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The Yamaha vs Sea-Doo competition is probably one of the biggest arguments among personalwater craft (PWC) enthusiasts. You can see this debate flare up again and again on the online forums and on the water as well.
But where does this conflict come from? And why are these two brands are the most popular on the market? And finally…which is the better brand, Yamaha or Sea-Doo?
To find the answers, we at JetDrift have gathered into this post the most important facts and information about these brands, as well as their newest models!
If you want to discover and compare the current models, don’t hesitate to check our Yamaha vs. Sea-Doo vs. Kawasaki comparison tool!
Yamaha vs. Sea-Doo Competiton
When you look at the PWC market, you can currently find 4 manufacturers:
Although there are 4 manufacturers on the market, Sea-Doo and Yamaha still sell the majority of the personal watercrafts in the US. According to yearly SSI reports, Sea-Doo usually has around 55% of the market share, while Yamaha is the second with around 40% share.
Krash Industries is a new competitor on the market as they’ve just started to offer their PWCs in the US, but their models are available at several dealerships nationwide!
When it comes to Kawasaki, this company is well known for its “Jet Ski” brand name, and many beginners think (wrongly) that this company offers only stand-up watercrafts. In fact, Kawasaki offers a wide range of sit-down watercraft too, but in spite of this, it has only a small (5-6%) market share in the US.
Kawasaki’s low market share is interesting, knowing that there was a time when it was the only manufacturer on the PWC market, until 1986. In that year, Yamaha introduced their first WaveRunner,the 500T. Two years later, in 1988, Sea-Doo re-entered the PWC market, and the Yamaha vs. Sea-Doo competition began.
Over the years, new manufacturers appeared and disappeared, but these three main manufacturers are still here and dominate the industry. If you’re interested what the competition was in the past, don’t hesitate to take a short look at this chart:
Honda’s watercraft, the AquaTrax, is still a well-known name on the second-hand market. Despite their age, you can still see many of them in good condition. Beyond Honda, the Polaris SeaLions and the Tighershark PWCs were also popular models in the 1990s.
Now, after this brief look at history, let’s go back to our Sea-Doo vs. Yamaha comparisons. We’ll take a deeper look into these two manufacturers and some important factors that you have to pay attention to while choosing your new watercraft.
Beyond these, you can compare the prices of the current models in one chart!
Yamaha vs. Sea-Doo Performance and Prices
When it comes to purchasing a watercraft, many buyers wonder which brand to buy, Yamaha or Sea-Doo.
Many customers start their research with the prices, and for good reason. New PWC prices are rising every year and vary wildly from $5k to $20k, depending on the model.
To make your buying process easier, we’ve gathered all of the available new PWC models with their prices into this chart. You can sort the rows by clicking on the header, and if you want to learn more about each model, don’t hesitate to click on their names.
You can find specs, pictures, videos, and comparisons in the links!
|Sea-Doo||SPARK 2up 60HP||$5 499||60|
|Sea-Doo||SPARK 2up 90HP||$6 099||90|
|Sea-Doo||SPARK 3up 90HP||$6 699||90|
|Sea-Doo||SPARK 2up 90HP iBR||$7 099||90|
|Sea-Doo||SPARK TRIXX 2up||$7 599||90|
|Sea-Doo||SPARK 3up 90HP iBR||$7 699||90|
|Yamaha||EX Sport||$7 899||100|
|Sea-Doo||SPARK TRIXX 3up||$8 199||90|
|Yamaha||EX Deluxe||$8 899||100|
|Sea-Doo||GTI 90||$8 999||90|
|Kawasaki||STX 160||$9 599||160|
|Kawasaki||STX 160 X||$9 999||160|
|Kawasaki||SX-R 1500||$9 999||160|
|Sea-Doo||GTI 130||$9 999||130|
|Sea-Doo||GTI SE 130||$10 799||130|
|Yamaha||VX Deluxe||$10 966||125|
|Yamaha||VX Cruiser||$10 999||125|
|Kawasaki||ULTRA LX||$11 199||160|
|Sea-Doo||GTI SE 170||$11 399||170|
|Yamaha||VX Limited||$11 399||125|
|Kawasaki||STX 160LX||$11 699||160|
|Yamaha||VX Cruiser HO||$11 799||180|
|Sea-Doo||Wake 170||$12 199||170|
|Yamaha||GP1800R HO||$12 299||180|
|Sea-Doo||GTR 230||$12 399||230|
|Krash||50 CAL||$12 599||130|
|Sea-Doo||GTX 170||$12 999||170|
|Yamaha||FX HO||$13 699||180|
|Sea-Doo||GTX 230||$13 999||230|
|Yamaha||FX Cruiser HO||$14 199||180|
|Yamaha||GP1800R SVHO||$14 399||250|
|Sea-Doo||Wake Pro 230||$14 899||230|
|Sea-Doo||Fish Pro||$14 999||170|
|Kawasaki||ULTRA 310X||$15 299||310|
|Sea-Doo||RXP-X 300||$15 399||300|
|Yamaha||FX SVHO||$15 699||250|
|Kawasaki||ULTRA 310X SE||$15 799||310|
|Sea-Doo||RXT-X 300||$16 199||300|
|Sea-Doo||GTX Limited 230||$16 199||230|
|Kawasaki||ULTRA 310R||$16 299||310|
|Yamaha||FX Cruiser SVHO||$16 399||250|
|Krash||Footrocket Pro||$16 799||130|
|Sea-Doo||GTX Limited 300||$17 199||300|
|Yamaha||FX Limited SVHO||$17 599||250|
|Kawasaki||ULTRA 310LX||$17 999||310|
When it comes to PWC prices, it’s a rule of thumb that the pricing always depends on the performance. The higher horsepower always means higher purchase prices–and more maintenance costs too.
The supercharged PWCs can especially put a lot of financial burden on you. These models burn much more fuel and need more maintenance as the supercharger needs rebuilding regularly.
Always keep these factors in mind before you select your model!
When considering performance, Sea-Doo offers models from 60 HP to 300 HP, while Yahama’s WaveRunners are powered with 100 HP to 250 HP engines.
This means that competing models from different manufacturers offer more or less the same performance. It’s especially true in the case of the fastest models, as their performances are artificially limited with a speed controller unit.
Because of this, all of the flagship models can reach 67 mph top speed!
|Yahama||100, 110, 125||No||1049||4T||Open|
Yamaha vs. Sea-Doo Reliability
When it comes to the Yamaha vs. Sea-Doo argument, the core of the debate is usually reliability.
If you search across PWC forums and FB groups, you can see many feuds heated by reliability factors. When you read these comments, keep in mind that there are a lot of brand-minded PWC enthusiasts who are completely fanatical and not worth arguing with.
You can read in some places that Sea-Doos are not considered to be as durable as Waverunners, while others claim that Yamahas have outdated hulls and technology.
If you’re new to PWCs you might ask: “How reliable are Sea-Doos?” and “Are WaveRunners innovative or outdated?”
As there are no clear answers to these questions, we’ve collected some solid facts about the brands, and will let you make your decision based on them!
The Sea-Doo brand belongs to the Canadian BRP founded in 1942. The company is a well-known name in the world of motorsports, offering snowmobiles, trikes, and many different off-road vehicles for decades. So we can say they have considerable experience in manufacturing recreational vehicles.
Sea-Doo is currently the leading brand on the PWC market with the largest market share, and compared to other manufacturers, this company has the biggest segment of returning customers!
This Canadian company also is known for its continuous and inspiring innovation. Sea-Doo invented the first brake and reverse system (iBR) for PWCs. They use only closed-loop cooling, a Polytec hull, and they recently released the unique LinQ linkage system. The list of innovations is endless.
Last but not least, it’s a lesser-known fact that Sea-Doo was the first company in the world to produce personal watercraft. (Kawasaki was just the second brand on the PWC market!)
Taking all of these facts into account, it would be difficult to say that the Sea-Doos are not reliable! It also has to be mentioned that reliability always requires accurate and continuous maintenance.
According to Watercraft Journal, if a Sea-Doo gets the necessary care and attention, it will be as reliable as any other models on the market.
Yamaha WaveRunner Reliability
Yamaha is also a reputable recreational vehicle and vessel manufacturer. Beyond PWCs, they also offer boat and outboard engines too. Their Waverunners are legendary for their high quality and durability!
They’ve offered their PWCs since 1986, introducing more models over the years. Although this company is also making significant innovations, there are some fields where they say: “If something works, don’t change it!”
That’s why they still use the open-loop cooling system, which is still the standard and most commonly used system in the marine industry. When it comes to safety features like brake and reverse (RiDE), you can find these units in every higher class WaveRunner.
Additionally, it’s a well-known fact that the majority of the PWC rental services use Yamaha WaveRunners. In fact, the non-supercharged Yamaha VX is one of the most common models in many rental shops. This is due to several reasons, like good price/value ratio, economical operation, and fewer maintenance needs.
Also, it needs to be mentioned that beyond Yamaha, you can find Sea-Doo models as well in several rental shops nationwide.
On the other hand, keep in mind that what’s good for a rental company may not be good for you! Rentals choose their PWCs mainly on a budget basis, amd an individual user may have completely different considerations.
Summing up the above, it seems there’s s no doubt about the Yamaha Waverunner’s reliability. Almost every second PWC buyer, as well as the majority of rental services choose Yamaha WaveRunners, year after year.
So many people can’t be wrong!
Other Factors to Consider
Design and Colors
Are you wondering which brand offers better designs, Yamaha or Sea-Doo? Let’s face it; good design is subjective and depends on personal taste.
Sea-Doo is well known for innovative, futuristic hulls which seem to attract many customers.
They aren’t afraid to use really extreme lines and color sets, which may sometimes shock the market, but in this way, their models stand out from the crowd!
Yamaha Waverunners are recognizable for their slightly more conservative design. Some haters say that these designs are outdated, but it depends again on individual taste.
Their hulls come with more general colors and clean lines, which gives these models a popular “evergreen” design.
When it comes to the features, it would be a challenge to list all of them. Both manufacturers offer tons of accessories and features like brake and reverse systems, speakers, covers, trailers, extra storage facilities, reboarding steps, and countless others you may need on the water.
This means you can customize your PWC to a very high degree based on your needs.
Watersport and Fishing
When it comes to wakeboarding and PWC fishing, it’s good to know that Sea-Doo offers specially designed and equipped models for these purposes, namely the Sea-Doo Wake series as well as the Sea-Doo Fish Pro. These models offer turn-key solutions if you need a PWC for special purposes.
We also have to mention that larger Waverunners are also a popular choice for towing and fishing purposes. However, you’ll need some extra effort to upgrade them with the necessary equipment.
Do You Need a Stand Up?
If you’re looking for a stand-up watercraft, and hesitate between Yamaha and Sea-Doo brands, it seems the Yamaha Superjet could be your only choice.
Unfortunately, Sea-Doo doesn’t offer stand ups. In the past, they offered a “half” stand-up PWC, the convertible Sea-Doo 3D, but this model was cancelled many years ago.
If you’re open to other brands, you can consider a Krash freestyle PWC or a Kawasaki SX-R Jet Ski; however these models arrive with a more hefty price tags.
Before you make your final decision, don’t forget to consider the factor of availability. It’s always wise to choose a local dealer for several reasons.
However, while many dealerships offer delivery services to other states, it’s always best if you get the yearly maintenance as well as services in the same shop where you purchased your craft.
Because of this, first try to locate the dealerships in your area as it could be a hassle if you have to trailer your PWC too far each time it needs a professional’s attention.
Building a long-term relationship with a local dealership offers many benefits in the long run, even if their prices are slightly higher. Time is money as well!
So first, do your research to find out which dealerships are in your area, Yamaha or Sea-Doo?
If you’re lucky, you can find a shop which offers both brands under one roof. At these places, you can compare the models side-by-side, and you can also get some valuable answers for your servicing and maintenance questions.
When it comes to the evergreen Yamaha vs. Sea-Doo argument, the brand-loyal owners are usually blinded and are not open to new information.
However, there are many clues and facts out there about the reliability of both brands.
Sea-Doo is still the market leader of the PWC industry, owning the biggest segment of returning buyers.
On the other hand, Yamaha Waverunners are well known about their durability and lower maintenance needs, and this is why the majority of the PWC rentals (as well as near half of the individual buyers) choose these models.
So finally, which is the best brand Yamaha or Sea-Doo?
It seems there is no exact answer for this question, as there are pros and cons on both sides, no doubt about that. The final decision is always based on personal preference. If you haven’t purchased one yet, it’s highly recommended you do your research. You can get a good start with our model browser and comparison tool!
If you’ve selected your model, it’s also wise to do further research on forums and FB groups or Youtube. Some models have typical issues, and you can avoid these problems in advance with careful selection.
Beyond making the wisest choice, don’t forget about proper maintenance, as overlooked or poorly managed services can lead to several malfunctions, major damage, and less reliability. Every owner’s manual clearly defines service intervals; always follow them. This applies to all models independently of the brand!
This was our short Yamaha vs. Sea-Doo comparison; we hope you found it useful!
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