Choosing MerCruiser Bravo 1, 2, 3 and Alpha One Boat Outdrives

bravo 3

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Learn more about why boaters are choosing MerCruiser’s popular Bravo Series sterndrives and the Alpha One outdrive for power boat drive systems

 As one of the leading manufacturers of sterndrives, MerCruiser brands by Mercury Marine offer very popular choices for inboard outboard power boats. With over 20 MerCruiser sterndrive systems to choose from, the Bravo Series and Alpha One outdrives clearly stand out as the top choices for boaters. The power of a sterndrive vs inboard engine on a boat can not be matched when it comes to MerCruiser outdrives.

Alpha One Outdrive Most Popular Sterndrive for Power Boats

Cited by Mercury Marine as “the most popular sterndrive in the world”, the Alpha One outdrive system is used for single or twin engine applications.

The Alpha One has earned a reputation as a value-priced outdrive propulsion system that delivers reliable speed. These factors combined make it a popular choice for budget conscious boaters that desire performance.

Some of the outstanding features that make MerCruiser’s Alpha One a popular choice include:

  • Hydrodynamic lower unit that produces minimal drag while cutting through the water
  • Tri-Paint System (Irridite, EDP & Powder Paint) that creates a tough, durable corrosion resistant barrier
  • Through-Prop exhaust that maximizes power and reduces noise levels for quiet operation
  • Power Trim XD® system that automatically returns the drive to the water to maintain full control of boat in rough water
  • Drive lube monitor alarm for low drive lube warnings
  • Easy inspection engine mounting to fill lube without pulling a boat from the water
  • Flexibility to use 3, 4 or 5 blade propellers in aluminum or stainless steel
  • The MerCruiser Alpha One has a 300 HP (221 kW) maximum power capacity with a 15” diameter propeller.


MerCruiser Bravo 1, Bravo 2 and Bravo 3 Outdrives

The MerCrusier Bravo Series sterndrives – Bravo 1, Bravo 2 and Bravo 3 – are upgrades from the Alpha One and feature the latest innovations in boat outdrive performance.

Bravo 1: With a focus on high speed performance, the Bravo 1 sterndrive is used for single, twin or triple engine applications and can produce speed up over 100 mph for gas engines up to 600 HP. In addition to triple-digit speeds, the exclusive performance torpedo design and dual water pickups allow the Bravo 1 to handle high and low speeds well.

Bravo 2: The Bravo 2 sterndrive is designed for twin engine applications and can power a boat up to 55 mph for gas engines up to 450 HP. With a wide gear case, the Bravo 2 is able to accommodate a propeller up to 20” in diameter that propels a boat on plane faster and improves fuel economy.

Bravo 3: MerCruiser’s Bravo 3 outdrive feature counter-rotating dual propellers that improve propulsion efficiency, speed, acceleration and handling on a boat. The two props are mounted in front of one another and turn in opposite directions eliminating wasted energy from the propeller wash. The Bravo 3 is available in a single or twin engine application and is capable of speeds up to 65 mph for gas engines up to 525 HP.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Bravo and Alpha One Outdrives

corrosion bravo 3

The MerCruiser Bravo 3 stands out as one of the most innovative sterndrive designs for Mercury Marine, but that recognition does not come without controversy. Bravo 3 outdrive corrosion problems have been an issue for many boaters, despite use of multiple zinc anodes and other preventative measures. The Bravo 3 also faces strong competition with the Volvo DPR DuoProp sterndrives.

The Alpha One sterndrive, although still popular, may be seen as more standard with newer boat propulsion system innovations. The biggest advantage of running a boat with a popular sterndrive is the availability of parts and trained technicians. MerCruiser parts are widely available online and in boat repair shops.

Here are some more resources/products that you may find helpful:

More on Use of Zincs for Boats & Outdrives

Captain Brian replaces zinc anodes on our Sea Ray to protect the boat from corrosion issues and explains how saltwater can react with the metals on your boat and why replacing your zinc anodes every year or two is so important. He also takes a look at a Mercruiser outdrive with Bravo III props and points out issues that can happen with them if there are not enough zinc anodes on to protect it.

Like Outboards Engines? Watch this video!

Sorensen’s Guide to Powerboats, Eric W. Sorensen and Mercury Marine

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Diane Seltzer

Founder & Editor at My Boat Life
Diane is the founder of as well as the boating lifestyle site for kids Active in the boating industry, Diane is also the CMO of Epoch Boats, an all-electric hydrofoil boat startup.

One Comment

  1. Having recently welcomed the Bravo 2 into my life, I will admit that I’ve fallen in love a little. It was due to a lack of reliable spare suppliers that I choose to upgrade. Recently, however, I’ve been introduced to several that I was not previously aware of and many others provide international shipping, which has been a life saver for me. I would love to hear which supplier you turn to for Mercruiser spares?

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