There are two main kinds of jet skis: stand-up and sit-down. However, the sit-down type can be further classified into several subcategories, resulting in a total of eight distinct jet ski categories. These include Rec-Lite, Recreation, Performance, Luxury/Touring, Tow Sport, Sport Fishing, Freestyle Sit-Down ("Sport Class"), and Stand-Up.
Rec-Lite Jet Ski
The Rec-Lite jet ski category is the smallest and most affordable type of machine available. They are agile, lightweight, enjoyable to ride, and can be towed by a small car. However, these jet skis have limited capabilities and are best suited for use on small lakes and rivers.
In earlier times, most jet skis resembled Rec-Lites in design. However, over the years, jet skis have become bigger, with some even resembling small boats. In 2014, Sea-Doo introduced the Rec-Lite class of jet skis to recapture the vintage 2-stroke ski experience.
Recreation Jet Ski
If you want a reasonably priced, family-friendly jet ski, then a Recreation jet ski is a suitable choice. It's a popular option for rental services due to its durability, reliability, and cost-effectiveness.
In comparison to Rec-Lites, the Recreation jet ski offers better storage space and can comfortably seat up to three adults. These jet skis are typically equipped with naturally-aspirated engines rated between 90-180 HP, which is adequate for most riders.
Performance Jet Ski
Performance jet skis are built with the goal of achieving the highest top speed and fastest acceleration, as implied by their name. These jet skis are equipped with supercharged engines that can generate 230-310 HP, depending on the specific model.
They are designed with hulls and features such as pumps, ride plates, intake grates, and sponsons that prioritize performance and aggressive handling.
It is no wonder that these jet skis are the preferred choice of racers and speed enthusiasts. If you're looking to dominate the competition and be the fastest rider on the water, then a Performance jet ski is the perfect choice for you.
Luxury Jet Ski
Luxury and touring jet skis are considered the premium models in each manufacturer's lineup, designed to offer the utmost comfort and convenience. These jet skis are typically built on the most stable platforms and feature a comfortable seat that can accommodate three adult riders. They are powered by high-performance engines that can generate 160-310 HP and come equipped with all the latest features you would need on the water.
Some of the standard features you can expect to find on luxury jet skis include a comfortable seat, an audio system, retractable dock lines, a large touchscreen dashboard with GPS, and customizable design options.
Tow Sport Jet Ski
Sea-Doo has introduced two jet ski models, the Sea-Doo Wake and Wake Pro, specifically designed for tow sports enthusiasts. These jet skis are built to easily tow water skis, wakeboards, wakeskates, or tubes, and come equipped with essential tow sport accessories such as mirrors, tow pylons, wakeboard racks, and "ski mode". The "ski mode" feature is a type of cruise control that helps maintain steady speeds and provides smooth deep-water starts.
These features make the Tow-Sport jet skis an attractive option for wakeboarders and tubers as a more affordable alternative to expensive wakeboard boats. However, it's important to note that these jet skis are lightweight, so they produce smaller wakes and cannot offer the same level of wakeboarding experience as a large boat.
Sport Fishing Jet Ski
Sport Fishing jet skis are designed to cater to the needs of PWC anglers. These jet skis combine the excitement of a jet ski with the features of a small fishing boat. The main advantage of these versatile vessels is that they come equipped with the necessary fishing accessories such as a cooler, rod holders, fishfinder, and storage space.
Additionally, Sport Fishing jet skis have an extended rear platform that provides extra storage space. With the growing popularity of jet ski fishing, manufacturers have introduced more purpose-built fishing jet ski models to the market.
Freestyle Sit-Down Jet Ski (Sport Class)
To put it simply, Sport Class or Freestyle jet skis are a unique type of sit-down jet ski that is small, sporty, and often ridden in a standing position. They are different from the large sit-down jet skis that are commonly referred to as "couches". Freestyle jet skis are fun to ride but challenging as well.
However, there are only a few Freestyle jet ski models available, including the Yamaha JetBlaster, Kawasaki X2, and Krash Reaper. Most Freestyle jet skis are custom-built because of their limited availability. Although Yamaha has introduced a new JetBlaster as a Freestyle jet ski, it lacks a freestyle hull and is just a rebranded EXR with basic sit-down trick accessories. If you want a true Freestyle jet ski, it's best to look for vintage models like the WaveBlaster, Kawasaki X2, or Krash Reaper.
Stand up Jet Ski
It could be argued that stand-up jet skis are the most distinct models available. These nimble machines are the smallest and don't have a seat, as they are intended to be ridden exclusively while standing up. This means that it takes some athleticism and practice to ride them. For inexperienced riders, deep-water starts can be particularly difficult. Because riding a stand-up jet ski can be physically demanding, they may not be suitable for everyone.