The new Robalo R160 offers a practical alternative to the used boat market for the young boating family. Besides the inherent merits of the design and standard features, the price point is just as appealing -- just $20,695 with a 50-hp Yamaha and a single-axle trailer. All topside hardware is 316 stainless steel, as on the builder’s larger boats. The R160 uses many of the same components, and much of the same careful attention to detail found on her bigger sisters. For those interested in fishing closer to shore, the builder designed the hull with a modest 10” (.25 m) draft, allowing buyers to fish in areas that larger center consoles with deeper deadrise designed for offshore use can't reach.
- Helm panel with weatherproof toggle
- Aluminum framed acrylic windshield
- Console storage
- Insulated bow fishbox cooler with overboard drain
- Helm seat cooler with reversible backrest
- 16 gallon cooler in console with overboard drain
- Aft jump seats that fold into a casting deck
- Aluminum Trailer with LED lights
- Aft storage
- Rod storage
|Length Overall||16' 4'' / 4.98 m|
1.54 m (max)
Acceleration Times & Conditions
|Time to Plane||6.0 sec.|
|0 to 30||15.2 sec.|
|Load||2 persons, 1/2 fuel, no water, 50 lbs. of gear|
|Climate||85 deg., 88 humid.; wind: 0-5 mph; seas: flat|
1 x 70-hp Yamaha 4-stroke
1 x 50-hp Yamaha 4-stroke T50LB 20''
1 x 70-hp Yamaha4-stroke F70LA 20''
1 x 90-hp Yamaha 4-stroke F90LA 20''
4 Mercury 4-stroke engines from 40-hp to 90-hp
The mission of the new Robalo R160 is quite simple: chart new waters for the builder at a smaller length at a very attractive price point. The R160 has a shallow draft that combines stability. We think the boat may perform better than some others in her size range, especially the sponson hulls and flats boats which have less effective deadrise forward.
Her second mission is to be versatile -- a good sportboat for towing watersports or to be a swimming platform as well as for fishing.
Finally, because of the low price and 10 year hull limited warranty, the R160 competes with used boats on price -- but everything is new.
Improved performance is also a result of the transom being well forward of the hull bottom running surface. Since the engine is bolted to the transom, the boat’s center of gravity is effectively further forward which allows her to get on plane more easily and at a lower speed. The boat is also less sensitive to weight shifts aft, such as when a couple of people are standing in the stern to play a fish or handle a towing toy.
An extended V-Plane hull extends past the engine. The longer running surface adds buoyancy aft when the boat is at rest, and it adds planing surface when the boat is running at speed. This extra waterline length also reduces pitching and thereby makes the boat more comfortable out on the water. There is 22'' (0.56 m) of freeboard. The transom is composite cored to help eliminate the possibility of rot and delamination.
But for many, what will make this boat especially appealing against the used boats in the same price range will be the 10 year limited boat warranty, along with whatever warranty is offered by Yamaha at the time of the sale. The end result allows first time buyers as well as anglers looking for a 16' (4.87 m) center console an opportunity to get into a well built and well-appointed boat at a reasonable cost.
Robalo designed what it calls an extended V-Plane, creating a running surface that stretches aft of the engine. This gives the R160 an edge over some competitors. For a given beam, the longer the hull’s running surface -- the more the boat’s weight is spread out, which decreases “bottom loading”. This in turn makes the boat plane more easily, even with a heavier load onboard, and with more people and gear back aft. There’s less bow rise when coming up on plane, so visibility ahead will be better as well.
Hydro Lift Multi-Angle Hull Design.
This is what Robalo calls the hull strakes found on most planning hulls that deflect spray, add lift to get the bow out of the water, and break water flow away from the bottom to decrease drag.
The R160 weighs in at 1,600 lbs. (726 kg), while other 16’ (4.87 m) center consoles weigh in from 1,000 lbs. to 1,600 lbs. (454 kg to 726 kg). More weight means slightly more comfort, but it also slows any planing boat down somewhat (the buyer has to pick one or the other).
The R160 has 22'' (0.56 m) of freeboard for her length. Remember, she's still a 16 footer (4.87 m). All of Robalo’s offshore boats have generous freeboard, in fact, for their size, compared to other brands. This adds weight to the boat, but her weight is well spent, creating a safer and more seaworthy boat capable of heading a little further out on a given day.
The bow of the R160 boasts a large casting platform finished in what Robalo calls Diamond Lustre non-skid. The platform itself doubles as a hatch over a self-draining insulated compartment that's good for storing cold drinks or bait out on the water. Stainless steel grab rails add a measure of safety for those riding in the bow or console seat, and an optional high stainless steel bow rail is available in place for added security forward ($369).
Forward Console Seat.
Moving back toward the console is a built-in forward seat with bolster. The bolster itself is removable, providing access to an electrical fuse panel as well as onboard storage for emergency gear. The buyer also has the option of adding a seat cushion ($119), depending on the mission.
Underneath the forward seat is a lid that when removed, reveals a 16 gallon (60.5 L) cooler with an overboard drain. The builder also offers an optional package containing six rod holders and a livewell in place of the 16 gallon cooler ($244). On either side of the console, the builder added blue LED courtesy lights for added safety during evening cruising.
Robalo designed a full height acrylic windshield featuring an aluminum base for added strength and support. This rugged frame doubles as a safety rail for passengers standing next to the helmsman when offshore. An optional fold-down windshield ($457) reduces the boat’s height, which comes in handy when storing the boat in a garage, while also decreasing bridge clearance from 5’1” (1.54 m) to 3’11” (1.19 m).
Leaning Post/Ice Chest.
A built-in 70 quart (66.3 L) insulated cooler doubles as the helm seat with a reversible leaning post. The reversible leaning post adds functionality to the cockpit, allowing for two people to sit facing aft at the helm seat, and talk with guests back in the aft jump seats. The leaning post and cooler lid are finished in a premium expanded and stain-resistant upholstery vinyl. We like how Robalo added a non-skid recessed footrest under the cooler for added security and better balance when standing aft of the helm seat and facing forward in offshore conditions.
On the top of the console we find two recessed storage nooks with drain lines for smaller items. These pockets are perfect for keys or a cell phone. We think the optional compass ($75) is really a must have for any boat. Also on the helm console is a stainless steel no-feedback steering wheel along with dual stainless steel cup holders and a grab rail.
For more comfortable operation at the helm, a tilt steering wheel ($106) is available. The helm area is built for exposure to the elements, including labeled water-resistant toggle switches with tinned copper wiring and waterproof connectors. Robalo also left room on the dash for added electronics, including the Garmin 741SX GPS Map ($1,394) offered as an option by the builder.
Robalo designers make good use of space aft, with jump seats with storage below that fold flat, creating non-skid surfaces for standing on to cast or step off the stern. Both seats are assembled with heavy-duty hardware, and premium, stain resistant vinyl upholstery. Dual stainless steel grab rails and matching stainless steel cup holders are in easy reach aft. On the port side there’s enough room below the seat for the ever popular 5 gallon (19 L) bait bucket, and to starboard there is room for life jackets and swim gear.
Easy Access Fuel Tank.
One of our favorite features on the intelligently designed boat is the portable fuel tank with fiberglass lid above. The 12 gallon (45.4 L) fuel tank lid above also doubles as the center section of the casting platform. This set up is infinitely easier than having to disconnect and slide a gas tank around in the boat when approaching a marina or filling up on the trailer. While the R160 is already miserly on fuel, Robalo offers an optional 18 gallon (68 L) fuel tank ($206) when greater range is wanted.
An aluminum trailer comes standard with the new R160, and it comes with 14” (.35 m) rims, a hand winch, and LED submersible lighting. A swing-away tongue is also standard and allows buyers to fit the R160 in smaller garages. An aluminum trailer upgrade package includes brakes, which we highly recommend, and in fact we wouldn’t leave home without them since they are so essential to quick, controlled stops ($483). Should the buyer not want the trailer, or have a lift to place the boat on, the builder will remove the trailer from the package (-$1,200) for a $1,200 credit.]
The base Robalo R160 comes with a Yamaha 4-stroke T50LB 50-hp 20” shaft. For more power, which is always a good idea on boats of this size which have such a high percentage of passenger weight when loaded, the 4-stroke F70LA 70-hp should do the job ($21,801). For those folks who may want more power, a 4-stroke F90LA 90-hp ($23,019) is available.
The T50LB 50-hp would likely be okay when the boat has just one or two passengers and light gear, but the 70-hp is the way to go for most purposes. Just look at our test numbers.
It is important to remember that this is only a 16’ (4.87 m) boat, and a cruising speed of 25 mph is a prudent, economical and safe way to operate.
The Robalo R160 comes standard with the Yamaha 50-hp 4-stroke plus trailer for a base price of ($20,695). At this price point the buyer can take the boat out for a spin and get good use out of her right off the dealer’s lot. With that being said, the options below are worth consideration--
With all of those options taken into consideration, a well-equipped R160 would cost around $23,228. The $3,500 price increase adds protection for the boat, as well as protection for the buyer who plans on using it. For us, essential upgrades would include the trailer brakes and the larger outboard.
Performance and Handling
Two big contributing factors to the performance of the R160 are Robalo’s trademarked Hydro Lift multi-angle hull design and its extended V-plane running surface. While our test boat was fitted with the 4-stroke Yamaha 70-hp outboard, we achieved plane in 6 seconds flat. We passed through 20 mph in 8.7 seconds and 30 mph came in 15.2 seconds.
Our top speed
was 35 mph, sipping a mere 6.1 gallons per hour, giving us a range of 62 statute miles with the standard 12 gallon (45 L) fuel tank. There is an 18 gallon (68 L) option if the buyer is interested in extending their range and/or time on the water.
Our best cruise
came in at 25 mph, turning 4500 rpms with a range of 83 statute miles.
The Robalo R160 achieved her mission of creating an accessible boat at a very appealing price point. Ride quality is a function of hull form, weight and length, for the most part, but for a 16 footer, this boat will provide good service, and will likely outperform the gull wing and cathedral hulls in her size range.
When comparing hulls, the finer the entry and the more deadrise there is in the forward half of the hull, the smoother she will run in a chop. For a given bow-to-motorwell length, this boat will provide good performance with the hull’s running surface, or bottom, extending aft of the engine.