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.
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.
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’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
It’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.
To learn more, check out my article on the best standup jet ski for backflips.
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!