Loyalty is Returned: The Watercraft Journal’s Readers Tell Us Which PWC Brands They Prefer

Brand loyalty is an emotional response. Certainly it comes from a sense of satisfaction with the quality of product or degree of customer service, but the sense that a buyer will only purchase from one brand against all others is entirely emotional. It’s a dyed-in-the-wool sentimentality, and the stuff that companies would give their all to cultivate in more of its customers. Because of the value in brand loyalty, we wanted to know more from the readership of The Watercraft Journal; what brands were they loyal to and why. And while opening up the discussion to a topic like this is essentially equal to lobbing a cup of gasoline onto an already blazing fire, we thought it useful to hear from the readers themselves.

Apart from the typical name-calling, slander and general nastiness that breeds like ragweed on social media forums (which we’ve done our best to filter out in this article), we have left some grievances – be them factual or not – to illustrate the word-of-mouth circulating in the “core” personal watercraft communities. We were surprised by how many diverse answers we got, the variety of different units owned by our readers, and the general levels of interest and engagement that they have in our industry. Truly The Watercraft Journal‘s readership is the single-largest audience of any PWC publication, but also one of the most diverse.

JT Jeffrey: “Honda hands down. Then they stopped building them so I settled for a Yamaha until I changed to a Sea-Doo speedster.”

Anthony But: “Gotta love Honda. Still have my first ski. My ’06 R-12X. 615 hours, and going strong.” Anthony continued, “The ’06 R-12X has 615 hours. The ’14 RXP-X has 183 hours. Both have been completely reliable. [I] love them both equally.” (See image above.)

Parminder Deol: “I’ve had Sea-Doos. I’ve had Yamahas. There’s a reason why I’m riding a Kawasaki now. [They’re] simply the best ski out there. For those complaining about it being a gas guzzler, probably shouldn’t should be on the water in the first place? Out of the hole, this 300 kills any of the ‘Doos running 300, stock vs stock.”

Jason Gwillim: “[I’ve] always been a Kawasaki man. First ski bought at age 18 1993, got a ’91 worked sx550 race proven (hole shot speed caught at 55mph @ round 4 OLD titles in ’92) and always wanted 750 or 800 since they came out. Now at age 41 I have a box stock ’96 750SXi and loving it, but in my opinion, it is noticeably bigger and heavier and less stable than the 5fitty. [I’m] seriously thinking about engine swap 750SXi engine to the 5fitty hull.”

André Desmeules: “I like Kawasaki for the look. The sound of the supercharger is cool but they are behind in terms of technology and they burn gas like a Boeing! Also [there are] very limited accessories in Canada!”

Bob Stanley: “I’ve had a ’97 GTI, ’98 GTS, ’14 ‘GTS, a ’15 Spark and now a ’17 STX-15F. Great ski. [The] Sea-Doo dealer is a 3 hour drive. The Kawasaki dealer is 15 minutes. Plus it came with a 3 year warranty and $250 fuel card.”

Above: Matti Wriedt-Eriksen wrote, “Kawasaki [is] my one and only jet ski since 2011.”

Tim Berland: “Sea-Doo because they have real innovation. Yamaha has switched to 3-cylinder recently for a reason. Sea-Doo has done wonders for the market, new grips that don’t look like they are off of a 1990 bicycle like Kawasaki and Yamaha. iBR for convenience. Ergolock seat and foot wedges to ensure your body is in the correct position. Kawasaki and Yamaha have their pro’s as well and we always need competition in the market place to keep things fresh and to see the innovative ideas that come with. Hell, BRP also makes watercraft that don’t look the same as the previous models. Always keeping it fresh. Gotta do your research. Yamaha and Kawis are just a reason for Sea-Doo to be better than the rest. Yamaha gauge clusters are out dated, finally they did something about their cheap-looking Hydro-Turf.”

Jennifer Frank: “Sea-Doo since the late 1990s. Always at the forefront of innovation, pushing the industry in design. The Rotax motors have been good to me. Back then I tried Tigershark, Polaris, and Yamaha. The first two couldn’t hold a candle to the Sea-Doo and the Yamaha (while had definite power) just didn’t seem to carve as hard and let you play in the water as much. Been a Sea-Doo/BRP fan girl ever since.”

Matt Lackore: “I love my Sea-Doo. Everyone else in my riding club is moving to a Yamaha and seems to get a new ski every couple of years. I’m still on my now 11-year-old Sea-Doo RXP and it still looks and runs great and keeps up with almost every ski I ride with. It does a solid 75mph (not a stock ski) which is plenty fast for the riding I do. It’s comfortable, playful, and gets about 80 miles on a tank so I can comfortably go on the long club rides. I had a ’98 XP before the RXP and it treated me very well too. When the time comes to replace the RXP, I’ll be looking at a Sea-Doo.”

Josh Glendenning: “I have one of each in my garage. So I’m not brand loyal, but my Sea-Doo is the best of my three to ride.”

Robert Stacy on his Yamaha FX SVHO.

Julien Bédard: “Yamaha! 1800cc. Reliability, strong, fast. [They] don’t look like a plastic toy. Nice color set. Always ahead of the market for performance and reliability. Supercharger doesn’t need maintenance (way before the new RXP-X). Rings are in aluminum, more steel then unnecessary technology. They have nothing to complain about and it annoys the other brand. Proof? There was a bad timing chain batch on some model in 2014 and that’s the only thing we hear about when talking about Yamaha. Most of the Yamaha owners have really tried a Sea-Doo or a Kawasaki but rare are those who have a Sea-Doo and who already tried a Yamaha. It’s my choice but I like the malleability better on Yamahas. And what about the racing championships? They %$^&ing win them all! And the team riders” Klippenstein, MacClugage, Rius, Aswar. I don’t like Sea-Doo’s colors, toy shape, seats, sound, and the fact that Bombardier steal jobs in my country in my domain by building them in Mexico and by taking advantage of government subsidies.”

Jim Lueck: “I had a [Sea-Doo] in the ’90’s, the ski was always in the shop. My parents had a [Sea-Doo], it was always in the shop. When I go to my local dealer and look in their service area, I see a ton of {Sea-Doo] waiting for service. I switched to Yamaha and haven’t looked back until lately. I’m not a fan of the new materials they use for the hulls. The new hulls seem to get damaged extremely easy.”

Hogan Whittall: “If you check your history, you’ll see that Yamaha produced 3-cylinder engines for the WaveRunner back in the 1990s. Sea-Doo does innovate, their skis are more complicated and are more prone to problems. Just goes with the territory. Yamaha focuses on reliability. Who cares if the gauge cluster is outdated? It functions and I spend most of my time looking where I’m going and at the scenery than at the gauges. So, yeah, I’m a Yamaha loyalist because they’ve earned it by never letting me down. Can’t say the same about my Sea-Doo riding friends, seems they all have a horror story, usually relating to engine failure.”

Stephen Kresko: “Yamaha loyal. 18.5 gallon gas tank means more time on the water. No (or less) supercharger maintenance. And more reliable than other brands. Very happy with dealer service department. I’ve had every brand. Ridden for 30 years.”

Jamie Chalmers: “Yamaha. All the hire mobs (rentals) and surf clubs in my area have them for a reason.”

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Kevin Shaw

Editor-in-Chief – kevin.shaw@shawgroupmedia.com Kevin Shaw is a decade-long powersports and automotive journalist whose love for things that go too fast has led him to launching The Watercraft Journal. Almost always found with stained hands and dirt under his fingernails, Kevin has an eye for the technical while keeping a eye out for beautiful photography and a great story.

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  1. Robert Engel 25 March, 2017 at 09:06 Reply

    I have a Honda , Sea do and a Kawasaki, enjoy all three , I must admit my Honda , great machine no problems and great handling and exceptional fuel mileage , I will never sell it . My 2007 great machine had a few minor problems, but it is great, My Kawa, superb machine quick and dangerous , comfortable , and there is a economy switch which saves on fuel, maintenance free and awesome looking. Have not had a Yamaha yet so I can not say anything about it but I might buy one to see. The main thing about all PWC s is to have SAFE FUN on the water

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