I had a tough time finding information on the Ridesteady user experience (the GPS version) prior to pulling the trigger so I decided to put up a review to potentially help others. I’ve never done a review like this - it is long winded. Feel free to ask me anything if I missed something. After considering options for cruise control on my new to me 2005 Sanger V215 I decided to give Hydrophase Ridesteady a try. Two things pushed me in this direction: 1) its features and how easy it seemed to use, and 2) it is less expensive than Perfect Pass Stargazer. I was looking at GPS versions only as I didn’t want to install a paddle wheel. I’ve been in boats with Perfect Pass but never had any experience with Ridesteady. I’ve also never installed a cruise control, so that was a new experience as well.
-- Unit and Options --
My dash had an empty 3.5” gauge spot and black gauges. I was able to order the unit to match the black gauges. I had to get the longer throttle motor cable length as my boat is a V drive. I opted for the air/water temperature sensors as I didn’t these on any other gauges. It was nice having these built into Ridesteady rather than having to install another gauge.
-- Installation --
Installation was very straightforward and well-guided. The user guide explains installation well and while discussing the unit with Justin at Hydrophase he sent me installation pics for motors/boats very similar to mine. It was helpful to see how others installed the unit. Ultimately my install was different, but the pictures provided inspiration of what I could do. The package comes with everything you would need to install Ridesteady on any boat, so you may find you will some left over hardware. I appreciated this as other things I have installed barely have enough hardware for installation.
The most difficult part of the installation was determining where to install the throttle motor. On the black scorpion motor on my Sanger the throttle body and throttle cable direction is in a less than ideal location for Ridesteady installation. To make things worse I have a lot of other things I’ve installed in the area to work around such as ballast bag drain and vent hoses (four 1 1/8”) that run across the boat to maximize ballast weight while surfing, custom electrical wiring, and heater hoses for the boat heater. Ultimately it wasn’t too hard since the throttle control cable just needs to be clear of obstructions, but it took a little thought and trial and error. Attaching the control cable to the throttle on the black scorpion took a little experimentation too to get the right attachment point and the right hardware. Luckily as mentioned above there is a variety of hardware included in the package, so I was able to find something that worked.
At the helm, the gauge installation was very easy, but the electrical connections to the CPU required a little research and work in my boat. I wasn’t able to use the posts of the existing gauges as the installation guide suggests, but rather I had to run some new wiring to access switched power, lights, and the tachometer signal. I wanted to mention my specific solutions for my 2005 Sanger V215 to potentially help others. I installed a buss bar to attach all of my electrical connections (and to allow me to easily add other things in the future). I was able to easily get the switch 12V from the key assembly. I tapped off of the navigation light fused switch to get the light signal. The tachometer/RPM signal on the Sanger is a small gray wire with a female connection that sticks out only 2” from the main wiring harness under the gauge area. For the lights and RPM signal I used the tap connectors included in the package.
Since I have a heater at the driver’s feet I ran the air temperature sensor to the nose of the boat so the heater wouldn’t affect the readings and hung it out of view. The water temperature sensor was run to the starboard side on the transom. I was installing a depth finder at the same time as the Ridesteady installation so I only had to drill 1 small hole for both sensors. Once it was all plugged in I fired it up to test it before bringing it on the water. Everything worked the first time. The throttle motor test built into the device was very useful here.
-- Features and Ease of Use --
The feature and ease of use is where Ridesteady sets itself apart. The rotary/push knob is a very good user input solution. Hydrophase has made tuning the unit to your boat simple and easy. There are only two parameters to adjust: 1) response and 2) overshoot. Let’s start with overshoot: this is the control of the anticipation of Ridesteady taking over throttle control as the boat is accelerating to the set speed. Controlling this parameter seems to interrelate with how much throttle you tend to give initially (how hard you pull the rider up). For instance, if you tend to give it full throttle, you want to adjust the overshoot to anticipate that you are accelerating quickly toward the set speed and start reducing the throttle early. Next is response: this is the control of how aggressively the unit is trying to maintain the set speed. Generally it seemed that if you are using a lot of ballast you need to set the response to be more aggressive. I noticed having to be careful not to have the response too high or it would add too much throttle during a turn to get the boat back up to speed. Ultimately I lowered my response setting from the default to get a smooth pull that I preferred.
The user presets combined with ride stats are pretty awesome. You are able to have each user have their own mode (GPS, RPM, paddlewheel), speed, response, overshoot preferences. This is not only useful for a specific user’s pull preferences, but also if you’re doing multiple sports or change your ballast throughout the day. I had a particular setting programmed for my wakeboard pull while having a completely different one for my wakesurf pull. Before I bought the unit I thought that maybe the ride stats things might’ve been gimmicky. Even on this first day of testing the unit I noticed the utility in the ride stats. I was quite interested in knowing how long my runs were and we never actually kept track of this in the past. Knowing the ratios of times each person runs will be useful when we have guests on the boat. At the end of the day we will know how much gas money everyone should contribute. Also, there are ‘system presets’ that allow you to quickly set only the desired speed and mode (gps, rpm, paddlewheel) without having to have it assign it to a particular user’s profile. I imagine this would be useful for one-off guest riders or do some experimentation with things.
Some other notes: the ‘delayed shutoff’ feature was useful to view all of the ride stats after shutting off the motor and to keep GPS signals locked throughout the day – not that it took long to get GPS lock. It seemed like it was less than a minute to get lock at my location. In general there are just enough user options to get things right without overcomplicating things. Lastly, I wanted to note that this unit, as a gauge only, basically could replace most other gauges on your dash. It shows RPM, speed, battery voltage, compass heading, time, air and water temperature – all while being easy to read and navigate. If it had oil pressure I wouldn’t need any other gauge… This is not a direct feature necessarily, but I like the peace of mind knowing that if a gauge failed on me, Ridesteady may show me what I needed until I got around to fixing the gauge.
-- On the water test –
When we managed to get it out on the water for a very cold ride (water temp 38 degrees, air temp 62 degrees – February in Colorado…) everything worked as it should. We threw on the dry suit and put it through the ropes. We only used the GPS mode. It never gave a poor pull to make me want to try RPM mode. Skiers may prefer RPM mode, but we only wakeboard and wakesurf. We had to play a bit with the overshoot and response settings to get it to pull how we liked for wakeboarding. At 4500’ altitude with 500lbs in the nose and about 800 in the rear I had to lower the response and overshoot values from the defaults. This gave a nice consistent pull for us. We also tried wakesurfing behind it too with 1000lbs port and 500lbs in the nose. The speed control worked well for this too. We adjusted the response and overshoot a little bit, but it wasn’t as important for wakesurfing as the initial, much slower pull is more controlled by the driver and once Ridesteady takes over it held speed just fine regardless of the settings. I was able to have my wife pull me without having to explain the system to her. She picked it up quickly and didn’t have any complaints (passes the wife test – check). I think I’m still going to play with the settings a little bit with different ballast configurations and speeds to get the wake right, but it seemed easy enough to make any future adjustments quickly.
-- Overall Opinion --
So far I have a high opinion of Ridesteady and am glad I decided to get this cruise control system. The installation was pretty easy. The system is easy to use. The features are helpful. If my opinion changes as time goes on I’ll update the thread.