I got into stand-up jet skis 3 years ago. No, I can’t do flips, I’m by no means a pro, and I’m not an OG in this world. But I’ve spent my life around visceral cars (mostly of the 80s & 90s), I’ve run an automotive magazine for 18 years, and I’m very in touch with the connections & the intangibles that make great things great. And here’s the breach that I see in the stand-up jet ski world, especially where modern-meets-vintage. 

1st generation 4Runner

When the stand-up jet ski came on the scene… 

The engines were smaller, the hulls were smaller & lighter, and thus the intimidation-barrier to enter the sport was lower. That’s a key component, because it meant that there was less cost, less apprehension, less bulk, and more play. And because of that, people were more willing to try-out something new. It became a craze; the hot new thing. And jet ski riders became the biggest real-world sales force & promoters for the jet ski movement… bringing friends & introducing them to the sport. This sport needs a warm introduction. It needs riders to be teachers. Riders create riders. 

kawasaki 750 jet ski

kawasaki 650 jet ski

Today – I still see an amazing sport, but it’s a sport that has out-paced the novice rider…

Here’s what I mean by that: Look at the new/modern stand-up offerings. Where are the funky little 550s, the 650s… and the 750s?? There is no NEW entry-level stand-up jet ski for the novice and/or recreational rider. Why? What happened to the sweet-spot? Do we honestly expect a curious new customer to walk into a dealer, buy a manatee-sized new Kawasaki or Yamaha with an extremely potent 1000+cc engine, put it in the water… and just start trying to figure it out? Almost zero chance of that happening… even in the YouTube era lol. Reality is – that customer is probably going to walk out empty-handed & 2nd-guessing themselves. OR – the sales person likely unsold the stand-up dream (since it probably wasn’t in-stock anyway) & put him/her on a sit-down Sea-Doo. 

Jet skis

So where is the new entry-level stand-up Jet Ski… 

There is a total void in the market. You can buy a new smaller-displacement motorcycle. And as a novice, it’s probably recommended to do that. So where is that option for the stand-up jet ski? Where is the carefree playfulness… where is the natural gateway into the sport? It’d be like Ford only offering the Mustang as a Shelby. 

vintage jet ski

ACT clutch

 

Kawasaki SX-R jet ski

There is absolutely still consumer interest for stand-up jet skis…

People want the physical/fitness, technical, challenging, aftermarket/modifiable aspects of a personal watercraft. I see interest even from the automotive readership (there’s a lot of synergy between the two worlds). But the current PWC market flat-out does not offer a new option for them. New Super Jets don’t even offer… graphics. How have we gone from the rad-era… to plain white skis? Fact is – new riders are almost forced/funneled to buy a vintage ski first. And on one hand, that’s cool… vintage jet skis are awesome! But why wouldn’t Kawasaki & Yamaha want to capture newer customers with new products… it makes no sense to me. 

Gram Lights

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