Sea-Doo v Motorcycle: 2014 Spark Ignites Ideas
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
If this doesn't look like fun, then check your pulse. Sea-Doo makes fun on the water a little more approachable for a broader scope of people thanks to its $4999 2014 Spark.
Riding the 2014 Sea-Doo Spark
around a central Florida lake outside of Windermere the other day brought to light some of the parallels the motorcycle and personal watercraft industries have. For a spell both went through a period of excess where the mindset was bigger and better, everyone seeing who could make the biggest, baddest machine with the highest-horsepower. Then the market crashed. Sales plummeted. And like that, the golden age of excess faded fast as everyone started to trim the fat.
This was followed by the rise of smaller, more economical motorcycles, entry-level mounts and daily commuters, bikes like the Ninja 300 or CBR500R. Big fun in small packages. Can-Am CEO Jose Boisjoli recognized this trend could translate to the watercraft world as well. Turn the clock back to the ‘90s, trim it down, then make it affordable for the masses. Boisjoli wanted a new watercraft you could practically get two for the price of one. The Sea-Doo Spark is the result.
As a Sea-Doo rep is talking about IBR, new composite exoskeleton, new Rotax 900 Inline Three engine, HO and standard, I’m looking at the lake and thinking let’s ride. As he brought us up to speed on BRP’s new 900cc watercraft, I learned that I fall into one of its demographics. I rode stand-up Jet Skis when they first became popular. Yes, I’m that old. But I hadn’t been back on one since. Almost 30 years later, I have a wife, two kids, and a mortgage. I do love to ride anything with a throttle though, from motorcycles to ATV’s to snowmobiles. Would have loved to ride a personal watercraft again but before it was way down on the list of priorities and most were out of the range of this working-class man. But the $4999 2014 Spark changes things.
At that price, I’m interested. The PR pitch sheds light on more of its selling points. It’s lightweight so it can be towed by almost any vehicle with a hitch, it’s compact so the Spark won’t take up too much space in the garage, and it’s small enough to enjoy on local lakes. Sounds like big fun the whole family could enjoy. At least that’s what I’ll leverage with the wife when trying to convince her we need one.
I had never ridden a sit-on watercraft before. But I didn’t tell them that. I just listened to company reps as they ran down its controls to me. Accelerator on the right, brake left, start button. Attach the emergency kill switch cord here. Check, check, check. Let’s ride.
Watching me timidly wobble out toward the first buoy, my cover must have been blown. How do you turn again? Ah, to hell with it, hit the throttle and let’s go. And that was the learning curve. Took me all of about five minutes to figure out the balance and before long I’m strafing buoys, hoppin’ chop, and leaving wake all over the lake.
The more I rode it, the more what I’ve learned on land came in to play. Inside turns, weight the inside of the Spark like you would an ATV. Stand up and use your legs to absorb the chop like you would on a dirt bike. Crack the throttle and feel its bow lift up like lofting the front wheel of a motorcycle. There are a lot of similarities between the two.
The 2014 Sea-Doo Spark is an impressive little machine. It can cut a sharp turn, its Sport mode provides aggressive launches, 50 mph on a small lake feels plenty fast and from what they say, it pretty much sips gas in comparison to others. Biggest part, though, it was a blast. The more I rode it, the funner I had, the clock rolling back to simpler days. Before the end of the day I’m backing it into turns and throttling out. Wish I could ride flat track like that. Big fun in a small package. Now if only I can convince the wife…
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