Buying Guide to Personal Watercraft

The Big Picture

A personal watercraft can come in many shapes and sizes. Not to mention brand names. You’d do best to explore all the major manufacturers and models before making your final purchase. This Buying Guide to Personal Watercraft will help familiarize you with some different types of personal watercraft and manufacturers. While you’ll see a variety of differences in the following comparisons, one thing that’s common of most personal watercraft is that they are both fuel efficient and ecologically friendly. Personal watercraft are becoming more and more buyer-friendly and popular among those who love the water.

What to Look For

If you’re in the market for a personal watercraft but you aren’t sure which type, my best suggestion is to check out Yamaha first. Yamaha manufacturers a line of personal watercraft you’ve probably heard of, even if you’re not familiar with them: the WaveRunner. The Yamaha WaveRunners are all sleek and stylish. Begin by test-driving the Yamaha WaveRunner FX Cruiser, which boasts 140 horsepower at 10,000 rpm. A little larger and a little heavier than the other personal watercraft I’ll be introducing you to, the WaveRunner FX Cruiser is a powerful vehicle that accelerates from 0 to 30 mph in 2.95 seconds. Although it’s a little slower off the line, it tops out at an impressive 55 mph. If you’re just beginning to look into personal watercraft, Yamaha’s line of WaveRunners is a good place to start.

If you want a personal watercraft that’s both durable and aesthetically pleasing, check out Kawasaki’s line of Jet Skis. With 125 horsepower at 7,000 rpm, the Kawasaki Jet Ski STX-12F accelerates from 0 to 30 in 2.69 seconds and tops out at just over 53 mph. Priced at only $8,499, the Kawasaki Jet Ski STX-12F is one of the best buys on the market. Kawasaki’s unfortunate grouping of controls makes the Jet Ski a little more difficult to operate than most other personal watercraft. But overall, the Kawaski Jet Ski is an impressive line that’s worth a serious look.

When purchasing a land vehicle, you can never go wrong with a Honda. The same can be said for Honda’s line of personal watercraft, the Aquatrax. The Honda Aquatrax F-12X isn’t as quiet as the WaveRunner and Jet Ski, but it is wonderfully designed and powerful, with 165 horsepower at 6,000 rpm. It’s fun to ride and easy to maneuver. It accelerates from 0 to 30 in 2.63 seconds and is priced at $9,995.

If you’re in the market for power and speed, then you may prefer the Bombadier Sea-Doo GTX 4-TEC Limited. With 185 horsepower at 7,500 rpm, this Sea-Doo will take you from 0 to 30 in an amazing 2.22 seconds. This supercharged personal watercraft is also provides a quiet ride. While the Sea-Doo GTX 4-TEC Limited is the quickest, fastest and most powerful of all these personal watercraft, it is also the most expensive, priced at around $11,600.

Another fun ride is the Polaris MSX 150. It’s super-lightweight at only 665 pounds, and still boasts 150 horsepower at 7,500 rpm. This Polaris accelerates from 0 to 30 mph in 2.79 seconds, is fairly quiet, and tops out at almost 60 mph. The Polaris MSX 150 is reasonably priced at $9,399.

Shopping Tips

Make a list of priorities before shopping for your personal watercraft. Is your top priority speed? Power? Price? Or are you simply in the market for an all-around fun ride. Keeping in mind that speed and power add to the fun once you become an experienced rider. Shop around. Try all major brands. Research resale values. My personal preference is to have a personal watercraft that’s not too loud. The noise can be an unwelcome distraction, especially if you’re buying a personal watercraft to help you unwind and relax. I also prefer a higher top speed to quick acceleration. Of course, be ready to answer some questions from the salesperson. Where are you going to use your personal watercraft? An ocean? The bay? Are you going to have additional passengers? Thinking these things through before you shop will make your buying experience a little easier.

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