7 Reasons Why Riding a Jet Ski is Like Riding a Motorcycle [Video]

It’s safe to say that riding a jet ski is like riding a motorcycle. In fact, if you take a closer look at the different types of powersport vehicles, you can see that these two machines have the most in common! To justify our opinion on this, we’ve compiled the seven main similarities between jet ski and motorcycle riding:

  1. Both feature a saddle.
  2. They have similar controls.
  3. You have to lean into the turns.
  4. You are completely exposed to the elements.
  5. You can only ride them in nice weather.
  6. Riding them requires you to wear protective clothing.
  7. Both of them offer extreme top speeds and acceleration.

If you want to compare these two machines head-to-head, this post is for you.

We at PowerSportsGuide have gathered the key differences and similarities into this motorcycle vs. jet ski comparison!

Is Riding a Jet Ski Like Riding a Motorcycle?

Let’s drill into the details and see why riding a jet ski is like riding a motorcycle!

1. You Sit on a Saddle

Both jet skis and motorcycles feature a saddle, meaning that you have to sit on top of the machine rather than inside it.

Because of this seat design, you can ride a jet ski or a motorcycle like you would ride a horse.

In fact, this is where the term “riding” coming from! You actually ride these machines instead of driving them.

On the other hand, many riders say that riding a stand-up jet ski is like riding a dirt bike!

2. Similar Controls

Another similarity is that the controls of jet skis and motorcycles are very much alike.

In fact, both of these machines are operated with handlebars, which typically feature two grips, levers, a dashboard, and some buttons with different functions.

As a rule of thumb, you must always control the throttle with your right hand. But while motorcycles feature a twist throttle, jet skis have a throttle lever instead.

The main difference between their controls is that jet skis lack a transmission. Therefore, they work basically the same way as automatic motorcycles.

In contrast, the majority of new motorcycles still feature manual transmissions, meaning that you have to shift gears by using a shift lever and the clutch.

3. You Have to Lean into the Turns

One of the main reasons why riding a jet ski is like riding a motorcycle is that on both you have to lean into the turns.

It’s a great and exciting feeling, especially at higher speeds!

Unlike these machines, other powersport vehicles like ATVs, UTVs, and regular trikes you can’t lean.

This is why reverse trikes are gaining in popularity. In fact, they offer the same riding experience as a motorcycle but provide greater stability!

While a motorcycle can be steered and balanced by counter-steering, a jet ski actually rolls in the water onto its side in the turns.

The sharper you turn with a jet ski, the more aggressively you have to lean with the machine.

Just like on a motorcycle!

4. You are Exposed to the Elements

Whether you ride a jet ski or a motorcycle, you are exposed to the elements. However, not each motorcycle is the same! Although there are many different motorcycle designs, it’s safe to say that riding a jet ski is like riding a naked bike or a dirt bike.

Naked motorcycles lack any protection so you directly feel the wind, heat, cold, and of course the rain. Just like on a jet ski!

Certain motorcycles are equipped with fairings or even a bigger windshield, which can offer you some protection.

These bikes are typically the sport, touring and ADV bikes.

5. You Can Only Ride Them in Nice Weather

While ATVs, UTVs, and dirt bikes can virtually be used all year round, riding a jet ski or a street motorcycle is much more seasonal.

This is because they are fast, and the last thing you want on a chilly winter day is to ride in the cold wind!

Sure, there are southern states where some riders use their motorcycles or even jet skis in the winter months as well.

But let’s face it, this is not common!

Instead, the majority of jet skis and motorcycles are winterized after each season and stored until the following spring.

6. Riding Them Requires Protective Gear

Another similarity between jet skis and motorcycles is that on both you are required to wear some protective gear.

On jet skis, the minimum safety equipment is a USCG-approved life jacket. But beyond this, it’s highly recommended that you wear a wetsuit, jet ski shoes, and a pair of gloves.

What’s more, riding a jet ski without eye protection is also not a good idea, that’s why riders typically wear a pair of goggles or sunglasses.

When it comes to riding a motorcycle, most states require you to wear a proper helmet.

But beyond a helmet, best practice is to invest in complete riding gear. This typically includes a jacket, pants, boots, gloves, and underwear.

As you can see, if you take riding seriously you have to gear up, whether you have a jet ski or a motorcycle!

7. They Offer Extreme Speeds and Acceleration

Another reason why jet skis offer a similar riding experience as motorcycles is that both of these machines offer extreme top speeds and accelerations.

The most powerful motorcycles can hit 60 mph in less than 3 seconds, and jet skis are not lagging much behind.

When it comes to top speeds, jet skis typically offer 40-67 mph while most motorcycles can go as fast as 100-300 mph depending on the make and model.

Although jet skis seem significantly slower, keep in mind that you feel speed differently on the water.

You aren’t wearing a helmet and full clothing, so you are much more exposed to the wind and splashing water. What’s more, you sit pretty close to the water, which also enhances the thrill!

Which is More Dangerous a Jet Ski or a Motorcycle?

There’s no question that motorcycles are much more dangerous than jet skis. This is because motorcycles share the road with other vehicles, so there’s always a high risk of being hit by one of them! Besides, in an accident you will likely hit the asphalt, or in a worst-case scenario bump into obstacles near the road. In contrast, jet skis are much safer as there’s much less traffic on the water, and you have much more space to maneuver.

On top of that, even if you fall off your jet ski, you simply fall into the water.

As you might assume, it’s much softer than the surface of a road!


In many aspects riding a jet ski is like riding a motorcycle.

Both of these machines feature saddles, handlebars, similar controls, and extremely powerful engines.

They also offer a very similar riding experience as on both, you have to lean into the turns.

To stay safe and legal, you also have to wear some safety gear.

And as a final word, don’t forget that jet skis are far safer than motorcycles, as the latter shares the road with other vehicles and are more dangerous in many other ways as well!

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