Whoop-de-doo! Now that the warm weather is here, you can venture outdoors and tackle all that stuff you’ve been brooding about through winter – you know, stuff like having fun with the kids, messing about in boats… and driving motorised cooler boxes…
Taking the rough road
Let’s begin with a stern admonition: do not allow your kids to waste perfectly good weather by lurking indoors and playing video games all day. That said, the onus is on you to come up with a compelling outdoors alternative – which is where the Mudbug 90 comes into the picture.
This cute off-road kart, designed for hellraisers aged four to eight years, is an absolute gas.
It features a four-stroke 90 cm³ air-cooled engine (with electric start) coupled to an automatic gearbox. Running on unleaded fuel, it drives the 102 kg machine to a top speed of 40 km/h. Crucially, the speed can be limited on request. It comes with a bolt-on roll cage with protective foam sleeves and seatbelts to protect both driver and passenger, making it a much safer option than a quad.
Another safety feature is the remote safety kill switch, which has a range of 75 metres. If you see your adrenalinepumped tyke heading towards a busy road or lining up for a close encounter with a tree, you can hit the button to stop the kart dead in its tracks. The Mudbug 90 comes with independent front suspension and a trailing arm setup at the rear (similar to a quad), and offers a ground clearance of 100 mm.
You also get 15 cm tubeless tyres, a rear disc brake, electric start, hooter and headlights. The fuel tank has a capacity of 4,5 litres. Will it fit your bakkie or roof rack? Work it out: the Mudbug 90 is 1 620 mm long, 910 mm wide and 1 050 mm high. Price: about R8 400. Contact Mudbug Off road Go Karts on 083 326 7050 or visit www.mudbug.co.za
Experience the rush
Here’s a foolproof recipe for a cardiovascular workout: straddle a Personal Water Craft (PWC) on a perfect summer’s day, then twist the throttle and plunge head-on into a wave.
Too extreme? Th en exploit your PWC as an off shore fishing platform, or use it get to your favourite snorkelling spot, or pull a waterskier around a dam. Heck, even surfers have started using these powerful watercraft as tow vessels in pursuit of really challenging waves.
On a practical level, they are a breeze to launch and retrieve, especially when compared with your average powerboat, and they burn significantly less fuel than a boat with two thirsty outboards. Oh, and they fit comfortably inside a standard single garage.
Yamaha’s latest FZ WaveRunner range (replacing their successful GP1300R) includes the three-seater FZS and the sporty FZR. Both use a 1,8 litre four-stroke supercharged marine engine – the largest-displacement motor designed for a PWC to date. Aside from delivering blistering performance, this fuel-efficient engine runs on regular unleaded fuel.
The pumps in both models have been repositioned and their intake duct angles altered to deliver improved acceleration and better pickup. Adjustable trim control allows riders to "dial in" the ride, and both models feature Yamaha's innovative 3-position telescopic steering column, giving them the option of riding seated or standing (useful for varying competency levels and applications).
The hulls have been redesigned to reduce their overall weight by about 25 per cent without compromising their strength, the rounded keels providing a good balance between gripping power and sliding ability. The bows have been enlarged to make turning easier, and the outside chines have been angled to prevent them from digging in. These features add up to an exhilarating ride, with remarkably tight turns and precise edge-to-edge inside lean characteristics.
Other cool features:
* Analogue gauges provide improved legibility in bright sunlight.
* Increased watertight storage capacity.
* Low-rpm mode reduces fuel consumption by up to 26 per cent.
* Cruise assist reduces throttle fatigue, improves towing capabilities and helps extend the range of touring.
* A no-wake mode sets the engine to an optimum no-wake speed, making it less intrusive in places such as marinas.
* Reverse with traction control limits the engine's rpm to enhance manoeuvrability.
In short, the FZS, with its metallic crimson and "stealth" black livery, is great for general use . cruising, fishing, snorkelling or pulling waterskiers. The more "muscular" FZR, finished in metallic racing blue, would probably work best for those who enjoy racing. Visit www.yamaha.co.za
Engine type: 1 812 cm³, supercharged four-stroke
Impeller: 3 blade, stainless steel (17° pitch)
Length: FZR: 3.35 m; FZS 3.37 m
Beam: 1,23 m
Height: 1,16 m
Fuel capacity: 70 litres, regular unleaded fuel
Passenger capacity: FZR: 1 or 2 (160 kg limit);
FZS: 1 to 3 (240 kg limit)
Storage capacity: 80,6 dm3
Hull material: NanoXcel high-compression moulded compound
Into the wet
Whether you’re operating a pontoon boat on an inland waterway, cruising the coastline in pursuit of a big one or getting your kicks by punching through the surfline, your choice of powerplant is critical. It must be reliable, sufficiently powerful for the job at hand, and inexpensive to run. If it’s also kind to the environment, well, that’s just an added bonus.
Honda’s latest four-stroke outboard, the mid-range BF60, fits the bill on all counts – and it even offers a choice of eight models. Fact: instant power on demand can make the difference between a fun day on the water and a close encounter with the NSRI, which probably explains why Honda’s boffins incorporated a Boosted Low Speed Torque (BLAST) system into their new engine. BLAST dramatically improves holeshot and acceleration by advancing the ignition spark timing to within one degree of the knock limit during “hammer down” acceleration. The engine control module (ECM) then steps in to increase injector timing, creating a more potent air/fuel mixture.
The resulting boost in available torque at low rpm helps get the boat up on the plane quickly. Fuel consumption efficiency is enhanced by 18 sensors that constantly “talk” to the engine command system, which instructs the multi-port programmed fuel injection (PGM-FI) to deliver precise amounts of fuel and air to each cylinder, resulting in quick starts, instant throttle response and low fuel burn. Tiller models incorporate an adjustable trolling system that allows you to adjust your speed in 50 r/min increments (from 750 to 1 000 r/min) as well as a handle-mounted power tilt/trim switch. The tillers have a four-lamp warning system that uses visual, audio and rpm reduction circuits to alert the operator to potential engine damage.
Power Thrust models feature a gear case with a ratio of 2.33:1 to provide increased thrust under heavier loads. The enlarged bullet and beefed-up gear case allows for the use of large-diameter propellers, making it ideal for pontoon applications. This also optimises the engines’ 50-degree steering angle, allowing an astonishingly tight turning radius. Critical components – such as the ignition – are mounted near the top of the powerhead to ensure they remain cool and dry. All engines are NMEA 2 000 compliant, making them compatible with Garmin instrumentation, so you can get data from the ECM to your chart plotter and GPS. Visit www.honda.co.za
Engine type: Four-stroke in-line 3-cylinder
Displacement: 998 cm³
kW rating at propshaft: 44,7 kW at 5 500 r/min
Induction scavenging: SOHC
Valves per cylinder: 4
Ignition system: Microprocessor controlled
Starting system: Electric
Lubrication: Wet sump
Cooling system: Water cooled
Trim range: 3-stage: 7º, 13º, 21º
Tilt range: 60º
And now for something completely different…
Deciding that conventional cooler boxes were boring and incalcitrant (packed with food and interesting cold beverages, they doggedly refused to follow him), Kevin Beal decided to do something about it. He equipped a rugged cooler box with a motor, a seat, pneumatic tyres and a few other essentials – and created the Cruzin Cooler. As Beal tells it, his invention combines two necessities of life: the means to go places, and easy access to chilled food and beverages. His unusual machine – which has been snapped up by all manner of people – comes in various sizes and may be powered by an electric motor or a 4-stroke petrol engine (with electric starter, natch), the latter with a range of nearly 50 km. Talk-show host Ellen Degeneris fell in love with the idea and ordered every conceivable option, eventually coughing up R37 000 for her unusual leisure vehicle. Only in America.