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Piezoelectric pressure sensors! Depac data acquisition recorder! Schenck eddie current dynamometer! Oscilloscope! Piezoresistive pressure sensors! DAT highspeed data recorder! And you thought that this was going to be a test on an aftermarket watercraft exhaust system. No need to worry, because it is. When we went to Ukiah, California, in early February to test Factory Pipe Products' XP 720 exhaust system, we too were in doubt. Were we to test a watercraft pipe or a component for the space shuttle? See, upon our arrival at the company headquarters, owner Ross Liberty took us to a room at the very back of his building that was filled with all of the equipment we just listed. This room, which I'll refer to as Liberty's lab, is were he and his crew of technoids research and develop two stroke exhaust systems for personal watercraft.
IN THE LAB
Unlike most aftermarket engine parts that usually work best in conjunction with other aftermarket modifications, Factory Pipe not only claims that their system works best on a totally stock engine when using 92 octane pump gas, they discourage running any other modifications in conjunction with it including aftermarket flame arrestors. "Because the Rotax 720 is a fairly high-performance engine from the factory, it is critical that the carburetors be properly tuned when running our exhaust system. We also discourage altering the stock cylinder compression or ignition timing," says Liberty.
With the Factory Pipe system installed and ready to go, Liberty once again fired up the motor. This time however, Liberty would not only bring the engine up to temperature, he would also establish the curve. Unfortunately, he didn't establish the curve he had hoped for a 100 horsepower peak. Liberty did reach a peak horsepower reading of over 98, some 15 more horsepower than the stock exhaust system produced. And even though Liberty's goal of 100 horsepower wasn't achieved on this day, Hain was able to squeeze 99 horsepower from the mill when Liberty turned the controls over to him. In addition to the increase in horsepower, the torque of the engine also increased from 68.5 ft.lbs. with the stock exhaust system to 80 ft.lbs. with the Factory Pipe system.
During the dyno testing, we were curious to see how the Factory Pipe system would perform without the E.C.W.I, so we disconnected it. With the ECWI disconnected, the peak horsepower remained the same. However, the horsepower through the midrange of the powerband was lower. The torque of the engine was not only lower with the ECWI disconnected, it also peaked much later in the powerband.
ON THE WATER
Once finished with the acceleration and speed testing, Hain took the stock boat through a water ski slalom course that was set up on the lake. After numerous runs through the course, in addition to some play riding, it was time to install the Factory Pipe system. Because the Factory Pipe ECWI system uses an aftermarket rev limiter for activation, the electrical box must be pulled out and opened for this. So he wouldn't be forced to do this work at the lake, Factory Pipe tech Steve Sublet had installed it before we hit the water. So yes, the aftermarket rev limiter, which is manufactured for Factory Pipe by Micro Touch Inc., was installed during the speed runs with the stock exhaust system. The Micro Touch rev limiter has a fixed rev limit of 8000 rpm.
With the wind picking up and showing no sign of letting off, Hain took to the water for the acceleration and top speed testing with the Factory Pipe installed. After making numerous runs at the Stalker radar gun, we averaged the passes. Our results were as follows: The zero to 20 mph acceleration of the Factory Pipe equipped XP was 1.55 seconds, 0.14 seconds faster than that of the stock pipe. From 20 to 35 mph the Factory Pipe boat was just under a half second faster than stock, with an acceleration time of 1.15 seconds, and from 35 mph to its top speed of 56.23 mph (which is nearly 4 mph faster than the stock boat) it took 6.59 seconds.
In addition to performing radar runs on the XP with both the stock exhaust system and the Factory Pipe system, we also took engine speed readings at wide-open throttle. With the stock exhaust system, the XP turned a maximum rpm of 6820, while with the Factory Pipe system the mill turned 7260 rpm, for an increase in engine speed of 440 rpm.
Even though we didn't radar the Factory Pipe equipped XP with the ECWI disconnected, we did disconnect it during our riding impression. What we found is what the dyno showed. With the ECWI connected, the midrange pull of the craft was stronger, though not as noticeable as the torque curve makes it look.
Since the wind had kicked up slightly between the stock pipe radar runs and those with the Factory Pipe (and because there was some talk on the beach as to who could make the boat go the fastest), Factory Pipe's John Richards and Hain would take to the water with the wind at their backs for some final top speed runs before they called it a day. In the end, Hain emerged victorious with a peak speed of 57.8 mph, exactly 0.5 mph faster than Richard's 57.3. For the record, let it be known that Richards was at a slight disadvantage due to his 1 inch thick U.S. Diver's wetsuit that somewhat limited his mobility. As Hain left the dock, we're pretty sure we heard him spout out something to the effect of "Long live the king."
THE FINAL JUDGMENT
Gone are the days of burned and broken exhaust couplers. With Liberty's new silicone O-ring coupling design, and his retro, hammertone bronze paint on the chamber body (reminiscent of Grandma's 1949 waffle iron), reliability and corrosion are no longer a concern. With production craft getting better and better all the time, it's no wonder Liberty has to go to these extremes when designing, developing and testing an exhaust system. This time it definitely looks as though his investment in high-tech data acquisition equipment has paid off.
At $729.95, the Factory Pipe XP 720 exhaust system isn't exactly a cheap investment either, but then, what else can you get for $729.95 that offers the performance, as well as the guarantee of the Factory Pipe SeaDoo exhaust system? Let us know if you come up with anything.
While Personal Watercraft Illustrated believes the preceding test reliable, it is the opinion of the reviewer only and should not be relied upon on determining the performance or safety of the vehicle. The reader should make his or her own investigation.
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Ukiah, CA 95482
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