Saturday, 2 December 2006


Over the Stoney weekend recently I was fortunate to dive every serious make of Underwater Scooter including Magnum Gavin, Short Bodied Gavin SLA, my own Gavin Mini G, Silent Sub and the newest X- Scooter Sierra.

It was a great weekend and we were fortunate to have our friend Rob Dobson who has just taken delivery of two X-Scooter Sierras down. It meant the Garf, Gloc and I were able to scooter dive as a team, me on the Mini G and the guys on the two X's. Garf has always been adamant that he doesn't see the point of scooters. He seemed to have changed his mind somewhat by the end of our dive! It was a great end to what had been a hard week, and I have to say that it was the X- Scooter that impressed and surprised me the most. The Gavin's and the Silent Sub were as serious and dependable as you'd expect - but the little X's were quite a revelation.

When you have a good look over an X Scooter there are lots of clever refinements that make you wonder whether the other guys have been resting on their laurels somewhat. Firstly, the X's have a single piece nose cone with just one twin face and barrel O ring at the motor end. This removes one potential point of failure which all the other suffer from (ie an O ring at the nose cone) and this really is just an issue of manufacturing laziness / economy on the part of the other manufacturers. It a lot cheaper just to use a piece of tube and then put a machined nose on the end rather than manufacturing a one piece item. Lots of other clever refinements are abound: The way the battery pack secures into the nose cone, the weighting pouch system for trimming the scooter out, a floodable brushless motor, the neat webbing strap on the barrel, the ring in the nose for threading the towcord when towing and above all an ergonomically designed handle that actually fits your hand in the plane in which these towcord scooters are designed to be used

Nickel metal hydride batteries reduce the size and weight of the scooter to surprisingly manageable proportions - it really is just like picking up a small stage cylinder which is definitely a big plus when you're wrestling with a load of other heavy technical shit. It also means you can take the scooter on a dive where you'd leave a Gavin behind if you doubted whether the viz would be good enough and then when you got to the bottom of the shot and found it was poor, you could just thread the towcord through the nose ring and clip it to your hip D-ring like a stage and carry on the dive. You certainly wouldn't and couldn't drag something of Gavin proportions around for a whole dive if conditions didn't work out - you'd just thumb the dive.

Downsides? X's now have a throttle shifting pitch control which means you can adjust the speed "on the fly" unlike Gavin's and Subs where you have to come off the throttle and turn the knob in the centre of the prop blades at the back of the scooter. This is great and it adds a lot of convenience, but it seems to be a fairly complicated mechanism and I wonder how reliable it is.?That said - Gavin relays aren't exact renowned for being faultless other. Other Gripes: The motor whilst it seems to provide roughly the same outright speed as a Gavin or Sub - doesn't seem to have quite the grunt. I reckon with a few stages and X would be slowed down quite a lot - but for a no stage or one deco bottle dive it would be fine.

In use the X's are a joy: Incredibly well balanced, quick turning and maneuverable - both Garf and Gloc were looking very relaxed by the end of our dive and you certainly couldn't say the same for me the first time I used my Gavin.

At around £2,000 in a compact Pelican case here in the UK - they're at least £500 cheaper than the other scooters mentioned here and I reckon as a fun and Tech1 level dive scooter - they're pretty perfect. For serious exploration or a dive where you're running thirds - look elsewhere - not least because of the NiMh batteries - the issues surrounding which are well documented elsewhere.

X Scooters - More Fun Than Sex With A Fat Bird! Feel free to use that in your marketing boys - the milk of my human kindness just overfloweth :-)