If you’re a wakeboarder/wakesurfer, you’re likely atttracted to the high quality and performance of Malibu boats.
Newbies often seek advice from people who have ridden behind different Malibu and Axis boat models. Among their top wake/surf boats are the 21VLX, 22MXZ, 23LSV, and Axis A22.
Which one(s) produce the best wake and/or wake? Are there important differences (besides size) between these models?
Here is a Malibu/Axis boat top rankings for wakeboarding based on boat owner survey:
- Wakesetter 25LSV & A24 (tie)
- Wakesetter 23LSV
- 24MXZ & 23MXZ (close)
- T23, 22LSV, T22, A22, A20
These rankings are based on 2021 models with stock ballast (PNP where applicable), 75-foot rope, 22 mph speed, wedge at 3 or 4.
As for older models (2014 and older), the winner for the best wakeboard wake is always the MXZ.
For the best surf wave, though, the LSV and VLX hold the top spot. The 23′ LSV is bigger, while the 21′ VLX is a smaller option ideal for 2-3 people in the boat – just keep in mind shorter boats have less transition.
Criteria for choosing the best Malibu surf wave
The following are key criteria when choosing a Malibu boat specifically for its surf wave:
- A V-drive is the only option for wakesurfing. See Can you wakesurf behind any boat?
- Bigger boats generally produce better surf waves. Surfers tend to recommend the 235, the 25LSV, or the 24 mxz – the latter is often viewed as having the best wave. A 20 or 21′ boat will not produce a huge wave.
- On the other hand, bigger boats require more ballast to sink for a good wave – when demoing a boat, check if the boat has enough weight.
- When choosing the engine options for your Malibu/Axis boat, you must factor in the extra ballast you’ll need for achieving the wave you want.
- While larger boats require more weight to make a good wave, more weight e.g. 5000+ lbs will also lead to higher fuel consumption. Some boat owners choose to reduce ballast (sometimes with little negative impact on the wave)
- Some surfers like a long, steep, hard wave, while others will a softer wave for easy spin tricks. Some want a large pocket for tricks while others are just happy to surf ropeless. This also affects the choice of your Malibu model.
- Whether you’ll be primarily riding goofy or regular can also influence which boat is best for your surfing.
- Besides wakesurfing, consider whether you’ll also be wakeboarding, skiing, tubing etc. Also think about how many people will be in the boat on average. This will affect your choice of Malibu boat model.
- Other factors that can affect your choice of Malibu model include how many sacs you have have, whether you use a wedge, how fast you drive, what kind of board you ride.
- With a 21 VLX you may need 4000 lbs of ballast to get a decent wave. With a 23 LSV or a 247, you may need even more weight – which means more money.
Best Malibu boat: M235, M240, M220
The M235 is Malibu’s flagship performance towboat and without a doubt one the most upscale (and priciest) wave producing boat on the market.
Many riders have long considered the M235 as the best surf boat in Malibu’s past lineup. It offers a great clean wave with good length, a nice lip, and solid push including for larger riders.
The above video shows an M235 wave with stock ballast without plug and play nor extra sacs, wedge on “lift”, and speed of around 12 mph.
One of the strengths of the M235 is that it comes with a lot of factory weight, which leaves a lot of room for more passengers in the boat.
Note that M235 owners don’t always use the pnp rear bags as it typically requires a couple of passengers sitting in the bow to balance out – many people don’t enjoy sitting up front.
Malibu M240, M220
|Dry weight||6200 lbs||7500 lbs|
|Weight capacity||2115 lbs||2397 lbs|
|Max factory ballast||5160 lbs||4700 lbs|
|Fuel capacity||79 GAL||86 GAL|
The Malibu M models have a lot of transition but lacks a bit of lip – the MXZ has a lot more lip.
When set up with 75% in the rear and center, no weight in the bow, and wedge on 3 or 4 (depending on number of people), the M can produce a greatly shaped surf wave.
While some wakesurfers prefer the MXZ over the M for the better lip, others like the meaty M wave and its long transition which is very easy on the knees and the back.
Best Malibu boat: Wakesetter 25LSV & 23LSV
|Dry weight||5200 lbs||6175 lbs|
|Weight capacity||2115 lbs||2538 lbs|
|Max factory ballast||4250 lbs||5180|
|Fuel capacity||65 Gal||103 GAL|
Boat owners frequently rave about the Malibu 25LSV’s wave and compare it favorably to that of the Malibu 23LSV or MXZ.
Example setups for the 25LSV producing an amazing surf wave is:
- Full ballast
- 750 PnP on each side
- added 700lbs of lead
- wedge at 2 – or 3 if no added lead)
- speed of 10.6 to 11.4 mph
Riders like that the 25LSV wave offers plenty of ramp even with just a little wedge.
Compared to the 23LSV, the added hull length in the 25LSV makes the boat plane earlier and with less bow rise. It even planes fine with full PnP and several passengers in the boat.
With the 23LSV, some wakeboarders complain they’re unable to plane out at wake speed with the PnP full even after pitching down to a 15×13 and adding bow weight and a passenger. They need to drop to 50% ballast to get a not-so-great wake.
The new 25LSV not only has an amazing surf wave, it achieves this with all hidden ballast. Compared to the MXZ, for example, many people prefer the LSV wave and love that you don’t need to add bags on top of the seats.
One caveat of the 25LSV is that it can be bit tricky to achieve a clean wake on both sides.
The new 2022 25LSV has a deeper hull, which might make it the new best Malibu boat for wakeboarding.
Best Malibu boat: 22MXZ, 24MXZ
|Dry weight||5400 lbs||6000 lbs|
|Weight capacity||2256 lbs||2397 lbs|
|Max factory ballast||4670 lbs||4885 lbs|
|Fuel capacity||58 Gal||82 GAL|
For many, the Malibu 24MXZ has the best wake and wave. A great wake can be achieved with the hard tanks and PnP ballast full, an added 1000 lb bow bag, and 300 lbs of lead in compartments under the seats.
Compared to the LSV, the MXZ throws a smaller but longer wave, while the LSV’s wave is steeper but shorter. The MXZ pocket has a lot more room to surf in. Riders often feel the MXZ has the best lip of the Malibu lineup.
Likewise, many boaters are very happy with the 22MXZ:
The above video shows the wave created by a 2013 Malibu 22MXZ LS3 with Surfgate, Wedge 2, full factory tanks, 750lb sac in front and 750lb sac on left side seats as well as 1100 sacs in the rear lockers.
The above is also a 22MXZ (Indmar 350ss) with full factory ballast, 550 lb PnPs in the rear lockers, and 6 people in the boat (half in bow, half in rear), at under 10 mph speed.
Best Malibu boat: Axis A22, A24
|Weight||4500 lbs||5500 lbs|
|Weight capacity||2115 lbs||2538 lbs|
|Max factory ballast||4115 lbs||5320 lbs|
|Fuel capacity||48 GAL||76 GAL|
The Axis A22 and A24 with the M5 engine both will get on plane very easily for wakeboarding, e.g. with 3 people in the boat, 500+ lbs bags in the rear, and 750 lbs added weight mid-boat near the driver.
As one might expect, the A24 is slightly slower to get on plane than the A22 which flies out the water even with the wedge on 4.
The A22 has a lot more bow rise than the A24 – especially with no weight added in the bow.
The M5 performs really well for wakeboarding with 4 or 5 people in either boat. With more people, it may be worth spending an extra $5000 for the M6 engine.
For wakesurfing, however, the M5 is largely sufficient (no hump like for wakeboard).