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Sea-Doo Spark vs. Yamaha EX Comparison [Video]

Sea-Doo Spark vs. Yamaha EX Comparison [Video]

The Sea-Doo Spark and the Yamaha EX are the two most affordable jet skis in the marketplace. The latter gained its reputation for reliability, while the Spark is known for its innovative design, outstanding fuel economy, and wide-ranging optional accessories.

If you want to compare these machines head-to-head, you’ve come to the right place.

We at JetDrift have compiled all you need to know into this Spark vs. EX comparison post!

Sea-Doo Spark vs. Yamaha EX Review

Sea-Doo Spark vs. Yamaha EX Hulls

Both the Sea-Doo Spark and Yamaha EX models are classed in the Rec-Lite category, which has the smallest and most affordable runabout jet skis.

They are built on tiny nimble platforms, which bring back the feeling of their vintage 2-stroke predecessors.

Interestingly, the Sea-Doo Spark and the Yamaha EX are almost the same size.

The latter measures 123.2 inches in length, 44.5 inches in width, and 45.3 inches in height. This tiny shell is made of the Yamaha-exclusive NanoXcel2 material, which is significantly lighter than regular fiberglass.

In contrast, the hull and the top deck of the Sea-Doo are made of a special plastic, called Polytec.The Sea-Doo Spark is available with two hull options and two seating configurations. The 2 UP can carry two riders and measures 110 inches in length, 46.4 inches in width, and 44.1 inches in height.

Its bigger brother, the Spark 3 UP is rated for 3 riders and comes with a 10-inch longer hull. In this post, we will compare this model to the EX, since they are in the same league.

Although both of these models are claimed to be 3-seaters, they can actually carry two adult riders or a maximum of two adults and a small child.

This is no surprise, since the overall weight capacity of the Yamaha is 496 pounds, while the Sea-Doo can only carry 450 pounds.

It’s safe to say that the key advantage of the Spark over the Yamaha EX is that it’s 153 pounds lighter in weight. The dry weight of the latter is 578 pounds while the Sea-Doo only weighs 425 pounds.

The difference is even greater between their dry weights (478 vs. 667 lbs.) due to the EX’s significantly larger fuel tank.

Thanks to this weight advantage, the Spark is easier to handle on land and can even be towed with a small car.

Unlike conventional PWC shells, the top deck of this ski is pretty enclosed and gives limited access to the engine. There’s only a small access panel through which engine oil can be checked and refilled, more extensive services require removing the entire top deck.

In contrast, the top deck of the EX comes with a large opening on top, ensuring free access to the engine compartment.

Its fuel cap is located on top of the deck, which looks odd but makes it easy to refuel. The fuel cap of the Spark is buried under the seat, which has to be removed before fueling.

Sea-Doo Spark vs. Yamaha EX Engine Comparison

Both skis are powered by a 4-stroke triple engine that offers a very similar performance as well.

To be more precise, the engine of the EX is the proven TR-1 Yamaha marine engine. This 4-stroke, 1049cc, naturally-aspirated, fuel-injected triple is derived from the R1 motorcycle lineup and rated at 100 HP.

In contrast, the Spark enjoys a purpose-built PWC engine designed and manufactured by the European Rotax. Regarding specifications, this power mill is a 4-stroke, 899cc, naturally-aspirated, fuel-injected triple rated at 90 HP.

Even though this ski offers 10 HP less than its Japanese competitor, if we take a look at the power-to-weight ratios, the Spark is the clear winner here. (Spark: 6.67 lb/HP, EX: 5.31 lb/HP)

Another key advantage between these skis is their cooling system. The Spark is engineered with the Sea-Doo-exclusive closed-loop cooling system, while the EX comes with industry-standard open-loop cooling.

Both of these engines run on regular gas (87 octane), which is cheaper and more accessible than premium gas.

Engine power is delivered to the axial-flow, single-stage jet pump on both skis. The pump diameter measures 140 mm on the Spark and 144 mm on the EX, so the difference is marginal.

Unlike their dimensions, the internal design of these pumps is slightly different. The Sea-Doo features a replaceable plastic ring around the impeller (a.k.a. wear ring), intended to protect the pump housing from rocks and other debris.

The Yamaha lacks this wear item, so its metal pump housing directly surrounds the impeller, making it more vulnerable to potential damage.

Sea-Doo Spark vs. Yamaha EX Accessories and Features

Both the Yamaha and Sea-Doo come standard with many advanced features, including:

  • LCD multi gauge
  • Sponsons
  • Glovebox
  • Rear grab handle
  • Throttle-by-wire
  • Tow hook
  • Mooring cleats
  • Deck mats
Unfortunately, the base EX and Spark lack some important features like a brake and reverse system, mirrors, and a reboarding step.These features come standard on their more advanced relatives like the Spark iBR models and Yamaha EX Sport/Deluxe/Limited.

Differences?

The Spark 3 UP is marketed with many useful standard features, including:

The Convenience Plus Package is also available on the Spark as an option, which includes: If you are considering a base Spark, keep in mind that this model has a very limited standard storage capacity including a 0.42-gallon glovebox.

This limited capacity can be extended by installing the optional front storage bin kit, which can accommodate 7 gallons of gear.

If you are looking for more fun, you may want to consider a Sea-Doo Spark TRIXX.As the name suggests, this ski is designed for sit-down PWC tricks, so it comes standard with an extended VTS trim system, adjustable handlebars, and step wedges.

Unlike the Spark, the Yamaha EX comes standard with a shallow front storage tray, which can be upgraded with an optional 5.4-gallon storage bag.

Besides this versatile front storage, the EX comes standard with a glovebox, an under-seat storage bin, two-tone deck mats, and a Yamaha-exclusive visibility spout.The EX can also be equipped with a wide range of optional accessories, which are as follows:

  • Stern mounted storage
  • Mounted front storage bag
  • Hatch mounted storage
  • Mirrors
  • Full cover
  • Day use cover
  • And more
If you are looking for more bells and whistles, you should take a look at the EX Sport/Deluxe/Limited models which come with more advanced features like the RiDE brake and reverse system.

Sea-Doo Spark vs. Yamaha EX Performance

Both of these skis are built on a relatively flat-V hull that offers poor rough water handling. Therefore, these machines are recommended for smaller lakes and rivers rather than offshore rides.

Although they are almost the same size, the Sea-Doo is much lighter and feels somewhat smaller due to its slim top deck design.

Thanks to these advantages, Sea-Doo is more playful and agile than its Japanese competitor.

On the other hand, the Yamaha feels slightly more powerful due to its bigger-displacement, and 100 HP engine.

The top speed of the Spark is about 50 mph out of the box, while the EX can hit 51-52 mph on good days. The 0-30 mph acceleration of both skis is about 2.3-2.4 seconds.

Regarding fuel economy, the claimed fuel consumption of the Spark is 2.3.-2.5 GPH at WOT. Therefore, its 7.9-gallon fuel tank offers more than three hours of playtime, even if you are hard on the throttle.

Based on our research, the Yamaha EX gets 7.5-8.0 GPH at WOT and 3.0-3.5 GPH at best cruise speed and comes standard with a 13.2-gallon gas tank.

As we’ve discussed, these skis can only carry two adult riders, but they are really intended for solo rides.

If you want to regularly ride with passengers, you should consider a Recreation ski like the Sea-Doo GTI, Yamaha VX, or Kawasaki STX 160.

As far as reliability goes, Yamaha WaveRunners are known for their durable and solid skis, and the EX is no exception.

On the other hand, the base Spark is also known to be the most reliable Sea-Doo, since it has very simple features and a small, naturally-aspirated engine.

Verdict?

Although there is no direct evidence, many riders claim that the Yamaha EX is more reliable than the Sea-Doo Spark!

Sea-Doo Spark vs. Yamaha EX Comparison Chart

For your convenience, we’ve compiled the key specs of these skis into this Yamaha EX vs. Sea-Doo Spark 3 UP comparison chart:
SpecsYamaha EXSpark 3 UP
EngineTR-1 HO YamahaRotax 900 HO ACE
Displacement (cc)1049899
Engine stroke44
Cylinders33
Cooling SystemOpen-LoopClosed-Loop
Performance (HP)10090
Dry weight (lbs.)578425
Weight Capacity (lbs.)496450
Length (")123.2120
Width (")44.546.4
Height (")45.341.1
Fuel cap.(gal)13.27.9
Storage cap. (gal.)7.70.42 (7-opt.)
Rider Capacity33
Hull MaterialNanoXcel2Polytec
This chart is for informational purposes only! For exact specifications, please refer to factory manuals.

Takeaways

Which is better a Sea-Doo Spark or a Yamaha EX? – we often get this question and the answer is that it depends. They are quite similar and are in the same price range as well, so the final decision often comes to personal preferences.

As a takeaway, we’ve listed the key pros and cons of each model:Pros of the Sea-Doo Spark:

  • Fresh, innovative design
  • More configurable
  • More playful attitude
  • Much better fuel economy (2.4 vs. 7.9 GPH at WOT)
  • Significantly lighter weight (425 vs. 578 lbs. dry)
  • LinQ connectivity
Pros of the Yamaha GP1800R SVHO:

  • More horsepower (100 vs. 90 HP)
  • Easy access to the engine
  • Slightly higher top speed (51-52 vs 50 mph)
  • Better fuel and storage capacities
  • Higher reliability
If you are trying to decide between these skis, don’t hesitate to test ride both to taste the differences.

But as a final word, you can’t go wrong with either!