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1996-2003 Kawasaki 1100 ZXi Review and Specs [Video]

1996-2003 Kawasaki 1100 ZXi Review and Specs [Video]

The Kawasaki 1100 ZXi was the flagship performance Jet Ski in Kawasaki’s fleet before the Ultra 150 was introduced in 1999. This 2-seater machine enjoyed a 2-stroke, 1071cc, triple Kawasaki marine engine rated at 120 HP. The smaller brothers of the 1100 ZXi were the 900 ZXi and the entry-level 750 ZXi.

If you want to find out more about this popular 2-stroke triple Jet Ski, this post is for you.

We at JetDrift have compiled all you need to know into this Kawasaki 1100 ZXi review!

1996-2003 Kawasaki 1100 ZXi Review

Kawasaki 1100 ZXi Hull and Top Deck

Kawasaki released the ZXi series in 1995 as a high-performance 2-seater runabout line.

The first members of this family were the base ’95 750 ZXi and the more powerful ’95 900 ZXi, which was completed with the top-of-the-line 1100 ZXi in ’96. As their names suggest, they utilized 750cc, 900cc, and 1100cc engines, respectively.

They shared most of their features and the small ZXi platform, measuring 108.7 inches in length, 42.1 inches in width, and 39.3 inches in height. Compared to the 3-seater STX line, it was 4 inches narrower and 13.4 inches shorter.

This hull also housed a smaller, 2-rider seat, and a plethora of storage spaces including front storage, an under-seat storage bin, and a small storage pocket (glovebox) in front of the rider.

The ’96 1100 ZXi shared its 3.5-quart oil tank with its smaller brothers, which was replaced by a 4.0-gallon unit for 1997. The dry weight of the machine also jumped that year from 584 to 598 pounds.

Aside from these minor changes and a carb upgrade on the ’98 model, Kawasaki marketed the ZXi from 1996 through 2003 without any significant changes.

The different color schemes of each model year were as follows:

1996 – Hull: White, Deck: Red/Grey/Purple, Seat: Purple, Decals: White/Grey/White

1997 – Hull: White, Deck: Red/Black, Seat: Grey, Decals: Grey/White

1998 – Hull: White, Deck: Yellow/Black, Seat: Black, Decals: White/Purple

1999 – Hull: White, Deck: Yellow/Purple, Seat: Yellow/Black, Decals: Black/Yellow

2000 – Hull: White, Deck: Yellow/Black, Seat: Black, Decals: Black/Purple

2001 – Hull: White, Deck: Yellow/Black, Seat: Black, Decals: Black/Purple/Yellow

2000 – Hull: White, Deck: Yellow/Black, Seat: Black, Decals: Black/Purple

2002 – Hull: White, Deck: White/Black, Seat: Black, Decals: Black/Grey/Red

2003 – Hull: White, Deck: White/Blue, Seat: Blue, Decals: Black/Blue/Yellow

Since each model year had a unique dress, identifying a Kawasaki 1100 ZXi is fairly easy.

The key advantage of this model was its white Gelcoat hull, which proved to be much more resistant to scratches than the painted hull of the 900 ZXi.

Kawasaki 1100 ZXi Engine and Propulsion

The engine of the Kawasaki 1100 ZXi was a 2-stroke, 1071cc, vertical triple marine engine. This power source was the first Kawasaki Jet Ski engine that exceeded a whopping 1000cc. It was rated for 120 HP, while the 900 ZXi and the 750 ZXi delivered 100 and 83 HP, respectively.

The key features of the Kawasaki 1100 ZXi engine were as follows:

In the ’96-’97 model years, the 1100 ZXi housed three Keihin CDK-38-29 carburetors, which were upgraded to Keihin CDCV 38 carbs in ’98.

The propulsion system of the ski was an industry-standard axial-flow, single-stage jet pump, housing a 3-blade impeller.

The maximum thrust of this high-capacity pump was a remarkable 803 pounds.

Kawasaki 1100 ZXi Features

The 1100 ZXi came standard with many advanced features, including:

  • Innovative dashboard
  • Choke knob
  • Fuel knob
  • KATS – Kawasaki Automatic Trim System
  • Handlebar-mounted start/stop buttons
  • Engine shut-off lanyard
  • Front storage compartment
  • Fire extinguisher compartment
  • Under-seat storage pocket
  • Front storage pocket (glovebox)
  • 3-rider seat
  • Seat latch
  • Tool kit
  • Drain plugs
  • Finger throttle lever
  • Throttle limiter
  • Dual mirrors
  • Tow hook
  • Mooring cleats
  • Rear grab handle
  • Sponsons
  • Underwater exhaust outlet
  • Deck mats
The ZXi also came with rich instrumentation, including:

  • Analog speedometer
  • Analog tachometer
  • Fuel gauge
  • Trim indicator
  • Cooling water temperature warning light
  • Oil level warning light
While the base 750 ZXi came without a speedometer, the more advanced 900 ZXi and 1100 ZXi were already equipped with this key feature.

Aside from this small difference and their different engine options, these skis were basically identical.

Kawasaki 1100 ZXi Performance

Thanks to its high-performance 120 HP engine and small 2-seater hull, the 1100 ZXi could hit a whopping top speed of 58 mph. This amazing machine accelerated extremely quickly and could outperform the majority of stock PWCs of its time.

To feed the horses, the ski burned a significant amount of gas.

Its claimed fuel consumption was a whopping 12.2 GPH at WOT, so its 13.7-gallon fuel tank lasted only about an hour if you were hard on the throttle.

To be more precise, the claimed fuel range of the ski was 66 miles or 1 hour and 8 minutes at WOT.

This ZXi could handle the weight of two lighter riders but offered less stability than its 3-seater counterparts, so it was mainly recommended for solo rides.

Regarding handling, its hull design got a lot of criticism due to its unpredictability. It was prone to throwing riders off during high-speed turns, which was neither safe nor convenient!

These handling issues could be mitigated with some aftermarket mods and updates, but couldn’t be completely eliminated.

The 1100 ZXi had a tendency to porpoising, which could be reduced by installing a longer ride plate or aftermarket sponsons.

Kawasaki 1100 ZXi Problems

It is safe to say that the biggest problems of the Kawasaki 1100 ZXi were as follows:

  • Lack of a reverse system
  • Complex engine
  • Poor electrical box and trim box sealing
  • Wear ring was prone to swelling up
  • Unpredictable hull
Unlike its 3-seater brothers, the 1100 ZXi was marketed without a reverse system, which translated to harder handling.

Another problem of the 1100 ZXi was its complex 3-cylinder, triple-carb engine. Although this power mill was fairly reliable in stock condition, it required more attention and care than its twin siblings.

As you can imagine, tuning and rebuilding three carburetors required more time and expertise.

The sealing on its electrical box and trim box was also prone to aging and cracking over time. Once the water found its way into these boxes it caused various issues including electrical malfunctions and corrosion.

The “swelling” wear ring issue was also a common problem on the ZXi series, and the 1100 ZXi was no exception. What does this mean?

Kawasaki used a non-replaceable wear ring in these skis, which was a sleeve mounted into the pump housing.

When salt water got between the pump housing and the wear ring, the latter started to swell due to corrosion.

In other words, the tight clearance between the ring and the impeller decreased to zero, causing the impeller blades to cut into the ring. In many cases, the impeller was completely blocked, locking up the engine itself.

As we’ve discussed, the ZXi hull was very unpredictable and prone to porpoising in stock condition.

Kawasaki 1100 ZXi Specs Charts

For your convenience, we’ve compiled the key specs of the 2003 Kawasaki 1100 ZXi into these charts:

Kawasaki 1100 ZXi Engine Specs

Kawasaki 1100 ZXiEngine Specs
Engine type2-stroke, 3-cylinder, crankcase reed valve, water-cooled
Displacement1,071 mL (65.4 cu in.)
Bore and stroke80.0 x 71.0 mm (3.15 x 2.80 in.)
Compression ratio5.8 : 1
Ignition systemMagneto CDI (digital)
Lubrication systemOil injection (break-in period: oil injection and gas/oil mixture 50:1)
CarburetorKeihin CDCV 38 x 3
Starting systemElectric
Battery12 V 18 Ah
Engine oil type2-stroke, NMMA Certified for Service TC-W 3
Engine oil tank capacity3.8 L, 4.0 qt (US)

Kawasaki 1100 ZXi Tuning Specifications

Kawasaki 1100 ZXiTuning Specifications
Spark Plug TypeNGK BR9ES
Spark Plug Gap0.7 ∼ 0.8 mm (0.028 ∼ 0.032 in.)
Ignition Timing17° BTDC @1250 r/min (rpm) - 27° BTDC @3000 r/min (rpm)
Carburetor Idle Speed - in water1 250 ±100 r/min (rpm)
Carburetor Idle Speed - out of water1 800 ±100 r/min (rpm)
Compression Pressure940 kPa (9.6 kg/cm2) @ 445 r/min (rpm) - 137 psi

Kawasaki 1100 ZXi Drive System

Kawasaki 1100 ZXiDrive System
CouplingDirect drive from engine
Jet Pump TypeAxial flow, single stage
Jet Pump Static Thrust364 kg (803 lb)
SteeringSteerable nozzle
BrakingWater drag

Kawasaki 1100 ZXi Performance

Kawasaki 1100 ZXiPerformance
Minimum Turning Radius4.0 m (13.1 ft)
Fuel Consumption46 L/hr (12.2 US gal/hr) @full throttle
Cruising Range (1)106 km (66 mi) @full throttle
Cruising Range (2)1 hour and 8 minutes

Kawasaki 1100 ZXi Dimensions

Kawasaki 1100 ZXiDimensions
Overall length108.7 in (2 760 mm)
Overall width42.1 in (1 070 mm)
Overall height39.3 in (999 mm)
Dry Weight267 kg (589 lbs)
Fuel tank capacity13.7 US gal (52 L) including 1.8 US gal (7 L) reserve
These charts are for informational purposes only! For exact specifications, please refer to the factory manual.


As a takeaway, we’ve answered the most common questions about the 1996-2003 Kawasaki 1100 ZXi:

What is a Kawasaki 1100 ZXi?

The 1100 ZXi was a high-performance 2-stroke, three-cylinder Kawasaki Jet Ski.

When did the Kawasaki 1100 ZXi Come Out?

The Kawasaki 1100 ZXi debuted in 1996.

What Years Did Kawasaki Make the 1100 ZXi?

Kawasaki marketed the 1100 ZXi from 1996 through 2003.

What Size was a Kawasaki 1100 ZXi?

The Kawasaki 1100 ZXi measured 108.7 inches in length, 42.1 inches in width, and 39.3 inches in height.

How Much Did a Kawasaki 1100 ZXi Weigh?

The dry weight of the Kawasaki 1100 ZXi was 589 pounds (’96 model: 584 pounds).

How Many People Could Ride on a Kawasaki 1100 ZXi?

The Kawasaki 1100 ZXi was rated for two riders.

What Kind of Engine was in the Kawasaki 1100 ZXi?

The Kawasaki 1100 ZXi was powered by a 2-stroke, triple-carb, three-cylinder, 1071cc Kawasaki marine engine.

Was the Kawasaki 1100 ZXi Supercharged?

The Kawasaki 1100 ZXi utilized a naturally-aspirated engine configuration.

Was the Kawasaki 1100 ZXi a 2-stroke?

Yes, the Kawasaki 1100 ZXi was powered by a 2-stroke engine.

How Much Horsepower Did a Kawasaki 1100 ZXi Have?

The Kawasaki 1100 ZXi produced 120 HP out of the box.

How Much Oil Did a Kawasaki 1100 ZXi Hold?

The Kawasaki 1100 ZXi had an oil injection system featuring a 4.0-quart oil tank.

How Much Fuel Did a Kawasaki 1100 ZXi Hold?

The Kawasaki 1100 ZXi was equipped with a 13.7-gallon fuel tank, including a 1.8-gallon reserve.

How Much Fuel Did a Kawasaki 1100 ZXi Use?

The claimed fuel consumption of the Kawasaki 1100 ZXi was 12.2 GPH at full throttle.

What was the Fuel Range of the Kawasaki 1100 ZXi?

The claimed fuel range of the Kawasaki 1100 ZXi was 66 miles or 1 hour and 8 minutes at full speed.

How Fast Did a Kawasaki 1100 ZXi Go?

The top speed of a Kawasaki 1100 ZXi was about 58 mph under ideal conditions.

Could the Kawasaki 1100 ZXi Tow a Skier or a Wakeboarder?

Due to its two-seater configuration, the Kawasaki 1100 ZXi couldn’t legally tow a wakeboarder or skier in states where a spotter was required.

Did the Kawasaki 1100 ZXi Have a Reverse?      

No, the Kawasaki 1100 ZXi came without a reverse system.

Did the Kawasaki 1100 ZXi Have a Brake?          

No, the Kawasaki 1100 ZXi was manufactured without a brake system.

How Much Does a Kawasaki 1100 ZXi Cost?

The asking price of a used Kawasaki 1100 ZXi varies between $1000 and $4,000 depending on the year and its condition.