Riding double at the start can mean you end up with both of you in the water until you gain more experience. At the start, some inexperienced people can lean the wrong way at the same time while you are sitting still.
Riding double changes the way a personal watercraft handles. It takes some getting used to for both operators no matter how experienced and passenger. Here’s what we’ve ascertained and observed about riding double…
How enjoyable and comfortable riding double is depends on several factors. It starts with three factors so basic they’re givens – both Jet Ski riders must wear personal flotation devices at all times, be firmly seated facing forward, and the passenger is responsible for holding on. Inexperienced passengers are never sure what’s best to hang on to, but the choices are any or all of the seat strap, rear grab handles or the driver’s PFD, so take your pick. If you do a lot of riding double, especially with kids, you may want to look at one of the riding belt or harness products made for other motorsports. Unless the passenger’s already familiar with how to operate and ride a personal watercraft, it’s also a good idea to do some basic instruction before starting your Jet Ski ride.
Next is what model PWC you are riding. Some are designed for high performance, some for play fun and others for cruising and touring. Generally, the touring models are more stable (including at lower speeds) and have enough power to carry two without labouring. The 3-seaters are the most stable of all for riding double. Putting two riders on a jet ski that’s underpowered or designed for one rider is simply asking for trouble on any Jet Ski ride.
Another factor to consider with riding double is the riders. Are both Jet Ski riders experienced on personal watercraft or is the passenger a novice? If a beginner, then the first ride needs to be shortened, toned down and adapted to account for their learning curve and safety. Same may apply if the passenger’s a child, but also take into account that a youngster may not be as strong as an adult, may fall asleep, may not have the endurance, or in the fun of Jet Ski riding, may simply forget to hold on tight.
If an inexperienced passenger’s used to riding a bicycle or doubling on a motorcycle, then he or she will likely become accustomed quickly to the coordinated balance, body language and leaning into turns necessary to riding double on a jet ski. But don’t forget they may not be used to riding waves and to unexpected or sudden manoeuvres!
A final rider factor that contributes to comfort and enjoyment is how much operator and passenger weigh in total. Does their combined weight exceed the manufacturer’s recommended maximum? The closer it is to the max, the more care will be required for stability, handling and control of the PWC.
Taking into account the considerations noted above should help determine what kind of two-up ride you should be attempting.
Also, you want to ensure that your passenger has a good experience so your normal solo Jet Ski riding style may not be appropriate for going double. Some passengers may not appreciate bearing the brunt of any jarring bumps.
There are certainly some advantages to riding double. Top of our list would be companionship. Most powersports riding is done solo, be it a motorcycle, snowmobile or personal watercraft. Doubling up allows direct communication between the operator and passenger as well as the physical proximity of another human to help you stay warm ;). The next advantage is having a helping hand available for docking, fuelling, four hands are better than two. Four eyes can keep a better watch out for sights, services, channels, buoys, other boats or possible threats like changing weather conditions.
Riding double has a style, pace and place all of its own. But remember that as the person with the handlebars in your control, you are always operating the jet ski for two and that’s a responsibility to take very seriously.
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