PDB Shootout: South Bay

224 RS LE

Published in the January 2020 Issue September 2021 Boat Test Monday, Feature

Quick Glance

You don’t need to be a first-time buyer to appreciate this Limited Edition model from South Bay. It’s from the manufacturer’s value line, yet the only “value” part about it might just be the price.


South Bay is known for its high-end custom pontoons, but it appears the manufacturer wanted to take a different approach with this line by offering the same quality but at a lesser price. We were impressed by not only the craftsmanship and construction of this price-point model, but also the ease of the buying process.

Forest River Marine takes a lot of the complication out by offering just three different lengths (20-, 22- and 24-foot) with three different models per length. Even the exterior color options have been simplified, so as a potential new buyer you’re not overloaded with limitless decisions to make. Plus as tested there weren’t a lot of options, yet plenty of key standards to ensure your time on the water is comfortable and well-spent.

At the dash of the helm console is a nice display of analog gauges with lighted rocker switches below as well as the Kicker stereo controls on one side. Then right of the steering wheel there is a master power switch, media holder, 12-volt outlet and a USB port. For the captain is a comfortable helm chair with an identical one directly across for the first mate and the two-tone vinyl used for the seating ties in well with the Infinity Woven vinyl flooring.

In the stern is a four-step telescoping ladder as well as a ski/tow bar with just enough room on the back swim deck to towel off before coming on board. Other features worth noting include a pop-up changing room located in the back of the port chaise lounge, portable cupholders for a total of nine, as well as ample dry storage under all of the seats. If we had to be picky we’d like to see some type of a locking glove box near the helm for the captain to put loose items in like a wallet and keys, but other than that this pontoon has what you need – especially at this price point.

Closer Look

Below deck the three 25-inch diameter pontoons are the base with lifting strakes on both sides of the center tube and on the inside of the outer ones. The chassis construction using V-Lite composite decking is branded as Z42: zero wood, zero rot, zero seams and zero expansion/contraction, while being 40 percent lighter than marine grade plywood and two times stronger than marine grade plywood. 


The maximum horsepower rating for this 24-footer is 150, but the Suzuki 140 four-stroke appears to be a great match as we reached the 30 mph mark at full throttle with a zero-to-20 mph time of just over five seconds. She handles well and was very responsive and overall is a lot of fun to drive.

Final Thoughts

There is a reason why the sale of pontoon boats makes up more than a quarter of total boat sales in this industry and it’s because of the versatility. While the high-end custom pontoons get a lot of attention, it’s solid and well-built value pontoons like this one that will ensure our segment of the industry keeps growing.

Middlebury, Ind.

Number of Occupants: 13                 
Price As Tested With Power: $43 K
Maximum Speed: 30.4 mph               
Wild Ponies: 140 hp   
No. of Gates: 3
0-20 MPH: 5.30 seconds       
Ladder Measurement: 3’ 9” deep

Why we love this boat…The value is amazing, but what impressed us the most is the simplified buying process that makes selecting the right pontoon in this line a breeze.  

Just being picky…Even on a price-point pontoon we feel every boat should have a locking glove box to store those loose items when you first come aboard.   


Kicker KMC1 Radio (MP3, iPod & Bluetooth Compatible), 4 Speakers w/Protective Inside Covers, Full Instrumentation, 12-Volt Receptacle, Stainless Steel Rimmed Cupholders, Port Side Cupholders, Stern Platform w/Aluminum Ladder, Oval Shaped Woodgrain Table w/Matte Finish, Surlast 10-Foot Color Matched Bimini Top w/Push Pin Quick Release, Surlast Color Matched Playpen Cover (Factory Installed), Bimini Top Trailering Brackets, Stainless Steel Cleats, Transducer Bracket on Starboard Tube, Deutsch Waterproof Electrical Wiring Harness, Z42 Chassis and Stainless Steel Ski/Tow Bar.


Table Assembly, LED Docking Lights and Portable Cupholders.

LOA: 24’ 5”     
Beam: 8’ 6” 
Hull Design: Three Pontoons
Dry Weight: 2,155 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 27 gallons

Engine: Suzuki 140
Cylinder Type: Inline 4
Cubic-inch Displacement/Horsepower: 124.7ci/140hp
Lower Unit Gear Ratio: 2.59:1

RPM     vs.      SPEED    
500                  2.0                 
1000                2.9                 
1500                4.0                 
2000                5.7                 
2500                7.0                 
3000                8.8
3500                10.9               
4000                15.4   
4500                18.8               
5000                22.7               
5500                26.1                                       
6200                30.4                

Price As Tested (Boat and Motor): $42,999
Base Price (Boat Only): $24,534

This article originally appeared in our 2020 Shootout issue. If you are interested in seeing more boat tests like this, click HERE to subscribe.  

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