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The Best Stand Up Jet Ski

On the hunt for a decent stand-up PWC? We make your life a little easier with our guide to what’s on the market right now.

Stand Up Jet Ski

Searching for the perfect stand up jet ski can be a tough task. With most decent models costing at least $1,000, it can be difficult to feel confident when choosing which manufacturer or model to go with. The good news is there isn’t a very large stand-up jet ski selection, so it’s easy to narrow the search quickly.

Out of the already limited stand-up jet ski models available, there are only a select few worth considering. Currently, the only two stand up jet ski models in production are made by Kawasaki and Yamaha. Both companies have been making stand-ups for the past couple of decades, and just about every new model has seen improvements.

*Technically Yamaha makes stand up waverunners, not jet skis. To simplify things the terms are used synonymously throughout this post.

Evolution of the stand up jet ski

Before recommending some of our favorite models, let’s talk about how this type of PWC came about in the first place.

Believe it or not, the stand-up model was actually invented before its seated counterpart. A really cool guy named Clayton Jacobson II got tired of getting hurt while racing dirtbikes and decided to make a dirtbike for the water.

After quitting his day job and finishing a prototype, Jacobson went on to license his patents to Bombardier Recreational Products. Just like that, Sea-Doo was born. The problem was they licensed the patents for a sit-down model, so after a few years, Kawasaki came along and made the first mass-produced stand up jet ski. Somewhere along the line, Yamaha started licensing the patents as well, and all of a sudden there was a lot of competition going on.

stand up jet ski prototype

This competition really helped the stand-up PWC become what it is today. For years it continued to improve and evolve. Not only did they become faster, but more reliable as well. They didn’t have the most complicated engines, so generally there weren’t too many moving parts that could potentially break. Models made in the ’90s and even earlier can still be spotted out on waterways today.

Fast forward a few years and the production of these models has really slowed down. This can most likely be attributed to the learning curve involved with stand-ups.

Most people can learn to ride a sit-down model in a matter of minutes, but a stand up can take some getting used to. In addition to that, stand-ups can only hold one person. Sit down models hold multiple people, making them much better for group and family settings. Ultimately sit-downs just appeal to a larger part of the market.

In recent years, stand up models have somewhat made a resurgence, but still aren’t as popular as they used to be. To some people, this may seem like a bad thing, but it can actually be beneficial. Since the overall demand for stand up jet skis has slowed, there’s less competition for supply. This results in a simple buying process because there are really only two options available. The same can’t be said for sit down models.

Make, Model and Year.

Both Yamaha’s and Kawasaki’s stand up jet ski lineups have been kept pretty simple throughout the years. Yamaha’s best stand up jet ski has always been the Superjet, and the best Kawasaki stand up jet ski is without a doubt the SX-R.

Since there are really only two major players in the game, the buying process is really simple. When making the decision on which stand up jet ski to go with, it boils down to whether or not you want a Kawasaki or a Yamaha, and what year you prefer.

Usually the newer the model, the better it is, but that isn’t always the case. The value per dollar and overall return on investment can be much better on older models. Balancing personal needs and budgets varies from person to person.

Going with an older model can be a great choice for those looking to save money, but keep in mind the possible maintenance needed.


Choosing a Yamaha Stand Up Jet Ski- The Freestyle Option

Yamaha Superjet Stand Up Jet Ski

Yamaha’s stand up jet ski, the Superjet, is well known for its freestyle capabilities. It isn’t entirely uncommon for people to race with them, (that’s what they were built for) but they really do well in the freestyle world.

The responsiveness of the Superjet makes tricks easy to perform even in relatively calm water. Typically some type of wave is required to jump a jet ski, but the playful style of the Superjet makes it possible even on flat days. With a little practice, the Superjet can jump its own wake. It might take some time to learn, but that’s half the fun.

Although the Superjet is very nimble fresh out of the factory, a few aftermarket parts are normally added to get it in peak performance. If you intend on doing any tricks or maneuvers, investing in some upgrades is recommended.

Parts like freestyle hulls, freestyle trim systems, bilge pumps, and intake grates are all great ways to modify a Superjet. Of course, there are tons of other upgrades that can be made, but they can drive the price up dramatically.

The Yamaha Superjet is best used as a freestyle stand up jet ski. It’s highly customizable and very reliable. The only negative is the price of upgrades. Fresh out of the factory, the Superjet isn’t anywhere near its full potential. They can be a fun project to work on, but it’ll require a decent budget.

Choosing a Kawasaki Stand Up Jet Ski- The Racing Option

Kawasaki Stand Up Jet SkiIt’s safe to say Kawasaki is a well-known name in just about every racing niche out there. Like all of its brothers and sisters, the SX-R was built for speed. There was a large gap in the production of the SX-R, but it’s officially back.

A lot of older models are available now that they are being made again. This is good for new stand up jet ski buyers because they were becoming harder to find every year. People were holding onto their SX-R’s because no one knew if they would ever be made again. Now that they’re back in production, people can let go of older models to get new ones.

Freestyle maneuvers can without a doubt be performed on an SX-R, (there’s even video of someone backflipping one in a pool) but it’s better suited for racing. Everything from its hull to its engine was made for speed. The top speed of the SX-R is around 60mph, which is pretty crazy on a standing jet ski.

Often times taller riders prefer the SX-R because the tray and body are larger than other models. Bigger people looking to try out a stand-up jet ski find the SX-R’s extra room make it easier to learn on. The added space may be a drawback for some, but a lot of people need it.

What is the best stand up jet ski?

It’s impossible to say for sure what the best stand up jet ski is. However, it is possible to say what stand up jet ski is best for a specific type of riding.

Overall, the Yamaha Superjet is best for freestyle riding. Sure, it’s sold as a “racing jet ski”, and many people use it for that, but it has more potential than that. The responsiveness of the Superjet makes it a favorite among freestyle riders. It has a nimble/playful ride that can’t be beaten.

On the other hand, the Kawasaki SX-R is best for racing. It handles corners and straightaways without a problem, and that’s where the ride really shines.

In the end, it’s important not to let any side sway your opinion one way or the other. Both of these jet ski’s are amazing watercraft, and they share a lot of the same uses. They definitely have their own strengths and weaknesses, but in the end, they can both handle a variety of situations.

Do you have any experience with any of these models? We’d love to hear about it down in the comments section! 

18 Comments
  1. Yamaha provides NO warranty on new Super Jets and they cannot be registered in some states.

  2. Nice post. I’m looking to try a stand up soon. I might try to test out my friends SXR first to get the feel.

  3. Great read! Personally I prefer the SX-R but I’ve got some friends who ride Superjets. It doesn’t really matter much to me though. Both are fun. Both are cool.

  4. I think the Superjets are underrated. Other than their emission probelem they’re great stand ups.

  5. Standups > Sit Downs

  6. How hard is it to learn how to ride a stand up? I’ve had several sit downs but I want to try something new. I’m around 5’11’ and about average physical shape.

    Thanks.

    • The learning curve for stand-ups is steep. You can get really on one in a couple of months. The trick is not to get frustrated and to take breaks – you WILL get a workout. And remember, falling off is not a bad thing.

  7. now that Kawasaki has a 4-stroke motor in the SXR I think Yamaha will have to update their standup. For now i feel the SXR is the best option as the 2-stroke motor in PWC is going away.

    • Yeah that’s definitely a good argument and a lot of people have been saying that. I guess we’ll have to wait and see if Yamaha steps their game up or not!

  8. This article fails to point out the main difference between the SR-X and the SuperJet., which is size. The SR-X is a behemoth!

    • It’s so hard for me. I think I’d prefer the superjet but with zero warranty, having to agree that it’s only for racing, and still need to mix the gas, I think I’ll go with the SX-R. I weigh 250 but have zero desire to go 60 mph.Guess I’ll need to learn how to race. Thank you for the article.

    • Thanks for the comment!

      In the final portion written specifically about the SX-R, the larger size is mentioned. It does weigh significantly more than the Superjet, and it is larger as well. Surprisingly, that is actually what attracts some people to the SX-R instead of the Superjet. Taller people enjoy having more space, even at the cost of the additional weight. Keep in mind that it has a more powerful engine as well, so how much the extra weight really matters is debatable.

      Both of them are excellent watercraft, and this article wasn’t meant to be biased towards one or the other. Rather, the goal was to simply point out some of the more important details of each to better educate new buyers.

      Thanks again for the comment, have fun riding!

  9. I have 2006 800SXR and love it. It corners, it jumps and it hauls A. As far as being a 2 stroke, I just don’t see the problem. There just are enough standups out there to be an emission problem in my book. I had a Ultra 150 up to a few month ago, I had it for 5 years, it was fun, fast and cornered but it just wasn’t as much fun a standup. It sat most of the time.
    My wife rides rides a 93 750SX and we ride at least once a week. Oh by the way, we aren’t kids, we are both 64. Personally sit down jet skis are just boats with no room. We have had a couple sit downs but they were just boring to us.
    Long live the standup!

  10. Like Dan I,m old – have 2 sx750″s and a new1500, my girlfriend has a sx750 and a 3 seat couch to pull toys for the kids. 2 strokes are outlawed at all the best and big western lakes so the used market is worthless Everyone I know riding a stand up is 50ish, kid’s today aren’t being exposed. When someone gives them the opportunity they love it and like all kids doesn’t take em long before they’re ripping especially on the 1500. Here’s the problem, COST. I paid 5k for the 750 brand new, 12k last year for the 1500. What kid on the planet can afford 12k plus Trailer and a truck to launch it with. Sadly we will watch Stand-ups disappear. Oh and it’s now 10k………still to much, buy em while there here if you can afford it. If you want mine you’ll have to wait for me to die and then pry it out of my hand. Thank God for my girlfriend, 50 yrs old ripping across lake mead looking good on a stand up, only one of her and you can’t have that either.

  11. I have owned the SXR 1500 for two seasons now and it is awesome to ride, it’s fast as snot and carves turns like it’s on rails. I also still have an old(94) sx750/(96)sxi750 which I will not relinquish…..ever lol. The reason is very simple, while the 1500 is fast and carves it won’t slide sideways for days or allow me to man handle it the way I can push the 750. The 750 is pure fun and in the single carb sx will ride all day on one tank of fuel. The 1500 has a healthy thirst for fuel and when I hit the throttle it’s time to concentrate on the business at hand, turning fast and blistering across Lake Mead in any weather/wave conditions. Like Butter homie! Cost, look around – 10k out the door. And stop whining folks……I too paid 4800 for the sx and 5k for the sxi………….22yrs ago knuckleheads. Oh and the 1500 cost’s way more to produce, it’s a BARGAIN. Oh and I can’t wait to see the two new Yamaha Stand up’s – 110hp naturally aspirated and a 160hp beast being tested in Europe. Hull is smaller and lighter than the sx1500. I was given the info 2 weeks ago and the source is reliable/1st hand. I was told they will be released in 19 or 20. I’m a Kawi guy but I hope the Yami’s are good, it’s just good for the sport……A healthy competition and if it helps I’ll buy one cause I can’t take the money with me. Doesn’t matter what you ride, what matters is how big the smile on your face is when you’re done, peace out

  12. G,DAY from oz ,I love reading about jetskis and any water craft, I am now 86 yrs and don,t participate anymore, my interest began late 1959 early 1960 when I built my first stand up water craft ,it was powered by a ten hp johno ,held one stand up and one seated on the fuel tank box .I am not good on the pc but if you are interested let me know and I will try to send some pic,s CHEERS for now KEVIN.

  13. I’m trying to pick between the super jet and six-r. I haven’t tried either, but in good shape and athletic, but I’m 5’9 and 200lbs. The agility of the super jet sounds fun but at my weight is it enough power?

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