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Kawasaki 650 SC “Super Chicken” Specs and Review

Kawasaki 650 SC “Super Chicken” Specs and Review

The Kawasaki 650 SC “Super Chicken” was one of the oddest jet skis in history. Instead of the industry-standard motorcycle-like saddle, this machine utilized side-by-side seating and a square steering wheel! It shared its pump and 635cc, 52 HP twin engine from the 650 SX, and the boat-like Jet Mate.

If you want to learn all about this unique “side-by-side jet ski,” this post is for you.

We at JetDrift have compiled all you need to know into this Kawasaki 650 SC review!

Kawasaki 650 SC “Super Chicken” Review

Kawasaki released the unique 650 SC (a.k.a. JL650 SC) jet ski for the 1991 model year.

Although the acronym “SC” officially stood for “Sport Cruiser,” this model acquired a lot of silly nicknames during its short career. The best known of these were as follows:

  • Super Chicken (most common)
  • Spine Crusher
  • Super Coupe
  • Super Couch
  • Sea Couch
  • Sea Chicken
  • Side Car
Nevertheless, there’s no question that the Kawasaki 650 SC was one of the most exciting jet skis ever built.

Unlike regular models, the SC featured a bench-like seat offering a side-by-side seating arrangement.  Because of this, this ski was often referred to as a “tandem jet ski” or a “side-by-side jet ski.”This setup was a game-changer for families who had smaller children, as well as for disabled people.

To provide some leg room for riders, the top deck of the SC had a large cutout on its middle portion. Fortunately, this area was equipped with a deck drain outlet, which effectively drained the water from this tiny “pool.”

Besides its unique seat, the ski had an extraordinary steering system, as it utilized a long, stand-up-like handlepole fixed to the top deck.

There was a square-shaped steering wheel at the end of this pole instead of standard PWC handlebars. This minimalist steering wheel had no padding but did have start-and-stop buttons and an engine shut-off switch.

What’s more, the steering wheel’s position could be adjusted horizontally according to where the driver was sitting.

The Kawasaki SC lacked any instrumentation, as it was surprisingly designed without a dashboard.

As for storage, the front of the deck housed a small storage compartment and the ski had a tiny, removable under-seat storage box.

The extra-wide top deck sat on a relatively flat-bottomed hull that measured 109.4 inches in length and 48.4 inches in width. The dry weight of the ski was only 441 pounds, and it housed a 6.6-gallon fuel tank and a 3.2-quart oil reservoir.

Power source?

The engine of the Kawasaki SC was a 635cc, 2-stroke, vertical twin with many advanced features, including:

  • Magneto CDI ignition
  • Keihin CDK38-32 carburetor
  • NGK BR7ES spark plugs
  • Open-loop water cooling
  • Electric start
  • Oil injection
This powerplant cranked out 52 HP at 6,000 RPM thanks to these advanced features. Engine power was delivered to an axial-flow, single-stage jet pump that could produce up to 436 pounds of thrust.

The SC shared its engine and propulsion system with some iconic 2-stroke Kawasaki jet skis, including the 650 SX and the weird Jet Mate. (The latter was a mix of a tiny, tub-like boat hull and a personal watercraft.)

Regarding performance, the claimed top speed of the Kawasaki 650 SC was 37 mph with one rider and 35 mph with a rider and passenger.

Its fuel consumption was about 5 GPH at WOT, so its 6.6-gallon fuel tank offered a cruising range of 44 miles. But if you just wanted to play around, you could expect a riding rime of one hour and 15 minutes.

Standard features of the Kawasaki 650 SC were as follows:

  • Handlebar-mounted start/stop buttons
  • Engine shut-off switch
  • Front storage compartment
  • Under-seat storage box
  • Deck drain outlet
  • Seat grips
  • Side grip bands
  • Reverse
  • Drain plug
  • Ventilator
  • Choke knob
  • Fuel valve
  • Tool kit
Riding experience?

Contrary to popular belief, the Kawasaki 650 SC really wasn’t the worst jet ski ever built! Despite its odd design, the flat-bottomed hull made the SC capable of various sit-down tricks like spins, donuts, and even power slides.

Therefore, the SC has acquired a lot fans nationwide over the years who keep these vintage crafts alive at all costs.

Furthermore, fans nationwide organize many events, including the “Annual Super Chicken Run” and the “Super Chicken Racing” event.

According to Vintagejetski.com, SC enthusiast and jet ski racer Steve Hotchkiss came up with the idea of holding a Super Chicken racing class in 2014.

Yes, believe it or not, there are vintage races exclusively dedicated to this model!

Despite its delayed cult following, the SC wasn’t very successful in its time and was only in production for a couple of years. Are you wondering why?

Unfortunately, the stock model had some major design flaws that were reflected sales figures. Eventually, Kawasaki ceased production of the SC after the 1995 model year.

If you want to find out more about the problems that plagued the Kawasaki 650 SC, keep reading. We’ve compiled them all here under one roof!

Kawasaki 650 SC Issues

Handling in Rough Waters

One of the nicknames of the 650 SC was “Spine Crusher,” and with good reason.

Due to its design, riding the SC in a standing position was virtually impossible. This means that you couldn’t absorb the bounces caused by the chop with your legs like on a standard jet ski.

Almost every production jet ski comes with a motorcycle-like saddle and footwells on the sides of the deck. This design allows you to operate the machine even in a standing position.

This is mainly important on choppy water, where you have to use your legs as “shock absorbers” to soften the bounces.

In contrast, the SC could only be ridden in a sitting position, so the waves pounded your tailbone, transferring the punches towards your spine. As you can imagine, it was not safe, nor comfortable.

This situation was made worse by the ski’s flat-bottom hull design, which meant the ski couldn’t cut through the waves.

Because of this, the SC provided very bumpy rides on the chop, so it was only recommended for calm waters. Therefore, riding it out on the ocean or on large lakes was not a great idea.

Reboarding Issues

Another common complaint against the Kawasaki SC was the lack of a rear platform or any reboarding steps/ladder. This means that reboarding the SC from deep water was anything but easy.

Although the wide hull was very hard to capsize, it did happen sometimes. After a fall, your only choice was to crawl up the side, which was tricky without any steps or a ladder.

Reboarding the ski from the rear was hard to impossible!

Underpowered Engine

Last but not least, stock Super Chickens gained a reputation for having an underpowered engine.

While the 635cc, 52 HP twin did a really good job in the stand-up 650 SX, it didn’t prove to be enough in the much heavier SC.

Let’s face it; the sporty 650 SX weighed only 282 pounds, significantly less than the SC, which weighed 441 pounds.

This is why many SCs ended up being upgraded with a more powerful engine.

To the greatest delight of many tuners, Kawasaki’s 650, 750, and 800 engines featured the same engine mount location.

Besides the larger (750, 800) engines, the “chickens” were often upgraded with various aftermarket performance modifications, such as new impellers, pipes, or intakes.

Kawasaki 650 SC Specs Chart

For your convenience, we’ve listed the Kawasaki 650 SC specifications in these charts:

Kawasaki 650 SC Engine Specs

Kawasaki 650 SCEngine Specs
Type2-stroke, vertical twin, crankcase reed valve, water cooled
Displacement635 cc (38.7 cu in.)
Bore and Stroke76.0 x 70.0 mm (2.99 x 2.76 in.)
Compression Ratio7.2:1
Maximum Horsepower52 HP (38.2 kW) @ 6000 r/min (rpm)
IgnitionMagneto CDI
Lubrication SystemOil injection (break-in period: Oil injection and gas/oil mixture 50:1)
CarburetorKeihin CDK38-32
Starting SystemElectric Starter
Spark PlugNGK BR7ES
Spark Plug Gap0.7 - 0.8 mm (0.028 – 0.032 in.)
Ignition Timing15° BTDC @6 000 r/min (rpm), 1.57 mm (0.06 in.) @6 000 r/min (rpm)
Idle Speed - In water1 250 ±100 r/min (rpm)
Idle Speed - Out of water1800 ± 100 r/min (rpm)
Compression Pressure1225 kPa (12.5 kg/cm2), 178 psi
Battery12 V 19 Ah

Kawasaki 650 SC Dimension Chart

Kawasaki 650 SCDimensions and Capacities
Length109.4 in (2780 mm)
Width48.8 in (1230 mm)
Height42.1 in (1070 mm)
Dry Weight441 lbs (200 kg)
Fuel Tank Capacity6.6 gal incl. 0.8 gal reserve (25 L including 3.2 L reserve)
Engine Oil Type2-stroke, NMMA (BIA) Certified for Service TC-WII
Engine Oil Tank Capacity 3.2 gal (3 L)
Maximum Capacity2 persons
Minimum Turning Radius82.7 in (2.1 m)
Draft (Stationary)310 mm
Fuel Consumption5 gal (19 L)/h @full throttle

Kawasaki 650 SC Propulsion

Kawasaki 650 SCPropulsion
CouplingDirect drive from engine
Jet Pump: TypeAxial flow, single-stage
Jet Pump: Thrust210 kg, (463 Ibs)
SteeringSteerable nozzle
ReverseYes
BrakingWater drag
These charts are for informational purposes only! For exact specifications, please refer to the factory manual.

Kawasaki 650 SC for Sale

If you are considering purchasing one, you probably want to know where to find a Kawasaki 650 SC for sale. As this model vanished from the market in 1995, it’s already a collectible item, so finding one is not an easy task!

We recommend that you start your research on dedicated Kawasaki jet ski 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 Kawasaki 650 SCs for sale on Craigslist, PWC Trader, and other dedicated jet ski swap sites.

Takeaway

As a takeaway, we’ve answered the most common questions about the Kawasaki 650 SC!

What is a Super Chicken Jet Ski?

The Kawasaki 650 SC “Super Chicken” was a unique tandem jet ski with a special side-by-side seat and a car-like steering system.

What does Kawasaki SC Stand for?

The SC acronym in the name of the Kawasaki 650 SC jet ski originally stood for: “Sport Cruiser.” However, this model acquired a lot of nicknames from its fans, including:

  • Super Chicken (most common)
  • Spine Crusher
  • Super Coupe
  • Super Couch
  • Sea Couch
  • Sea Chicken
  • Side Car

What Year did Kawasaki Make the 650 SC?

Kawasaki marketed the 650 SC from 1991 through 1995.

How Many People Could Ride a Kawasaki 650 SC?

The Kawasaki 650 SC was rated for three riders.

What Size was the Kawasaki 650 SC?

The Kawasaki 650 SC was 109.4 inches long, 48.4 inches wide, and 42.1 inches high.

How Much Did a Kawasaki 650 SC Weigh?

The dry weight of the Kawasaki 650 SC was 441 pounds.

What Kind of Engine Did the Kawasaki 650 SC Have?

The engine of the Kawasaki 650 SC was a single-carb, 2-stroke, 635cc vertical twin.

How Much Horsepower Did a Kawasaki 650 SC Have?

The Kawasaki 650 SC provided 52 HP at 6,000 RPM.

Did the Kawasaki 650 SC Have Reverse?

Yes, the Kawasaki 650 SC was equipped with manual reverse.

What Size Storage Compartment Did a Kawasaki 650 SC Have?

The Kawasaki 650 SC featured a small front storage and an under-seat storage box.

How Much Fuel Did a Kawasaki 650 SC Hold?

The Kawasaki 650 SC utilized a 6.65-gallon fuel tank.

How Much Fuel Did a Kawasaki 650 SC Use?

The Kawasaki 650 SC fuel consumption was about 5 GPH at WOT.

Could the Kawasaki 650 SC Tow a Skier or a Wakeboarder?

No, the Kawasaki 650 SC was rated for two riders, so it was not recommended for tow sports.

How Fast Did a Kawasaki 650 SC Go?

The top speed of a single-carb Kawasaki 650 SC was about 35-37 mph under ideal conditions.

Was a Kawasaki 650 SC a 2-Stroke Ski?

Yes, the Kawasaki 650 SC utilized a 2-stroke twin engine.

How Much is a Kawasaki 650 SC Worth?

It’s hard to tell the exact price of a Kawasaki 650 SC, as it strongly depends on its year, condition, and location. But as a rule of thumb, the prices typically range from $1,000 up to $4,000.