Curious if the Sea Doo Spark is right for you? We tell all in our big review of the popular PWC.
The Sea Doo Spark is probably the most popular entry-level jet ski. A starting price of $5,399 as well as the abundance of add-ons available attracts many first time buyers. The standard features included make it a great jet ski to learn on and many buyers become lifelong fans.
While many good things can be said about the Spark, there are several key drawbacks that should be taken into consideration.
This Sea Doo Spark review will explain the pros and cons to help you gain a better understanding of whether or not this is the right jet ski for you.
Related: Sea Doo Spark VS Sea Doo Spark Trixx.
The Sea Doo Spark is categorized as a recreation lite jet ski. Essentially this means it’s lightweight and easy to maneuver. Recreation jet skis are great for doing tricks on and can be used for various water sports. Although it is pretty well rounded, it is most ideal for playful riding. Any long-distance rides may be a little uncomfortable, and can sometimes feel cramped when there are multiple passengers.
Before the Spark, there was no recreation lite category in the PWC world. This new class of jet skis gives beginners a good platform to learn on and bridges the gap between stand up and sit down jet skis. Every year the Spark continually improves its performance, which is one of the reasons this model has developed such a large fan base.
Related: 24 Essential Jet Ski Accessories
Design and Options
Let’s take a look at this popular model in more detail.
Buyers have a choice between either 2up or 3up seating. The 2up seating provides room for two riders with a maximum weight of 350 pounds. An elongated seat is provided for the 3up option but it is mostly designed for 2 adults and a child or teen. Fitting 3 adults may make things cramped even with the 3up option.
The seating options have the biggest effect on the end price. Choosing 3up seating will add an additional $1,200 to the price tag which is a major drawback. The large jump in the price tag is mostly attributed to the engine upgrade that comes with it. All of the 3up models come with a larger engine that is explained in more detail below.
This price difference is definitely a key point that families looking to buy a jet ski should take into consideration. It may be a great starter jet ski, but it isn’t the best 3 seater jet ski for families.
There are two engine options available: The Rotax 900 ACE and the Rotax 900 HO ACE.
Sea Doo’s Rotax 900 ACE is the cheaper of the two engine options. It consumes 1.94 gallons (7.34 L) of fuel per hour which is fairly reasonable in the jet ski world. This engine provides entry-level power and is only available on the 2up model.
It may be worth it to upgrade your engine if you think you’ll want more get up and go in the future. It’s possible to add mods to make a jet ski faster, but tuning a Spark is like tuning a Toyota Corolla. You’re better off starting with a faster engine before you go dumping money into it.
For an extra $500, buyers can upgrade to the Rotax 900 HO ACE. Although it is a high-output engine, it only uses up to 2.4 gallons (9 L) per hour. This upgrade option has quicker acceleration and higher top speed than the stock engine. It is available on both 2up and 3up models. When choosing the 3up model, the upgraded engine comes standard.
iBR and Convenience package
Buyers should really take the time to decide if the iBR and convenience package is something they want. It can make a major difference in the overall riding experience. Nothing in the iBR and Convenience package is essential, but it does offer some great benefits.
iBR stands for intelligent brake and reverse. This system helps riders stop quicker, dock easier, and allows the jet ski to start in neutral. The Spark’s iBR system is only available on 90hp units. For some, this may be considered a luxury feature, but it really does make stopping the watercraft safer.
Any Sea Doo Spark with iBR automatically comes with the convenience package. This package includes popular options like a front storage bin, a re-boarding step, and a digitally encoded security system for greater security from theft and unauthorized use.
A front storage bin is a huge benefit because standard storage is only .42 gal. The re-boarding step isn’t always needed. Most people don’t have too hard of a time getting back on without one. Re-boarding steps are mostly for kids, older riders, or people who intend on getting off and on frequently. As for the security system, that is ultimately up to the rider’s discretion.
The iBR and convenience package tacks on an additional $1,000 to the price tag. A lot of these features aren’t necessary but they do make a difference on the water.
Five different colorways, as well as a graphics package, are offered with the 2018 Sea Doo Spark. Until the Spark, jet skis came in one standard color and decals had to be purchased separately.
Currently, the Spark comes in blue, red, green, white, and yellow. The graphics package gives off a really cool graffiti look. It’s great to have the option to somewhat personalize your jet ski before it even arrives. Usually, dealers have several different wraps available for Sparks. It really is one of the most customizable jet skis.
– It’s important to know how much a jet ski weighs as well as its dimensions to know which trailers it can fit on. The Spark is a pretty small jet ski so finding a trailer to match it shouldn’t be too difficult.
– The storage capacity of the Spark is rather small unless it is upgraded. A lot of people do just fine without a large amount of storage, but other people may find it necessary.
– Because it’s an entry level jet ski, the Spark has an entry-level top speed to match it. Many riders are perfectly fine with its moderate top speed because it has good acceleration and impressive cornering capabilities. The power it provides is more than enough for most beginners, but it’s definitely not the fastest jet ski on the water.
All measurements, as well as several other important specs, are listed below.
-0.42 gal of storage, 7.42 gal with upgrade
-The current model has a top speed of 50mph
The large array of features that come on a stock 2017 Spark are impressive. These details are a big part of what makes it such a great jet ski. This wouldn’t be a proper Sea Doo Spark review without explaining them.
The body is made of a lightweight, high-strength polytec material. The color is added during the molding process so the body of a Spark is more scratch-resistant than the body of a jet ski made from fiberglass. Sparks hold their color surprisingly well even after prolonged sun exposure. True to its name, none of the Sparks color options are bland or boring. Each color is vibrant, bold, and definitely stands out on the water.
Although the D-Sea-Bel system has a fancy name, all it really does is make the Spark quieter. It may not seem like a big deal, but this system is a big improvement over other PWC that are much louder. Most people appreciate a jet ski that isn’t impossible to talk over while idling or cruising.
Closed-Loop Cooling System
A closed-loop cooling system on a jet ski is a really cool feature. The Spark uses coolant to keep the engine at an ideal temperature rather than sea or lake water. By not using external water the Spark avoids getting debris in its engine.
Off-Throttle Assisted Steering
The way a jet ski moves is by sucking up water and shooting it out the back really quickly. This stream of water propels the jet ski forward without the need for an external propeller. Early jet skis could not turn without using the throttle because there is no stream of water coming out of the back. With off-throttle assisted steering, the Spark is able to turn without the use of the throttle. This is really useful corning, stopping, and docking.
Digital information display
Most modern jet skis have a digital information display. The Sparks display provides the fuel level, tachometer, speedometer, and an hour meter. There is also an option to switch between touring mode and sport mode on the display. The display is really easy to read and is by no means cluttered given how much information is readily available through it.
Related: 12 Essential Sea Doo Spark Accessories
Common Sea Doo Spark Problems
Although a lot of good things can be said about the Spark, there are some bad things that can be said as well. These are some of the more common Sea Doo Spark problems that people have.
- Wear Ring: Unlike other Sea Doo models, the Spark has a wear ring made of plastic rather than stainless steel. Unfortunately, the plastic wear rings have built somewhat of a reputation for breaking fairly easily. Some will argue the ring only breaks when riders are in water that is too shallow, but others claim they break regardless. Either way, it can be a hassle to deal with. To fix this problem, many people choose to go ahead and buy a stainless steel ring for around $100 and swap it out before it has a chance to break.
- Seating: One of the more undeniable drawbacks of Sparks is their seating. Their seats really aren’t the most comfortable on long-distance rides, which can be a big drawback for some people. On shorter rides, the seats aren’t too bad, but over time it becomes more apparent.
- Misleading Price: Arguably the biggest sales point for a Spark is the affordable price. However, the low price can be very misleading. To get that really low base price that’s marketed so heavy, buyers are forced to forgo a lot of desirable features. Of course, this is to somewhat be expected, but just how many things Sea Doo leaves out on their base models can be surprising.
The overall importance of these few Sea Doo Spark problems varies from person to person, but they should definitely be noted. Some people feel like for such a low price, the Spark deserves a fair amount of leniency. On the other hand, other people may decide that these drawbacks are enough to shop around for other models.
Pros & Cons Summary
These are the main points of this Sea Doo Spark review that should be taken into consideration. While several other details can play a small role in its overall quality, these are the major factors that matter.
-Very affordable (currently the cheapest jet ski on the market)
-Dozens of upgrades and add-ons available
-Good Gas Mileage
-Quick acceleration, moderate top speed
-Plastic Wear Ring
-Upgrades are pricey
-Not the best seat
-Lacks some luxury features (speakers, extra storage, etc.)
Should you buy the Sea Doo Spark?
Depending on your intentions, the Spark may or may not be for you.
When it comes down to it, it’s the perfect beginner jet ski. That being said, many owners keep them for years. It’s not just an easy jet ski to learn to ride on, it’s a jet ski that you can grow into.
The main reasons someone shouldn’t buy a Spark is if they:
A) Intend on having multiple passengers very often
B) Want to go as fast as possible on the water
If either of those descriptions fit you, then the Spark might not be the best option. Unfortunately, that also means you’re going to need a much larger budget. Bigger and faster jet skis are going to cost 2 or 3 times more than a Spark. That’s just the trade-off that comes with buying an entry-level jet ski.
An Honest Opinion
Although the Spark is a great jet ski, it isn’t without its flaws.
Simple upgrades can quickly add up and take away the affordability that attracts so many buyers. Some of the upgrades seem like they should come standard rather than costing extra. Many people find the upgrades justified given to low starting price, but that comes down to opinion.
Another drawback that should be taken into consideration is the seating. After a couple of hours, the seating can become uncomfortable, forcing riders to stand. Many riders prefer to stand so this isn’t a huge problem but is definitely worth noting. Fitting 3 adults on the seat for an extended ride would be a pretty difficult task.
This Spark review was intended to highlight and explain all of the important aspects of its design. It is hands down one of the best jet skis for beginners and one of the best jet skis for the money. Sea-Doo has done a great job of making an affordable jet ski without cutting too many capabilities. It’s easy to see why the Spark is considered one of the best jet skis on the market.
Thanks for the review. Will definitely consider this before buying.
I bought a base model Spark and am very happy with it for lake cruising. The only thing I wish the base had was a neutral option, currently being off throttle is still 3mph so docking takes some practice. Otherwise great little starter ski for the money, far more acceleration than I was expecting from base engine. I do wish I’d gotten the 3UP so I could tow (WI law, must have 3 seats to tow on PWC), but like the article said, all the upgrades added up to where it wasn’t a good deal anymore, and for the once every couple years that I’d actually tow with it, it wasn’t worth it.
Thanks for your feedback Michelle, it’s good to hear other peoples opinions. It’s unfortunate you paid more than you wanted to. Sparks really are great ski’s, but their affordability can go away very quickly. Maybe next time you’ll be able to find a ski that’s a better fit now that you’re more experienced.
Best of luck,
Honestly I’ve had an older version of the spark and i loved it. Can’t wait to try the new one.
Spark completely changed the game. Nothing in its price range compares.
I just bought two ,three up sparks . I upgraded them and must say i agree the seats can feel uncomfortable fast . I am working on a solution to this problem. The touring mode offers all you could ask for at entry level. Put the Spark in sport mode and hold on tight. I love these Sea-doos . The fact they come with two keys is also a bonus. One key is yellow and limits power and the other key is green and allows for full power. Great if you want to let someone new to them try one out. Yellow is a learning key and green is a go key . Thats the way i see it anyway,. Speed is not an issue for me on these they get up and go extremely well. I am not looking for a rocket but went from zero to 70 km/h in no time yesterday. If you are looking for fun and easy handling plus light weight and great fuel consumption these are a match.
Is there any difference in the hull length/width between the 3up and 2up?
Thanks for your time.
I had an old XP and RX that both had a ton of power but required a few thousand dollars every few years to maintain. Got a 2017 Spark new in 2018 for only $5300 on a dealer closeout. 3UP with the HO engine. Added the storage bin which I see as a must but that’s it. Absolutely love the Spark. I wanted a playful, easy to spin and jump ski, not the huge heavy models that go 80mph but can’t get more than an inch out of the water. If fits two adults just fine and we also ride with an adult and 2 kids. Very quick and responsive, great acceleration especially in Sport mode. I’ve hit 49mph with no desire to go faster. No issues with scratches or the hull. For the price, I’m thrilled with the purchase.