I had the opportunity to test out the all-new Pro Watercraft rear sponsons for the Kawasaki 1500 SX-R. Here’s my initial thoughts!
I love riding jetskis. I’ve been racing for a while now, and won a lot of stuff. But one of my favorite things is the puzzle of building the perfect ski. It’s not just about having a fast, well-tuned engine — handling is a huge part of it.
Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time testing different products trying to find the best possible handling set up for myself. A good handling set up will make your ride effortless, and make it easier for you to push the limits. No single set up or “spec” is perfect for everyone — you just have to get out there and try things.
These rear sponsons are made by Pro Watercraft. I have tested and used a lot of their products for several years. Their lead designer, Chris Hagest, worked with ski development for Kawasaki, Hydrospace and more. He really knows his stuff when it comes to how a Jet Ski moves in the water, and how handling components affect that movement.
The sponsons are similar in size to the OEM ones that come on the 1500 SXR. They are made out of Pro Watercraft’s hybrid flex composite (HFC). It’s a flexible and durable composite. It makes the product pretty light and affordable to buy. Pro Watercraft also has a lifetime warranty on all their HFC products.
I got the chance to chat with Chris Hagest a little about the design. This sponson was meant to take the simple size and bolt-up of the OEM sponson and make it elevated to a higher riding level. Pro Watercraft also has another rear sponson set that is bigger. I asked Hagest about the difference.
“The double-rear sponson is meant for a lot of your hard carver riders. People who are shredding the rivers and lakes. It’s not necessarily more aggressive than the new sponson, the new sponson is really intended for all around riding. It’s also a little more affordable because of the size.”
The original double sponson is a combination of a rear and a mid sponson, with the concept of being easy to carve in your flat water conditions. The new rear sponson was designed and intended to be more affordable for the consumer, while still being strong in all conditions.
I personally do not have much experience with the SXR 1500, I have tried several while out at the beach, and had yet to find one that I thought handled great. Most of them were running the metal blade style rear sponsons, and stock ride plates. They were a little tippy, somewhat unstable in a straight line and had a tendency to snag the left side and roll a little when I didn’t want it to.
I just purchased and SXR 1500 in stock form. The first ride was uncomfortable and tippy. After years of riding well setup SXR 800s, this ride wasn’t as I imagined. For being such a BIG ski, I expected it to be a lot more stable than it actually was. Because of the high center of gravity, it felt like it wanted to chine walk and tip very easily in a straight line, and corners were slow and uncomfortable. It felt like the ski was driving along without me! I didn’t have the control I wanted. I rode it about 3 more times in stock form: stock handle pole, stock rear sponsons, stock ride plate, no motor modifications.
The installation was easy. The Pro Watercraft SXR 1500 rear sponsons used the original hardware. So I all I had to do was make the switch.
Immediately, the first thing I noticed was more stability. In my experience, rear sponsons usually don’t have a ton of influence over the overall stability, they typically are centered more around the grip of the rear. I was really surprised by how much these sponsons affected the overall stability, both side to side and in the drive. Prior to installing, the ski also hopped a lot, and some of that was alleviated. The buoy to buoy stability was much better, and made it easier for me to have the confidence to push that big ski a little faster. The overall grip and smoothness in turns improved as well. Before, my turns were jagged and uncomfortable, trying to accelerate and also lean the ski through the turn. After installing the Pro Watercraft rear sponsons on the SXR 1500, I was able to make smoother turns and also make better sweeping turns, which I couldn’t do at all before.
I tested it in smooth water at the buoys at Body Beach, and also went out in some chop. Overall, I thought the sponsons performed well in both conditions. Had good rear grip, and lots of stability.
While still running the stock intake grate and rideplate, I was really happy with how much of a difference these rear sponsons made. Like I mentioned, most of the time the rear sponson doesn’t have as much influence on its own, but when partnered with a rideplate, front sponsons, etc., can be a great help.
These sponsons rocked on their own.
THE BREAK DOWN
WHERE TO GET IT: Pro Watercraft
DO I RECOMMEND: YES