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Like Kawasaki’s 800 SX-R, 2011 will be the final year for Yamaha’s fun and agile SuperJet. And while Yamaha may not have dressed the craft up in new colors for its swan song, the familiar blue model still remains one of the most fun stand-up rides ever.
Long Live the Two-Stroke
The reason for the craft’s demise, of course, is its two-stroke engine under the hood, a 701cc twin cylinder breathing through dual 38mm Mikuni carbs. Yes, the EPA has mandated its demise as of 2012 (it’s already not available in California and New York), but it remains one of the most versatile, proven engines ever on the market. Top speed peaks near the 45 mph mark, and acceleration is clean and strong, rocketing the boat off the line but perhaps more importantly, pulling it through a sharp corner or into your favorite freestyle trick. For those that want more there are numerous aftermarket upgrades available, making the SuperJet one of the ultimate machines for those who like to tinker.
Amenities, as always, are few. A handlepole spring is a welcome addition to take the load off your back and arms during long sessions, and plenty of padding lines the footwells and gunwales to prevent the bumps and bruises that can come with the stand-up territory. Yamaha has always featured a small kickstep at the back of the tray, and I’ve found it provides some nice leverage for the back foot. Those wanting quicker steering can also adjust the steering nozzle linkage to further ramp up the craft’s response.
Though the SuperJet is very familiar to fans at this point in the game, it did receive a welcome refresh in 2008, when designers flared the hull forward to mimic the shape that riders were achieving by adding aftermarket kits. The rearmost portion of the craft was also slimmed slightly, chines made deeper, and the pump relocated roughly two inches further aft. The rideplate was also lengthened. The result of all these tweaks was more wetted surface forward, and a craft that carved substantially better and with a more intuitive, natural inside lean that racers, and performance types in general, will love. In the process it also accomplished that elusive goal – it made the craft easier and more stable for beginners to learn on as well.
It should come as no surprise that I like the SuperJet…a lot. But there is a tradeoff. I think the boat lost a notch of sheer top-speed stability in the recent makeover process, but it’s a tradeoff I’ll gladly take. Stand-up riders like to corner and turn, not drag race. Still, it’s worth noting.
The ultimate decision buyers will have to make is simply the choice between Yamaha and Kawasaki in the final year for OEM stand-ups. For me, the difference has always come down to the craft’s playfulness. The SuperJet remains the lighter and more agile feeling of the two boats, the Kawasaki the best slalom course machine and the better of the two in straight-line stability. SuperJets feel like they can be thrown around with relative ease, and I like them for freestyle tricks.
One thing I wouldn’t let sway me was price. Both machines have gone up this year, but they’re still close. The SuperJet now retails for $7,899.
Is this really the end? As indicated before, manufacturers seem reluctant to put a four-stroke in a stand-up hull. There’s little interest to warrant the investment, and the engine changes the personality that so many enthusiasts demand.
But it’s certainly not too late. If you haven’t tried a stand-up, do yourself a favor and give one a shot this year. And if you love stand-ups, grab one of the best models on the water…before it’s gone.
Long live the SuperJet!
2010 Yamaha SuperJet Review
2011 Kawasaki Jet Ski 800 SX-R Review
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