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There Were A Few Jet Skis That Had Suspension, It Worked Quite Well

From 2009 to 2017, Sea-Doo had watercraft that had suspension. Shoot, if you consider the XP and HX in the early 2000s, it too had it. As of now, Sea-Doo or any jet ski on the market doesn’t have suspension. When I wrote this post, Sea-Doo still had suspension models. I decided not to change the post too much because it does a good job of explaining the system.

Suspension Used To Be A Thing

Sea-Doo had suspension on a few models from 1995 to 2017, with a break in between 2005 and 2008. As for 2018 and now, no jet ski manufacturer has suspension on their watercraft. It doesn’t mean it won’t come back, Sea-Doo has done it twice, but today you can’t get a new watercraft with suspension.

PWC Suspension Explained

If you have ever ridden a watercraft on a choppy day, then you know it can be painful and just not pleasant. To take the chop out, Sea-Doo came out with “iS” in 2009, which was their intelligent suspension.

This was also the time when Sea-Doo made some major changes to the body style and also introduced the iBR. Let’s be clear, Sea-Doo turned the jet ski world on it’s head with brakes and suspension. I don’t think anyone expected Sea-Doo or any boat manufacture to come out with brakes and suspension, Sea-Doo did it, and it really pushed the watercraft world forward. Nowadays, all the major jet ski manufacturers have brakes, but sadly, suspension never caught on.

The Release Of Suspension iS

I remember hearing back from the owner, who was at the release party for the new Sea-Doo with suspension. She was trying to tell us what it was since they could not take any pictures. This is the funny part. Every year I would joke about how one year they will fly. So, when my boss says over the phone that it’s hovering, all I can think of is flying a Sea-Doo.

Basically, the top deck floats above the bottom deck on a hinge with a spring to soften the blow. This is what she was trying to say, but all I heard was hovering. A few days later, Sea-Doo went public with it, and we had watercraft that had brakes and suspension. The problem was that it was during the recession, so many of these features were not that groundbreaking to the public as money was becoming very tight.

It Was Not A gimmick!

For some odd reason, people thought the suspension was a joke. Many people still think it’s a novelty or gimmick. As someone who has driven many different watercraft over the years, I can honestly say the suspension really does work.

I’m not saying that because I sell them, they really do work. If we got to deliver units to a customer’s house on the weekend, and they have a suspension model, we will fight over who gets to drive that model. Another thing people worried about was that they thought it was not reliable. Too many things to go wrong, and that’s why they won’t buy a suspension model. The crazy part is that the suspension has been the most reliable feature Sea-Doo has ever come out with. The suspension was more reliable than the iBR that came out at the same time and had fewer moving parts.

Here is a great video of the suspension just working. Watch this video and tell me it’s a gimmick…

The Sea-Doo’s That Had Suspension

Sea-Doo did away with suspension on their watercraft in 2018, but it was not the first time Sea-Doo put suspension on a watercraft.

Sea-Doo had suspension on the XP and HX watercraft for a short time before removing them. So, there’s a chance suspension on a Sea-Doo may come back, it would be nice to see on the Spark, but until then, here is a list of Sea-Doo’s that had Suspension.

  1. 1995-1997 HX
  2. 1997-2004 XP
  3. 2009 GTX Limited iS 255
  4. 2010 GTX iS 215
  5. 2009-2012 RXT iS 260
  6. 2010-2016 GTX Limited iS 260
  7. 2011-2016 RXT-X aS 260
  8. 2012-2017 GTX 155 S

iS – Is the intelligent suspension, you would press a button to adjust it or set it to automatic mode. An airbag was used to raise and lower the top deck and adjust the ride. Models with a depth finder would also automatically lower when you got to the dock, it was called dock mode.

S – The S model of suspension was a simple spring that you could adjust the tension, but to adjust it, you needed to be off the watercraft. You basically set it to how hard of a ride you want and left it there.

aS – The aS suspension was the most unique one as it was only on the RXT-X aS. The aS used a nitrogen filled FOX racing shock that had micro adjustments in the glove box.

The suspension on the XP and HX was the simplest one, with the fewest adjustments. The suspension was to take out the hard hits when jumping waves, as these watercraft were lightweight and agile.

The Sea-Doo GTX Limited was the first Sea-Doo to bring back suspension, and also the last model to have it in 2017.

Here is a video of me giving a review of the GTX iS 260 and showing the suspension…

Pretty cool huh!

2018 – No More Suspension Models

Never thought the day would come when I would have to say that suspension on Sea-Doo watercraft is no more. 2017 was the last year you could get any type of it on a jet ski. Sea-Doo claims you don’t need it anymore due to their new ST3 hull. While it maybe true, it doesn’t help that the cool factor and having something from the future is now gone.

There was no cooler feeling than getting on an iS model and pressing the AUTO button. The machine would whirl to life, lifting you up. I guess we’ll have to find other ways to show off at the docks. If you like this article, please be sure to check out my must-have jet ski accessories post too!

Why Did Sea-Doo Get Rid Of It?

Some may argue that Sea-Doo got rid of suspension on a jet ski because of the cost to build. I’m sure cost was a factor, but Sea-Doo was never afraid to sell expensive jet skis and from my personal experiences, people we’re buying the suspension models without much fuss.

The reason I think Sea-Doo got rid of the suspension was because of the number one complaint people had with it, they were not stable. We can see this reflected in the replacement with the new ST3 hulls, as Sea-Doo brags about how stable they are. The suspension made the Sea-Doo too top-heavy, which it needed to be to have some travel for the suspension. While the ride was softer, it was not as stable, and people care more about stability than anything else. It’s why jet skis keep getting bigger and bigger, people don’t want to get wet on jet skis anymore.

How to Service A Jet Ski With Suspension?

I need to make a note about servicing a Sea-Doo with suspension. While you can do basic things like change the battery and change the oil, everything else is harder on a suspension jet ski. The shop guys had it figured out, you could lift the rear up with a hoist and get to most things, but the average homeowner can’t do this. So if you’re looking to get a Sea-Doo with suspension, please note it’s much harder to work on.

You will also spend more at the repair shops because a lot of the things you need to do require taking the top deck off. Since Sea-Doo hasn’t made a Sea-Doo with suspension since 2017, I would advise avoid buying a used one unless you like working on such watercraft or desperately need suspension.

Here is a video showing you how to remove the top deck.

Shortcuts were found, but even then, it was still a pain to remove the top deck to work on the PWC.

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 see for 2016 there was a GTX Limited iS 260 and for 2017 it was just the s 260 did they ditch the intelligent part for the regular in 17?

    Reply
  2. I own a 255 GTX IS and love it. I have had it since 2010 with no problems. The fact that the new models do not have this feature, makes me hang onto mine. The ride is so much better. The maintenance has not been a problem.

    Reply
    • Hi Steve, (thanks for all the knowledge, it’s been super enjoyable to spend hours of reading all your advice in these posts. Thank you!

      Question…

      We are looking at buying two machines for the family and would like to ask some advice.
      2 kiddos 16&17 and speed demon Mom.

      1) would you follow your recommendation of purchasing 2 units (2006 to 2016 GTX 155 hp)?

      Or

      2) Would you look at a machine with iBR for the breaking features
      (If 2 is your recommendation, would you recomend with iS or without?

      Reply
      • I would aim to get two Sea-Doos with iBR especially if you’re going to have new riders on them. iBR is easier to learn and gives you better control of the jet ski. “iS” is nice but I personally would not get it anymore. Sea-Doo has stopped making them so parts will start to get hard to find in 10 years or even less. It was a great idea and if you have a lot of back problems the iS is a must-have. If I did go with a suspension model I would stick to the “S” one, it didn’t move up or down with a push of a button but instead, you set it and forget it kind of suspension. There was a GTX-S 155 that had that suspension and it was a nice machine. The reason why I would not get one these days is that the suspension models raised your center of gravity so these machines were very top-heavy and did not do well with multiple riders. If you rode by yourself they’re the best thing in the world but get too much weight on them and they get unstable. I even have a video of me riding the GTX-S 155 in 2016 (https://youtu.be/FE2FfLuCrm0) I could ride that thing for days it was so comfortable but it was fun too because it was so top-heavy I could spin it out more easily.

        Reply
        • Thanks Steve,

          So the clarify would you go with option a or b

          a)two used 2009 to 2011 RXT 215 or 255 with iBR (used budget of approx $17K)

          or

          b)two used 2006 to 2009 GTX or Wake machines with no iBR but your supported 155 4-tech engine (used budget of approx $13K)

          Buying a GTX or wake 2009-2011 with iBR in our area is hard to find

          Reply
    • The suspension models did a great job of the really hard hits. The ST3 hull along with the padding of the seat does a fine job of the normal everyday stuff. One drawback of the suspension models that don’t get talked about much was how top heavy they were. You could more easily tip one over compared to the non-suspension models. The new ST3 hull is a lot more stable and takes the chop very well.

      Reply
  3. I was told that you can’t clean between the suspension and hull therefore leading to corrosion if left on a lift in Florida. Any issues with this. Where do I find your answer?

    Reply
    • I have never heard of someone saying to not clean between the seat and the hull on a suspension model, that’s kind of crazy. If you keep the watercraft on the lift where it’s sitting flat or even tilted a little back any water that gets in there drains out the back. This is what happens when it rains and you don’t have the cover on the watercraft, but it’s important to have the craft flat or tilted a little towards the rear. As for corrosion, I don’t know what could corrode besides the aluminum supports on each side. Everything on the craft is made to hold up to corrosion – it’s a watercraft so it’s expected to come in contact with salt water. The only issue you need to worry about with a suspension model is how you have the watercraft sitting. If the watercraft is not sitting flat in the water or tilted a little towards the back then you can get sitting water. This sitting water is only an issue when on a trailer with no tongue jack or anything that props the trailer up. The part below the seat is all sealed up and made to get water around it and then drain out the rear so feel free to clean under there so long as the watercraft is properly tilted or flat.

      Reply

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