Summer is almost upon us and perhaps this is the year you’d finally like to buy that jet ski you have been thinking about. Buying a jet ski can be a big investment – somewhere in the range of $8,000 – $15,000. Yet, for those who tend to spend most of their summers on the water, buying a jet ski can prove to be much less of a hassle or expense in the long-run.
Jet skis are often described with innumerable specifications that can be hard for most non-technical folk to decipher. For people who don’t care about all the knitty-gritty specs, there are probably just a few essential things to consider when buying your jet ski:
A) Stand Up or Seater?: “Stand-ups” are designed for use by one person at a time, and require the rider to stand the entire time they are riding. These are the jet skis used to perform tricks and flips. Jet skis with seats, on the other hand, are made to accommodate up to 1 to 4 people at a time.
B) Horsepower: The jet ski engine’s horsepower is an indication of its strength, speed of acceleration, and ability to haul loads (such as for towing water-skiers and wake boarders).
C) Thrust: Jet skis generate thrust via acceleration of the incoming water and forcing it out the back. This is what results in the jet ski moving forward.
D) Speed: Although jet ski enthusiasts would probably love to go faster, the fastest jet skis on the market can only get up to about 65 mph. This is a good thing, however, since hitting a wave at speeds much faster than that can cause damage to a rider and the jet ski itself.
Best Jet Skis
There are actually very few jet ski manufacturers in the market. The most well-known, and most reliable manufacturers, are without a doubt Yamaha, Kawasaki, and Sea-Doo. Jet skis made by other manufacturers are generally not as well-reviewed, in my own opinion, and you may have a harder time finding replacement parts for them. I, therefore, recommend sticking with the big three manufacturers. The following is a list of the top 10 bestselling jet skis from Yamaha, Kawasaki and Sea-Doo for 2011:
1. YamahaSuperJet. The Superjet is powered by a high-performance two-cylinder two-stroke engine. The manufacturer touts it as “the best selling stand-up in history.” It has a lightweight, concave hull which provides superior grip and good agility on tight turns. The starting price for this jet ski is $7,899.
2. Yamaha VX Cruiser. The is Yamaha’s best selling comfortable personal watercraft. It is a basic, well-equipped jet ski that is said to be great for beginners. One test found that it was able to go from 0 to 30 mph in just 2.6 seconds. The starting price for this jet ski is $9,399.
3. Yamaha VX Deluxe. The VX Deluxe is Yamaha’s best selling all-around affordable personal watercraft. Year after year this jet ski has found itself as a solid #1 or #2 on the sales charts. As with the VX Cruiser model above, this engine is able to reach 30 mph in about 3 seconds. The VX Deluxe is also extremely fuel efficient. The starting price for this jet ski is $8,999.
4. Yamaha FX Cruiser SHO. This is Yamaha’s top selling, luxury performance personal watercraft. This is also the biggest model Yamaha makes. It has a much larger engine than its other jet skis, putting out about 255 hp. This makes it powerful and fast. Tests show it can go from 0 to 50 mph in less than 3 seconds. The starting price for this jet ski is $13,999.
YAMAHA SUMMARY: Yamaha jet skis have been shown to have the highest resale values, and some people believe that they require less repairs and maintenance in the long-run. You can get more information and specifications for all Yamaha jet skis at: yamaha-motor.com.
5. Kawasaki 800 SX-R. This jet ski has been the best-selling stand-up model for three consecutive years. The powerful watercraft churns out 699 pounds of thrust, and has a 781 cc two-stroke engine that provides quick acceleration. Its advanced hull design ensures stability in rough-water for racers, and makes it easier for beginners to master stand-up riding more quickly. 2011 will be the last chance to buy this jet ski, however, as Kawasaki has decided to discontinue after a 37 year successful performance on the market. The starting price for this jet ski is $7,899.
6. Kawasaki Ultra 300-X. The 300-X has been referred to as the fastest most powerful jet ski ever built by Kawasaki . It has a 300 horsepower engine and its deep-V hull design provide superior support and cornering stability. With 1,829 pounds of thrust and a four-stroke four-cylinder engine, it can respond instantly to the rider. One reviewer says it feels like “riding a rocket on the water”. The starting price for this jet ski is $14,499.
7. Kawasaki Ultra 260-X. The 260-X boasts a supercharged 260 horsepower engine and an amazing 1585 pounds of thrust. It has been described as “the smoothest most advanced engine to ever hit the water”. A deep-V hull design gives it unmatched stability at high speeds or in rough waters. The starting price for this jet ski is $12,899.
KAWASAKI SUMMARY: You can get more information and specifications for all Kawasaki jet skis at: kawasaki.com.
8. Sea-Doo GTI 130. The GTI 130 was created to compete directly with the Yamaha VX jet skis. The GTI 130 comes with a 130 horsepower engine and offers Sea-Doo’s full Intelligent Brake & Reverse (iBR) system. The iBR system can be used to shorten stopping distance by as much as 100 feet. The starting price for this jet ski is $8,999.
9. Sea-Doo GTI Limited 155. The GTI Limited comes with a potent 155 hp engine which reaches speeds of almost 60 mph. It also includes the Intelligent Brake and Reverse system (iBR) system like the GTI 130 above, which allows this Sea-Doo to have the same forward, neutral and reverse capabilities of a boat. The starting price for this jet ski is $11,499.
10. Sea-Doo RXT-X iS 260. This 260 horsepower jet ski contains Sea-Doo’s most powerful engine package. This jet ski is fast, with a 0 to 30 mph acceleration time of just 1.7 seconds. With its exclusive S ³ Hull, it can handle corners with amazing precision. The starting price for this jet ski is $15,999.
SEA-DOO SUMMARY: Interestingly, Consumers Digest reviewed every jet ski offering from all personal watercraft manufacturers in 2010 and they named Sea-Doo’s RXT iS 260 and RXT-X 260 watercrafts as a Best Buy in the Premium category, and the Sea-Doo GTI SE 130 and GTI SE 155 in the Economy category. These selections were based on, performance, handling, and standard and safety features. You can get more information and specifications for all Sea-Doo jet skis at: en-us.sea-doo.com.