Exclusive first! Bar Crusher 490WR & 490C reviewed

By: John Willis, Photography by: John Willis & Jack Murphy

Bar Crusher 490 Cuddy 11 Bar Crusher 490 Cuddy Bar Crusher 490 Cuddy 11
Bar Crusher 490 Cuddy 04 Bar Crusher 490 Cuddy Bar Crusher 490 Cuddy 04
Bar Crusher 490 Cuddy 06 Bar Crusher 490 Cuddy Bar Crusher 490 Cuddy 06
Bar Crusher 490 Cuddy 07 Bar Crusher 490 Cuddy Bar Crusher 490 Cuddy 07
Bar Crusher 490 Walkaround 13 Bar Crusher 490 WR Bar Crusher 490 Walkaround 13
Bar Crusher 490 Walkaround 09 Bar Crusher 490 WR Bar Crusher 490 Walkaround 09
Bar Crusher 490 Walkaround 02 Bar Crusher 490 WR Bar Crusher 490 Walkaround 02
Bar Crusher 490 Walkaround 05 Bar Crusher 490 WR Bar Crusher 490 Walkaround 05
Bar Crusher 490 Walkaround 06 Bar Crusher 490 WR Bar Crusher 490 Walkaround 06

The all-new Bar Crusher 490s are scaled-down versions of the offshore aluminium fishing boats. They are very well packaged and priced, and present exceptional design, construction and function.

The competition in the crowded world of 5m aluminium fishing boats is hotting up. With regulations in most states requiring the use of life jackets at all times in craft 4.8m and under, boats over this size have enjoyed a surge of popularity.



This boat was rated one of the best of for the year. It has been nominated to participate at Australia’s Greatest Boats 2016.


This sector was once dominated by pressed aluminium boat packages. However, the battle for supremacy has been raised another notch, with popular Australian aluminium fishing boat builder Bar Crusher pushing the limits on its latest offerings – the Bar Crusher 490WR (Walkaround) and the Bar Crusher 490C (Cuddy).



Bar Crusher 490 Cuddy

Our boat review location was in a secluded hideaway on the NSW south coast, about halfway between Melbourne and Sydney. Indeed, Bar Crusher owners Peter and Warren Cleland are keen adventurers in their own right and our hideaway was no less than eight hours travel from Melbourne, including 50 minutes of rugged tracks, bordering on 4WD access.



 Bar Crusher 490 Walkaround

These Bar Crusher 490s are built for the rough stuff. They copped blasting from the rough dirt tracks, and plenty of abrasion from mooring the boats on less than ideal pier structure for a full week; yet they washed up good as new at the end of the trip.

We pulled them onto sand bars, dropped them dry on the oyster shell boat ramp, clambered in and out, and the young fellas even enjoyed standing on the side decks for extra casting distance. I also noticed a considerable difference in the amount of forward buoyancy and hull lift compared to competitors.

Even with two people at the helm of the Bar Crusher 490 Cuddy, it had a straight attitude without any nose dip. With two people and a host of gear on board, she jumped straight onto the plane with very little lift and even though the windscreen is very small, vision forward was solid.

Typically for deep-vee hulls, the cuddy doesn’t like to go slow. She is terrific at trolling speeds, where the Suzuki just purred indifferently on the transom, but plant the throttles and you’ll get up and boogie.



Ride of Bar Crusher 490C

With a Suzuki DF60AV outboard motor, the performance came alive at 4500rpm, where we could start properly trimming and the boat pulled a relatively brisk 20.5kts – a great speed to cover miles easily in close waters or out in bay chop.

If you just want to blow out the cobwebs, take her up to 23.5kts at 5000rpm, or if you really want some action, 29.7kts at 6000rpm is possible. She’ll even go faster, but trimmed up I found the engine limiters at around 6200rpm. While the hull is rated to 70hp, the 60-horse Suzuki felt just right, and provided faultless performance through the rev range. She turned snappily, without cavitation, and gave a real feeling of confidence in the hull. The water ballast drains quickly on take-off – in fact you won’t even notice it happening, but it certainly adds to stability at rest.



Bar Crusher 490 floor layout

The overall layout of both hulls is almost faultless. The twin boarding platforms provide a great staging point for the fold down ladder and a removable berley bucket.

You’ll also love the gunwale height and big, wide side decks with non-skid surfaces and six cast alloy rodholders. We often used the big side decks as a seat and for knee bracing in the chop.

There’s also a very good removable cutting board at the work station which slips out for cleaning. Or the cutting board can be replaced with a ski pole for some more summer fun. There are large side pockets down either side and across the transom, where the battery and isolator switches are mounted high above the floor and out of harm’s way.

I loved the sliding and removable coaming rod holders that simply clip to the side pockets. Inside the hull, there’s checkerplate floors from stem to stern, with a small underfloor kill tank and adequate sump with bilge pump.

Overall, it’s neat, tidy, safe and very easily cleaned. There’s also a 60lt underfloor fuel tank – filled from the floor – but no fuel gauge.



Cabin on Bar Crusher 490 Cuddy

This Bar Crusher 490C cuddy is a ripper, with beauty in its simplicity. The overall height is just right, allowing either seated or standing control and there’s ample room for comfortable upright seating, an item missing from most centre consoles. Our demo boats were both fitted with Raymarine multifunction sounder/GPS/plotters – a 7in Dragonfly on the WR and the CHIRP transducer on the Cuddy.

Dashboards in cuddy boats are never huge, but this one is comfortable and more than adequate for the instruments and switch gear. There are no obvious spots to bang your head when entering the enclosure, and its height makes it easy – even for those of us with big bellies and bad knees. The storage is quite limited, but again this is an area that you will customise with waterproof boxes, etc.



Bar Crusher 490 Centre Console

The Bar Crusher 490WR was absolutely terrific in the estuary environment. It is a true sportsfisher that could compete in top level tournaments. Design and function make it a breeze to fish from, and all of this is accentuated by a surprisingly high level of stability.

Again, simplicity is key to its success. The console is well-proportioned, incorporating three levels of storage: one underneath, an enclosed cabinet accessed from a hatch, and the top shelf unit where the Raymarine unit was mounted.

This is also where you store handy tackle, phones and all of those items requiring quick access. The steering and throttle position is quite comfortable whether seated or standing. The seating unit in this case is a tough Techni-Ice plastic cooler with a removable upholstered padded lid.

The icebox is held in place by a tie-down strap, so the whole box is easily removable.

It has enough surface area for two large bums and places the weight right where it should be if the going gets rough. We also used another ice box in front of the console, which gave a complete workspace for someone fishing and travelling in the bow.

I’d like to see a small storage box/step right in front, where the floor meets the stem, but that’s just me.



Fishing from a Bar Crusher 490 WR

The all-new 490s are scaled down versions of Bar Crusher’s famous offshore fishing boats. They were the perfect aquatic vehicle for our fishing and were very well packaged and priced, presenting exceptional design, construction and function.


See the Trade-a-Boat archives. Check out 10+ years of Bar Crusher reviews



Suzuki DF60AV with 15in propeller with one passenger















*We also loaded the package with four large adults and achieved a satisfying 25.2kts @5900rpm. Sea-trial data supplied by author



  • Great trailer
  • Construction quality and welding
  • Practical layouts
  • Impressive engine match
  • Anchoring system
  • Big side decks w/ storage
  • Underfloor fuel tank



  • Didn’t get to play in a big sea 
  • Needs aftermarket livebait tank  Edit: following market feedback, Bar Crusher quickly ensured this item is available on boat packages.
  • Would like little step box in bow
  • No fuel gauge



Bar Crusher 490C price: $38,607 (price as tested)

Bar Crusher 490WR price: $36,348 (price as tested)



Bilge pump, navigation lights, seating, baitboard, burley bucket, killtank



Bar Crusher 490C: Raymarine electronics; bimini

Bar Crusher 490WR: Raymarine electronics


PRICED FROM $31,950 (base package)



TYPE Cuddy and Walkaround

MATERIAL High-tensile aluminium



WEIGHT 800kg to 850kg (BMT)



PEOPLE 5      

REC. HP 40-60          

MAX. HP 70

FUEL 60lt



MAKE/MODEL Suzuki DF60AV outboard motor

TYPE Three-cylinder, multi-point fuel-injected, double-overhead cam, 12-valve, four-stroke outboard motor

WEIGHT 104 kg       


GEAR RATIO 2.27:1 

PROPELLER 15in alloy



Bar crusher Boats

5 Quality Drive, Dandenong South VIC 3175

Phone 03 97922999

Email sales@barcrusher.com.au

Web barcrusher.com.au


See the full version of this review in Trade-A-Boat #465, on sale May 2015. Why not subscribe today?


Want the latest stories delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for the free TradeBoats e-newsletter.