Maxum’s entry-level 1800 MX is a sporty family craft perfect for searching out a beachside anchorage, writes David Lockwood,

We had been cruising about the Hawkesbury River just north of Sydney when almost a week of our precious summer holidays had past. There had been lazy days, fishing days, swimming days and, given a bigger tender, there would have been days of towing big and little kids on tubes.
We had swum off beaches, picnicked ashore, visited marinas and waterfront cafes, bought ice creams and lunch on the run, and caught crabs in traps.
Our boating holiday saw us range all the way to the freshwater reaches of the Hawkesbury, too, but now we were exploring the many tributaries in the saltwater like Berowra Waters.
I provide this prelude to our test of Maxum’s new 2007 model entry-level 1800 MX for no other reason than, in idle minds of holidaying boaties, this entry-level turn-key bowrider struck me as just perfect for spending long summer days afloat.
While you can’t sleep aboard – actually, there is a new back-to-back passenger seat that at the flick of lever converts to a daybed – and while there is no toilet, this bowrider is perfectly comfortable, clever and, even with the standard 135hp 3lt MerCruiser petrol engine and basic Alpha One leg, more than capable of hunting down waterfront amenities when you lean on the throttle.

Berowra Waters is significant in the context of this story for other reasons. We were moored in Joe Craft’s Bay, a few bends away from Berowra Waters Marina, the birthplace of Bayliners and Maxums in Australia. This is where the importers, who now have outlets in all states, started many moons ago.
Over the years, an awful lot of these two cousin bowriders, the budget Bayliners and more upmarket Maxums, have passed through the marina doors and been tested or driven away by their new owners on Berowra Waters. And over the decades the American-led bowrider assault has gathered pace in other waterways around Australia, too.
A big part of the success of boats like the Maxum is that they remove the decision making from the boat-buying process. A complete factory-rolled bowrider, the 1800 MX comes only with the 3lt MerCruiser petrol engine, a single-axle Karavan trailer, but few options.
As imported here, the boat is fitted with factory optional covers and snap-in cockpit carpet, but for these (and the optional wakeboard tower, which is probably better suited to the 1900 SR3 model with small-block V8) there is nothing left wanting.
Safety gear and regos are part of the local package and, with a beam of 2.13m you don’t need a towing permit. The total towing weight of about 1200kg also makes it a snap to haul behind a family car.
Having said that, there are new colour options for 2007 and the racy red king plank on the 1800 MX tested here really looked the part (though it will need care to remain that way). You can also choose from blue, silver and black.
The other noticeable improvements were the stainless steel drinkholders and grabrails. Hopefully, those daggy plastic grabrails of the past are now consigned to toy boats. And the appearance of more stainless steel can only be good for the boat’s longevity under the Australian sun and on unforgiving local waters.
As with most huge multinational boatbuilders, Brunswick Corporation has embraced computerisation, robotics and automation at its boatbuilding facilities. The designated Maxum and Bayliner Sports Boats or bowriders are built the same way, using solid GRP and a rigid matrix of full-length stringers bonded to the hull, with the liner bonded to the stringers, and the voids filled with foam for additional stiffness, buoyancy, and sound insulation.
The Maxum sportsboats are backed by a lifetime hull warranty and five years on the decks. The hull shape is nothing too complex; rather, a time-proven mix of moderate deadrise with tapered chines, large reverse lifting strakes, and a king plank or rounded aft keel to help with planing.
Compared to the more highly spec’d 1800 SR3, which has all the goodies, the 1800 MX is a bare-bones Maxum. However, it still has a higher specification, flashier fitout, and smarter finish than the Bayliner 175 built upon the exact same hull.
Though the 1800 MX does not have an extended boarding platform, it has an integrated platform upon which you can sit, prepare yourself for a tow, or cast a line. There’s a swim ladder, stainless steel grabhandle, centre ski hook, and raised aft cleats that are easy to access.
You reach the cockpit by stepping over a stylish, moulded engine-room lid that was, thankfully, topped with an aggressive non-skid, as are the gunwales and the boarding platform itself. The engine-bay lid lifts on gas struts. Bravo for that, but where’s the sound insulation? Surely, a bit of Mylar lining wouldn’t blow the budget.
There was good access to all sides of the motor and the basic maintenance items on the 3lt four-cylinder block. I could also get into the bilge – useful should the pump get blocked, as they do over time.
However, the aft quarter seats on this boat don’t relocate to form an aft sunpad. Their backrests are removable. Behind the portside seat was the modest 79.5lt polypropylene fuel tank and sender. The starboard backrest revealed access to the battery, while its seat base had a small, moulded icebox for carrying drinks.
Australia has been a great test bed over the years for old made-for-the-lake American production boats. Whereas the bowriders sent here sometimes faltered over time, boats like this 2007 model Maxum are more mindful of the saltwater.
Great to find six stainless steel drinkholders, stainless steel supports for the tremendously sturdy five-piece safety-glass windscreen, stainless steel grabrails and stainless steel canopy fittings (bimini supplied).
The 1800 MX also had a great cockpit, with snap-in carpet adding to the comfort factor. Besides the aft quarter seats there was a snappy back-to-back passenger seat that easily converts to a sunlounge, thanks to a new lever mechanism. The old lift-and-tug seats were a pain and even this writer often wrestled with them.
Add the plush helm pedestal seat on one of those excellent Springfield bases, plus the bow seating, and you can carry up to six on the Maxum 1800 MX without needing to play involuntary Twister. Just as importantly in a small boat, storage was in great supply.
The 1800 MX has carpet-lined sidepockets, storage under the seats in the bow, where the bases are timber-free, but no dedicated anchor locker. However, it’s true that with boats like this you don’t need a lot of anchoring gear. Typically, you nose them into shore where crew disembark, then fix the boat in waist-deep water with a short fore and aft line. Easy.
Importantly, the boat has a big underfloor storage hatch with room for wakeboards, skis and more, with a lid that lift on a gas strut. Ahead of the co-pilot is a glovebox with small icebox and overboard drain, plus the standard-issue JBL marine stereo with MP3 (iPod) jack and 12V (mobile phone) accessory plug.
The Maxum makes a style statement with its metallic-silver dash, which features a good spread of Faria gauges, from Volt-meter, engine temp and oil pressure, to trim, fuel, speedo and tacho. The soft-grip padded sports wheel and a drinkholder both fall to hand, as does the chain of aircraft-style toggle switches.
Even when floating or idling, the 1800 MX lines look nice and sporty; however, the rakish bow, while assisting with vision, is quite low to the water. As such you will have to power up when crossing big wake and wind waves to possibly avoid putting water aboard. Thus, the sculptured cushions and backrests in the bow are for two kids rather than burly adults.
As a boat destined to carry a young family, the 1800 MX offers a good sense of containment, plenty of space and surprising performance from the basic, fuel-efficient 135hp MerCruiser petrol motor. I would go so far as to deem it a sporty day racer, especially in its red livery and on calm waters. Just mind the 79.5lt fuel supply.
With the Alpha One sterndrive leg trimmed all the way in, the boat held plane at 9kts. A low-speed cruise and a handy tube towing speed were clocked at 16kts at 2600rpm. Family cruise ranged from 20.2kts at 2900rpm to 22.5kts at 3200rpm, whereupon the motor remained pleasantly quiet.
Engine noise was more discernible at fast cruise between 25 and 26kts at 3500rpm and around 31kts at 4200rpm, where the boat could do with some sound insulation. And the top speed of 37.4kts is plenty fast enough for a family boat or cafe racer in the entry-level 18ft class.
After I stepped off the racy red Maxum 1800 MX and back aboard our boat I thought, yep, this would do. All you need is a big river or bay as your playground. Just about every capital and coastal city has one. Add kids, icebox and watertoys, and the rest is up to you. Ah, holiday boating.
Packaged to go with a great finish and good spread of features
Groovy graphics and hull colour add to the sportiness
A real day racer with surprisingly nifty performance
Family-friendly layout with good seating and plenty of storage
Abundant stainless steel fittings for improved durability in saltwater
Established importers are big on service, customer support and Maxum’s have good resale value
Red gelcoat will require maintenance to look its best
No extended boarding platform
No insulation in the engine bay
Aft seats don’t convert to a rear sun lounge
Modest fuel capacity
Low-profile bow will require driving diligence
No non-skid on bow for stepping off


Specifications: Maxum 1800 MX

Price as tested: $36,000 w/ 3.0lt MerCruiser and Avante package.
Options fitted: Full covers, snap-in carpet, red king plank, single-axle Karavan trailer, safety gear, regos, and more.
Priced from: As above –basic 1800 MX specification in Australia
Material: GRP or fibreglass with composite stringers and foam flotation
Type: Moderate-vee planing hull
Length overall: 5.36m inc. integrated swim platform
Beam: 2.13m
Weight: Approx 1200kg
Berths: One back-to-back seat/daybed 
Fuel capacity: 79.5lt
Make/model: MerCruiser 3lt MPI
Type: Four-cylinder petrol four-stroke inboard motor
Rated HP: 135 at 4400 to 4800rpm
Displacement: 3lt
Weight: Approx 288kg
Gearboxes (make/ratio): Alpha One sterndrive
Props: Standard alloy three-blader
Avante Marine, Silverwater
Phone (02) 9737 0727
Website: for more information.

Originally published in TrailerBoat #216


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