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1997 Sea-Doo XP 800 Specs and Review [Video]

1997 Sea-Doo XP 800 Specs and Review [Video]

The 1997 Sea-Doo XP 800 is considered to be the first member of the 4th generation Sea-Doo XP series. It was built on an entirely new platform but inherited its Rotax 787 R.A.V.E. engine from the 1996 XP 800. Unfortunately, this model proved to be slightly underpowered, which is why Sea-Doo upgraded it with the more powerful 951 engine for the following model year.

If you want to learn all about this iconic craft, this post is for you.

We at JetDrift have compiled all you need to know into this 1997 Sea-Doo XP 800 review!

1997 Sea-Doo XP 800 Review

The 4 Sea-Doo XP Generations

The history of the legendary Sea-Doo XP family started in 1991. Since then, this model has undergone numerous changes over several generations, including:

You can learn all about the other models by following the links above!

1997 Sea-Doo XP 800 Review

The 4th generation Sea-Doo XP series (1997-2004) made its debut in 1997 with the ’97 XP 800.

Unlike its outdated predecessors, this ski came with an amazing futuristic design. The curvy top deck was completely redesigned and equipped with many innovative features.

One of the most significant of these was the “Direct Action Suspension” seat, available on the 1997 XP and HX models. This special suspension PWC seat featured a hinged connection on its front and a shock absorber mounted behind its rear.

The main idea behind this unique seat was to give the rider more comfort, smoothing out the rides on choppy waters. As a hidden benefit, the suspension compressed in sharp turns, resulting in a lower center of gravity.

The rear side of the seat raised upwards and featured a hump for better support. It looked like a motorcycle saddle rather than a regular PWC seat!

Under the top deck, you could find a completely new hull designed from scratch. This innovative 4th generation XP hull featured an “hourglass profile,” offering a unique riding experience.

The hyperbolic design routed water down the sides of the hull, so it wasn’t stored by the side rail or the chines. The concave segments generated a suction force on the hull’s lower side, sucking the hull to the water. As you can imagine, this ensured outstanding cornering ability.

On earlier Sea-Doo XPs finding the right riding position caused a lot of headaches, especially for novice riders. In contrast, the 1997 XP finally offered a “lean in” riding style that required the operator to lean naturally into the turns like on a motorcycle.

Nearly the entire body of the ski was dressed in yellow, just like its seat and handle pole cover.

This stylish design was completed with some parts in black like the sponsons, deck mats, rear grab handle, and the upper storage cover.

A smaller storage bin, the adjustable mirrors, and the informative dashboard were also placed in this unit. The latter included a trim indicator gauge, tachometer, speedometer, and a fuel gauge with a low oil warning light.

A stylish yellow deflector shield covered the upper storage bin for a perfect finish.

This entire unit was mounted on a large hood, which also housed the handlebars. Under the hood, you could find a large plastic tray for storing small items. Removing this tray allowed access to the engine compartment.

Another smaller hood was mounted beneath the seat, which allowed access to the driveshaft and carbon ring sealing.

The outdated dash panel also vanished from the top deck, with all controls being relocated onto the handlebars.

The power source of the 1997 Sea-Doo XP 800 was the proven Rotax 787 R.A.V.E. engine carried over from the previous model year.

This 782cc, 2-stroke twin came with a variety of advanced features, including:

The Rotax 787 R.A.V.E. cranked out 110 HP at 7200 RPM thanks to these advanced features.

Engine power was delivered to a Bombardier Formula water jet pump. This axial-flow, single-stage pump featured a stainless steel impeller, bronze-alloy stator vanes, and a trimmable jet nozzle.

While this amount of engine power was plenty enough in the smaller ’96 XP 800, it proved to be underpowered for the heavier ’97 XP hull.

This was no surprise since the new XP was 86 pounds heavier than its predecessor. This significant increase in weight ensured a worse power-to-weight ratio, which resulted in slower acceleration.

Despite this, the 1997 Sea-Doo XP hit a top speed of 56 mph under ideal conditions. Although it was more stable than the ‘96 model, its deep-V hull was still very agile, which made it difficult to ride for beginners.

Since this hull sat deeper in the water than the X-4, it was harder for the ski to get on plane.

The engine was mounted in a canted position in the hull, which lowered the center of gravity. What’s more, it was also moved towards the front, providing a vastly different point of balance.

Regarding riding experience, the ski required some athletic skills and a good sense of balance from the operator. Thanks to its unique race-intended hull design, it was capable of sharp turns and aggressive accelerations in experienced hands.

Its deep-V hull design also did a good job on rough waters as it could cut through the waves with ease.

Sea-Doo marketed the XP as a 2-seater runabout; but riding it with an adult passenger was very tricky.

Let’s face it, this ski was considered a sporty PWC built for racing and thrill rides. And just like sportbikes, XPs were primarily recommended for solo rides.

Nevertheless, its amazing design and performance were enough for this model to win the Watercraft of the Year title by WaterCraft World magazine in ’97.

Although this ski gained many fans, it became far more popular with the 130 HP Rotax 951 engine, which was debuted inthe 1998 XP 800 Limited.

1997 Sea-Doo XP 800 Features

The standard features of the 1997 Sea-Doo XP 800 were as follows:

  • Watertight front storage
  • Safety lanyard
  • Dual mirrors
  • Rear grab handle
  • Integrated GP-style air intake system
  • Electric trim system (VTS)
  • Tow hook
  • Front and rear eyes
  • Speedometer
  • Tachometer
  • Fuel gauge (with low-oil warning light)
  • Trim indicator gauge
  • Monitoring beeper
  • Bilge drain plug
  • Fuel valve
  • Tool kit
  • D.E.S.S. key

1997 Sea-Doo XP Issues

As we’ve discussed, the main problem with this ski was its underpowered Rotax 787 engine configuration.

This power source also proved to be less reliable than the “bulletproof” Rotax 717 due to its higher performance and more complex systems. For example, its R.A.V.E. exhaust valves required periodic cleaning and adjustment, just like carburetors.

One of the most common problems with this model was the poor location of the MPEM module, which was prone to letting water in and failing.

1997 Sea-Doo XP 800 Specs Chart

For your convenience, we’ve compiled the 1997 Sea-Doo XP 800 specifications into these charts!


1997 Sea-Doo XP 800Dimensions and Capacities
Number of passengers2 (driver included)
Overall length269 cm (106 in)
Overall width104 cm (41 in)
Overall heightN.A.
Weight236 kg (520 lb)
Load limit136 kg (300 lb)
Hull MaterialComposite (fiberglass)
Fuel tank45.5 L (12 U.S. gal)
Impeller shaft reservoir - Capacity90 mL (3 U.S. oz)
Impeller shaft reservoir - Oil level heightup to plug
Injection oil reservoir4.5 L (1.2 U.S. gal))

Engine Specs

1997 Sea-Doo XP 800Engine Specs
Engine typeRotax 2-stroke, type 787
Induction typeRotary valve
Exhaust systemWater cooled / water injected with regulator
Exhaust valveR.A.V.E.
Lubrication - typeOil injection
Lubrication - oil typeFormula XP-S Synthetic Injection Oil
Number of cylinders2
Displacement781.6 cm3 (47.7 in3)
Maximum Power (approximately)110 HP
RPM Limiter Operation @7200 RPM ± 50
Cooling TypeWater cooled, total loss type - Direct flow from propulsion unit
Fuel - typeRegular unleaded gasoline
Carburetor - type and numberBN 40I Diaphragm - Quantity : 2


1997 Sea-Doo XP 800Propulsion
Propulsion systemBombardier Formula pump
Jet pump typeAxial flow, single stage
Impeller Rotation (seen from rear)na
TransmissionDirect drive / split FR and RR
Coupling Typena
Impeller shaft reservoir oil typeSea-Doo synthetic polyolester oil 75W90 GL5
Pivoting angle of direction (nozzle)~ 26°
Pivoting angle of variable trim system± 8°
Minimum required water level for jet pump90 cm (3 ft)
Impeller Diameterna

Electrical Features

1997 Sea-Doo XP 800Electrical Features
Magneto generator output180 W @ 6000 RPM
Ignition system typeDC-CDI
Spark plug - Make and typeNGK BR8ES
Spark plug - Gap0.5 - 0.6 mm (0.020-0.024 in)
Starting systemElectric starter
Ignition timing - BTDCna
Ignition timing - Notena
Battery12 V, 19 A
Starting system Fuse 5 A
Charging system Fuse2 x 15 A
Gauges Fusena
Fuse - VTS system7.5 A
Fuse - Holder relay 5 A

These charts are for informational purposes only! For exact specifications, please refer to the factory manual.

Sea-Doo XP Comparison Chart

We’ve also compared the key specs of the different Sea-Doo XP models head-to-head in one chart:

Gen.NameYearEngineccHPTop Speed (mph)Weigth (lbs)Hull Design
IXP 5801991"Yellow" 5875805545365I gen. SP
IXP 5801992"White" 5875805645365I gen. SP
IIXP 65019936576507045373II gen. SP
IIXP 650x1994657x6508050412II gen. SP
IIIXP 72019957177188550412X-4
IIIXP Limited 8001995787x RAVE786+11056434X-4
IIIXP 8001996787 RAVE78111056434X-4
IVXP 8001997787 RAVE78211056525Parabolic
IVXP Limited1998947 RAVE95113060551Parabolic
IVXP Limited1999947 RAVE95113060551Parabolic
IVXP Limited2000947 RAVE95113060561Parabolic
IVXP Limited2001947 RAVE95113060561Parabolic
IVXP Limited2002947 RAVE95113060561Parabolic
IVXP DI2003947 DI95113060561Parabolic
IVXP DI2004947 DI95113060605Parabolic

1997 Sea-Doo XP 800 For Sale

If you are considering purchasing one, you probably want to know where to find a Sea-Doo XP 800 for sale. As this model vanished from the market in 1997, it’s already a collectible item, so finding one is not an easy task!

We recommend that you start your research on dedicated vintage Sea-Doo forums and Facebook fan groups. Aside from some good deals, you may find some valuable info there about this ski.

Besides these sources, you may also find some used Sea-Doo XP 800s for sale on Craigslist, PWC Trader, and other dedicated jet ski swap sites.


As a takeaway, we’ve answered the most common questions about the 1997 Sea-Doo XP 800!

What is a Sea-Doo XP 800?

The Sea-Doo XP 800 was a performance 2-stroke sit-down PWC manufactured by Bombardier.

What Year did Bombardier Make the Sea-Doo XP 800?

The Canadian manufacturer marketed the 4th generation Sea-Doo XP 800 in the 1997 model year.

What Kind of Engine Did the 1997 Sea-Doo XP 800 Have?

The engine of the 1997 Sea-Doo XP 800 was a 2-stroke, 782cc, Rotax 787 RAVE twin featuring two BN-40I Mikuni carbs, CDI ignition, and a variable rate oil injection system.

How Much Horsepower Did a 1997 Sea-Doo XP 800 Have?

The 1997 Sea-Doo XP 800 provided 110 HP at 7,200 RPM.

How Many People Could Ride a 1997 Sea-Doo XP 800?

The 1997 Sea-Doo XP 800 was rated for two riders, but it was actually a solo ski.

How Much Weight Could a 1997 Sea-Doo XP 800 Hold?

The total weight capacity of the Sea-Doo XP 800 was 300 pounds.

What Size was the 1997 Sea-Doo XP 800?

The 1997 Sea-Doo XP 800 was 106 inches long and 41 inches wide.

How Much Did a 1997 Sea-Doo XP 800 Weigh?

The dry weight of the Sea-Doo XP 800 was 520 pounds.

Did the 1997 Sea-Doo XP 800 Have Reverse?

No, the Sea-Doo XP 800 was manufactured without reverse.

Was a Sea-Doo XP 800 a 2-Stroke Ski?

Yes, the Sea-Doo XP 800 utilized a 2-stroke twin engine.

What Size Storage Compartment Did a Sea-Doo XP 800 Have?

The Sea-Doo XP 800 had a total storage capacity of 5.5 gallons.

How Much Fuel Did a 1997 Sea-Doo XP 800 Hold?

The Sea-Doo XP 800 utilized a 12-gallon fuel tank and a 1.2-gallon oil reservoir.

How Much Fuel Did a 1997 Sea-Doo XP 800 Use?

The 1997 Sea-Doo XP 800’s fuel consumption was about 14 GPH at WOT.

How Fast Did a 1997 Sea-Doo XP 800 Go?

The top speed of a 1997 Sea-Doo XP 800 was 56 mph under ideal conditions.

Could the 1997 Sea-Doo XP 800 Tow a Skier or a Wakeboarder?

Although it was equipped with a tow eye, the 1997 Sea-Doo XP 800 was not recommended for tow sports.

How Much is a 1997 Sea-Doo XP 800 Worth?

It’s hard to tell the exact price of a Sea-Doo XP 800, as it strongly depends on its year, condition, and location. But as a rule of thumb, the prices typically range from $1,500 up to $6,000.