottom or floating debris and causing any damage to our boat.
Not So Great Stuff
- Spring Loaded - On the other hand, we had that they are spring-loaded. All the benefits gained from these fins are only applicable at near idle speed. When slowing down and coming off-plane, you are not going to see any benefits from having these fins installed for us, that is a bummer.
- Wave Crispness - This for us is the biggest downside. There was a noticeable difference in the quality of the wave behind the boat once these were installed. The crispness of the wave and the jet spray behind the boat got noticeably worse after installing the Thrust Vectors. For you, this may not even be noticeable but for us having the "X" model, we intend to spend a lot of time wakeboarding, surfing, and tubing behind the boat.
- Steering Binding - We were forewarned by JetBoatPilot that under full turn conditions, you may experience a slight reduction in turning ability. Well, we did and I am not a fan. In addition to feeling it catch in the steering the reduction in turning ability seemed to be a little more than expected but still not substantial.
As with the performance category, there is some good and some bad here...
It suffices to say that before placing our order, we spent a fair amount of time on the phone with JetBoatPilot asking questions and discussing our options for our new boat. The service we received was absolutely A+. Our phone calls were answered in a timely fashion and all of our questions were answered effortlessly. Applying the group purchase discount to our order was simple and I really can't imagine the purchasing aspect being any easier.
After installing our Thrust Vectors I hit a couple of snags. The same ones mentioned in the "Performance" section above. After attempting to call and posting a follow-up thread on the JetBoaters Forum, I still never got any feedback from the company.
Honestly, the issues are only a little more than minor and for that reason, we never pushed it any further but I am surprised to see that I never got a response from them post-purchase.
We have never needed to make use of the warranty nor have we seen anyone talking about utilizing the warranty for any reason online. With that said, there are 3 points I would like to talk about regarding the warranty.
1. There is a lifetime warranty - to the original purchaser for the life of the product. Yipee! The details below are directly from the JetBoatPilots website.
2. I have spoken to the owner on several occasions and he made it very clear that he is in the business of making his customers happy. He understands that things happen and even in an event of damage that is not necessarily manufacturer defects, they will do everything in there power to help you out and get you back on the water.
We have had no major issues with our system and do not expect to in the future, but from my experience dealing with the company, I feel confident that they would take care of me (or you) and stand behind their product in the event of failure.
Where To Buy & Shipping Times
I'll make this one easy for you - www.JetBoatPilot.com. If you want to buy their products, you have to buy it directly from them. Normally, I'm not a fan of being forced to purchase directly from the manufacturer but in this case, I really didn't mind. Their customer service was delightful and with the promotions, they offer fairly often, you can still score a great deal!
Regarding shipping times, however, we did have a bit of a wait... I believe it took us over a month to receive our ThrustVector XV's in the mail. We were warned upfront that there may be a few weeks of delay due to the bulk purchase order and considering the deal we got, we were perfectly okay with waiting a few weeks extra. I doubt you would run into this sort of delay nowadays, but it would be worth checking with them before ordering if you need them in a rush.
There is no denying it. The Yamaha Jet Boats do not excel in the maneuverability category. And as with most things in life, the Thrust Vector XV's have their obvious advantages and some minor drawbacks. They are certainly not the cheapest accessory for your new boat but depending on where and how you use your boat, you may definitely want to give them a try.
Despite having a couple of complaints, we are mostly satisfied with the Thrust Vector XV's and we think that unless you are big into watersports you will probably be completely satisfied with your purchase. We have still not decided to remove them from our boat after all, but we do think there may be better options out there for us and we would like to give them a try.
The performance gains from the Thrust Vectors are undeniable, however, we were more impressed by the Lateral Thrusters (Review Here) and you would need to do some heavy persuading to get those off of our boat. If you can afford both, you will enjoy the benefits but if you can only get 1 opt for the Lateral Thrusters.
Overall, we are probably a little more critical in this review than most people would be. There are loads of wonderful reviews online regarding this product and we definitely understand why. For our particular use, we think the improvements they are making on the newer products would probably satisfy us more completely but we are still very much impressed and would still recommend this product to our readers.
Still on the fence? Here are Some Scenario Based Recommendations...
Scenario #1: You intend on boating in an area of little to no current and generally little wind but find yourself not completely satisfied with the low-speed maneuverability of your Jet Boat.
Solution: Definitely get yourself a set of Thrust Vectors. You may not necessarily need the Lateral Thrusters, but if you can afford it, I recommend them highly. The Thrust Vectors alone should suit your needs perfectly.
Scenario #2: You are completely happy with the performance of the boat with the factory components but tend to spend a lot of time behind the boat (like me) and want to feel more comfortable handing over control to someone else.
Solution: Because I love the Lateral Thrusters so much, I still think that if you can afford them, get them, but for this specific scenario I think that the Thrust Vectors are well worth it. The learning curve is much less steep and passing responsibility to someone else on the boat is a lot less stressful with these installed.
Scenario #3: I know this one all too well... The boat ramp you like to use is close to a deep channel and the wind and current are generally strong.
Solution: Both the Thrust Vectors and the Lateral Thrusters are perfect for this situation, but if you can only afford one, I would get the Lateral Thrusters. We used them without the Thrust Vectors for a few weeks while we waited for ours to come in and the difference was dramatic.
Scenario #4: You don't necessarily need huge performance gains but you would like to improve the overall maneuverability of your boat but you spend a lot of time wakeboarding and surfing.
Solution: We understand. Do yourself a favor and get the Lateral Thrusters and don't bother with the Thrust Vector XV's. While we have not yet tested them yet, JetBoatPilot now offers the Thrust Vector "W's" which should improve the downsides we are seeing with our XV's and these could potentially be your solution. Give us some time and we will get you the scoop...
Updates & Side Notes
- Yamaha boats 2019 and newer need to purchase the "Thrust Vector X" model instead of the "Thrust Vector XV" model as we have and yes, they are more expensive...
- When we placed our order for the Thrust Vector XV's you were able to select between several colors. This is no longer the case. Black is your only option but honestly, we liked it the most anyway.
As always, please feel free to contact us or comment below with any specific questions. We would love to help out in any way that we can and answer any questions that you may have.