BOAT TEST: BULLET BOATS 2100 W/ HONDA BF250 OUTBOARD

By: ANDREW NORTON, Photography by: BARRY ASHENHURST


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Pure performance was the inspiration for this warp-speed runabout, writes Andrew Norton.

BOAT TEST: BULLET BOATS 2100 W/ HONDA BF250 OUTBOARD
It's a Bullet 2100 fitted with a Honda BF250 outboard. This thing was made for speed.

I don't often get scared aboard a boat, even if it's a quick one. However, after recently testing a hot Bullet 1850 powered by a Mercury OptiMax Pro XS 250, it was something of a relief to find myself aboard the Bullet 2100, which - while still offering truly potent performance - was appreciably more relaxed.

Philip Bailey of Port Stephens (NSW) dealership Cove Marine knows how to drive a boat quickly, and with my fearless fishing partner Kim and I aboard the 1850 he floored the foot throttle in the shelter of Long Point on Myall Lake. We had only a small window of opportunity to reach wide open throttle (WOT) before hitting the chop, and by the time we achieved maximum speed we were out in the thick of it. Philip knew what he was doing and Kim, an adrenalin junkie, thought it was a hoot.

After convincing them that for photographic purposes the 1850 would look way better with just the two of them aboard, I transferred to the 2100 and allowed photographer Barry Ashenhurst to work his magic. Philip cranked up the iPod and leapt the 1850 over our wash, the boat airborne at times and Kim grinning from ear to ear.



PURE PEFORMANCE

Philip's brother David wanted a boat that would give he and his family pure performance pleasure on the expanse of the Myall Lakes. It had to be big enough to handle the stiff chop that quickly whips up on this beautiful series of waterways which, because of the surrounding hills, can blow from a multitude of directions. However, he also wanted refined power, rather than the neck-snapping performance of the OptiMax. Don't get me wrong, I love DFI two-strokes - although a correctly set-up four can almost achieve the same speeds with quieter operation.

David set up his 2100 - Take Cover - with a Honda BF250, which I first reviewed in TrailerBoat #277. Because a 6in hydraulic jacking plate was fitted he opted for a 20in or longshaft model instead of the extra longshaft model most anglers would use. A 25in-pitch, three-blade Quicksilver Tempest stainless steel prop was chosen to give the best top-end performance, as David wasn't interested in Take Cover being a serious skiboat.



LAYOUT LOW-DOWN

Despite Take Cover being fully equipped, the extra hull length over the 1850 allows for a cockpit that easily accommodates five adults. David fitted bow mooring lights, though in true skiboat style there's no bowroller or an anchor well to spoil the foredeck's lines. Similarly, the fitted pop-up cleats are very handy alongside a jetty, without detracting from the hull's lines.

A low windbreak ahead of the helm area does the duty of a windscreen. A foot throttle comes as standard, which in my opinion should be standard fitment on all performance runabouts. It's operated with your left foot, but if you're used to depressing a clutch pedal it takes no time at all to master the action. The SeaPro hydraulic steering system features engine trim and jacking plate lift controls on the steering column, with the standard remote control box to select forward or reverse. A Garmin GPS interface displays speed and, along with an array of analogue instrumentation, is easily viewed from the wraparound helm seat. The latter holds the skipper firmly in place while further softening any slamming over a chop.

In true skiboat style the passenger seat faces aft but there's plenty of legroom, even with passengers occupying the rear lounge. Sidepockets take care of odds and ends and there are stainless steel grab handles fitted either side of the lounge. Twin batteries with a voltage-sensitive relay take full advantage of Honda's dual battery charging system, while a built-in 60lt Esky-style cooler is standard.

Aft of the lounge is an alloy skipole and full-width teak deck sunpad, hinged at the rear to give easy access to a massive storage compartment and the fuel tank. The platform provides excellent grip wet or dry and aft of this is another smaller teak boarding platform, with grabrails either side of the outboard well. Clambering aboard the 2100 from a beach is easy, even for a beached whale like me.



A REFINED DRIVE

Upon boarding the 2100 from the jetty I was immediately impressed by the hull's stability and the helm's ergonomic layout. The long foredeck stretches away from you, but visibility is still excellent.

After warming up the Honda I lowered the jacking plate, shifted into forward and gently depressed the foot throttle, and without any hesitation the boat was on the plane in a couple of seconds, and with very little bow lift. Once planing I began raising the plate, leaving the engine in neutral trim when running upwind or trimmed out slightly downwind.

Cruising quietly at 4000rpm there's virtually no noise from the engine, which on this hull is delivering its best fuel efficiency at this engine speed. Through tight figure-of-eight turns with neutral trim there's no prop ventilation, while accelerating out of turns and slightly trimming out the leg soon had the boat up to its maximum cruising speed - something comparable to the WOT speed of a 'glass fishing boat hull powered by the same engine.

Because of the soft engine mounts and prop torque the engine's powerhead cants to starboard, but there's absolutely no vibration through the hull. In fact, the engine seems quite remote from the hull, out there on the transom doing its job and throwing a rooster tail high in the air.

Punching across a chop there's the odd thump as a larger-than-normal wave hits the chine, but overall the ride is soft and the hull tracks beautifully, even with your hands off the steering wheel for short periods.

Pushing the foot throttle to its limit sees the boat's speed go way past that of any fishing-oriented runabout, still with no chine walking and with direct and reasonably light steering. However, a pair of decent wrap-around sunnies will be appreciated at WOT, as the foredeck windbreak provides little protection.



THE WRAP

Crafted from solid fibreglass with rot-proof laminated plywood stringers, cockpit floor and transom core, Take Cover was beautifully finished with stand-out custom hull graphics, flawless mouldings and quality upholstery. The galvanised custom tandem-axle trailer, finished in two-pack paint and with Lonwood Teak and Holly decking to prevent hull stone damage when under tow, made light work of launching and retrieving Take Cover. With a BMT weight of around 1300kg, towing is easily handled by your average six-cylinder family sedan.

For anyone who places point-to-point speed over dangling a line on their boating priority list, the Bullet 2100 has few rivals, and plenty to offer.



AND THE HONDA BF250 OUTBOARD...

Released on the Aussie market early this year, Honda's BF250 is a "stroked" version of the long-running BF225, and as such has the same sensible powerhead features such as steel cylinder liners and easily-adjustable valve clearance.

As ever, however, the devil is in the detail - and in this instance in details such as the engine's power air intake system. This sees air drawn directly into the throttle body, avoiding a torturous path over the powerhead where its density could be diminished due to heat from the engine. Hot air is also removed from the powerhead, enabling the engine to run cooler on hot days or in tropical climates.

Other changes include the adoption of Honda's "BLAST" technology, which by advancing the ignition timing enables the engine to reach its torque band faster, while "ECOmo" lean-burn technology leans out the air / fuel ratio under moderate loads. The normal 14.7:1 ratio may be as lean as 18.0:1, dramatically improving midrange fuel efficiency.

Designed more for commercial applications, the 2:1 gearcase ratio is much deeper than the competition but because of a combination of the good hydrodynamic design and the use of a jacking plate, its relatively large size didn't appear to create any excess drag on the 2100.

The belt-driven alternator produces up to 90A - incredibly high for an outboard - with 60A of dedicated battery-charging capacity. And to reduce shift shock when selecting forward or reverse, the ignition is momentarily retarded, ensuring effortless gear changing.

Really, the only drawback for performance boating is the absence of a low water-cooling pickup, but Honda MPE's Ross Taylor told me that if there's sufficient interest in this feature in this market Honda may modify the BF250 so it can compete equally with dedicated performance engines, such as Mercury's OptiMax Pro XS 250.

The recreational-usage warranty is five years even when the BF250 is used in performance applications, where it's more likely to be run continuously at higher revs than on fishing boats.



On the plane...

  • Strong acceleration
  • Quiet engine
  • Very soft ride in steep chop
  • Foot-operated accelerator
  • Hydraulic jacking plate for infinite trim
  • Supportive seating



Dragging the chain...

  • Needs higher foredeck windbreak



Specifications: BULLET 2100 SKIBOAT

HOW MUCH?

Price as tested: POA

Options fitted: Hydraulic jacking plate, Garmin GPS interface, custom hull graphics, teak sunpad



GENERAL

Type: Ski runabout

Material: Fibreglass

Length: 6.4m

Beam: 1.8m

Weight (hull only): 500kg

Deadrise: 22°



CAPACITIES

People: 5

Rec. HP: 250

Max. HP: Unlimited

Fuel: 120lt

 

ENGINE

Make/model: Honda BF250

Type: Fuel-injected DOHC four-stroke 60° V6

Weight: 288kg

Displacement: 3583cc

Propeller: Quicksilver S/S 25in Tempest



MANUFACTURED BY

Bullet Boats

6/2 Gateway Drive

Coomera, Qld, 4209

Tel: (07) 5564 2579

 

 

SUPPLIED BY

Cove Marine

60 Frederick Drive

Oyster Cove, NSW, 2318

Tel: (02) 4982 4832

Originally published in TrailerBoat #286, September 2012.

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