2019 Yamaha Waverunner – Good, Bad, and the Ugly

Yamaha just released their 2019 models, and I thought I would give you the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Many people consider me more of a Sea-Doo guy but Yamaha has done some great stuff this year, and I really want to point them out. I also want to point out the stupid things they’re doing too.

For the full details please visit Yamaha’s website. This post is my opinion and I was not paid by any watercraft manufacturer to write it.

The Good

EXR – It Was Done Right

EXR seems to be Yamaha’s response to the Sea-Doo Trixx models. Where I got to give them credit is that Yamaha went with more HP first then make adjustments to the Trim second. Update: It was not the trim that was adjusted but the pump was set further back for better thrust and traction. The correction came from the Watercraft Journal. More info in the comments below.

For years Sea-Doo Spark Fans have been wanting a Spark-X, and it looks like Yamaha listened instead. Yamaha is packing 10% more HP in the EXR compared to the regular EX and making it lighter than the EX Deluxe. This is a big deal!

Yamaha is giving you your cake, and you can eat it too.

Sure the EXR lacks the cool graphics, adjustable handlebars, and foot holds but going with more HP is the smartest thing Yamaha could do to compete. This thing is going to be a blast to drive and I can’t wait to see how it does.

FX Series

In my predictions post, I made wild guesses about Yamaha and the whole industry and said tech would be the next big thing.

Well, it looks like I was correct and Yamaha is taking tech more seriously in 2019.

Yamaha is the first to come out with a full color touchscreen. I love how they show it off with someone wearing gloves to show how easy it will be. Not only that but you can do so much more with a touch screen that it’s interesting what the future holds for this technology. Things like adjusting the takeoff power and power curve for pull sports is a nice feature that many will enjoy because of the ease of use from a touchscreen.

Yamaha is also taking accessories more seriously in 2019 like the speakers and GPS but also the floating coolers and many more. I love this and I’m sure accessories will explode more in the jet ski world as the margins get tighter on watercraft and accessories will fill the gaps for dealers.

The storage of the FX series has been upgraded from about 33 gallons to about 40 gallons. You can never have too much storage on a watercraft that is for sure. If you include all the storage its a total of 44 Gallons which is a lot for a watercraft.

The Feature That Matters The Most

The feature that is the most groundbreaking and deserves more attention is the Self-Draining Footwells.

It’s about freakin time!

This has been a big issue that we’ve been dealing with for decades – water in the footwells. It may sound silly to new riders, but this is a real issue that no manufacturer has taken seriously.

Even if you kept a cover on your watercraft water would find its way in and get trapped in the footwells. This water would become stagnant and attract bugs and even make a slimy (and slippery) mess. I’ve also seen tadpoles living in the footwell water before, its a real and annoying issue.

With the Yamaha FX models, they have a drain to help combat this issue or at least make it slightly better. The verdict is still out on how they go about this or how useful it will be, but at least they’re trying to solve this problem!

This is such a big issue that I would always have customers mention to me why they don’t have a drain or something to keep the water from building up. I got the question so much that it prompted me to write a post on it here.

The water in the footwells and the drain will strike the most significant nerve for customers who already own a watercraft and who are looking to upgrade. This to me will get my attention more than a touchscreen, and that is why I think Yamaha should lead with it in advertising. Silly, I know, but it’s not silly if it works.

RAM Mounts

I do love the idea of using RAM mounts for adding accessories like the GPS or speakers. Modular things are great and make customizing easier. This gives you the added benefit of taking the items off and carrying them with you like the speaker to the beach.

You can even add fish finders if you wanted to since it uses the RAM mounts. The 2019 FX series watercraft have got to be the best fishing jet ski around because of the easy add-on accessories.

The Start Button

Fast action start is an interesting one and found on the FX models. You press the start button once instead of holding it down, and the Waverunner starts.

I would see this often with new riders as their cars had the single press of the button to start, but it was harder to get used to the jet skis because they made you hold the button until it started. I like this move, and I’m sure other manufacturers are to follow.

Thicker Rub Rail

It’s hard to miss, and not many people are talking about the thicker front rub rail of the FX series. They beefed them up, especially around the gas fill area. This area of the watercraft is very easy to ding up and making the rub rail thicker and more significant is a big deal.

It’s far easier to replace plastic than it is to fix fiberglass. And it’s not a matter of “if” you’ll scratch your watercraft but a matter of “when” you’ll do it.

Reboarding Ladder

I’ve never seen a reboarding ladder as thick and as nice as the one they’re putting on the new 2019 FX series. It’s not a bar anymore, its a freaking step you would find in a home. It’s huge!


The GP1800 is still sexy and stupid powerful for its weight, but Yamaha has made it better with the GP1800R.

The improved intake will be a machine the racers love. Yamaha is really flexing on Kawasaki and Sea-Doo when it comes to muscle now.

The Bad

The FX’s mounting system is nice and you can add many things to it, but it feels like an afterthought.

Sure its better than them being used for cup holders and it allows you to mount the GPS and angle it to the position you want, but features like the Bluetooth speaker could have been done better.

There is also a glaring problem with using a clamp style mount, they wear out. Everyone knows it if they ever used a mount for the GPS in the car. The screws you turn to make it tight loosen up over time and cause the items to flop down. This will be amplified even more on a jet ski because of all the wave jumping.

It’s in the right direction, but they should have made the mounts fixed especially when dealing with expensive waterproof GPS units.

Since the speaker system is so small, it’s for sure going to be hard to hear them at full speed. Sea-Doo and Kawasaki have complete (and loud) speaker systems that you can listen to even when going full throttle.

The Ugly

The VX-C could have been a winner, but they failed.

Yamaha is going for more of the commercial side (the reason for the “c”) for the VX-C. Its pretty much a VX without RIDE. Yes, it lacks reverse. Not a huge deal for a rental company but for the average buyer or family this is a big mess up.

The price of the VX-C would have put it along the lines of the 2018 GTI 90 but the GTI 90 has brakes and reverse. This was what I thought the VX-C was going after and it should have taken over and kicked out the EX Deluxe – I better explain this in my post on the Sea-Doo Spark vs. Yamaha EX here.

This makes the VX-C compete more with the GTS. If you ask me at this moment in time, I can’t recommend a family get either the VX-C or GTS as it’s not worth it. Rental companies will for sure love them though.

Paddle Wheel Speed

paddle wheel speed yamaha

Not a fan of the fact that Yamaha still uses a paddle wheel on their models as seen under the VXR. I love the VXR and its a great machine, but the use of a paddle wheel is a wrong way to tell speed. Sea-Doo has been using mostly GPS to give you the speed of your watercraft which is far more accurate.

The only thing I will say is that don’t trust completely what the speedo says as its easy to overinflate the numbers on a paddle wheel system. Not saying they do, let’s be clear, but what I am saying no matter what use a 3rd party GPS system to tell exactly how fast the watercraft goes and the onboard speed as a guestimation.

I’ve got to say, the EXR is a move in the right direction, but the color is so bad. I can’t help not to see a 2006 Sea-Doo GTI SE when I look at that thing. Yamaha should have done more extreme graphics, and colors like Sea-Doo does for the Trixx models.

What Do You Think?

I’m curious to hear what you have to say about the new 2019 Yamaha line up. Please feel free to leave a comment below to let me know what you think.



I started working at a power sports dealership in 2007, I worked in parts, service counter, and as a technician before moving to sales in 2013. I created in 2014 to answer common watercraft questions I would get from people. Now managing the site full-time, I continue to provide advice and web tools for my readers about watercraft. I've owned several watercraft, with a Sea-Doo Spark as my current main PWC.

15 thoughts on “2019 Yamaha Waverunner – Good, Bad, and the Ugly”

  1. Has anyone had an issue with an unresponsive touchscreen on the 2019 FX?? After about a year of ownership we are suddenly unable to unlock the unit to start it because the touchscreen is unresponsive and I can’t find any online troubleshooting this.

    • I haven’t heard much about the screen on the FX failing. I would try disconnecting the battery for 5 minutes and reconnect it to see if that helps. Other than that I would take it in as it should still be under warranty.

    • Yes! We have had the same issues. OUr dealer says Yamaha isn’t really saying anything about it – and they want us to pay to ship it back to them to fix the issue. We are still covered under the warranty but they won’t cover the costs to ship back. pretty lame … we can’t reset the alarms now bc the screen stopped working. Not a good thing at all.

  2. Hi. Fuel gauge is not the problem on an FX. They have put some sort of blowback restricter in the filler tube at the tank end and it reduces the level you can fill the tank to. It also makes filling extremely slow. I calculated there is a shortfall of 6.25 litres. If the restrictor is removed you end up with a normal tank fill and normal gauge behaviour. The alarm is still a bit premature.
    Speedo on the FX is driven directly by the rpm. It has no direct relationship on the actual speed. Run it in forward on the trailer and you’ll see what I mean. It shows speed. Why they did this I can’t fathom. Error at 60 km is about 10%. A GPS speedo module must be available soon I hope.
    I’m waiting to see what the Riva ride plate does for the ski. 2019s are a bit wetter than earlier skis and somewhat slower. Probably due to a slightly lower bow angle. Trimming the bow up helps a bit but not enough IMHO.
    I miss the lake and E temperature gauges of the older FX’s. Would have been really simple to include these.
    It seems 2020 skis are no different.
    All that aside, I love the ski. 69 hours in 6 months! 7th ski owned, 3rd FX SVHO

    New Zealand

  3. I too love the looks of the EXR, so much I bought it, after 20 hours of use on the ocean on the Jersey shore I love it! FYI I’m 61 yrs old

  4. I disagree, I love the color of the EXR and everything about it, it stood out to us and I like that idea when we already own 4 yamaha’s. The lake we visit has a lot of skis on the water I think I will be able to look out and find our family on the EXR and be able to keep up with them. We are a family with 7 grandkids and and the 4 we have have grown too small for some of us . Yamaha has been great to us, we purchased our first two skis a waverunner and a VXR off the showroom floor in San Antonio TX in June of 1991 and we still run them hard each summer. Love us some Yamaha’s

  5. Just got in from the boat show, and I agree…the EXR is ugly, and the RAM mounts feel really flimsy and the BT speakers are undersized.
    I’d still love some options on the VXR…cruise, no wake, depth finder. Would be perfect for many value but performance conscious buyers.

  6. GOT A NEW FX ho AND..
    TOP SPEED IS MAXED AT 90KM HOUR?? are they spped limited now, older fx ho (2016) doing 100km plus?

    • Models made for the US are speed limited. The new models could also be limited even more for the break-in period. As for the gauge, I would take it to the dealership to see what they have to say about it.

    • My old man bought a new 2019 fxho and we have the same problem. It maxes out at about 89km/hr at 7200rpm. Did you end up fixing this problem? We have been in and out of the dealership and dealing with Yamaha and they came to the conclusion that this is how they are and everything is within parameters. Are they just limited? We have 12hrs now on the clock.

      • I believe they are speed limited, as are the sea doos, but I know tuners have a way to override that.
        They may even be extra speed limited during their break in period.
        Also the yam speedo is not particularly accurate to begin with.

  7. In my world you roll with Yamaha st, Kawasaki 2nd and last. SeaDoo isnt even an option. I’m sure they are better today than in years gone by, but I would never risk my hard earned money on a SeaDoo……no way in hell.

  8. Steven, I love your stuff but you’ve got some glaring factual errors in here that should be addressed:
    1. The EXR does not have an increased trim setting array. The pump was set back for better traction and thrust, as the EXR is intended for sport use, not “popping wheelies” like the Trixx. The added 10HP pales in comparison to the massive 60lbs. weight reduction on the unit as well.
    2. The VX-C is NOT intended for consumer use, but rather will be made strictly to rental outfits. Yamaha regional representatives say they will not sell the VX-C to private buyers (whether dealers will hold to this rule remains unseen).
    3. You’ll note that ALL “R” rated machines come in the Blue/White/Neon Yellow livery (GPR, VXR and EXR). It’s meant for class identification, not to emulate decade’s old Sea-Doos.
    4. The GP1800R has ZERO weight reduction. A new, race-designed ride plate, top-loader intake grate and pump tunnel reinforcements are the biggest improvements.
    5. The choice for the RAM mount partnership comes from seeing literally thousands of “touring” enthusiasts mounting GPS/fish finders with the same RAM systems. Peruse any images on Facebook or the forums of these groups and you’ll see where Yamaha got the idea. Many enthusiasts have voiced interest in merely transplanting their current system to a new FX.

    • Cool beans did not know you read my stuff!

      1. I’ve made a correction to the post to reflect that it was not trim adjustment that changed but it was the pump that was moved. But its clear that this is Yamaha’s response to the Trixx and like I said in the post its done right. This is what Sea-Doo should have done, give us more HP first.
      2. I made mention the VX-C is more for commercial use in the post. When I first saw the VX-C I got super excited, something to compete with the GTI 90 but finding out it lacks reverse and is more for commercial really upset me. It had everything going for it and it just needed reverse, even a mechanical one would be fine. What is really interesting to me is why does Yamaha have it on there website if they don’t plan to sell it to the general public? Sea-Doo has the SAR and you really have to dig for it or look in the commercial site they have. This is a dealers nightmare, a unit you can see on their website you can’t buy. It’s even the very first VX in the line up so it’s sure to get a lot of attention, especially at that price. Just seems like a missed opportunity for them to not sell the VX-C to the public even if it lacks reverse. Otherwise, like in the post, it’s going to be a great rental machine.
      3. I get the color of the R machines, but I can not stop thinking of a 2006 GTI SE especially how the EXR has a yellow hood, yellow seat, and blue body like the 2006 GTI SE. I’m sure they were not copying it but that is all I see and it bugs me because a GTI is not a racing machine so I don’t see those as racing colors. The honest truth is that I was trying to find anything for my ugly category and the color of the EXR stood out. If that is the biggest issue Yamaha has for 2019 then that is way better than me ripping into Sea-Doo last year in my ugly category for them removing the suspension.
      4. Corrected it. Yamaha is straight up killing it in musclecraft so far.
      5. I could not agree more, I even make note that the FX is a perfect jet ski for fishing in the post. I consider a fixed mount to be better than one that moves because of the rough ride a watercraft will experience. The RAM mounts will work great for GPS and fish finders but the speaker system is not as good as what Kawasaki and Sea-Doo have done, besides that you can carry them with you. Its feels like Yamaha rushed to get speakers and could have been done better.


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