NEW TO Jet Ski? – Which is best, Yamaha, Kawasaki or Sea-Doo?
Entering the personal watercraft market as a newbie is both exciting and daunting. Each manufacturer has something to offer in a variety of categories each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Confusing, you bet.
To simplify things lets break it down: There are six categories (although not all brands offer options in each category): rec-lite, recreation, tow-sports, luxury, fishing and performance. Before we look at the different brands, it’s important to understand the characteristics of each jet ski category, so you know which you should start looking at first.
This category is relatively new to the scene, created with Sea-Doo’s introduction of the Spark in 2014 and joined by Yamaha’s EX in 2017, Kawasaki doesn’t have a product available in this category. Rec-lites are the economy version of personal watercraft but can still get to speeds up to 80 kph (which will seem plenty fast to beginners). 2-seater and 3-seater versions are available, and they make an excellent choice for first-time buyers who are just starting to explore the world of jet skis. They are lightweight, nimble, have reasonable performance but obviously not at the level of the more expensive watercraft. On the flip side of the coin they have good fuel economy and are generally cheaper to maintain and insure.
These personal watercraft are more stable than rec-lites watercraft, being heavier they feel more solid and usually have more powerful engines with top speeds up to 100 kph. They have better storage options than the rec-lites, and are popular jet skis for families. Each brand offers products in this category. Sea-Doo’s lineup includes the GTI 90/130. Yamaha has the VX, VX Deluxe, VX Cruiser, VX Cruiser HO. Kawasaki offers the STX-15F and Ultra LX.
Even though all watercraft with possibly the exception of the rec-lites category are capable of tow sports. Sea-Doo is the only manufacturer with a purpose built watercraft, its Sea-Doo Wake Pro 230 incorporates the LinQ quick attach system ski pylon.
Most watercraft will work for jetski fishing but 3 seater non supercharged models are favoured for their stability and fuel economy. Only Sea-doo offer a purpose built model at the moment with the FishPro. The models are slowly being refined by each manufacturer with additional features and accessories like rod holders, esky support and added storage.
The luxury category is ideal for those looking for comfort and all the bells and whistles including more power. The Yamaha lineup includes the FX HO, FX Cruiser HO, FX SVHO and the FX Cruiser SVHO. Sea-Doo offers up the GTX Limited and GTX 155/230 and Kawasaki has the Ultra 310LX and Ultra 310X.
This category is really designed for those who want ultimate performance from their watercraft. These machines can hit high speeds over 100kph in under 4 seconds. Those who buy into this category (hopefully) have prior experience on personal watercraft as the performance can be eye watering to say the least, it’s definitely an incredible rush to ride Super-charged watercraft and the responsibility that comes with it should be considered. Downsides to performance is fuel consumption and you should expect to get through a tank of fuel (60L or so) in an hour of performance riding. Also bear in mind some insurers will not insure PWC that exceed 60mph (approx. 96kph). Models include Kawasaki’s Ultra 310LX, Ultra 310X, Ultra 310R and standup SX-R 1500, Yamaha’s race bred GP1800R and FX series Luxury Performance Waverunners and Sea-Doo’s RXP-X 300 and RXT-X 300.
Which Jet Ski is Right For You?
There’s no right or wrong when it comes to the watercraft on offer from Kawasaki, Yamaha or Sea-Doo. Your own needs, budget, performance requirements and level of extras will impact your decision.
You will find the category that most appeals to you, then as with all purchases, evaluate the products thoroughly, join groups, discuss with others before deciding.
Here’s a checklist of a few considerations to help you choose:
- How often are you planning to use the jet ski?
- Take into account fuel consumption. The performance watercraft can get thirsty.
- What’s your budget and have you thought about insurance and registration costs.
- Check resale values in the classifieds.
- Will you want two seats or three? (Note that models vary when it comes to seat sizes — especially in the rec-lite category). In some states you may need a 3-seater to be legal for tow sports.
- Do you really need all the bells and whistles up front?
- How will you handle maintenance? The naturally aspirated watercraft are cheaper to maintain than the supercharged performance craft.
- How will you store it? Can your watercraft fit in your garage?
Jet skis are a fun way to enjoy the water and very addictive after your first ride. They are easy to launch and look after in comparison to a boat so start the journey now and get out there!