One Boat, Two Outdrive Options: Bravo One or Bravo Three?

Mercury Bravo 1
The single-propeller Mercury Bravo One drive.

OK, say you’ve narrowed your search to two boats. Both are the same model from the same manufacturer. Both are the same price and have the same engine. The only difference is the drive. One has a Bravo One, the other, a Bravo Three, both made by Mercury. Which one do you buy?

The answer is easy: It depends. If you’re looking for a boat that will break 60 mph, either as is or after you make some planned modifications, a Bravo One is the way to go. The single propeller lends itself to performance applications better than the dual propellers of the Bravo Three.

It’s kind of odd, but 58 mph seems to be the typical maximum speed with the Bravo Three drive. I have heard of cases where performance upgrades did not result in a higher top speed because of the limitations of the drive package.

Also, if you plan to use your boat extensively in salt water, opt for the Bravo One. Bravo Three drives have experienced greater than normal corrosion when used extensively in salt water. There are ways to keep it at bay, but with a Bravo One, those are steps you don’t have to take.

Mercury Bravo 3
The Bravo Three drive has a slightly different set of talents.

Conversely, the Bravo Three has a few advantages of its own. For example, in stock applications, midrange efficiency and control is better. A Bravo Three also can mean reduced planing and cruising speeds. What’s more, if you use your boat for towing skiers, riders, or tubers, a Bravo Three drive is better for that, too. It has more bite, so the hole shot is better.

Another characteristic of the Bravo Three is higher idle speeds than a Bravo One, which can be handy for getting through no-wake zones more quickly without having to open the throttle.

Like nearly everything in life, there are pros and cons with each drive choice. Ultimately, the choice depends on how you plan to use your boat.

Brett Becker

Written by: Brett Becker

Brett Becker is a freelance writer and photographer who has covered
the marine industry for 15 years. In addition to covering the ski boat
and runabout markets for, he regularly writes and shoots for Based in Ventura, Calif., Becker holds a bachelor’s
degree in journalism and a master’s in mass communication from the
University of Central Florida in Orlando.


A purpose-built ski boat has the engine in the middle. This helps the boat get out of the hole fast and provides a flatter wake for the skier.
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