May 18, 2016 Last Updated 12:49 pm

* Long Term Test – Suzuki DF20 Outboard

The Suzuki DF20 is at the cutting edge of outboard design. It is a capable motor. Jim Clohessy has been running one...

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With boating items of large capital expenditure take careful consideration and there are few things as crucial as deciding to purchase or upgrade an engine.

While small boat or dinghy angling can be an expensive business in terms of getting involved you will find that most skippers work their way into the sport. Few make big investments their first time boating.

While kayak angling can be seen as an inexpensive way to get afloat it does not suit everybody. Many want the reassurance of a “proper” boat beneath them. Of course the method of propulsion is also an issue!

In recent years many boat anglers have recognised the benefits in using modern inflatable boats as a cost effective yet safe method of getting afloat. Anglers have often said to me “What boat is smallest that can be safely used on the sea”? My answer is always the same – You can go to sea in safety in a bathtub – It really comes down to the skippers ability to read and deal with the conditions.

I spend a lot of time fishing from my little inflatable “Rubber Duck”. It is a Walker Bay Genesis RIB all of 3.4 metres long. It is powered by a Suzuki DF20 20hp outboard. The engine is newer than the boat and it is a power plant of note.

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Last season I decided that I should set about changing my outboard motor. I began the usual process and began to check out all the 15hp outboards on the market. There are many makes and models to choose from. I was hunting for a pull-start motor, a basic model if you wish. One of the first criteria I checked was weight. Immediately the Suzuki leaped off the pages as being the lightest in class. There was not much between the various makes in terms of price. I was only considering the popular manufacturers. I still would not have the courage to chance one of the Chinese marques.

As the Suzuki was holding my interest I began to check out the specifications. At this stage I was left with a complete quandary – The Suzuki is the most cutting edge engine in class. The technology is new and therefore the question comes into your mind: Should I take a chance with the modern technology or go with the older tech?

If it was a slight leap forward I wouldn’t mind but the Suzuki is the first fuel injected engine in class. This is nothing to be sneezed at given that the engineering behind it is incredible. Fuel injection usually needs a battery. This technology is the first batteryless system. Fuel injection promises more responsive motors and better fuel economy.  The little Suzuki delivers this in spades.

The benefit of the weight of the engine is that I could opt for a 20hp rather than the 15hp I had. The Walker Bay hull will do about 20 knots regardless of whether you have a 15 or a 20 but the extra HP comes into its own when you are carrying an extra body on board. The boat will plane much quicker with the extra oomph.

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The Suzuki DF20 is a pretty looking engine. It is finished in the standard Suzuki Black paint and it certainly looks splendid when waxed up and ready to go. The first thing you notice is the ease of starting. Once you prime the bulb and take up the slack in the recoil starter the engine starts with a small pull; a minimal pull when the engine is warm. The engine is incredibly quiet on tick over – I’ve heard mouse’s heart mentioned!

When you twist the throttle there is a satisfying growl as the power kicks in. That said I would not call it loud even though I’m sitting next it the motor at the stern of the boat with tiller control.
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I have been using the motor for over a year now. I did have a hiccup that the engineers put down to water in the fuel. Other than that the motor has been faultless and a pleasure to use. Starting is easy as is stopping. I remove the motor from by dinghy after each trip so I appreciate the lighter weight. It still is a considerable lump to move around. I am really impressed with the fuel economy. I have never run the tank dry on a trip. Being a 20hp I would expect it to be more thirsty than my trusty 15hp but it would appear not. The efficiency of the fuel injection system attends to this. Acceleration is superb, there is little or no lag from throttle turn to power application.

All told it is a superb package. If anybody want a closer look at the DF20 just give a shout!

Edit: 2022
My Suzuki has been an incredible servant to date. I’m not hard on gear and do look after it. It looks as good now as it did coming out of the box! I have not had any thoughts of replacing as the motor is just so good!

In the Cork area you can contact Paul @ Cork Marine – Paul is well equipped for parts as well as service work.

You can see the suzuki in action here:

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