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Standup Vs. Sitdown – Why You Should Pick A Sitdown Jet Ski

This guide is for new riders who want to know the difference between the two. Learn a little about the history of both and see which one is a better fit for you.

Before we get into it, let’s go over the features that make them so different.

Comparison Chart

FeaturesStand UpSit Down
Seat Capacity1 – Standing1 to 3
Top Speed~60mph40mph to 70mph
Price Range $11,000 +$6,000 to $22,000
Fuel Capacity ~5 US Gal5 Gal to 20 Gal
Weight300 to 500lbs450 to 1,000lbs
Engine2 Stroke or 4 Stroke4 Stroke only (better fuel eff.)
Storage CapacityNone5 to 56 Gal
TransmissionNoneForward or iBR or RIDE
HP~150hp90HP to ~325HP
BodyFiberglassPolytec or Fiberglass
CoolingOpen LoopOpen Loop or Closed
MirrorsNoneMost Models
Reboarding StepNoneSome Models

Terms

Since this guide is geared towards new riders, I need to explain the common terms.

The word “jet ski” will get thrown around most because that is what most people understand. The other names are Personal Watercraft(PWC) and Waverunner.

History

While stand ups are becoming rare these days, they were one of the first ones around!

The creator of the first stand-up was Clayton Jacobson II. He wanted a motorcycle of the water and was trying to mimic that with the stand-up jet ski. He figured standing up would give you more control, like it does on a dirt bike.

He tried at first with Sea-Doo (Bombardier at the time) but it never really took off in the 1960s.

With the failure, Jacobsen went to Kawasaki, and it took off for them. Kawasaki called it a Jet Ski, and that sprung what we know today!

With Kawasaki having such success, Sea-Doo jumped back into the market in the very late 1980s with their sit down PWC. Being able to sit down made the rider more stable in the water and built up rider confidence. Over the years, this focus on rider comfort caused the jet skis to get bigger over the years until the Sea-Doo Spark re-SPARKED the industry.

You also had Tiger Shark, Yamaha, Polaris, and many others try their hands at making PWCs. In the end, you were left with only 3, Kawasaki + Sea-Doo + Yamaha.

Interesting Tidbit of Sea-Doo

A little story time… I had a customer come in one day looking at Sea-Doo’s. He said he used to work for them and said if I could tell him the original name that Sea-Doo was going to be called, he would buy then and there.

Sadly, I had no clue.

He told me the original name was going to be “Sea-Dog,” yes dog, but due to a translation error, it was “Sea-Doo”. I don’t know about you, but Sea-Doo sounds better than Sea-Dog!

After looking this up, I found out that he was thinking of Ski-Doo which is a sister company to Sea-Doo and the Ski-Doo was supposed to be Ski-Dog which makes sense as it was a snowmobile replacing dogs sleighs. The name Ski-Doo carried over to Sea-Doo, and the rest is history.

Funny enough, I do get a few people calling Sea-Doo’s by the name of Ski-Doo! It doesn’t bother me, I call everything a jet ski, and that bothers some. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Who Makes Stand Up PWCs?

Kawasaki & Yamaha

As of now, you only have Kawasaki(SX-R) and Yamaha(SuperJet) making stand-ups.

Of the 50 or so models available from Sea-Doo, Yamaha, and Kawasaki, only 2 are stand-ups. For the stand-up jet ski vs. sit-down jet ski debate, it looks like the sit-down models have won.

Sea-Doo Stopped In 2007

Around 2007, Sea-Doo did have a stand-up jet ski called the 3D.

It was based off the XP hull and had 3 different riding modes. Standing, cart, and knee seat. It was popular when it came out but died off quickly.

It was also big for a standup, but the few times I got to ride the 3D it was a blast.

The standup Buyer

The biggest market for standups is racers, and that is what Yamaha and Kawasaki build for.

It was also only recently that Kawasaki even came back with a stand-up model and not only that, brought the first 4-stroke stand-up.

They’re Not Popular

  • The biggest reason you don’t see more people riding stand-ups is that it’s hard!!! It’s a workout to get going and ride. It’s not meant for relaxed cruising, but to be playful and fast.
  • Another reason is that they were small and needed a 2-Stroke engine. 2-Strokes pollute more than 4-Strokes you find in sit downs today. New laws have made it harder and harder for manufacturers to keep up, which is hurting the stand-up market. This is why it was huge news to see Kawasaki come in with a 4-Stroke SX-R stand-up jet ski. It’s what the industry needs if it wants to continue.
  • The last reason would be cost. You can get a stand-up watercraft for about the price of a mid-range sit-down model. You could even get a Sea-Doo Spark or Yamaha EX for cheaper and get more features. It’s not fair to compare the two, but to the average customer, the sit-down jet ski is the better deal.

One might assume that stand-up models, being smaller than sit-down models, would be less expensive. However, this is not the case! The demand for stand-up models is relatively low, resulting in lower production quantities. This limited production keeps their costs higher than one might expect.

I suggest Sit-Down Watercraft

My general recommendation is to go with the sit-down watercraft. The people wanting the stand-ups are already in the sport and won’t need me to tell them to get one.

You’ll find a sit-down better all around, especially for families. You can carry more cargo and pull tubes where a stand-up can’t do either.

You’ll also find it easier to resale your used sit down jet ski than to sell a used stand-up. (Just play around with my used price calculator to understand the difference)

Unless you race them or want the thrill of a stand-up jet ski, there is no good reason to get one. The sit-down watercraft have won the battle in the end.

Stand-ups Can Be Hard To Drive

Yes, but only if you have never ridden one before.

Here is a great video showing you how to ride a stand-up:

Author

Steven

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 StevenInSales.com 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.

Comments

  1. I bought my first ever personal water craft this month for my 59th birthday. A new Kawasaki SXR-1500 which was a very big challenge because lets face it I’m not in my prime physical shape any longer. However as difficult as it were, finally I’m relaxed and enjoying it a great deal it’s taken me 6 hrs of riding it to really feel comfortable.

    Reply

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