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Jet Ski or Motorcycle: Which Is Right for You? [Video]

Jet Ski or Motorcycle: Which Is Right for You? [Video]

The summer is just around the corner, and you may be wondering which is better for you, a jet ski or a motorbike? You’d be surprised how many motorsports enthusiasts hesitate to make this decision!

Some say it’s best if you have both! Great advice, but let’s face it, owning a jet ski and a motorbike at the same time is not for everybody.

Beyond the purchase price and ownership costs, you have to consider several other factors like storage, maintenance, and many more.  For your convenience, we, at JetDrift have gathered these key points under one roof.

Jet Ski or Motorcycle: Which Is Right for You?

Comparing Apples to Apples

As jet skis are considered the “motorcycles of the water” and there are many similarities between them, this comparison makes sense, but only if you compare with caution.

If you take a look at the motorcycle market, you can find a large variety of models from many manufacturers. But if you hesitate about what to buy, a jet ski or a motorcycle, you’re probably considering a street bike with a 600cc-1000cc engine.

So in this post, we’ll focus on this category, as let’s face it, even the cheapest jet skis go fast as hell, thus a small 125cc bike is not a worthy opponent for them!

Popularity and Availability

There are no doubts that motorcycles are most popular in the US, as around 500,000 are sold every year, while there are slightly more than 1 million jet skis registered altogether. This means you can find motorcycle dealerships and service shops in your area much more easily, which has many advantages.

If you don’t do the yearly servicing yourself, it means you have to take your vehicle at least once to professionals. But in the case of accidents or malfunctions, you also have to take your vehicle for repairs and inspection.

Beyond the servicing issues, the size of the communities also matter. If you choose a motorcycle, you can find riding buddies or different events much more easily in your area.

If you’re social, you have plenty of opportunities!  Although there are sizable jet ski communities and many events nationwide, they may be a further distance, which means they’d be less accessible to you.

Safety Issues

Let’s move on to the safety issues, as this is one of the most important factors during your rides.

Although jet skis can be dangerous if you’re too reckless or inexperienced, in general, riding a jet ski is still much safer compared to riding a motorcycle.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s yearly accident reports, there are around 600-700 jet ski accidents each year which result in at least 30-50 fatalities.

Speaking of motorcycle accidents in the US, according to the statistics, there are around 100,000 incidents and 5,000 deaths are reported each year. Taking into account that there are 9 million registered motorcycles in the US, it results in around 11,000 accidents and 555 fatalities per million registered vehicles.

So based on these numbers, we can say that riding a motorcycle is much more dangerous. But beyond the death statistics, don’t forget the injuries you may suffer during non-fatal accidents.

If you have a motorcycle accident, you can expect more serious injuries because of the traffic, objects near the roads and many others.

So if safety is important for you but you’re looking for great adrenalin rushes, then jet skis are for you!

Price and Owning Costs

Purchase price and maintenance costs are also often not negligible factors. If we compare new jet ski and motorcycle prices, we can see similar price tags in the same categories.

This means entry levels jet skis and motorcycles available from $5,000, the “average” models, cost around $10,000, while the high-end vehicles can hit the $18,000-$20,000 range. Just like the prices, the maintenance costs can vary depending on factors like the vehicle’s performance, your riding style and the ridden hours/miles in each season.

As comparing all ownership costs would be impossible here, we just highlight the gas consumption as an example, as jet skis can burn 20-25 gallons of gas every hour! But for a fair comparison, let’s count an “average jet ski and riding style”, which may burn 7-10 gph on average.

An average jet ski is ridden around 30 hours each year, which results in 200-300 gallons of gas. When it comes to motorcycles, the average is around 3,000-5,000 miles per year, and we can count on 40-50 mpg in the case of high-performance modes. If we do the math, the annual gas consumption would be somewhere between 60-125 gallons.

Please consider these numbers as “just for information purposes” as you can burn more or less depending on many factors.

But based on the numbers, at the end of the day, it won’t be the gas consumption that makes you decide what to buy!

Storage and Trailering

Don’t forget, once you purchase a vehicle, you’ll have to store it somewhere. The storage of a jet ski could be challenging as it hogs the place of a car in your garage! Unlike jet skis, motorcycles need much smaller storage space and you can move them by hand much easier.

The main disadvantage of the jet ski comes when you want to go for a quick ride, as you have to tow it to the water. This means you’ll need a trailer, a car with appropriate towing capacity, and plenty of time to prepare and launch it properly.

One key advantage of motorcycles is that these vehicles are always “ready to go”; you just have to put on the protective clothes and go for a quick spin!


As today’s jet skis have huge hulls with seats for 3 riders, you might think of them as small boats. Many buyers hesitate over whether to buy a jet ski or a boat, as there are many pros and cons on each side!

But even if you go with a jet ski, you get a really flexible vehicle. Probably the main advantage of jet skis is that you can take up to two passengers with you comfortably and safely.

It’s a great factor if you’re a family man and want to spend your hobby with your family, as you can take your kids with you on the jet ski from a very small age.

What’s more, with a jet ski you can tow tubes, waterskis or even wakeboarders!  Although most motorcycles also have a seat for a passenger, most of these small saddles are not comfortable for passengers.

Moreover, riding a motorcycle with a passenger means much less fun, so it’s safe to say that riding on the roads is more a solo activity.


Is a jet ski like a motorcycle?  This is a typical question of many beginners in the world of motorsports.

If we think of the sitting position, the controls, or the general feeling, we can say yes, a jet ski is like a motorcycle in many ways. What’s more, you can expect similar price tags whatever you choose.

On the other hand, be prepared as there are some major differences as well!

As a final word, we gathered the key pros and cons of each vehicle for easier comparison.

Jet Ski Pros

  • Much safer
  • Less regulation
  • Easier to operate for beginners
  • Better for families (up to 3 riders)
  • Even children can operate it
  • You can tow wakeboarders or tubers
  • You can go jet ski fishing

Motorcycle Pros:

  • More reliable
  • Much easier to store
  • Easier to clean and maintenance
  • “Ready to go” – no towing or preparation needed
  • No trailer and car needed to tow it (if it’s street legal)
  • More dealerships and service shops available
  • Larger communities and more events
  • Easier to sell
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