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Ever since Kawasaki dropped the bombshell news that the company would be bringing back its iconic standup Jet Ski, the Internet has been abuzz with speculation about the craft. Rumours went into full swing, from the design would be able to be balanced on when not under power, to the boat would be an entry-level model to rival Sea-Doo’s Spark, to the newest Jet Ski would be a behemoth, significantly larger than any model to date. Leaked video, as well as, later, close-up photos of the craft, shed some of the wildest rumours but raised new questions.
Yes, it’s obviously a four-stroke. But instead of an all-new engine, the SX-R will use the same 1,498cc four-cylinder engine found in the STX-15F, an engine that produces roughly twice the power of the last standup model the company produced in 2011. Kawasaki notes it delivers a linear torque curve for strong power throughout the RPM range, making it appeal to beginners and enthusiasts alike. A 60 mm mechanical throttle body is mated to a resin-type intake manifold to further enhance throttle response. Aft, that engine is linked to a direct-drive axial-flow pump featuring an oval-edged, three-blade 148 mm impeller. The intake grate is based on the previous design, but lengthened to improve water intake. The steering nozzle is 102 mm in length and features an 87 mm nozzle diameter.
And yes, it is bigger than we’ve come to expect from a standup model, most notably in length. The ’17 SX-R measures in at 106” in length and 30” in width. Contrast that with the 90.6” length and 28.7” width of the previous 800 SX-R. The increase in width allows for a wider rider tray, which Kawasaki says will allow for a more natural riding position. That HydroTurf-covered tray is slanted forward to allow riders to more easily brace themselves in position while aggressively riding. The tray sides, or “deck fins” in Kawasaki parlance, feature a rounded edge and more HydroTurf padding, although notably it does not wrap up and over the fin tops as in previous models. The handle pole is lifted directly from the 800 SX-R, but features additional reinforcements. New fuel and engine warning lights have been added directly into the slim handlebar pad to alert riders to low fuel or engine problems. A storage tray with a rubber mesh cover is notched into the hood cover directly below the handlepole, and is big enough to store items like a dock line, safety flares, etc. Kawasaki’s magnetic-key ignition switch also makes its way into the SX-R, and is located at the front of the tray just to the left of the hood latch.
As to the hull below, it features a notable V-shape, with a matching set of strakes straddling the keel and Kawasaki’s Splash Deflector (KSD) design forward to reduce splashing over the bow. It’s more buoyant than the 800 SX-R, which allows it to sit higher in the water and therefore easier to climb aboard in deep water. The engine is mounted low and as far aft as possible to help the hull penetrate waves and deliver less jolt to the rider. Rear sponsons further assist the hull contours in delivering the sharp-cornering response standup riders demand.
If the craft truly stands out from previous models, it’s in the design of the nose. Significant length is waiting forward of the handle pole connection, and the deck sides flare both up and outward in a somewhat futuristic look. In profile or in overhead view it’s almost unnoticeable, but at any other angle it’s quite pronounced. More details, as well as a first true test ride, will have to wait. Kawasaki will officially reveal all the specs, as well as the pricing, next month. For now, prospective buyers will simply have to look at the pics…and imagine the possibilities.