A good outboard motor can really improve your boating experience. Whether you just got a new inflatable boat and want to equip it with some power, or you have an old one you want replaced, motors nowadays are more efficient and affordable than ever. This allows you to find the best marine outboard motor without much trouble.

Two main types are available on the market, and they come with various power ratings and size. Of course, this is closely related to the cost too. We created a buying guide addressing all the important things you need to know when selecting a new motor, so don’t miss out. But first, take a look at the excellent small outboards we picked out.

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How To Choose The Best Outboard Motor – Buying Guide

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In our boat outboard motor reviews we featured smaller motors which you can mount on an inflatable or a small fishing boat. Much larger motors are available too, but these aren’t suitable for small boats. Some renowned manufacturers like Yamaha, Mercury and Evinrude create motors with several hundred horsepower. The price of these products can be significant too, since it tends to rise with larger power output. However, power is only one of the things you should check when buying your new motor.

Type

As you’ve had the chance to see, two main choices for you’re outboard are a two-stroke or a four-stroke engine (number of strokes a piston takes to complete a cycle). Traditional two-stroke motors are slowly being taken out of the equation, and soon enough they won’t be available in stores. The reason for this is that they are not as efficient as the alternative, and they have a much larger negative effect on the marine environment.

On the other hand, four-stroke engines are cleaner, more reliable and in most cases last longer. Some manufacturers made design changes on the two-stroke, creating DFI (direct fuel injection) system. This allows the fuel mixture to be injected in precise time intervals (when the exhaust piston is closed), so all of the fuel can be burned which increases the efficiency and reduces the harmful effects.

In addition to this, most small boat motors have a manual (pull) start. Some products have electric start as an alternative, which is more comfortable. However, you would need to install a marine battery for this too, and the cost may run a bit higher.

Torque Differences

Because of the design the 4-stroke motors produce greater torque, with better efficiency. Torque curve isn’t as sharp as in 2-stroke, which gives you a smoother experience while riding. Even though 4-strokes are known to be heavier, this weight difference is slowly being reduced, so the difference in speed between 2 types is becoming almost non-existent.

Boat Weight

This is a factor which influences the outboard motor size. It’s logical that a larger, heavier boat would require a stronger motor. General rule is that you need 5hp per every tonne. This is usually the minimum to keep you moving steadily. If you want more speed, go with a larger motor. This also goes if you have additional people or gear aboard. The boat propeller should be properly matched too. Keep in mind that stronger motors weigh more, which may be a problem if you need to carry it.

Hull Capacity

Your boat needs to be able to handle the motor weight when you mount it on the transom. This (and power) is the reason manufacturers specify the largest motor you are allowed to install. It should be pointed out in your boat manual so be sure look it up.

A large number of older boats were designed for lighter 2-stroke engines, but 4-strokes can also be successfully used as long as you follow the guidelines. If you overload it, it can be counterproductive in terms of speed and efficiency, and it can even be dangerous if the boat is tipped to the back too much.

Fuel Efficiency

Possibly the biggest downside of a 2-stroke engine is the lower efficiency. Because at one point during the cycle both intake and exhaust ports are open at the same time, some of the fresh air/gasoline/oil mix leaves the engine without being burned. This increases gas consumption, as well as hydrocarbon emissions.

The 4-stroke and DFI 2-stroke have the exhaust valve closed while burning the petrol, allowing them to use all the gas and increase efficiency. In addition, in a two-stroke you need to mix fuel and oil and pour it in the tank together, while the 4-stroke has a separate oil system for lubricating the motor.

Long Shaft or Short Shaft

Shaft length can greatly influence the ability of your motor to move the boat. Shorter shafts (around 15in) are better for boats with a lower transom, inflatables for example. On the other hand, longer shaft (20in or longer) is a better choice for many types of fishing boats.

You need to measure your boat before getting the motor. Measure from where the motor sits (top of transom) vertically down until you’re in level with hull bottom. This is the level where the plate on the shaft should be located.

If the shaft is too short, it may not even reach the water, or it won’t be submerged enough to work properly. However, if it’s too long, the balance is lost and it can lift the bow. This can be dangerous with stronger motors because it can even flip the vessel.

FAQs

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Q: Are Four-Strokes Always Better Than Two-Strokes?

A: It depends on what you’re needs are, but they are usually better. While 4-strokes are still larger and heavier (even though they are constantly improving in these segments), they allow better speed control and have a nicer power curve. This can be useful for fishing and cruising. We already mentioned the fuel efficiency, but they also have quieter operation.

On the other hand, 2-stroke has some pluses too, but it’s slowly being pushed out of the way. It’s generally lighter (when motors have same power), and has a quicker throttle response. This is useful to get out of a risky situation fast. However, it does produce more vibration, noise and pollution.

Q: Are Two Motors Better Than One?

A: As we mentioned, the manufacturer will specify the strongest motor you can put on your boat. If two motors combined have the same power output as a single motor, then there is no true difference between having one or two. It can usually be more expensive to get two motors. However, because of boat safety, some people like to have two (with separate fuel/power source) in case one fails and leaves them stranded. In any case, having quality distress flares and a working radio can help you if something like this happens.

Q: Is High-Octane Gas Best?

A: This is not necessarily true. Fuel mixture shouldn’t ignite and explode too early, because it leads to low efficiency and even engine damage. Petrol with high octane rating has better compression resistance. Manufacturer specifies which type of fuel works best for the given motor. You should use the recommended type. Going for higher octane fuel won’t increase efficiency, but it will increase the running cost.

Q: Should I Rig With The Biggest Motor Allowed?

A: You don’t have to, but it can certainly be beneficial. It will allow you to move at a higher speed and improve the maneuverability of your boat. Smaller motors can also be satisfactory for users which aren’t very demanding, and they can be budget-friendly too. However, your motor needs to perform, so be sure not to undersize it. Take into consideration not just boat size, but also heavy loads and rough waters.

Q: Are Outboards Maintenance-Free?

A: As with any engine, some maintenance is required. It’s important to do this for the motor to work properly, but also to increase the lifespan. In the owners manual you will have detailed instructions about cleaning, flushing, checking for damage and other tasks. Take care of your motor between seasons, clean it properly and get a good outboard motor cover. Some boat covers are large enough that they can cover the motor too, which is a plus.

Q: What Speed Can You Get With Small Outboards?

A: This depends on the motor power and boat weight. Most small outboards will deliver between 5 and 10mph. Larger motors rely on getting you on the plane, when the boat is lifted and glides on the surface. This allows drag to be reduced and in turn speed to increase.

Globo Surf Overview

Equipping your boat with the right motor can be worth your money. You’ll get a long lasting and reliable product to run your boat. We presented different types products which are available on a relative budget, but to find the best marine outboard motor you need to consider all the factors presented in the guide, and pair it properly with your boat type.

More Boat Reviews:

Have you tried an outboard motor that made it onto our list? Which type did you get? How are you satisfied with the performance? Please share with us in the comment section below.

Globo Surf Boat Outboard Motors Reviews

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This article guided me on choosing an outboard motor. It has the most detailed guide!

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!