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2021 Sea-Doo – The Good, Bad, And Ugly

Sea-Doo has released its 2021 models through a short video that left me wanting more.

I’ve been spending the last few days looking for what’s new and come to find out, Sea-Doo barely touched on the good stuff in that short intro video.

So let’s go over the good, the bad, and the ugly for the 2021 Sea-Doo line up.

The Good

The 3 main points for 2021 is the new RXP-X 300, iDF, and GTX Limited.

There is a lot to cover, so let’s start with the RXP-X.

RXP-X 300

The 2021 RXP-X 300 is all-new, and I must say it’s about time.

Sea-Doo has taken the T3 hull and made it even better with some well-needed modifications to get us the T3R hull.

The old T3 was a great hull, but it was honestly a little rough around the edges. When I say edges, I mean hard cornering. The new T3R hull has softened the chines to make rolling into the turns a lot smoother and added shark gills to make cornering a lot better.

Shark Gills

Tucked under the chines is what Sea-Doo calls Shark Gills, and they look like what you expect. It’s a clever idea to break up the water’s surface tension to give you more predictable turning going at full power.

Think of the gills as a virtual roller coaster track that keeps you locked in and predictable.

New Sponsons

The new aggressive X-Sponsons are not adjustable, which is kind of a bummer as the older RXP-X was. Sea-Doo claims they don’t make them adjustable because they found the optimal position for them with the new hull and shark gills.

Moved The Engine Forward

Sea-Doo moved the engine and gas tank about 2 inches forward.

This is to give you better control in the dip of the turn.

This should also help with take off as the less jumping out of the water you do the more you can keep the pump in the water to keep pushing you forward.

60 Pound Weight Reduction

With an already powerful 300HP engine, the next best thing you can do is shave some weight.

Sea-Doo was able to shave 60 pounds off the RXP-X 300. It seems a lot of that weight savings comes from the new seat and hull.

How does a seat save weight? We need to talk about the seating configuration.

1UP From The Factory

The RXP-X 300 will be only a 1 seater from the factory and not a 2 seater like it’s always been since 2004 when it was released.

This helps cut down on weight, but this is not the biggest reason why Sea-Doo did a 1UP.

The people buying an RXP-X 300 are racers, and it’s mostly them riding by themselves. Why on Earth would you want the weight of a 2UP seat when 90% of the time the people buying this PWC ride 1UP?

Doing a 1UP also means they can fine-tune the seat to make it better for the racer. The seat has an adjustable saddle backrest that you can move back and forward in six spots. With that back support, it helps keep the driver planted in the seat. So instead of holding on, they’re in the craft controlling it.

Along with new raised knee pockets, the comfort for the driver is near perfect no matter your body type.

You also have a tackier seat to keep your legs and bottom from sliding so much.

There is a 2UP seat accessory add on for about $400 if you do want to take a passenger. What I find interesting about the 2up seat accessory is that the passenger grips are better than the lame strap on other models.

The RXP-X 300 Is Faster At Take Off

Having the driver locked into the seat is even more important for the 2021 RXP-X because it’s now faster.

A new top loader intake grate allows more water through the pump. A redesign ride plate allows for better top speed, acceleration, and control.

And a new high-performance polished impeller comes factory, which is a very nice touch Sea-Doo. You’re basically getting an almost race-ready watercraft.

With this and the weight reduction, the RXP-X will do 0 to 50MPh in 2.7 seconds. The old RXP-X did this in 2.9 seconds. You’re getting supercar performance for a fraction of the price.

Handlebars

The 2021 RXP-X handlebars are low profile as this is what racers want so they can lean forward when launching.

You can get a riser option to adjust the handlebars, but this cost extra and needs to be installed.

More Storage

The RXP-X 300 will get a bigger glove box and more significant front storage.

The front storage is increasing by 10.5 gallons, which is quite a lot for such a small watercraft.

Since the top half of the RXP-X is very similar to the GTI and GTR body, you also get the same style LinQ system. So you can add a gas can or a ski pylon if you wanted to.

This also means the RXP-X engine compartment is easy to get to once you remove the seat and plastic holder. So if you want to do a lot of upgrades, you’ll have the room to work.

The RXP-X also gets the 18.5 Gallon gas tank too.

iDF

Before I talk about the GTX Limited, we need to talk about iDF.

I have a feeling no one is going to give this much attention, but it is groundbreaking. This could be up there with the intro of iBR; it really could change the watercraft world.

iDF is an Intelligent Debris Free system.

If you suck up weeds or even trash into your intake, you can activate iDF and clear out the pump.

THIS IS HUGE!

The Achilles heel of jet skis is their jet pump. It’s a super-powerful vacuum, and it will suck up anything in its way. If you suck up the wrong thing, it can shut the engine off or keep your PWC from moving.

Why Is Sucking Stuff Up Is A Huge Problem For Jet Skis?

Jet skis are direct drive systems.

So this means when the engine is on, the impeller is moving. The engine is directly connected to the impeller.

When you’re putting your jet ski into reverse, you’re not reversing the impeller like you would a boat but instead dropping a bucket that redirects the output of the water. This is why shifting on a jet ski is smooth and not clunky like on a boat.

The reason why jet ski manufacturers do it this way is to keep it simple. Transmissions fail or need extra maintenance. If you use a bucket, it’s fewer moving parts and easy.

How iDF Works

iDF can only be turned on when the engine is off.

So if you think you sucked something up, you turn the engine off. With the gauge still on, press the iDF button, and the Sea-Doo will slide a gear and then you fire up the engine. You rev the engine for 12 seconds, and any debris stuck in the pump will get pushed out the front where it came from.

I like this idea, and I sure was worried at first, but it seems Sea-Doo kept it simple. The iDF is located inside the engine and is even cooled and lubricated by the same engine oil. All that is happening is an actuator that moves a simple gear backward and forwards.

Since it is that simple and can only be moved with the engine off, it builds great confidence. Its simplicity is making me wonder why have we not done this sooner?

Why 12 Seconds On The iDF?

Some of you may wonder why the iDF can only run for 12 seconds? After you rev the engine for 12 seconds, the engine will shut off and then slide the gear back to normal and wait for you to start the engine again. You can go another 12 seconds if you want, but why 12 seconds?

A clever little bit about jet skis is that the pump does more than push you forward. Its a water pump to suck any water that is in your hull out.

You have what is called bailer tubes sitting at the bottom of your hull. These tubes go up and then back down to the pump. There are holes in the pump, and when the engine is on, and the pump spinning, the flowing water through the pump creates a vacuum and sucks out the water that may be in your hull through these tubes.

Well, if the bailer tubes suck when going in the normal direction, that would mean they will pull water if you reverse the pump. This is true, but Sea-Doo has a one-way valve to keep your jet ski from filling up with water.

The reason why you do 12 seconds is to keep from overworking this oneway valve. Another reason is that the exhaust and supercharger still take in lake water to cool them and use the pump, and running those too long without water is not good, and thus, we have the 12-second rule.

Who Is Getting iDF?

The Fish Pro and GTX Limited Models will come with iDF.

You can order the GTX 170 or GTX 230 with it from the factory. Since it’s apart of the engine, it’s not something you can add on later.

Interestingly enough, the new GTX 300 won’t have it as an option, and I have no clue why? The GTX Limited 300 will have it; kind of makes me feel the GTX 300 was a last-minute thing?

iDF VS iBR

This may confuse some people, but iDF and iBR are not related to or the same thing.

Yes, iBR is you’re forward, neutral, and reverse and iDF flips the driveshaft to move forward and reverse – but they’re very different.

iBR controls the direction of the water that has left the jet ski by using a bucket. If the bucket is up, nothing is blocking the output of the water, so you move forward. If the bucket is down, the output of the water is affected and directed to the front of the craft, and you move in reverse. If the bucket is in the middle, you’re in between forward and reverse, which is “neutral.” Neutral on a jet ski is not the same as a boat; if the engine is on, the impeller is moving. You can learn more about iBR here.

iDF controls the drive shaft for unblocking debris. iDF is more like a standard transmission you find in a boat or car. It’s just a lot simpler and can only be moved when the engine is off. Where iBR can be moved with the engine on.

I wouldn’t think of the iDF as a transmission but more of a tool to unblock debris in your pump. And your iBR is more of a transmission as it handles the forward, neutral, and reverse of your jet ski.

GTX Limited

The GTX Limited, along with the Fish Pro, will get the iDF as covered above.

The next big thing the GTX Limited gets is an all-new colored 7 inches wide (not diagonal but truly 7 inches long) display.

The screen actually comes from the Can-Am Spyder RT line up. So it’s not a touch screen like what Yamaha FX has, but that is not a problem.

While touch screens are cool and easy to show off at the dealership, they suck on the water. Driving a jet ski is a bumpy affair and trying to reach over the handlebars to press the screen is not only difficult but dangerous.

It also reminds me of the touch screen in my car. While yes, it’s cool, but you have to take your eyes off the road to know where to press, and often you press the wrong thing because there is no tactile feedback. Now imagine this while on rough waterway with boats and other jet skis going in every which direction.

It’s better to keep the controls on the handlebars when it comes to jet skis.

Dual Display

The best part of this wide display on the GTX Limited is its two displays in one.

What makes this so brilliant is that on the left will be your jet ski stats like MPH, gas, temp, VTS, and everything you need to know about your jet ski.

But on the right is your accessory controls for when you plug in your phone. On the right screen, you can have maps, music, and weather.

So you always have the information for both your jet ski and your accessory. You don’t have to pick if you want to see the map or speed. They all get their own screen, so you’re never out of the loop.

Display Is Proven

Since this is the same display as the Can-Am Spyder RT, it’s been tried and proven. It’s even made it’s way to the Ski-Doo line up too.

So the glare has been considered but you can see some but it’s not bad. The display will also auto-adjust brightness to fight the glare.

You also have a light and dark mode, dark mode shown below.

The Little Things

Then we have the little things like fuel economy mode to let you know how far and how much time is left, and it’s easy to see on this large display.

Speed sensitive volume for your speaker system on the GTX Limited. I really like this because you don’t need to adjust the volume when riding and then forget when coming to dock and be that guy with his music blasting without realizing it.

The GTX Limited can also hook up with the WAVVE app that is pretty much the GPS app for boats. It gives you places to go, things to avoid, and other little features. The maps will also display on the right side of the screen, so you never have to pick maps over fuel or speed.

I don’t know why it took this long to bring back GPS on jet skis, but I’m glad it’s back. Back in the day, the GTX Limited used to come with a handheld GPS unit, but most everyone lost them. Since everyone has GPS on their smartphone, it’s coming back, and it’s better than ever!

Then let’s not forget you can add cup holders. There is a new accessory you can buy that adds a fishing rod holder and cup holder options.

But my favorite news is that the Speed Ties are back. Speed ties allow you to quickly tie off at the docks, and the rope retracts back in. Though they don’t come with the GTX Limited, it’s nice to see them again. The best part for me is that they look so much easier to install. I remember hating installing the Speed Ties, especially on GTI models, but the new design looks very promising.

Sea-Doo is also releasing more wraps for the Spark and some for the bigger models, which is super sweet!

The Bad

Besides the new RXP-X 300, iDF, and the GTX Limited, there really was not much else.

Sure, RXP-X and iDF are enough for me; but this year’s release felt lacking.

I know due to current events, things have been crazy, and maybe Sea-Doo was not able to get as much as they wanted done. I also feel this leads to why there are no new colors for 2021 and why many of the other models did not change either.

Besides the Spark TRIXX and GTX 170, 230, and 300 getting the best color schemes Sea-Doo has ever done, the rest of the models feel like they got no attention.

Sea-Doo probably didn’t want to change the 2021 too much from the 2020 because of the great demand in 2020 with everyone being home. So the easiest and more importantly, the quickest thing they can do to get new units to dealerships as fast as possible is to keep most of the 2021 unchanged from 2020. Sea-Doo doesn’t want to be caught off guard this year and seems to be pushing units out and quick too.

The Ugly

The ugly is the iDF not fixing all sucking up problems.

Sucking things up into your jet ski is the biggest problem for any owner. It’s easy to avoid sucking things up – never start the engine in less than waist-deep water, and watch out for your tow rope, but no one is perfect so this problem still happens.

The most common thing for people to suck up is ropes, rocks, and sticks.

And the way Sea-Doo is talking, iDF won’t help much for this.

While it could help a little if a rock or twig is stuck in the pump, I’m not putting my money on getting ropes out. If anything, iDF could make it worse if you try to use it to remove a tow rope.

iDF is perfect for removing weeds or trash out of the pump, but it’s not the perfect thing I was hoping for that can remove the other common things.

More Info

For more information check out Sea-Doo’s own website and the videos below.

11 thoughts on “2021 Sea-Doo – The Good, Bad, And Ugly”

  1. Steven, I am going to purchase a GTI SE 170. For just the single PWC, can you recommend what trailer I should purchase?

    Reply
  2. Hi Steven i just love all your reviews, i have the GTX limited 2019 how much is it to get the color display to mine ?

    can i see the deep instead of temp on the display on the left ?

    they say it has better sound but how is that possible is it different speakers instead of what i have on the 2019 that i think is really good anyway. ?

    thank you

    Reply
    • Sorry, you can not add the new display to an older model.

      The older display is fixed and can only show what is set up from the factory.

      I wouldn’t say the speakers are that much better on the new one than what you have now, what you have is quite good if you ask me.

      Reply
  3. Two quick questions

    1. I like the split screen on the GTX limited. But I don’t want to get a machine that big. Is there any aftermarket product that would let me control my phone/music And see maps that I could externally mount? I thought a fishfinder might be able to do that but I couldn’t find anything that could control the phone and show GPS etc.

    2. I’m also a first time buyer. So I assume that the 170 GTX is more than enough and to stay away from the 230 and 300 not only because it’s overkill but it’s probably difficult to control for a new user. Is that about right?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • The best thing to do is to get a phone mount and use that as the screen for maps. You can get motorcycle phone mounts that do exactly what you want to do. The 170HP engine is more than enough power, the 130 is too. All jet skis are fast, it’s just that some get to top speed quicker than others.

      Reply
  4. Steven,
    I love your articles and your insight on questions! Regarding the 2021 GTI SE 130 & 170, is there $600 difference between the two? I’m about 240 pounds so is there that much noticeable difference for the money?

    Reply
    • The difference will in pull sports and top end for sure. If you plan on keeping the jet ski for a long time I would go for the 170. If you mostly do cruising then the 130 will be more than fine.

      Reply

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