Even the most experienced jet ski riders often complain about their jet ski being unstable when riding at high speeds, riding on choppy waters, riding with more than one person on board, or when taking turns. So, whether you have just purchased your first jet ski, are just planning to buy a jet ski, or have been riding jet skis for years, you may want to look into ways to stabilize your jet ski and have the smoothest ride, no matter the speed or conditions.
Making your jet ski more stable can be done by leaning into turns, instructing your second rider how to ride, adjusting your trim settings, changing your ride posture, or upgrading your PWC. Simple upgrades such as intake grates, ride plates, and new handlebars can greatly improve your riding experience.
Below is a wide range of tips to help you stabilize your jet ski from operational changes to upgrades.
Ensuring you have the right type of Jet Ski
If you have not already purchased your jet ski or are looking to purchase a new or used jet ski but hoping for a stable ride, you may want to look into purchasing a jet ski that fits with your planned use. For example, many people find jet skis to be unstable when they ride at high speeds with a passenger on the back because they are riding on jet skis that are designed to be single rider only or are optimal for single riders despite having two seats.
If you are looking to purchase a new jet ski and plan on having two riders, you may want to consider focusing your search around jet skis that are wider or have the ability to take three riders. A three person jet ski will be able to take two riders no problem, and the wider the jet ski, typically the more stable it is.
Thus, when purchasing a jet ski with the intent to ride with two people you may want to look for jet skis similar to these and focus on stability for two+ people. Even if you do not plan to ride your jet ski with two people you can focus your search around stabilizing your jet ski. Many dealers can let you know which jet skis are ranked highly for stability versus other factors such as speed or maneuverability.
While purchasing a jet ski with these higher stability rankings is one easy way to ensure a stable ride on your jet ski, it is not the only way and many of the following tips can be implemented even after you own the jet ski. Additionally, even jet skis ranked as highly stable may need upgrades to maintain their stability over different speeds or may become unstable if ridden incorrectly.
Adjusting to Riding with Two People
If you’re experiencing the stability issues with your jet ski primarily when riding with a passenger, then one cheap and simple tip to stabilizing your jet ski may be to change the way that you steer as well as lean while riding. It is commonly known that jet skis become more unstable or more prone to tipping with more than one rider on them due to the high center of gravity, unequal weight distribution, or improper steering for the weight distribution, especially at slower speeds.
To correct that, before riding with someone new, communicate with your passenger to agree on the way that the passenger will hold on to the jetski and to make sure the passenger pays attention to where you are driving. This will allow the passenger to adjust their weight according to the turns, be aware of when you plan to stop, or to be prepared if the jet ski does become unstable.
Most of the time while at slow or idle speeds, you will want your passenger to lean the opposite way the jet ski is tipping. This is especially important on older smaller jet skis. Sometimes if you weigh more than your passenger, have them sit still and you do all the leaning while docking or riding slow so they do not over compensate and cause you to tip the other direction.
Beyond communication, steering a jet ski with two people on board differs largely from steering a jet ski with only one passenger. It will be a bit more top heavy so a tight turn right can lean to the jet ski tipping over to the left if you don’t lean into the turn.
One tip is to start out slow and allow new passengers to adjust the jet ski, so they are more comfortable when you maneuver at higher speeds. Another steering based suggestion is to pick up speed on straight stretches and start to plane the hull since jet skis with two people can be more unstable at slower speeds. If you go too slow, the hull will become very tippy.
The final steering tip for stabilizing a jet ski with two passengers is to slow down prior to going into a turn because this not only allows your passenger to be aware that you plan to turn but also gives you more control over your turn. If you go too fast into a sharp turn, you will spin out and cause the speed to go down significantly. These spins are fun, so don’t hesitate to do them, but as you lose speed, and try to come out of the sharp turn, it may be harder to balance.
These steering tips in combination with some of the upgrades and riding tips should stabilize your jet ski when you have a passenger riding with you.
PWC Intake Grate Upgrades
If you already own a jet ski, without the intent to purchase a new jet ski, and are experiencing instability even when you have only one passenger on the jet ski, there are still ways you can go about making your ride more stable. One such way is to purchase a new intake grate. Intake grates may also be known as scoop grates and will improve your hook up ability allowing you to get faster quickly as more speed equals a less tippy ride.
Newer jet ski riders may not be familiar with intake grates as they are an often overlooked part of the jet ski. Aftermarket intake grates will still block debris from entering your jet pump, but they will also pull more water into your jet pump to allow better hook up and more acceleration increasing the efficiency of your power while riding.
Because of this, intake, or scoop, grates also help with the stability of your jet ski. We recommend installing a good intake grate to solve instability and handling problems. New intake grates range anywhere from one hundred and twenty to three hundred dollars depending on the brand and jet ski. This price point is relatively low, compared to many jet ski upgrades, thus changing the intake grates may be an easy first step to stabilizing your jet ski.
If you are planning to change your intake grates for greater stability, we suggest getting an intake grate built for improving stability and handling. Intake grates with deeper side rails and a deeper scoop will improve the stability and handling of your jet ski, but can tend to lower your overall top speed.
Some intake grates are designed to improve speed, some are designed to improve stability, and others are designed to do both. Additionally, before buying new intake grates you should ensure that they are compatible with the type of jet ski that you own. Buying and installing intake grates with deep side rails is one way to potentially stabilize your jet ski.
Here are our top Intake Grates for different Jet Skis:
Add an Aftermarket Ride Plate to your PWC
Adding an aftermarket ride plate will improve the stability of your PWC by providing an extended surface of contact with the water and also changing the way water passes by the underside of your jet ski to provide different geometry on your ski. This can also raise or lower the bow to provide faster or better handling in rough water.
Typically an aftermarket ride plate is just a few bolts to install and greatly improves your riding experience and stability on all types of water.
Jet Ski Steering System Upgrades
One, more extreme, way to stabilize your jet ski may be to change out the steering system. The reason that this tip may be considered a more extreme solution is that, it can be very difficult to install a new steering system and a steering system can be cheap or fairly expensive upgrade to your jet ski depending on your model. That being said, that improving the steering system on your jet ski will allow you to not only have smoother, more stable turns at high speeds but will also allow you to react faster and with greater precision.
Improving your steering may be as easy as changing out your handle bats to straight bars. If you have a stand up jet ski, these are our favorite 0 degree handle bars. By going from curved handles to straight, you will have a lot more stability and confidence on your jet ski.
Another steering upgrade is a quick steer system which shortens the throw of your steering to provide greater response time and handling. This model can be used for Yamaha, Kawasaki, Polaris, and Hydrospace stand up jet skis.
Upgrading your steering can provide a lot quicker response time giving you far more stability while riding your ski.
Not all tips to stabilize your jet ski require an upgrade to the jet ski itself, some changes can be made to the way that you ride on the jet ski to make it more stable. The first example of these simple riding adjustments is to change the position you sit in when riding the jet ski. Leaning or sitting too far back on your jet ski as the number one mistake that beginners make when learning to ride a jet ski. Leaning too far back can make your jet ski accelerate slower thus becoming unstable while trying to get on a plane.
To correct this mistake when riding your jet ski and make your ride go smoother and be more stable, shifting your weight around while you ride will greatly improve stability. Lean into the turns, lean forward while accelerating, and lean back while stopping. After you put time on your PWC, you will get to know what leaning strategies are best to provide a stable ride.
While this may seem counterintuitive if you’re trying to shift your weight to the front of your jet ski, it will better allow you to lean forward when you accelerate and stop you from feeling as though you are being pushed backward by the force. Thus, this will shift your weight forward and keep the front of your jet ski in the water.
Changing your Jet Ski’s Trim Setting
Another way to stabilize your jet ski may be to change the jet ski’s trim setting if your jet ski has this option. To implement this tip to stabilize your jet ski, you should first check and see if your jet ski has adjustable trim features. This is something that is fairly common in newer jet skis but may not be part of an older, used jet ski.
If your unfamiliar with what adjusting the trim means, it is adjusting the trim nozzle on the back of the PWC to allow the jet ski to handle differently on different water. Typically trimming up will bring the bow out allowing for quicker speeds and less stability and down trim lowers the bow to provide better rough water handling and more stability.
To adjust this height, the trim adjusts the way that the jet out of the back of your jet ski is angled as having the jet pointed further down lowers the front of the jet ski and having the jet pointed further up raises the nose of the jet ski.
If you are aiming to stabilize your jet ski, you should adjust the trim lower so that the front, or nose, of the jet ski is lower to the water or even keep it even. Raising the front of the jet ski will make it more difficult to steer the jet ski in addition to making it unstable, so if you are looking for a smooth, stable ride, especially if you are a beginner, you should adjust the trim to be lower or keep it in the middle and not worry about it.
Adjusting the trim is a fairly easy process on most newer jet skis and can be done simply by pressing a button on the handlebars of the jet ski. Because this is such a simple adjustment it also has the added bonus that it can be done numerous times or adjusted depending on how smooth the water you’re on is or based on your comfort level driving the jet ski.
Leaning into the Turns on your PWC
If you want a way to stabilize your jet ski without upgrading it and your primary concern is a lack of stability when turning, you may want to adjust the way you drive when turning. When purchasing a new jet ski or being taught how to ride a newer model jet ski it is often encouraged that riders lean into the turns, but newer riders may feel unstable or afraid when following this advice at higher speeds. If a newer rider feels unsafe doing this, they may avoid leaning into the turn which makes them lean against the turn, thus making their jet ski more unstable.
Foot placement on your jet ski is also important. If you are leaning into turns, you will want your leg angled to provide better leverage vs straight out in the front of the footwell where you cant use it for any balance.
Practice through turns to see what foot and leg position works best for your riding skill.
Overall, these eight tips will allow you to have a more stable ride on your jet ski whether, you’re riding with a passenger, taking high speed turns, just learning how to ride, or traveling across choppy waters. While many of these tips are helpful adjustments to make riding safer, it is not necessary for you to implement all of the tips when stabilizing your jet ski.
For example, if you’re not able to invest in a new steering system or a new intake grates, you still may be able to stabilize your jet ski by adjusting your footing or adjusting the jet ski’s trim. Similarly, not all of these tips may apply to your specific jet ski or situation, especially if you are an experienced rider, only planning to ride with one person on the jet ski, or have an older jet ski, but at least one of these tips should be able to be used to stabilize your jet ski and you may only need to make one adjustment.
Like with any personal watercraft it is important to prioritize your safety when riding a jet ski, so having a more stable ride is extremely important.