August 2

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Do jet skis have brakes ?

By Steve

August 2, 2022


Slowing down a jet ski has become easier but it is important that you understand how their braking systems work. This is because unlike cars or boats, jet skis have an entirely different type of braking system. Many people ask, do jet skis have brakes ?

Jet skis don’t have brakes. In terms of movement, jet skis are very similar to motorcycles since they have throttles similar to those of motorcycles. Once you apply pressure to these throttles, the jet ski will accelerate. In order to slow down, jet skis have a feature that pulls the jet ski in reverse leading to a backward movement. 

Most model watercrafts are very unpredictable when it comes to how they stop. It is therefore recommended that users have a basic understanding of the watercraft’s braking system to prevent being caught off-guard. From older jet ski models to newer ones, here is everything you need to know about how a jet skis’ braking system works. 

How Jet Skis Work ?

Jet skis have what is referred to as the water jet propulsion system that allows propulsion through the water. The system works by pulling in water through a pump as you rev faster. The same water is pushed out by an impeller whose rotation is made possible by the power from the motor. 

The engine of your jet ski and the impeller work simultaneously by drawing in water and expelling it in a forceful stream. The forceful stream behind the watercraft is what propels your jet ski forward especially because of the rearward force. This is the reason why every time you see a jet ski cruising through the water, there is always a powerful jet of water behind. 

How Jet Skis Stop ?

When it comes to stopping the jet ski, there are several ways that both traditional and more advanced jet skis use. For previous jet ski models, all you had to do was release the throttle and allow the jet ski to come to a halt as a result of friction from the water. 

Newer models however have come up with a feature that increases the drag between the jet ski and the water such that it comes to a halt over a shorter distance. When jet skiing, you need to understand the kind of braking system that your jet ski has. Since there are two main braking systems used in jet skis, these will require some time to master. 

What is the Connection Between Brakes and Steering Ability ?

Failure to understand what kind of braking system your ski is using has been cited as one of the top causes of jet ski accidents. For example, you are out riding your jet ski and out of the blue, there is an obstacle ahead; what do you do ?  

Most new riders will be tempted to try a braking manoeuvre but at the same time steer away from the obstacle. It is almost impossible to stop and steer your jet ski simultaneously. You need to understand that most jet skis with braking features lose their steering ability when trying to stop. 

The end result is that your jet ski will experience unexpected behaviour and unintended results. If you suddenly come across an obstacle when riding your jet ski, try to steer away from it before trying a braking manoeuvre or lifting off the throttle. 

Do Jet Skis Have Brakes ?

So do jet skis have brakes? Whether or not jet skis have brakes depends on the type of jet ski. Before buying or renting a jet ski, it is recommended that you have an idea of the braking system in use. Having prior knowledge on the braking system ensures that there is no room for surprises when steering your jet ski. 

Essentially, a jet ski moves in the same way that a motorcycle does. This means that when you move the handlebars to the right or left, the jet ski also steers towards that direction. The major difference between jet skis and motorbikes in terms of movement is that the latter functions by turning the front wheel. 

However, jet skis do not have a wheel to turn. Instead, a change in direction of a jet ski is caused by a shift in the angle of the jet stream behind the watercraft. As earlier mentioned, a jet ski is propelled by impellers whose function is to expel water via a high-powered jet stream.

How the Brakes of a Jet Ski Work ?

It is this jet-stream that can be used to change the direction of your jet ski. How easily you are able to navigate the jet ski depends on the speed you are moving at. Most jet skis can attain speeds of up to 70MPH.

If your jet ski is able to reach or get close to this speed, then it becomes easier to navigate it. This is because the impeller expels a more-powerful jet of water hence your jet ski is able to react promptly to any changes in direction. 

Consequently, moving at a lower speed will lead to your jet ski reacting slowly to any changes in direction which would then mean that you will have a difficult time steering your watercraft. While moving faster makes steering your jet ski easier, you also need to know how to break your jet ski at high speeds. This is because these crafts have a different kind of braking system from that of cars or even powerboats. 

Types of Jet Ski Braking System

It was not until 2009 that the first ever jet ski with a dedicated braking system was introduced by SeaDoo. Before that, most jet skis had no brakes and even today, most of them still lack a braking system. What most jet skis have as an alternative to brakes is a feature that allows your motor-craft to decelerate to a halt when on water. 

Typically, this is done by reversing your jet ski. While in reverse mode, the Jetstream of your craft will change direction. Assuming that your jet ski is not moving, then reversing it will see it move in reverse direction. If you are riding your jet ski out on water, reversing it will slow the motor-craft to a halt. 

How to Use the Jetstream to Slow Your Jet Ski

This is the system used by most jet skis today. Redirecting the flow of the Jetstream is often used to slow down the jet ski over a short distance. This is the reason why you will always find most jet skis have the braking and reversing features under the same lever. A great rule of thumb is to always understand the time and distance that is required to bring your jet ski to a safe halt. 

Since the brake/reverse lever serves double duty, caution is required when bringing your craft to a stop. Once you have decelerated, release the lever, as continuing to hold it will cause your jet ski to move in reverse direction. 

SeaDoo’s iBR and Yamaha’s RiDE Braking Systems

SeaDoo introduced their new line of jet skis that featured a dedicated braking system known as the IBR system in 2009. With this technology, SeaDoo’s motor-crafts have the ability to stop approximately 160 feet faster than jet skis without a dedicated barking system. 

Yamaha on the other hand introduced their line of watercraft featuring a RIDE braking system. This technology enables you to decelerate safely compared to how you would do with a traditional water-craft.

Final Thoughts

For a long time now, jet skis did not have brakes. For this reason, most jet ski riders have had to use the reverse mechanism to stop their jet skis. When using this braking mechanism however, you will need some little bit of a distance before you can safely bring your motor-craft to a stop. 

Recent jet ski models however come with a dedicated braking system as seen from both SeaDoo and Yamaha’s braking systems. Their systems have revolutionized how jet skis can stop especially if you have to do it safely and under the shortest distance.

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