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Kawasaki STX-15F Review

Kawasaki STX-15F Review

The Kawasaki STX-15F is the only entry level jet ski they make. Kawasaki has been producing industry leading horsepower for years and this is no exception. The STX-15F is perhaps the most responsive jet ski model Kawasaki makes. Although it has the best horsepower in its class, the starting price is only $9,699. This Kawasaki STX-15F review will highlight the pros and cons, and hopefully help others decide if it’s the right jet ski for them.

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Overview

Overall Kawasaki’s model selection is somewhat small, but they still manage to create a jet ski for each type of rider. The Kawasaki STX-15F is a great starter jet ski for someone who wants to get a thrill on the water. Over the years its general layout has changed very little. Kawasaki found a design that worked well and they kept it. This entry level model offers enough horsepower for riders to grow into rather than needing to upgrade.

Several safety options are available to assist new riders as they become comfortable with the watercraft. The STX-15F comes standard with convenient learning features such as Kawasaki Smart Steering (KSS) and Smart Learning Operation (SLO) mode.

There aren’t very many extra features that come standard. If you decide you want some cool add ons, check out our list of essential jet ski accessories.

Design

This is definitely a great PWC for families, but it’s diverse enough to suit almost anyone. Seating for 3 and a large back deck makes it a good choice for water sports enthusiasts. The responsive hull and aggressive ride are perfect for racing and jumping. It also boasts one of the fastest top speeds and 0-30 times in its class.

Hull & Deck

Kawasaki STX-15F review of Hull and DeckA sporty deep-V hull is fitted on the STX-15F, which is great for stable cornering. The hull is designed for racing, but it can easily handle moderate water conditions. Riding through choppy water will prove to be more difficult. Smaller chop will definitely be more noticeable on the Kawasaki STX-15F than with their other models.

Deck space on the back of the jet ski is more than enough for most people. Getting on and off is very easy with its built in spring loaded boarding step. A tow hook is located on the back of the seat for water sports, and the large back deck allows strapping onto a wake board or skis simple and quick.

Seating

Kawasaki STX-15F SeatingMany jet ski models are advertised as “3 seaters” when in reality there is barely enough room for 2 people. The Kawasaki STX-15F has no problem fitting 3 people, and provides enough space so no one is cramped.

The seat sits lower than many other jet ski’s models. A low seat design makes rides much more responsive and aggressive. Corning feels very natural and intuitive even for beginners. Some taller riders may feel a bit cramped because of this seating style. Depending on the number of passengers, this can usually be fixed by sitting farther back on the seat.

Storage

Kawasaki STX-15F Storage

23.5 gallons of storage come standard on the Kawasaki STX-15F. This is pretty large compared to other entry level models that often times require upgraded storage. All the extra space provided really comes in handy for anyone who uses their watercraft for water sports or fishing. An abundance of storage like this is more typical of higher end jet skis.

Most people don’t realize how much storage they actually need until they’ve spent a significant amount of time riding.

Engine

Kawasaki STX-15F DashboardAfter reviewing the 4-stroke 1,498cc engine, most people are impressed with the capabilities of this entry level jet ski. Kawasaki basically took the engine on their Ninja ZX-14R street bike and threw it into a jet ski. The Kawasaki STX-15F can do 0-30 in 2 seconds and has a top speed of 70 mph

Its 160hp engine gives new riders plenty of room to grow into their jet ski instead of feeling the need to upgrade after a few months. It isn’t uncommon to see someone perfectly content with riding the Kawasaki STX-15F years after they purchased it.


Features

There are limited features on the Kawasaki STX-15F compared to other models, but all the essentials are covered. A few good safety features are standard but there aren’t very many bells and whistles.

Kawasaki Smart Steering (KSS)

Many companies have implemented different technology to provide safer and easier to ride vehicles. Kawasakis Smart Steering, or KSS, is a system that assists in handling when the throttle is released from a high speed. Essentially it helps keep the jet ski stable to reduce the chances of the rider getting thrown off. This is a much needed feature given the high speeds obtainable by the Kawasaki STX-15F.

Smart Learning Operation (SLO)

SLO mode is activated by a magnetic key to limit the top speed of the Kawasaki STX-15F until the rider is comfortable on the watercraft. After the rider is familiar with the watercraft, the key can be removed to allow full capabilities.

There is also a separate ignition key similar to the one used to activate SLO mode can be used for theft protection.

Additional Specs

The measurements and weight of a jet ski should always be reviewed to get a better understanding of the size of trailer required to haul it. These measurements include all the Kawasaki STX-15F dimensions as well as a few additional specs.

-Length: 122.8″

-Width: 26.5″

-Height: 41.3″

-Weight: 844.5lbs

-Fuel Capacity: 16.4gal

-Storage Capacity: 23.4gal

-Top Speed: 70 mph ( 112.65 kph)

-Available in Ebony/Lime Green

An Honest Opinion on the Kawasaki STX-15F

There are a lot of good things about the Kawasaki STX-15F, but there are also some not so good things.

Kawasaki has stuck to the same design for years with the 15F. This is good because their fans know what they’re getting, but at the same time it lacks modern features. Other than the technology, the general layout can be a drawback as well. The low seating can be problematic for taller riders so it’s definitely recommended that buyers try one out before deciding.

In the end the Kawasaki STX-15F is still a great entry level jet ski. It’s a perfect jet ski for someone who wants to learn but doesn’t want to upgrade after just one season. There’s amazing storage, good fuel capacity, and a high top speed. This jet ski is definitely worth a trip to the dealership for a test ride.


For more information on the Kawasaki STX-15F, go to their website here.

13 Comments
  1. I’ve been up to 69 mph with 1 rider and by myself. Trying to get to 70. The slo key I’ve had up to 51 mph.

    • If you get the right conditions I’m sure you can probably squeeze the extra mph out! Try riding with only half a tank or so to cut back on weight.

  2. Does the STX15F porpoise much in mild to moderate chop? In other words, does body of water have to be glass smooth to get top speed or close. I had a ZXI years ago that porpoised pretty bad except on very smooth water. Thanks

  3. I have a 2017 stx-15f and while the speedometer says anywhere from 62-67 mph, I’m afraid that’s not true. Used a GPS device and the fastest I could get it was 55 mph even thou the speedometer said 65. I feel deceived.

  4. I just bought a 2017 stx-15f. I have ridden 4 different makes and models on three huge lakes. So that is my experience. Maybe 80 hours total on a jet ski. The reason I bought this was it had the best hull design on rough water of the jet skis I have ridden. It was very forgiving. Lake Powell was the worst. I had never experienced such conditions like it. Huge swells and super choppy. I had to just hold on and blast though. It handled like a champ. That convinced me to buy the 15F. Yes I found 53 mph (at 6000 feet above sea level) was fast enough for me. If you want to go faster this is not the ski for you (at altitude.) But it does have a great hull design and handles super well and goes pretty fast. I am sure there are better jet ski out there, ( be willing to pay the price) with more horse power and maybe a better hull design, but I will be quite happy with my 15F. See ya on the lake and lets have fun even if you smoke by me.
    By the way, Lake Powell is a huge cess pool unless you are by the dam or in the main channel.
    I paid $ 8,200 for my ski in November for the year end model.

    • It’s great to hear that you’re enjoying it! For the price, it really is hard to beat the hull design on the 15F. A lot of people shy away from Kawi’s but there’s a reason they’ve been around so long.

  5. I am looking to purchase a 15 f. Yup, first timer here. In the review, it was mentioned, a tall person may have issues with the lower seating. I am 6’2″. Am I going to find myself regretting my selection ?

  6. I am 6’1 and my wife is 5’3, we both have a 2016 STX15F.

    To anwer some of your questions, speaking from about a years worth of personal experience on these ski’s:

    PaulRaymond: Again I am 6’1, 155lbs and have issue with the lower seating position, I find it quite comfortable both sitting and standing, reminds me of riding my old soft tail in the seat to handle bar high. Its also very comfortable standing and riding with no issues of weird body positioning.

    The STX15 handles chop way better then my seadoo XP, seadoo Spark, and VX1000. It will plow throught 2′ waves without being too rough on the rider,

    I have a solstis prop and a ride plate on mine, I have gone 72MPH on glass water by GPS, there is a descrepency in the spedo reading, it shows I was going 76 so I wonder if these are intentionally miscalculated from the factory, or since knowing you exact speed isent really all that important on a ski maybe the spedo accuracy could ge +/- 10%.

    One major issue that I do not like about this ski is that it tends to nose dive when taking a wave head on if you are going at a very low speed, like in a no wake zone, the nose of the ski tends to dip under water and water comes over the hood, a bit annoying, and I think i have a plan to remedy that. Many have said to ride with a half tank of gas to make the nose rise higher out of the water, but I am also working on a few design for a cooler rack for the back. They are commercially available but they do not fit the 20Qt coolers which are small enough to fit on the back desk without obstructing anything. So I am building my own racks out of stainless tubing to add maybe 40lbs or 50lbs to the very back desk which should get the nose out of the waves pretty good without bogging the ski down or having to run with a 1/2 tank all the time.

  7. Always been a fan of Kawi bikes. Can’t wait to try out one of their watercrafts.

  8. Does the stx15f have reverse?

    • Yes, the new Kawasaki STX 15F models have a mechanical reverse. It’s not as fancy as Yamaha’s RiDE tech or Sea Doo’s iBR, but it gets the job done!

  9. How much fuel would it use in an hour, im thinking of getting one, want to know what it will cost on the water for about an hour.

  10. Can you pull a tube or kneeboard behind the 15f legally?

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