1987-1990 Yamaha WaveJammer Review and Specs [Video]

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The Yamaha WaveJammer, along with the iconic WaveRunner 500, were the first Yamaha PWCs ever built. The weird-looking WaveJammer was introduced in 1987 and remained in production through 1990.

Three years later, its concept was reborn in the more popular WaveBlaster I!

If you want to discover this legendary Yamaha watercraft, this post is for you.

We at JetDrift have compiled all you need to know into this Yamaha WaveJammer review!

1987-1990 Yamaha WaveJammer Review

The WaveJammer 500, also known as Marine Jet 500S, made its debut in 1987, just a couple of months after the WaveRunner 500. These two machines represented the first Yamaha PWC fleet and shared many parts.

The unique WaveJammer was different from other jet skis in many ways. It was marketed as a “sit-down type solo PWC” as it offered a seat for one rider.

Since the Jammer was mainly ridden in a standing position, it’s safe to say that this machine was a mix of a stand-up and sit-down type jet ski. Although it was designed as a sit-down model, it featured a high handlebar with a padded column for safety reasons.

The WaveJammer was built on an extremely small hull, which was only 88.2 inches long, 33.9 inches wide, and 36.8 inches high. The dry weight of this tiny vessel was no more than 287 pounds.

In contrast, the latest top-of-the-line Yamaha FX WaveRunners are nearly 141 inches long and weigh around 800-840 pounds. If these skis are compared visually, the difference is shocking:

Yamaha WaveJammer vs. FX SVHO

Yamaha WaveJammer vs. FX Cruiser SVHO

The WaveJammer was built on a unique platform utilizing a shallow-V design with incorporated double chines.

Thanks to this unique hull, the machine could get off much easier as it didn’t sit deep in the water. The double chines were intended to cut the water and improve stability and handling in the fast corners when the hull was tipped on one side.

The engine of the Yamaha WaveJammer was a 2-stroke, 496cc, 2-cylinder power mill, which was shared with the sit-down type WaveRunner 500. This tiny power source featured a CDI ignition, an electric start, a single 38 mm carburetor, and an open-loop cooling system. It produced 32 HP at 5,500 RPM while the mixed flow jet pump delivered a thrust of 308.6 pounds.

This unit was actually a Yamaha outboard engine with an upgraded carburetor and intake.

Just like many other PWCs in the ‘90s, the Jammer also ran on premix, while its battery was kept charged by a flywheel magneto.

The machine was manufactured with a 3.4-gallon fuel tank, including a 0.79-gallon reverse. This fuel cell, combined with maximum fuel consumption of 3.1 GPH, offered only 0.9 hours of cruising at full throttle. The Yamaha WaveJammer was known for its low top end, and it could hit only 30 mph under ideal conditions.

Standard features included an electric start, safety lanyard, fuel cock, choke knob, 12V battery, and a 3.4-gallon fuel tank. The fire extinguisher wasn’t standard equipment, but Yamaha highly recommended keeping one on board.

Since the WaveJammer came without any real storage compartment, the fire extinguisher could be stored in a tiny rear storage bin specially designed for this purpose.

Let’s see what the original ad said about this machine:

“JAM YOUR JAMS OFF ON A YAMAHA.

Get ready for the ultimate jam session – the WaveJammer is Yamaha’s exciting, new ride for solo flyers. Sit or stand as you challenge the water with Yamaha performance that takes a free-styling to new heights. Show the jet set how it’s done-throttle up a WaveJammer and hang on your jams….”

But despite lucrative ad campaigns, the WaveJammer never became really popular. Why?

First, compared to rival jet skis, the WaveJammer looked weird, which alone deterred many customers. Referring to its strange handlebar, the nickname of this ski was “giraffe.”

Another major problem with the WaveJammer was its extremely tippy hull, which was very hard to ride. Many riders give up just trying to climb up on the machine, let alone use it!

Starting and reboarding this unstable machine was virtually a trick that every rider had to master, and it also capsized immediately when the rider stopped.

As you can see in this video, riding a WaveJammer was a challenge, especially for beginners:

Because of this, many riders say that this jet ski was similar to the WetBike, a jet ski that you only want to ride once. As you can imagine, it wasn’t a great beginner jet ski.

Just like starting, riding the Jammer was also very tricky. Since the hull’s bottom was quite flat, the machine was hard to steer and it slid out in the corners.

Choppy water conditions were also challenging for the ski, as it didn’t stay hooked up even on the smallest waves. Therefore, it was only recommended for smaller lakes and rivers.

Another common complaint against the WaveJammer was its underpowered engine and pump. What’s more, the latter was prone to cavitation as well. In stock form, its performance was quite disappointing.

To increase their power and handling, many owners upgraded the engine and the pump in their Jammers. The most commonly used engines were the more powerful 650 or 701 Yamaha PWC engines.

Along with the engine, the pump and the intake grate were also often upgraded for optimal performance and less cavitation. Fortunately, these parts could be upgraded relatively easily.

With a more powerful pump and engine, the WaveJammer transformed into a playful little ski.

Thanks to its flat bottom, it was capable of various sit-down jet ski tricks like huge power slides, spins, jumps, and even submarining. The engine swap also made the Jammer capable of surfing.

With increased power, it was similar to a Freestyle jet ski like the successor JetBlaster or the Kawasaki X2, except the Jammer slid out much easier.

Although production of the Yamaha WaveJammer was ceased in 1990, its concept was reborn in the more popular WaveBlaster I!

1987-1990 Yamaha WaveJammer Specs Chart

For your convenience, we’ve compiled the 1987-1990 Yamaha WaveJammer specifications into these charts!

Yamaha WaveJammer Dimensions

WJ500GDimensions
Length88.2 in (2 240mm)
Width33.9 in (860 mm)
Height36.8 in (935 mm)
Dry Weight287 lb (130 kg)
Fuel Tank Capacity 3.4 US gal (13 L) including 0.8 US gal (3 L) reserve

Yamaha WaveJammer Engine Specs

WJ500GEngine Specs
Engine type2-stroke
Number of Cylinder2
Displacement496 cm³ (30.27 cu in.)
Bore and Stroke72 × 61 mm (2.83 × 2.40 in)
Compression Ratio7.0
Lubrication SystemPre-mixed
Cooling SystemWater-cooled
Starting System Electric Starter
Ignition System C.D.I.
Spark Plugs Type NGK BR-7HS10
Spark Plug Gap 0.9 - 1.0 mm (0.036 - 0.04 in.)
Battery Capacity12 V 19 Ah
Charging SystemFlywheel magneto

Yamaha WaveJammer Propulsion

WJ500GDrive Unit
Propulsion SystemJet pump
Jet Pump Type Mixed flow, single stage
Impeller RotationCounter clockwise (Rear view)
TransmissionDirect drive from engine
Steering (nozzle) Angle29° +/- 1°
FuelUnleaded regular gasoline
Recommended Engine Oil Type Yamalube 1 Outboard Oil
Gasoline and Oil Mixing Ratio50 : 1

Yamaha WaveJammer Performance

WJ500GPerformance
Static Thrust308.6 lb (140 kg)
Maximum Output32 HP (24 kW)/ 5500 rpm
Maximum Fuel Consumption3.7 US gal/h (14 L/h)
Cruising Range / at Full Throttle0.8 hours

These charts are for informational purposes only! For exact specifications, please refer to the factory manual.

Vintage Yamaha WaveJammer for Sale

If you want to ride one, you probably want to know where to find a Yamaha WaveJammer for sale. Since this ski disappeared from the market in 1990, it’s already a collectible item, so finding one can be difficult!

You may want to start your research on dedicated WaveRunner forums and Facebook fan groups. Besides these sources, you can also find some used Yamaha WaveJammer for sale on Craigslist, PWC Trader, and other dedicated jet ski ad sites.

When you do your research, you may find some WaveJammer 650s or WaveJammer 701s for sale as well. Keep in mind that these skis are not stock WaveJammer models. Instead, they are modified machines with pump and engine swaps.

Takeaway

As a takeaway, we’ve answered the most common questions about the 1987-1990 Yamaha WaveJammer!

What Size was a Yamaha WaveJammer?

The Yamaha WaveJammer was 88.2 inches long, 33.9 inches wide, and 36.8 inches high.

How Much Did a Yamaha WaveJammer Weigh?

The dry weight of the Yamaha WaveJammer was only 287 pounds. This means it weighed less than half as much as the average jet ski these days!

What Kind of Engine Did the Yamaha WaveJammer Have?

The Yamaha WaveJammer was powered by a 2-stroke, 496cc twin engine. This small carbureted power mill was actually a modified Yamaha outboard engine featuring a unique carburetor and intake.

How Much Horsepower Did a Yamaha WaveJammer Have?

The engine of the Yamaha WaveJammer provided 32 HP at 5,500 RPM, while its pump delivered a thrust of 308.6 pounds.

How Fast Did a Yamaha WaveJammer Go?

Top speed of the Yamaha WaveJammer was only 30 mph on glass water, so it was significantly slower than any other jet ski on the market. However, with a 650/701 engine swap, you can easily increase the speed of the Jammer!

How Much is a 1987-1990 Yamaha WaveJammer Worth?

It’s hard to tell the exact price of a Yamaha WaveJammer, as it depends on various factors like its condition, year, and location. If you are lucky, you can find an abandoned model for a couple of hundreds of dollars. In contrast, be prepared to pay more than $1,000 for a restored machine, especially if it comes with an engine and pump upgrade!

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