It’s been a heck of a year when it comes to leaks for the 2020 Kawasaki lineup, which if you’re a glass half full-type of thinker, means that there are a whole lot of folks eager to see Kawasaki come back to the market swinging – and we mean really batting for the fences. And despite threats of the brand’s waning interest in the personal watercraft segment, two major reveals published by The Watercraft Journal earlier this summer have shown a refreshed STX-15F touting some interesting redesigns.
As illustrated above, the 2020 STX-15F is not a complete redesign of the 16-year-old platform, but a slight refresh to its top deck, hood, steering and seating arrangement. We also have confirmation that the JetSki’s running gear will be updated with the existing fly-by-wire engine management and throttle hardware – putting it in pace with all existing Ultra machines, be them naturally aspirated or supercharged.
We also have confirmation of three tiers of the STX: a basic entry level; a more optioned unit with Cruise Control, Eco Mode and other drive features; and a heavily-optioned unit equipped with a revised Jetsounds onboard sound system and a thickly bolstered, tiered LX-style seat. Unfortunately, photographs reveal the continued use of a manual reverse lever on this unit, leaving most to believe it to be standard throughout all of the lineup.
That’s not to say that Kawasaki doesn’t have some new tricks up its sleeve. The Watercraft Journal was recently alerted that the manufacturer of the original JetSki applied for a new patent back on August 23, 2018 with the United States Patent Board granting legal ownership of US Patent No. US 10,279,876 B1 on May 7th of this year. The patent is for a split, articulated two-piece seat that literally bisects to reveal a large storage compartment beneath the rear seat.
As shown in the images above (and detailed in the complete 11-page US patent document included below), the seat doesn’t appear all too different from existing two-piece benches sold currently. The driver’s saddle locks into a female receiver at the front and secures to pin-style latch in back. Yet, the front seat shows a slotted track that can receive the two guides protruding from the front of the rear seat. These guides slide into the tracks easily, and allow the rear seat to be unlatched and hinge upwards to access the rear storage tub.
Equally, the openings at the tops of the tracks permit the rear seat to be effortlessly slid out and off of the JetSki as well. By all observations, this new feature is not expected to require much in the way of added plastic material or additional weight to the seat or craft – maybe an extra pound or two. The below schematic shows in detail how the articulated seat is designed to operate as well as illustrates the new, very deep rear storage compartment (a bin we believe will only be available on the naturally-aspirated STX models).
At this time, we have no more information on this new feature apart from what we can speculate. Kawasaki’s freshening of the STX is a welcomed one and we hope will revitalize the brand’s efforts towards competing in the marketplace alongside Yamaha and Sea-Doo. We’re enthusiastic to see the rest of the lineup roll out in full detail with an unconfirmed reveal in early October. Until that time, we’ll keep an eye out for any further leaks and keep you posted.