Vibe: This is a tried-and-true pro machine. Until last year, the hull was on the Malibu Wakesetter VLX. It pulled the best riders in the sport at the Malibu Open and Wakestock and in their own backyards. Now it’s repackaged on the vDrive and priced to get a bunch of new people buying a Malibu wakeboard boat. Good idea.
How it’ll make you a better rider: You’ll be better in seconds if you’re used to riding behind an I/O or even some other wakeboarding boats. You can only get so good on those wakes. The vRide is going to introduce a lot of those frustrated riders to just how unbelievable wakeboarding can be. The wakes are pretty narrow, so less-experienced riders won’t have a problem. They’re well-sculpted, too, which is why the pros liked them so much. The vRide comes with a center ballast tank so you can load up 500 pounds to amp up the wakes. And the boat will stay on a line thanks to Gorilla Fins on the hull. Yank the rope as much as you want; the vRide will be stable.
Bang for the buck: Malibu shaved some Gs off the sticker price, but the boat is still money. Still has the tower, the center ballast, the rattle-free construction, the quiet ride, the super-soft vinyl, the sweet engine. You give up some bells and a whistle or two, like some chrome, an Italian-designed steering wheel and the Ballast Monitoring System. But if we hadn’t just told you, you probably wouldn’t have missed any of that.
Features to keep you onboard all day long: Every seat is comfortable, with upholstery that feels like a leather couch. Bolsters help, too, so your back won’t ache from a seat with a bad angle. Sit and swivel in the driver’s seat. You can twirl it all the way around to face the rear.
House party: Interior space has room for 10 people to climb on. There’s intimate space in the bow. There’s the conversation room in the wraparound lounge. Stash everything else you need in the trunk or throughout the boat. There are cup holders everywhere. Spring for the four-speaker Sony stereo and you’ll have sound everywhere, too.
Fast fact: $38,995. That’s the starting sticker price of the vRide (and yeah, it includes a trailer). No, it’s still not the cheapest boat out there, because it’s not a cheap boat. Malibu packed it with premium stuff. For what you get, that price is a steal.
**The **Titan Series III Tower is a solid piece of work. Thick, curvy steel tubes look good with the lines of the vRide. Plus, it breaks down easily if you need it to collapse.
The LCR engine is far, far, far from being bargain-basement. This is the same premium 320-horsepower engine that’s standard on most of the Malibu models.
**Length: 21 ft.
Beam: 93.5 in.
Seating capacity: 10
Fuel capacity: 35 gal.
Stock prop: 13.5″ x 16″
Stock engine: Malibu LCR 5.7-liter 320 hp from Indmar
Tank: One center (optional two rear tanks)
Capacity: 500 lbs. (optional 900 lbs. total)
Top speed: 45.7 mph @ 5,000 rpm
Accel. to 24 mph: TK
Noise: Neutral 60 db
I focus on the wake, and the vRide is set for the rider’s perspective, set for how I like to ride. The wake is not super steep or real wide, just perfectly mellow with a smooth transition, and it’s got the perfect wake for how I like to ride when I’m doing technical stuff like wake to wake. But at the same time, it kicks ass for transitions when I kick out in the flats to do a mobe wake-to-wake trick. It’s real transitional, so it’s got a lot of versatility. When I ride, I don’t want to worry about the boat. I can allways depend on my vRide to run smooth and handle super-easy. Every time I go out, it’s always the same ride, same wake. Super consistent. That’s what I like.
Narrow for beginners, big and shaped for the pros. What’s cool is that you don’t have to be a pro to enjoy the wake behind the vRide. Empty the standard 500-pound center ballast and you get a wake that’s narrow with nice transitions. If you’re ready for the next level and you want to beef up the wakes, go with the optional Wedge foil. The Wedge applies 1,000 pounds of down force and tweaks the shape of the wake to make it mellow.