For too long, ski and wakeboat builders have clung to the notion that their boats can be expensive, and enough people will pay the price to make it a good business. Indeed, for decades, ten to twelve thousand people a year paid a hefty premium to own an inboard-powered, specially-designed and superbly-built skiboat form one of five or six builders in class. Well, the folks at Malibu, a longtime builder of performance ski and wakeboats, have introduced a price-point wakeboat that is not only affordable, but capable of holding her own in the competitive wakeboat realm. The result is an entirely new company called Axis Wake Research, and their first launch is the Axis A22. Sure, you lose a little in the features department, but not much, which means you still get a very capable boat.
|22' 0'' /
Currently no test numbers
Indmar/Axis AR335 MPI
Indmar/Axis Raptor 400 MPI
Indmar/Axis Raptor 400 CAT
|Hull Warranty Extended
Capt. Steve Says...
No Frills, Big Thrills
When we say you lose a little in the features department, “little” is the key word. Even so, there are still creature comforts that are non-existent on this boat, but all are probably items that you can live without in return for having more gas money throughout the season. The essentials are still present, but you don’t get top of the line and in most cases, you don’t need it either. This boat is all about fun and getting more people on the water for less money.
The Goods but Not Greats
Just take an overall look and you’ll see that there are no transom walkthroughs. For boarding, you step on the non-skid topped caprail and then onto a cushion, any cushion, and then you’re in -- the old fashioned way. A walkthrough windshield is present but you can’t walk through it. Instead, the dual cushions flip up to form both a forward and rear-facing seat, and a front-facing sun lounge. I liked the aft facing seat being so close to the operator.
The helm is a comfy wrap around barrel-style seat but there’s no flip up bolster; the seat bottom will lift out. It’s all about tradeoffs like these throughout the boat, but in each case, they’re fair tradeoffs, and the AR22 remains functional and workable.
The huge sunpad aft has no latches- you grab a strap, lift and up it comes. It’s held closed simply by its own weight. Once open, there’s a tray on top of the engine for storage of shallow items not needing to be secured in place, whatever those might be. With the engine's warming effect, perhaps this would be a good place to put towels, or a wet swimsuit, if you don’t mind changing in front of everyone.
Once inside the engine compartment, you see the usual tight fit, and the side panels are removable for maintenance on the engine. Standard engine is a 335-hp 5.7L AR335 built by Indmar.
Tower for Power
The wakeboard tower is fabricated from fat sections of cast aluminum tubing with the tow point 86” above the deck. There’s no ski tow pylon in sight, so skiers will also be using this tow point. Speakers are held on with clamps around the tubing. The whole tower is simple, and totally effective. It is also fixed in position so there’ll be no collapsing for storage in your garage. Wakeboard racks are all optional and you can choose between fixed, swivel, or lift off versions.
The boat comes standard with 900 lb. (409 kg.) capacity ballast “compartments” and there’s an option for adding 1275 lb. (579.5 kg.) more. The good news is that the boat is pre-plumbed for the additional ballast, so installing the tanks is simply “plug and play.”
There’s a cruise control that will allow you to make incremental adjustments up and down to keep whoever is on the end of the towline happy.
Back at the swim platform, there’s not much of a seat for putting your boards on, so you’ll probably do what I did and sit on the grab handle. The platform is fiberglass with rubber matting preventing slipping and sliding.
Now of course, you’re free to option up on a lot of the items if the basics aren’t good enough for you. Docking lights, removable carpet, splash proof Sony stereo, speaker upgrades, an auto set wedge... these are all items you can get on a more expensive boat, and here, while they are available, it begs the question... “Do you really need them?”
The whole point of Axis is to give you a boat that can do it all designed and built by ski/wakeboard experts that can do it all, but for a lot less money. (After all, I'm told not everyone is rich!) Even loaded down with options, the boat costs less than a large chunk of the competition, and that’s what separates the buyers from the tire kickers. You just have to now ask yourself, which category do you want to be in?
And, in case you haven’t noticed, there is a trend to frugality in all things these days, and exotic, purpose-built ski/wakeboard boats are no exception. Congratulations to Malibu management for recognizing the trend and for giving consumers a good option.