Videos: Two Kawasaki “Good Times Theatre” Promotions

12227777_10153773824518934_600937867500294498_nWith each year, bigger, better and faster watercraft enter the market, but what many people don’t think about is how the sport began. We think we should take a moment to reflect on the past and remember how this sport evolved. The year was 1975 and Kawasaki believed that if they could make a television advertisement, they would attract more potential buyers. The setting was at Lake Havasu, Arizona. Little did they know that the World Finals, years later, would be held there.

These were the days when no performance parts were offered, no one was compression testing their engines before riding or dealing with complicated ECUs. These were bare bone skis that were light and reliable which offered anyone, that was willing to try, a good time. With speeds just over 30mph coming from a small 440cc engine, this new toy was a hot item – a must have for any novice or water enthusiast.

They were so small you could fit them in the back of a family station wagon or pickup truck and take them to the lake, river or any other body of water. These machines were not extremely expensive, which was good for Kawasaki, as many people were able to buy them after they rode their friends jet ski. The remarkable thing about these 440’s is that you can still find one for sale on the used market. Kawasaki’s were built to last.

Whether you are a sit down rider or still a devoted standup rider, remember the roots of the sport because that is how it all began. Always be safe, responsible and most importantly, enjoy the good times on your Kawasaki 440.



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Blake Ellestad

Blake decided to buy a jet ski before a car and it was the greatest decision of his life. He was able to start reading on the forums and absolutely fell in love with the information and the sport. Blake says he will be riding jet skis for a very long time.


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  1. faxon 26 June, 2016 at 19:17 Reply

    Brings me back to the time when Jet Ski’s were about fun and some skill. Now Kawasaki only makes barges that if we are honest are boring after 10 minutes. Hurts me to think that the manufacturers have forgotten that.

  2. A. Nelprober 26 June, 2016 at 21:36 Reply

    Dry those crying eyes Faxon. Heard from Kevin Shaw in an earlier article that Kawasaki is bringing back the X-2 this year. Of course it will only be available in Australia but still….

      • Phil Ehshio 28 June, 2016 at 04:42 Reply

        @kevin shaw. Understand you’re not yet allowed to confirm the 4 stroke version of the x-2 that Kawasaki is releasing this year, but pretty sure you did confirm in an earlier article that Kawasaki will be reinstating production of the SXR this year. Could you please provide some more info on the 2017 SXR? Will it be 4 stroke? If so what size motor and overall weight? I think a lot of us are still skeptical about the weight of a 4 stroke in a standup hull. I for one think this is great news for the industry and will guarantee the future of the Pwc. Kawasaki was the originator of the jet ski and it’s great to see someone in their corporation has enough sense to bring the sport back to its roots. Sad day when they stopped producing the sxr but I truly applaud Kawasaki for seeing the light and bringing it back!!!!!

        • Kevin Shaw 28 June, 2016 at 09:20 Reply

          Literally, nothing within your statement is true, either Phil. I can state unequivocally that Kawasaki will have a “Spark fighter” for 2017. I am not legally constrained to withhold this information. And the engine is expected to be a derivative of the 1L first introduced in the H2 and H2R two years ago. That. Is. It.

          There is ZERO confirmation of a return of either the SX-R or the X-2. In fact, the latter of the two is laughable, with the prior being all but a massive and complete “Hail Mary” on behalf of a company that is in NO WAY equipped to do so. I don’t mean to sound rude or condescending, so let me explain:

          Right now, Kawasaki has LESS than 10% of the total market share of PWC sold in the US today (the world’s biggest market for PWC) – Sea-Doo has over 50% and Yamaha nearly 40%. Kawasaki’s JetSki dealer network is not only small, it’s continuing to diminish.

          Currently, the STX-15F remains the brand’s biggest seller. The problem is that the units they’re selling are LAST YEAR’S UNITS. Dealers are heavily discounting old STX units at a high rate, with the knowledge that this year’s STX’s will be discounted next year.

          They produce somewhere between 3,000 and 4,500 total JetSkis a year (that’s including all STX-15F, Ultra, and Ultra 310 models). That’s it. As comparison, Sea-Doo sold over 9,000 Sparks in 2014 in the US alone.

          Right now, Kawasaki desperately needs to re-enter the marketplace in a big way. Their engineers and accountants believe it is via competing with the Spark (whose sales have slowed dramatically in 2016 compared to its previous two years).

          Runabouts comprise 98% of total PWC sales. Yamaha’s SuperJet – although increasing in production numbers and sales each year for the past 4 years – only accounts for less than 2%. Even in the aftermarket do standup products and parts comprise less than 20% of total sales.

          Kawasaki is in NO WAY positioned to introduce a 4-stroke standup, and the marketplace is in NO WAY interested in paying for a standup that has been estimated at costing between $11,500 to $14,000.

          Now Yamaha, whose market share and dealer network is significantly larger, is far better positioned to introduce a new SuperJet in 2017, although unlikely. We know for a fact that 3 different hull designs have been built and are being tested, and the new 4-stroke 3-cylinder 120HP TR-1 is a PERFECT candidate for a larger SJ. Some estimates have it as soon as 2018. Other guesses say much longer.

          So again: NO, Kawasaki is NOT bringing back the SX-R or the X-2. It can’t afford to. Standup riders say they’ll buy whatever new standup comes out, but that’s not true. What they want is a standup that costs and weighs the same as the $4,000 650SX they bought in 1992.

          • Lou Spussy 28 June, 2016 at 14:03

            Glad to hear that Kawasaki is going after the Seadoo spark price point rather than just making a video bashing it. Maybe I’m in the minority but I have ridden an example of most modern couch jet skis. While it is fun to go fast, most folks that come out to the lake end up leaving their massive 300hp 1,000 lbs skis on the shore as they take turns riding the “fun old skis” even though there is a chance that you could get wet on them. Hope the industry will keep shrinking MSRP’s and size of the machines to bring more new riders into the sport.

          • Kevin Shaw 28 June, 2016 at 21:46

            Yes, yes. Even Yamaha knows that its attempt to disparage the Spark by “bashing” it on YouTube backfired horribly for them. And carrying the old VX platform over as the “V1” hasn’t garnered them the attention and/or sales that could begin to compare to the Spark. Expect to see the V1 phase out and Yamaha focus on what it does best in 2017. We’re very excited about what’s coming and you should too.

            If you noticed, the Spark actually went up in price for 2016 by a few hundred dollars. Equally, the single most popular Spark sold across the continent was several hundred dollars over $7,000 – as it was commonly optioned as being an HO, 3-up with iBR.

            Frankly put, if Sea-Doo could bring the price of its GTI 130 down to $7,800 – they could effectively cannibalize Spark sales. Funny how that works.

  3. Don Keydik 27 June, 2016 at 19:49 Reply

    I heard from a reputable source the same information. This could be a huge year for the industry if true.

  4. faxon 28 June, 2016 at 21:20 Reply

    So Kevin..when you say Kawasaki is coming out for 2017 with a “Spark Fighter” do you mean a lightweight tossable ski like the Spark, or a 600lbs beast like Yamaha (V1) say’s is their Spark fighter? I guess what im trying to say is a Spark fighter in size, weight etc…or in price? Funny how Kawasaki once owned the market with fun exciting products and now their lineup is full of over weight bloated boring couches and their market share has plunged….shocked someone doesnt see the correlatation. Bring back the ski types from before that put you as the market leader and innovator and see the good times return! Seems VERY OBVIOUS!!! Repeat after me NO MORE BORING SIT-DOWNS!!!!

    • Kevin Shaw 28 June, 2016 at 21:41 Reply

      Details on the size and/or weight have yet to be confirmed. It will be very doubtful that Kawasaki will go the exact route that Sea-Doo has blazed (ie. Poly-tec lightweight material, modular hull, etc.), but rather, a 3-person runabout smaller and lighter than the current STX-15F.

      Also, the correlation between producing runabouts and its loss of market share is nebulous at best, considering that Kawasaki builds full-sized runabouts that are on par with its direct competitors Sea-Doo and Yamaha. In fact, to further hammer point, Sea-Doo doesn’t build anything but “boring” runabouts and its the market leader.

      Unfortunately, you are in the very, very small minority of potential buyers. To whit, Yamaha sells standups, so why aren’t they the industry leader? If demand for standups is so high, why don’t they sell 1,000, 2,000 or even 5,000 units a year, instead of 800?

      Here’s the sad fact: standups require athleticism to ride, and the majority of people who buy PWC don’t want their recreation to require them to work that hard. And it’s this that directly responsible for the rise of the “couch” as you call it, and the death of the standup.

  5. Faxon 28 June, 2016 at 22:29 Reply

    First and foremost Kevin I want you to know how awesome I think your site is. I visit it everyday and want to thank you for being a part of keeping the sport I love alive. With that said…. the truth of the matter is the Superjet only sells 800 units for 2 reasons. One, they are allegedly for “competition use only” which is a farce because I bought a 2014 Superjet and only had to pay a $45 membership fee to IJSKA or whatever it was and secondly Yamaha never ever advertises or brings any attention to it. Most people I know do not realize they even still make stand ups and are delighted they do once they find out. So, zero marketing budget allotted to any product does not do sales any favor. Further, to the price point of the Spark vs GTI…I own a 2015 Spark 2 up HO (most fun sit down but still boring) and the fun factor is materially higher in the lakes than the GTI, so no, price point is not everything fun is, and the GTI IS NOT FUN and would not cannibalize sales based on that alone . Lastly, Sea Doo is the market leader simply because they have the best advertising department not products. Shift advertising dollars to some new under 10k products that you can sell in high volume and get wet on and watch the younger generation come alive. They are so bored with what’s out there.

    • Lou Swimmin 29 June, 2016 at 06:31 Reply

      Faxon, enough internet tough talk. It’s time to vote with your wallet. I guarantee if you bought up all the new superjets sitting on showroom floors across America the manufacturers would start paying attention and you could leave Kevin Shaw alone.

      Alternatively, if Yamaha figures out a way to drop the msrp on a new superjet to $5K I’ll buy another one…..

      Lot of issues out there with the new ski market. Many of them stem from a fickle consumer. Evidenced by the fact that I’m being asked the question “what is the best PWC for wakeboarding/waterskiing”. the only correct answer is: None of them. If you want a PWC that functions like a boat, you are probably better off getting a boat.

      • Kevin Shaw 29 June, 2016 at 15:45 Reply

        FYI guys, Yamaha sells EVERY SINGLE SuperJet they produce. There are almost zero “carry overs” from the previous models years. And, equally, Yamaha has increased the production number of SuperJets each year since 2013. Oh yeah, and Yamaha had three promotions not only advertising the SJ, but offering an impressive $99/mo. financing option.

        • Hugh Jorgan 29 June, 2016 at 19:06 Reply

          Kevin Shaw, Understand you’re a couch guy but I think you highlighted the point exactly. Yamaha sells every Superjet they make. So why is no one else making anything similar?

          • Kevin Shaw 29 June, 2016 at 20:18

            The only thing that I am is a “Mopar guy.” I ride them all. And the reason why Kawi or SD aren’t making standups is because it’s not a money maker. They do it because of legacy, and they’re so successful with their “couch” sales that they can afford to take the hit, “Hugh.”

  6. faxon 29 June, 2016 at 17:59 Reply

    I can agree with all your points, but hear me out on this…once the manufacturers realize that a 52HP 650cc X2 is more fun to most preople who have tried both, than a 300HP sit down, the change back will start. Kevin, I think you can agree that the fact that Yamaha has 16 three seater models and one stand up is absolutely ridiculous! They can’t find one other type of ski than 3 seaters out of 16 different models? Awful…please tell the people you know.

    • Kevin Shaw 29 June, 2016 at 20:22 Reply

      No, I can’t agree with that, Faxon. The demand for SuperJets isn’t enough for Yamaha to ramp up production to 1,000 annual units. It’s a nice comfortable number, just enough for Yamaha to make their money back on the cost of manufacturing. It’s not a problem with the OE’s not “getting it,” dude. It’s PEOPLE. There isn’t enough demand for more standups to encourage Yamaha to crank out more than what they’re making. And Kawasaki is literally in no position to fire up the molds again to crank out a ski that has been dead for over a decade (X2). Clearly the demand isn’t there. This is basic economics. Buggy whip and wagon wheel manufacturers are out of business for a reason.

  7. Faxon 29 June, 2016 at 20:58 Reply

    I guess the question is this…what year did the PWC industry sell the most ski’s? Now consider the population is 40% higher at least from the 1980’s. I never suggested they only produce more stand ups, just much lighter more tossable craft that you can actually get wet on. Kevin, you think that Yamaha having 16 different models of 650-900lbs ski’s, that to the average consumer look the same is not evidence that they are not getting it? Trust me any succesful company knows that you cannot be succesful by complicating your product line. Look, they obviously didn’t “get it” or they wouldn’t be playing catch up with the Spark from Sea Doo. Lastly, the horse and buggy analogy will not work simply because it’s replacement was far superior in every way…in this case it clearly is not. Thanks for listening.

    • Kevin Shaw 29 June, 2016 at 21:38 Reply

      The year was 1995, and the total number of units sold was over 100,000. Jet ski racing graced ESPN2, the IJSBA was a vibrant, well-oiled machine that operated over 60 events domestically a year, and there were four PWC manufacturers producing neon-hued 2-stroke machines that were both cheap and affordable. “Friends” was the most watched show on TV, Hootie & The Blowfish graced the airwaves, and AOL was the fastest internet available. Those were the days. Then the EPA came crashing down on PWC manufactures, 2-strokes were systematically banned from state parks and lakes, the World Finals had less than 950 entries last year, and Hootie start singing country music. The OEs are building 50-state legal machines that don’t leave behind iridescent trails and get better MPG than Toyotas. They have cruise control, suspension and brakes. Wait ’til you see what’s coming next. It’ll make your toes curl. Industries change as fast as public tastes and legal environments.

  8. Jack Inoff 29 June, 2016 at 21:20 Reply

    Kevin Shaw should start charging by the hour for these therapy sessions. Heard Yamaha is planning to sell out the design plans for the B1 Blaster. Maybe Faxon could independently fund a production line. Prolly make a million dollars….

  9. Faxon 29 June, 2016 at 22:27 Reply

    Well, I even have less hope after that post Kevin. Here’s the reality the OE’s must come to grips with…the future of this country economically is less prosperity and less disposable income..simple fact. If they cannot create more affordable and fun machines to inspire the younger generation to buy a PWC there is no future. I think they do know that and that is why the Spark now exist and they are playing catch up to create a machine like it. But let’s not give to much credit to Yamaha for “getting it” when they took 15 years after the first Kawasaki Jet Ski standup to release the Superjet, that they now so fondly covet. And years later than Sea Doo to release a braking system for their barges (and let’s talk patent issues because if your first or its your idea you have no patent issue). Not picking on Yamaha because I concede they are by FAR the highest quality on market and have been since day one, but let’s not go as far as saying they get it. Lastly, they have the technology to meet and exceed all the emission requirements necessary now with a lightweight motor. So my advice is this…make them fun again and lightweight in all forms (sit downs, hybrids (think X2s and Jammers and Sport Cruisers, Jet mates) stand ups etc) which will allow them to bring out out smaller, lighter less Hp motors that are more efficient because weight will no longer be a factor and the point of entry price wise drops. Problem solved! It will be 1995 again! Let’s remember the last company that thought they had it figured out and moved to slowly, Blackberry!!End of story. Kevin you have to agree, right??

  10. Mike Hawk 1 July, 2016 at 08:22 Reply

    It’s really not in Kevin’s best interest to agree with you. I love the Watercraft Journal as well but I believe the big manufacturers are sponsors of this site. At a minimum for Kevin Shaw to agree that the manufacturers are going down the wrong path could cause him to lose his insider access to new products being developed.
    You can blame the fall of the small, affordable skis on many things including the EPA but consider this, Yamaha’s 450cc four stroke from their motocross line puts out 57HP. That’s the exact same as the 650cc two strokes of yesteryear and it weighs less! I have to think this could be adapted to a pwc hull for a lightweight inexpensive craft. If the big 3 thought they could sell something like that……

    • Kevin Shaw 1 July, 2016 at 08:32 Reply

      LOL. I appreciate the thoughtfulness Mike/Hugh/Kevin/Ryan, but you can ask Tim McKercher at Sea-Doo, Andrew Cullen at Yamaha Motor Corp., and/or Jon Rall at Kawasaki: I piss them off ALL THE TIME. I’m always revealing what next year’s models are, doing really honest and sometimes unpleasant reviews of products directly from our advertisers, or just jamming my foot in my own mouth. That’s the problem with producing 9 articles a week ALL YEAR LONG. What I’ve been saying in this never-ending thread is not inside info or me trying to protect my “best interests,” it’s just honest and clear understanding of business and our current industry. (And I literally spelled out that I believe Kawasaki has been going down the wrong path for years. Did you miss that?)

  11. faxon 24 August, 2016 at 09:58 Reply

    Kevin…interesting for me to re-visit and read this thread after the teaser video Monday from Kawasaki. Care to comment? Thanks!

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