October 05, 2021

What are the things you look for when making the choice on which small outboard motor to buy for your Scout Inflatable? This was a question I had started to ask myself about 6 months ago when I had decided to expand my angling repertoire to include adventures accessed by my 14 foot 430 model. The two most pressing questions I had were:

1) How big a motor can I use?

2) Who makes the best motor for the money?

I found through quick research and new experience that there are a lot of options that offer answers to these questions.

Although my fellow Scout fishing teammates seemed to prefer the benefits of the product and relationship provided by Mercury, there was something that told me to do my homework, dig a little deeper and consider other options. After reading countless online reviews and forum posts, it was clear that most boaters favoured Mercury or variations produced by Tohatsu Japan who take up a large part of the small outboard market share. On paper, they look good. If only by a small fraction, they are lighter, offer more HP in the same size package than the competition and they are relatively quiet. Why wasn’t this enough information for me to fall in line with the greater consensus?

 I feel that a brand should know the product it is putting out there. When it comes to motors, that includes original design, and commitment from the bottom of the line to the top. When it comes to outboard motors, this means that the company or brand is making its own product using its own design. In my opinion, brands that control their design and manufacturing process have a true understanding of what is important to the end user as well as a total commitment to build quality and service. Outside of Tohatsu who also makes small outboards for Mercury, Evinrude and Suzuki, there are only 2 other real players in the 5hp and below outboard market. These would be Honda and Yamaha. I do believe that Tohatsu makes a great motor for all the brands they make motors for, but I didn’t feel compelled to buy a motor based on brand loyalty alone.

I am a lover of the Honda story and their products. Their 2.3hp 4 stroke motor definitely offers some intriguing features. As with all motors, there are Pros and Cons.

The Pros - I loved the idea of an air-cooled motor for use in the saltwater and nasty gunky lake water as there is no mess and no flushing required.  They are also lightweight and easy to handle and manage.

The Cons - First, these are hands down the loudest motors on the market. Second, there’s no F-N-R setting as it’s a “pull and go” throttle control.  I like to start my motor and let it idle in neutral to warm up. A Honda is always in gear and will start to push your boat forward as soon as you fire up your motor. Third, I knew my boat would be spending most of its time in saltwater. I was concerned about the amount of maintenance I would have to perform after reading several posts on message boards from people who used these motors were experiencing excessive corrosion under the cowling and on the exterior components. Lastly, the price of these motors was considerably more than what you would pay for the same amount of HP in another brand. I love the idea of owning a Honda but it was a no-go. I will say that if you are a die-hard Honda fan, the water cooled 5hp may be worth a look. Scouts are rated for a motor up to 5hp.

My choice really came down to one thing which is confidence in the product that I chose. I stumbled upon a YouTube video of a guy who had a Yamaha 2.5 hp 4-stoke on the back of his sailboat. If I recall, he may have been trying to sell it and posted the video as a demonstration to show that it still worked well after leaving it sit in the elements and not starting it for 12 months. He opened up the valve on top of the gas cap, pulled out the choke, and gave it one easy pull. The motor fired right up. No smoke, no mess, and it quickly transitioned to a smooth idle with a nice soft tone. I also learned that Yamaha also produces their entire line in their own factories. That and a fair used market price on a late model unit was enough to get me to take a chance. Although these motors are a just shy of 3 lbs heavier than other motors with the same HP, the build on the Yamaha seems to be way more solid. Also, pushing a 14’ boat on calm waters, I find myself moving almost as fast as my teammates who are using the 3.5hp Mercs. The thing I love most is that my motor starts up on the first pull every time. I feel that it's reliable piece of essential equipment that I can count on. I haven’t serviced it yet, but I can already say that this won’t be the last Yamaha outboard I purchase. I’m already thinking about giving their 4hp 4 stroke model a whirl.

*  Scout Inflatables is not in the business of manufacturing or promoting specific outboard motors for their craft.  Our desire is to recommend an outboard that best suits your needs.

**  This is my opinion only and welcome any and all feedback from users of other outboard motors.  Please note, all Yamaha outboards need to be purchased directly from a Yamaha Marine Dealer.