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It’s hard to imagine, but it has been 43 years since Kawasaki first produced the production stand-up Jet Ski as we know it today. And it’s been even longer if you look at the pre-production units that started showing up from the manufacturer since 1973. The first machine, the JS400, has quite a bit in common with the current Kawasaki SX-R and both have been very popular with enthusiasts and racers alike.
Yamaha may have taken a little longer to get into the game, with the first WaveRunner model, the sit-down WaveRunner 500, debuting in 1986, but the introduction of the SuperJet 650 in 1990 made Yamaha a force to be reckoned with in the stand-up category. Known for balance and handling, the SuperJet is still a favorite for those who prefer to stand rather than sit.
Two vs. Four
The engines of these two machines couldn’t be more different. Yamaha uses an efficient marine two-stroke powerplant, whereas Kawasaki made the move to a four-stroke engine and never looked back. Is one better than the other? That’s for you to decide. Two-stroke engines have a great power-to-weight ratio, but are prone to needing more repairs and are considered by some to be less environmentally secure. Four-stroke engines tend to burn fuel cleaner, and require less maintenance, but when they do break, look out. Plus, they are usually heavier. All of these points are lessened by the fact that the manufacturers have been refining and improving on their designs for so long that the playing field is more even than ever.
Thanks to a healthy marine division that produces some of the most reliable and dependable outboard boat motors available, Yamaha still powers the SuperJet with an efficient 73hp, 701cc two-cylinder, two-stroke marine engine. With so many moving away from two-strokes in other sports, it’s nice to still see a manufacturer committed to producing an advanced two-stroke design. This provides a great power-to-weight ratio for the SuperJet as the unit weighs in at an impressive 306 lbs dry. This motor powers a 144mm pump for lightning fast thrust.
Kawasaki is another company known for rock-solid dependability. It has been in the business of making compact, powerful four-stroke motors for a long time now, and the Jet Ski SX-R is powered by a high-tech 80hp, 1,498cc inline four-cylinder beauty. This motor is fed through a digital fuel injection system with a 60mm throttle body, as opposed to Yamaha’s need for an oil-injection system to mix the fuel and oil before it enters the cylinders. The Kawasaki has an 148mm jet pump with a three-blade stainless prop that is good for 957lbs of thrust. The really cool part for gearheads like us, is that Kawasaki manages to produce this huge engine and still keep the curb weight down to 551.3 lbs.
After the Engines…
Aside from the engines, these machines are pretty similar. Bother are designed for single passengers and are geared for precise handling at speed. There is no real storage on either unit, although the Kawasaki does have a small compartment for things like a wallet or keys, and the controls are simple. The foot areas are close in size and both are covered with a non-slip material to aid in secure footing. The Yamaha is white with blue, and the Kawasaki is white with black.
To make room for the larger engine, the Kawasaki SX-R features a more substantial hull. This craft is 104.5 inches long and 30.1 inches wide, compared to Yamaha SuperJet which is 88 inches long and 27 inches wide. That’s a pretty substantial difference in size, which should help make the Jet Ski more stable and the SuperJet nimbler.
For more information on the Yamaha SuperJet, go to your local Yamaha dealership and check one out. You can also find more at https://www.yamahawaverunners.com/performance-race-series/superjet/. For more information on the Kawasaki SX-R, motor on into your local Team Green dealership and have a look at one. You can also get more into at https://www.kawasaki.com/Products/2018-Jet-Ski-SX-R?cm_re=GLOBALNAV-_-TERTIARYNAV-_-LEARNMORE.
See you on the water!
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