In an all forced-induction, all Kawasaki race, a jet ski goes head-to-head with a motorcycle.
Last Summer Motorcyclist Magazine put together a friendly race between a super-charged Kawasaki motorcycle and a super-charged Kawasaki jet ski. Though the winner was determined months ago, it wasn’t until last week that a full-length video was released, documenting the cross-vehicle competition.
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In one corner was Chris Cantle, Motorcyclist’s editor-in-chief, who was piloting Team Green’s Ultra 310R jet ski. A 310hp, super-charged and inter-cooled, 1,498cc inline-four—supposedly derived from Kawasaki’s ZX-14R mill. (For unknown reasons we actually reviewed the Ultra 310R back in 2014) In the other corner was MM’s contributing editor Zach Bowman mounted on Kawasaki’s H2 SX SE sport-tourer, which is powered by a super-charged, liquid-cooled, 197hp, 998cc inline-four.
Seeing as the two machines obviously can’t operate on a completely even footing due to the whole water/land thing, a location was selected—Utah’s Lake Powell—that offered both contestants a route for their respective rides. The jet ski would be facing a 140-mile run up lake Powell while the motorcycle’s route was comprised of approximately 230 of winding Utah roads.
While the jet ski is more powerful and has a shorter route, its pace is limited by its more-than-half-ton-weight, 67mph (restricted) speed-limit, and its need to refuel twice as the supercharged engine—with the throttle pinned—reportedly sucks down 21-gallons of fuel per hour. To make the most of his advantages, Bowman opted to remove the LE’s luggage and spend the duration of the journey in a full tuck, ensuring he would complete the long-distance trek—which is a little longer than the distance from Los Angeles to Vegas.
The motorcycle crossed the finish line first, completing the friendly competition with a ten-minute advantage over the watercraft, though the jet ski was held up during one of its fuel stops for a duration that very well may have been the deciding factor in the race’s outcome. Win or lose, both pilots appeared to enjoy spending time in the saddle of their supercharged Kawasaki’s, though I think the moral of the story is clearly: bikes are better than jet skis.