Makocraft 520 X-Rider 2023 reviewThe Makocraft 520 X-Rider dual-console open boat combines serious coastal fishing capabilities with family features and amenities
- May 27, 2023
- Posted by Get That Boat Loan
- Comments Off on Makocraft 520 X-Rider 2023 review
Makocraft recently launched the 520 and 560 series X-Riders. Each comes with dual helm consoles, a folding aft bench seat, and a huge front sun lounge which converts into a casting deck with live well. With more models in the pipeline, boatsales tested the smaller of these excellent new craft paired with a 115hp Mercury ProXS outboard engine. Could the Makocraft 520 X-Rider be the ultimate coastal all-rounder?
Gold Coast-based Makocraft has recently grown its boat range with plate alloy models to suit fishing and family boaters.Chief among the new family of all-rounders is the new X-Rider series. These new boats have a similar layout to a bowrider, but instead of a V-shaped seating area forward, these craft have an elevated casting deck that can be topped with clip-on upholstered vinyl cushions to create a large sun deck.The Makocraft X-Riders are currently available in 5.2-metre (520) and 5.6-metre (560) lengths, with flagship 591 and 631 models yet to arrive.
For this review, we secured the entry-level Makocraft 520 X-Rider with the maximum-power 115hp Mercury ProXS outboard engine.
Price and equipment
Our test boat came direct from the Makocraft factory paired with the Mercury 115hp ProXS and sitting on a single-axle galvanised steel Dunbier trailer.
The boat we tested had just three optional extras; a bimini cover mounted on a clever fore and aft sliding rail, a
Add the bimini cover and optional electronics and the price rises to a modest $65,990.
Hull and engineering
The Makocraft 520 X-Rider has an overall length of 5.25 metres including the bowsprit and aft boarding platforms.
The hull has a maximum beam of 2.2 metres, while the dry hull weight is about 550kg. With the 115hp Mercury ProXS and single-axle trailer, you can expect a dry towing weight of less than 1200kg.The Makocraft 520 X-Rider is classed as a pressed aluminium boat with a 3.0mm pressed alloy hull bottom and transom, combined with smooth 3.0mm topsides with a single pressing above the hard chine, and another beneath the extruded side decks.
The external alloy sheets are wrapped around a welded cross-rib framework with reinforcing bulkheads. An external keel provides strength and rigidity.
The entry X-Rider is the only model built using the pressed alloy construction technique. The larger X-Rider boats are all-welded plate alloy, albeit with the choice of a carpeted plywood floor or welded checker-plate aluminium floor.
All models have sufficient underfloor foam flotation to meet Australia’s Basic flotation standard.
With regard to hull shape, the 520 X-Rider shares the same conservatively designed pressed alloy hull bottom as the Makocraft 521 Commander.
The entry shape at the bow is fine to cut through the chop. The hull flattens aft of amidships to maximise stability and hull/engine efficiency.
Design and layout
The X-Rider series can be considered a bowrider, albeit one that leans toward fishing rather than family boating.As noted earlier, instead of a V-shaped seating area up forward the Makocraft 520 X-Rider has a large, flat casting deck that can double as a large sun lounge.
The front deck also has padded coaming bolsters to provide comfortable back support.The three bow cushions clip in lengthwise, meaning you can remove individual cushions to use part of the lounge as a casting deck.Removing the aft vinyl cushion gives access to a large live fish well under the casting deck.
The live well is just that. It is more than a bait tank, and large enough for anglers to keep catch alive for catch-and-release fishing competitions.
The live well includes a removable partition so two anglers can separate their catch. The alloy partition also helps to minimise water slopping about.
There is no anchor well up on the foredeck. Instead, the anchor is stowed in a hatch beneath the front of the casting deck to maximise the deck’s surface area.Another hatch between the anchor well and the live well is used to stow safety gear and/or the battery to run a trolling motor off a port side bow mounting plate.
Pleasingly, all hatch lids are carpeted front and back to protect against mould and rot.A floor socket for one of the two removable pedestal chairs is mounted on the casting platform. A third chair is an option.
Other features up forward include a bow roller, a horizontal cleat, port and starboard navigation lights and coaming handrails.
The Makocraft 520 X-Rider has dual consoles similar to many bowriders. However, instead of a wide centre-opening windscreen, the X-Rider has a split console with a tinted, curved windshield on each side.
The tinted windshields are mounted on poly plastic dash/fascia mouldings that are fitted to alloy box frames.
The starboard helm console is slightly wider than the passenger console, and large enough to fit two multifunction displays along with engine instruments, switch panels and other controls and gauges.The helm station windshield also has space for a 12-inch bracket-mounted display. Our test boat was fitted with a Garmin Echomap 95sv fishfinder/chartplotter.
There is room to mount a smaller electronics display to starboard on the outside of the curved windshield. Fit a swivel bracket, and it can be viewed from the bow.
The X-Rider is comfortable to drive. The steering wheel and throttle are close to hand, with ample space beneath the console for legs and feet.
Over on the port side, the passenger/co-pilot has access to a spacious, open glove compartment with a carpeted surface inside to keep stuff from sliding about.
It also has a flat panel to flush-mount radios or, in our case, the Fusion audio system head unit optioned for our test rig.
Cockpit and transom
Deck space is tight behind the helm chairs but there is room to stand and fish over the stern or sit at the standard folding three-quarter-width bench seat.
There is also good internal freeboard, with around 630mm of space between the cockpit floor and the coaming top.Behind the bench seat is storage space to port and a floor-mounted battery in a box to starboard.
Overhead the Makocraft 520 X-Rider has an included, removable bait board with a nylon cutting surface, cup/sinker holders, and a pair of rod holders.
The bait board also doubles as a ski pole rated to 80kg. A heavier-duty 150kg-rated ski pole is available as an option.An inward-opening transom door provides access out to the port side boarding platform. A boarding ladder is on the options list, not standard.
Side pockets are built into either side of the aft cockpit.
On the water
The Makocraft 520 X-Rider is a safe, seaworthy boat with a traditional pressed aluminium vee hull design. The hull has high topsides to keep the sea and the spray out, along with a sharp vee entry at the bow to slice through bay chop.
At the stern, the X-Rider’s vee shape is shallow/or moderate to ensure the boat is stable at rest and underway, as well as being quick to plane with the crew seated well aft in the boat.
At speed, I found the Makocraft 520 X-Rider easy to drive and control. The hull is well balanced so that it responds exceptionally well to subtle changes to engine trim. This allows the bow of the boat to adjust up or down for best performance and comfort in a mix of conditions.
Through the turns the Makocraft 520 X-Rider is a breeze to control; it sits flat on corner entry, and there is just the right amount of engine propeller slip through the exit of the turn.
The Makocraft 520 X-Rider is a great addition to the Makocraft range, particularly for coastal anglers seeking a fishing boat with family boating potential.
The X-Rider layout is not quite as family-friendly as a regular bowrider, but having a filled-in front deck instead of seating does increase the storage space forward and allows for the inclusion of a proper live fish well.
The Makocraft 520 X-Rider makes for an excellent bay and coastal fishing rig, and a comfortable, practical bay runabout and day cruiser.