Review: Bar Crusher 490C

We water test and rate the Bar Crusher 490C, a contender in the aluminium fishing boats category at the 2016 Australia’s Greatest Boats awards.

Bar Crusher 490C
Club Marine logo

Competition in the world of five-metre aluminium fishing boats is enormous and the battle for supremacy has been elevated yet another notch, thanks to popular Australian muscle-boat builder Bar Crusher pushing the limits with  its 490C (Cuddy).

These tough little alloy fishing boats are eager to take on all contenders and played hard in the Australia’s Greatest Boats 2016 arena.

We’ve grown fond of images of Bar Crusher’s swashbuckling champions doing battle across big swells, however, the Bar Crusher 490C is more of a Jekyll and Hyde character. Outstanding big-water abilities contrast with a more genteel alternate character that just loves mooching around on sweetwater rivers, lakes and impoundments. The best of both worlds!

All of our judges were immediately impressed with the quality of the welding and the extremely practical layout. Bar Crusher boats proudly displays ‘Made in Australia’ decals on its topsides, celebrating more than 15 years of local manufacturing.

The flowing seam weaves are textbook perfect and a pleasure to inspect for anyone with an eye for quality engineering.  From the ground up, Bar Crusher displays experience and commitment to providing a complete package, not just a minimal offering based on price.

Bar Crusher 490C image gallery

The Bar Crusher 490C is a true high-tensile, plate aluminium fishing hull, the 4mm bottom and 3mm sides incorporating the highly successful Bar Crusher Gen 2 hull design with innovative Delta Flare and a flooding keel. What all this means is a stronger deep-V hull with terrific ride provided by its design, weight, strength and construction. Visually it looks great, aided by simple decals and stripes that say ‘the ride of your life’ in invisible ink.

The little chariot was fitted with an impressive Suzuki 60hp four-stroke outboard motor. Suzuki’s spiel proclaims: "Compact design that packs a punch!" and it was tough to argue – the power was super-smooth at low speeds but plant the throttles and she just wanted to get up and boogie.

The water ballast drains quickly on take-off – in fact you don’t even notice it happening, but it certainly adds greatly to the stability at rest.

The overall layout is almost faultless. There are twin boarding platforms with a fold-down ladder and a removable berley bucket, pleasing freeboard with big, wide side decks and  non-skid surfaces, six cast-alloy rod holders, a removable cutting board with livebait tank incorporated, large side pockets and transom shelf, sliding coaming rod holders that simply clip to the side pockets, checkerplate floor, underfloor killtank, sump with bilge pump, a 60lt underfloor fuel tank and a split bow rail/sprit and anchoring system designed and built from experience. Whoa!

Dashboards in cuddies are never huge but this one is at a comfortable height and more than adequate for the instruments and switch gear.

Judge Kevin Smith wrapped it up with: "Fun, easy boat to drive and handles abuse well. The ideal small family boat suited to a range of boating styles."

Editor Tim said: "What else would we expect from Bar Crusher? This team put pride in their work and it shows. It could give a few bigger boats a lesson. Simply the best deal in the sub-5m bracket I have seen in years."

Get ready Australia, the Gen 2 Bar Crusher 490C armour-clad gladiator certainly got the emperor’s thumbs up at Australia’s Greatest Boats 2016! 

Cabin in Bar Crusher 490C boat

Bar Crusher 490C specs

Bar Crusher 490C price: $39,590

Price as tested



Raymarine Dragonfly 7in, GME VHF, StressFree winch, bimini, livebait tank,


MATERIAL Aluminium

TYPE Monohull fishing boat



WEIGHT 840kg (BMT)

FUEL 60lt

ENGINE 60hp Suzuki four-stroke outboard motor



Bar Crusher Boats

Phone (03) 9792 2999




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Bar Crusher 490C rating

Bar Crusher 490C rating


What the judges said

Fishing suitability

As a first boat or an affordable two-person fishing vessel, this rig does exactly as its intended to do. Lots of appeal to fishing couples or retirees or younger buyers, especially in bay areas in Victoria and South Australia. It fits the small-boat-market for young people or retirees for fishing and fun. Has the protection of the cuddy cabin in an economy-class plate aluminium fishing boat.

Single-handed or two up, the Bar Crusher 490 C has the space and features to suit serious fishing. For an entry-level fishing boat this is a good all-round package that makes things easy for first-time boaties. For the average family boater and semi-serious fisho, the Bar Crusher 490 C does it all and more.



This baby Bar Crusher features the hull design and water ballast of its big brothers. I love the adaptation that allows the washdown hose to fit the livebait tank pump. Typical of a Bar Crusher, a quality fishing boat in a mini size with good innovative features suited to garaging and basic fishing. Moveable rod holders and the combo baitboard/livey tank are clever touches. Also the Bar Crusher flooding keel is a nice touch.

I feel like I have seen it before. The delta hull doesn’t make a discernible difference in ride. A small tough version of the bigger Bar Crusher boats. They’ve found a gap in the market to compete with pressed aluminium boats. Useful little storage pockets everywhere.


Design and layout

Simple layout that carries the Bar Crusher theme in its looks. Small cuddy for kids or stowing gear. This boat is ‘pretty’ for a tinnie. Words like ‘cute’ spring to mind! Looks sharp and is exceptionally well finished.

The bimini was much, much too low even for normal height people. Fuel filler in boat is a sticking point for me. A simple design with an access-all-areas layout. Ideal for small family and well-suited to solo fishing too. The Bar Crusher 490 C is what it is, simple clean layout with full side pockets for the pocket lovers and good open space that can be filled to suit.


Quality of finish

Typical Bar Crusher finish that looks good and is well constructed. Big, neat, exposed welds are always a win. Average overall — about what you’d expect for this price though.

Welds looked a tad agricultural to me. Well ground off and smooth, but not pretty. Functional seats and fittings above average. Outstanding but what did we expect from Bar Crusher? The team in Victoria put pride in their work and it shows. Industrial strength welds. It has a 4mm bottom and looks tough, with a solid feel, though the bimini is very flimsy.


Handling and ride

Surprisingly capable. Very nimble and does 21kts into chop. Predictable handling with no bow-steer. Ride is fine and perhaps softer into a sea than I’d expected. Very dry due to cuddy.

Not as soft as expected and a touch wet. The big chines bite and she turns on a dime. Performs well overall. Softer than most in this category.

The Bar Crusher 490 C is a fun, easy boat to drive and handles abuse well. Small boat so can’t expect a big boat ride.


Stability at rest

Can’t expect perfect stability, but ballast system works exceptionally well and it has better than average stability for the size of the craft.

A tad tender, even with that flooding keel. Very good with 190kg on one side. It could give a few bigger boats a lesson on how to do stability.

This boat is a bit "twitchy" as I’d expected. The water ballast helps but does not remove all tenderness. Pretty tippy, even with the flooding ballast. The narrow beam won’t be helping.



Seating and helm position are good for a small boat and visibility better than expected. Storage is basic but functional.

You need to drive while seated, otherwise it’s hard to reach the controls. Good vision and bow access through the hatch is also good. Limited to two fishos and maybe a couple of kids. Good toe room. Wide coamings make it comfortable at rest. Throttle too low. Standard Garmin fuel monitoring gauge is a great touch.

Vision through the screen good although control box and seating could be improved and extra storage added to the bow in cab. In general, it ticks all the boxes in all categories — easy to move around and access to storage areas is good.


Standard equipment

Quality rod holders as standard are a nice touch. Angular cut coaming pads add to the overall feel of quality. Marine-grade aluminium alloy throughout coupled with the Bar Crusher Rigideck make the 490 C virtually indestructible.

Simple with no frills, has what it needs to get you on the water and out fishing. Standard package put a first-time-boatie on the water with pretty much everything they need to get going. Berley pot, livewell, and killtank are nice touches in a small, affordable rig. Scores a bait table, water ballast, winch, and bimini, so it’s well-equipped for fishing.


Value for money

Outrageous, simply the best deal in the sub-5m fishing boat bracket I have seen in years. These pocket rockets come fully equipped from the factory complete with Suzuki outoboard motor and Raymarine electronics for less than $40,000 — how?

Excellent value for the dollars. Very good "bang for buck" and Bar Crusher boats typically hold their value well. As a basic first-time package, it’s pretty impressive in terms of standard specs and value for money. Good budget priced Bar Crusher that should maintain good resale value.



Fun, easy and simple to drive and operate. The ideal small family boat suited to a range of boating and fishing styles.

If there is a WOW factor, it’s how easy this package makes things for first-time boaters. A family capable boat designed with the fisho in mind for bugger all money built to Bar Crusher’s exacting standards and quality — wow.

This boat has a big future as a first fishing boat, or those looking to downsize/repower. It’s far from being a toy though. Fun to drive — this is a nippy little go-cart of a boat!


How the boats are rated 

Judges at Australia's Greatest Boats Boat judges  
Meet the judging panel

The rating criteria 


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