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  1. #1

    STX-15F First Impressions (vs VX110)

    This may not be of interest to you high-performance, supercharged, 80+ riders however I have about 8 hours on my 2014 STX-15F and I thought I'd share some impressions.

    The first thing I noticed is the STX is fairly loud. It's not as loud as some of the bigger skis with exhaust mods or anything, but it is quite a bit louder than the VX110 at idle and low speeds. On the flip side, the sound the STX's engine makes is deep and gutteral, like a muscle car where as the VX's was higher and lighter. Sure, there are times I would prefer a quieter ski around the docks but there are also times where hearing that bark is pretty great. I'd call it a wash.

    I bought the STX because I wanted a small, nimble ski and that's exactly what it is. The STX is 6-7" shorter than the VX and 10-20" shorter than most other skis on the market. You can definitely tell in the turns. She'll bite and spin around much more easily than the VX. I was a bit concerned that the smaller hull would struggle with chop and wake. Fortunately, I'm very satisfied with how it's handled so far. Both skis seem to have a similar amount of 'lift' when hitting a wave. Neither will carve through it like I suspect an FX or S3 hull would. However when the VX got any air under the hull at all it would smash back down with a flat, tough 'slap.' The STX seems to handle a little bit of air much better. I'm not sure if it's a function of hull design or length but I'm far more confident taking a wave in the STX than the VX. The VX would also porpoise pretty badly. It seemed like I was frequently fighting the bounce on it. I've gotten the STX to porpoise a little but it seems easier to correct. With the VX I would usually have to bleed off a fair bit of throttle to fix the problem and given the already low top-end that was a problem.

    The STX is also much quicker than the VX. The sub 2s 0-30mph of the STX is a LOT more pull than the VX. Combine that with the nimble hull and you can make the stx dance. The VX was fun, no doubt, but it was obviously larger, slower, and more cumbersome. It's a Miata vs a Camry. The STX also has quite a bit more top end. I'm not a top-end kind of guy. I do see the appeal, but don't have the need to go 75+mph and I was perfectly fine with the VX's top speed when I had it. Where I do like having a few more mph is when cruising. A comfortable cruise on the waters I'm usually in is about 40-45 or so mph. That's getting pretty close to the 52mph top speed of the VX. Having a bit more in the throttle (I've gotten 61 out of the STX so far) means an easier, more capable 40mph cruise and a lot more left if I do want to push it up. All in all, the VXR would probably suit my performance preferences better but with the tradeoffs in price, hull, and storage I'm happy with the STX.

    On the VX, assuming it was a smooth day, I could go full speed and crank the handlebars as far as I could, no worries. There wasn't enough top end and turning radius to make it feel dangerous. In fact, apart from getting the VX up in the air, there was no time at all I felt that I could possibly be thrown. It always felt VERY safe and VERY stable. That may be important to some people. With the combination of speed, weight, and accelaration on the STX I'm confident I could get in to trouble. It's not hard to keep the STX under control or anything, but there is enough there to push up to the line and cross it where as the VX seemed to have a bit of overhead before reaching the line.

    I'd also like to talk comfort. Neither ski has an adjustable steering column and some complain that they are cramped on the STX. I'm 5'10" and I think I fit the STX perfectly however I can definitely see how tall riders would be bunched up with the lower riding position. Frankly, I love the seat on the STX. The VX had a very wide seat. I felt more like I was straddling it than sitting on it. I can tighten my knees on the STX and feel locked in. The VX was so wide that I would frequently get a pain in my right hip (it's a hold-over from my hockey-playing days). The STX does not have the same aggravation. Getting down closer to the water also makes the ride feel faster and more connected. In short, I LOVE the riding position of the STX but concede that it's definitely not for everyone.

    The STX can be a wet ride. The front deck almost makes a flat lip around the storage bin and the rub rail is pretty low. It's easy to take a small wave on the lip and that water goes straight to the foot wells. It's a jet ski... get your tootsies wet and stop complaining.

    As for fuel, I haven't measured mile-for-mile but it seems the STX and VX have similar consumption. I can go out all day and not worry about fuel on either. The STX is a bit harder to fill. She wants to burp a few gallons short of full. Raising the bow helps but generally running on 3/4 tank is fine and not worth the effort to try to sneak in a bit more gas.

    Overall the STX has bested my old VX without a doubt. I do have a few irritations with the STX though.

    First, I don't like the reverse. On my VX and my SD Challenger before it, if you turned to the left the front end of the craft would turn left... forward or reverse. The STX flips reverse steering like in an automobile (turn wheel left, front end goes right). Not only do I have to steer back and forth but at neutral (somewhere between forward and reverse) I get no steering out of the wheel. The VX and SeaDoo would both still steer at neutral and literally spin in place. This is rarely an issue and once I'm used to it I'm certain I will likely forget it was ever a problem but for now, I don't like it.

    Second, at lower-mid speeds in the 30mpg range, shortly after it planes up, the ski can kind of ride on the side of the hull. This may be hard to explain. At those speeds the ski will sometimes ride with a 5 degree or so lean to the left or the right. It feels like there is a point of balance in the hull design that is not perfectly straight up and down. It doesn't seem to affect tracking much. I can lean to the other side and get it to straighten out or even ride to the opposite side. It's not dramatic but at those speeds you can feel it leaning just a little. Much faster or slower and it goes away.

    A final complaint is the hand grips are not the most comfortable. That's a $20 problem but worth mentioning.

    I would also like to shout out to Brewer Cycles in Henderson, NC. STX's ended up being pretty rare at the end of 2014 and the people that still had them were not close and often not willing to deal with me over the phone. Brewer set everything up with a couple phone calls; ski, 5 yr warranty, and trailer. The only issue I had is that I bought a 5 yr warranty but it came through as three. They took care of that promptly. I will strongly consider getting my next ski from them in spite of the 7 hour drive.


  2. #2

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    As the owner of an STX I think you made a wise choice. I think the reverse function is pretty ineffective so I just disconnected mine. I also get about 100 miles out of a tank of fuel. It's a very good all around craft.

  3. #3
    Take the time to smile sirbreaksalot's Avatar
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    reverse works perfect on the stock ride plate....

    so to disconnect it is crazy as it gains nothing other than having NO reverse now

  4. #4
    steve45's Avatar
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    Guess I don't understand the reverse 'problem'. I've got 2 older STXs, which are quite different from the 2014s. Reverse works fine. When I turn left in reverse, it pulls the stern to the left; when I turn right in reverse, it pulls the stern to the right.

    I've spent most of my time on my Ultra 150, which doesn't have reverse at all. I often forget that I even have reverse on an STX.

  5. #5
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    The lean at 30 mph is probably because the STX is more of a v hull as opposed to the flatter bottom of the VX.

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  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by steve45 View Post
    Guess I don't understand the reverse 'problem'. I've got 2 older STXs, which are quite different from the 2014s. Reverse works fine. When I turn left in reverse, it pulls the stern to the left; when I turn right in reverse, it pulls the stern to the right.

    I've spent most of my time on my Ultra 150, which doesn't have reverse at all. I often forget that I even have reverse on an STX.
    Your evaluation is correct but both my previous Yamaha and Seadoo had specialized buckets that would eject water from the sides instead of the bottom. When you turn left it pushes the stern to the right so you are still turning left. The bigger adjustment for me is the inability to turn in 'neutral' at a dead stop. If the stx bucket is in a neutral position it will not push or pull the back end in either direction where as the side eject buckets will still turn the craft.

    Again, it's about as minimal of a concern as one can have but it was a shock and a little embarrassing the first time I puttered around the docks.

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by BryanP View Post
    The lean at 30 mph is probably because the STX is more of a v hull as opposed to the flatter bottom of the VX.
    Yep, I agree. It's strange though as my boat had a pretty deep V and I've never heard anyone else mention it on their skis. It's not really even an issue, just an oddity.

  9. #8
    The Rooster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LilMikey View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by BryanP View Post
    The lean at 30 mph is probably because the STX is more of a v hull as opposed to the flatter bottom of the VX.
    Yep, I agree. It's strange though as my boat had a pretty deep V and I've never heard anyone else mention it on their skis. It's not really even an issue, just an oddity.
    I think the more important question Mikey is, does she lean more to the left or to the right ???

  10. #9
    steve45's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LilMikey View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by BryanP View Post
    The lean at 30 mph is probably because the STX is more of a v hull as opposed to the flatter bottom of the VX.
    Yep, I agree. It's strange though as my boat had a pretty deep V and I've never heard anyone else mention it on their skis. It's not really even an issue, just an oddity.
    I had some STS 750s that were really annoying to ride at about 25 mph because they would switch from left to right continuously. After you got going faster, the front of the hull was out of the water and it would level out.

  11. #10
    That is a great review, thanks for the comparison. I just purchased an 04 15f.. 70 hours when I got it last week (74 now) and im loving it. . I know it isn't a 14 but aside from the seat and colors I really don't think there are a lot of differences in the tech or engine/hull.

    Mine came with riva exhaust (v8 sounds), worx sponsons (turns even quicker and no lean), r&d ride plate, and k&n filter kit. I've had it to 63 and it seemed faster than a friends 15 yama HO.

    I come from a yama 2stroke xl800 and im loving this thing so far. It definitely is a little smaller and wetter but nothing I can't get used to. Im glad to be finally riding a 4 stroke. 2 stroke was a pain on really long rides and having to buy oil in advance.

    We ride all year long here in central Florida.. im doing an 80 mile ride in a couple of weekends, I cant wait!

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