Stessco Bow Rider 490 with Suzuki 70 4-stroke
  |  First Published: August 2015

Stessco, on Brisbane’s north side, have been turning out excellent alloy fishing craft for years. I actually owned one for quite a while, and that no-frills but very functional little boat brought me a lot of enjoyment.

These days Stessco are turning out some far from basic craft, and the Bow Rider 490 is a great example of the sort of attention to detail and easy performance that Stessco pride themselves on.

Presented by Motorsport Marine of Burpengary, the Bow Rider 490 impressed me as the sort of craft that could fulfil a number of roles. It’s ideal for family boating, and for the more serious family angling team the bow rider section up front offers a second fishing area, with ample storage underneath. In many respects bow riders are all-rounders, and the 490 Stessco is an excellent example of the genre.


Aft of the rig’s large anchor well and bow sprit, the bow rider seating caters for up to three people to enjoy the ride with breeze in their faces. The entire bow rider area was cushion equipped, with the central cushion and its hard in-fill base easily removed and dropped down onto the floor to provide leg room for passengers. A handy amount of under-seat storage was also available under these seat bases.

Interestingly, a companionway door divided the forward area from the remainder of the craft. I liked this concept as it meant that when underway (and with this door closed) all slipstream was diverted away from aft occupants thanks to the craft’s three piece windscreen with its centre opening section and strong hand rails.

Paired modules for skipper and mate neatly combined alloy craftsmanship and fibreglass moulding in fine form. Because the modules were entirely open in their lower sections, full leg room ahead of seating was available. The first mate was treated to a storage area with drink holders just aft of the windscreen, with an open glove box area lower. Side storage was also on hand via the craft’s port side pocket.

The skipper’s module had a neatly formed, moulded dash section set up with gauges to monitor the Suzuki 70 plus a bank of switches. The steering wheel is lower but handy to the driver, with controls for the engine side mounted. There’s room to mount quite a large sounder, and in all it was a convenient and sensible set-up.

Forward seating was quite plush. Paired deluxe seats on pedestals sported two-way backrests which allowed skipper and mate to either face forward underway or simply slide the back rest section towards the windscreen to look astern when necessary. The long side pockets of the Bow Rider 490 allowed both skipper and mate to keep items within easy reach.

Additional seating was provided aft, to starboard, where a padded box doubled as either a lounge seat (with backrest) or as a storage area for catch or gear. The hinged box lid could be tilted forward for access to the Stessco’s fuel filter and other items. Again, quite satisfactory seating with its dual purpose capability a bonus.

Other features in the cockpit area included a carpeted floor, wide neatly-formed decks featuring one rod holder per side, grab rails and a full height transom with boarding gate and associated ladder to port. The boarding platforms were formed onto the engine pod’s outer extremity each side of the Suzuki, with boarding rails extending over the transom to make it easy to climb aboard.

70 Suzuki

The 70 Suzuki four-stroke was a very capable power source for the 490 Stessco Bow Rider. Engines are 60-80hp with the 1.5L four-cylinder 70 Suzuki being mid-range power. With three people aboard, the boat turned up some very respectable speeds without much fuss or engine input so far as noise was concerned. The rig planed at 3000rpm at 15.5km/h; 4000rpm was 35.7km/h; and 5000rpm (the engine was new) recording 45.8 km/h.

Test runs were carried out in slight chop within the Bribie Passage. It was quite busy at the time so it was easy to find some wash to jump to assess ride quality. The ride, to my enjoyment, was entirely smooth and quite predictable for a craft of such modest dimensions. True, the hull weight of 480kg greatly assisted ride quality, but hull shape also undoubtedly had a large input into the ride. We felt little impact as we drove briskly over some decent wash from passing craft.

Stessco have obviously put some R&D into the hull with its 18° vee form. Very large strakes and outer reversed chine are featured, and the resulting ride quality is very pleasing. In this style of boat passengers might well be sitting right over the hull’s entry section, but if the test run is any indication there won’t be any nasty surprises for passengers up front.

dry ride

When powering along and jumping wash, the craft’s interior remained quite dry. It would only be when quartering waves with wind pushing them along that some spray would come aboard, as expected from open boats of this style.An exterior side height of 1.18m would also assist in sea keeping and the dryness of ride for occupants.

I found the hull to be very stable when I was moving about taking photos, and that gets full marks from me. Handling was also a strong point of the rig, and it was great fun to throw the bow rider into sharp turns to experience a bit of G force, then watch how rapidly it recovered to a level attitude.


Although not primarily designed as a fishing craft, the Stessco Bow Rider 490 with its 70 Suzuki 4-stroke would please a lot of anglers looking for a boat that can double as a family unit and capable fishing rig, depending on the day’s requirements. With the bow rider section opened up for business there’s fishing area there to compliment the section aft.

Ride and handling excel all round, and an interior side depth of around 85cm sees plenty of freeboard for people wanting to stand and fish, or for families taking youngsters out. The addition of something to keep a few liveys in would see the package complete.

The finish of the Stessco was very good with welds neatly finished, high quality upholstery (there’s a lot of padding in this boat), and excellent overall presentation. The Bow Rider looks good and goes just as well in my view. Supplied on a Stessco dedicated trailer, this baot would come home for a modest $29,990. Motorsport Marine can be contacted on (07) 3888 0555 or on the net at www.motorsportmarine.com.au .


Technical Information

Hull construction3mm alloy throughout.
Deadrise hull16°
Weight of hull480kg
Engine ratings60-80hp
Engine fittedSuzuki 70 4-stroke
Personsmax. 5
TowingFamily six sedan or big four wagon

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