Unless you’ve been in the personal watercraft scene for a few decades, you most likely don’t know what a wet bike is. As the name suggests, it was essentially a motorcycle (or a bike) for the water. It was one of the original personal watercraft models to hit the market, but unlike Kawasaki, Sea Doo, and Yamaha, it never really caught on.
Rather than steering by changing the angle of the rear jet, the Wet Bike used tradition handlebars with two front skis to change direction. This took the term “jet ski” to a whole new level. The result of this concept was an oddly shaped snowmobile for the water.
Since the Wet Bike was in production was from the late 70’s to early 90’s, it has a distinct look to match. Most of the body styles have a lot of triangles and rectangles, with sharp lines and bright colors tying everything together.
A Brief History
The first Wet Bike model was made in 1978, back when the idea of jet skis was still relatively new. Back then, a jet ski wasn’t something you would see parked in all of your neighbors driveways. Personal watercraft weren’t nearly as popular, and a lot of people didn’t even know what they were yet.
It was manufactured by Spirit Marine, which at the time was a branch of Arctic Enterprises (now known as Arctic Cat). Before moving on to other brands like Tigershark, the Wet Bike was their front-runner.
Because of the unique look of the Wet Bike, it landed roles in several well known movies. It can be spotted in “James Bond: The Spy Who Loved Me“, “Police Academy 3: Back in Training“, and even “Red Surf“.
After being in production for a little over a decade, the Wet bike eventually stopped being manufactured in 1992. There are several reasons it didn’t last, one of the main ones being that it was a little harder to ride than other jet skis. This, of course, was due to the signature skis that made it what it was. Even if it was easier to ride, there were other obstacles standing in its way. The over all design made it difficult to keep up to par with other models performance wise. In retrospect it’s easy to see why it just couldn’t last.
Wet Bike Top Speed, Engine, and Features
Depending on the what year it was made, the typical Wet Bike top speed is 32 mph-36 mph. It usually needs to be going 10 mph-15 mph to rise up on the skis, but that varies depending on water conditions and rider weight. This might not seem like much, but at the time, it was more than impressive. Even now, it’s pretty amazing that such an odd looking jet ski could reach those speeds.
Just like with the top speed, the engine specs vary according to the year model. At its peak, the Wet Bike was using an 798 cc, 60 hp Suzuki marine engine. It had a two-stroke twin electric start, an automatic bilge pump, and a jet pump with 500 lbs of thrust.
Regardless of the model, the seat on it is very narrow and rectangular. Although this matches the design well, it isn’t the most comfortable on long distance rides. However, the thin body allows riders to lock in easily when riding. This helps make leaning into turns a bit more intuitive than if the body was wider.
Just above the seat is a large 9 gallon gas tank, which lasts quite a while when filled all the way. At first the Wet Bike’s top speed of 36 mph might seem like a drawback, but this greatly helps its fuel efficiency. Since it can’t reach very extreme speeds, it’s much less likely to burn through fuel quickly.
Overall the Wet Bike has some really cool things to offer. All of these features may seem mundane now, but at the time, this was all top of the line stuff.