Article by: Craig Nicholson, The Intrepid Cottager
Sea-Doo introduced the first Spark in 2014. It helped create a whole new personal watercraft category called Rec Lite. Fast forward to 2017. Sea-Doo Spark is one of BRP’s most successful new product launches, a proven game-changer for the PWC industry, and a whole new experience for riding fun on the water in Ontario. Spark is also continuing to boost overall PWC interest and sales and to attract plenty of first-time riders. So what’s all the fuss about? I took a Spark for a test run on the Kawartha Lakes in Ontario's Kawarthas Northumberland region and here’s my take…
Spark is billed as being youthful, playful and colourful—and it’s certainly all of that. Riding Spark in the Kawarthas took me back to the PWC glory years of the early ‘90’s when watercraft were much easier (and smaller) to throw around on the water. But to achieve this newfound playfulness, Sea-Doo engineers went far, far ahead, not back.
I found Spark to be not only also way lighter on the water than my own, full size touring Sea-Doo GTX S 155, but also much easier on the wallet. With a price point far below most other watercraft, Spark is ridiculously affordable, with a new one starting at just over $6,000 CDN. This is an unbeatable price point for marine powersports. It opens Spark ownership up to a much larger and younger audience than any recent PWC. But with a price so low, I had to wonder what did they leave out?
Not much as it turns out and certainly nothing that first-time riders will notice. That’s because Spark isn’t some stripped down version of existing models; it’s a totally re-invented watercraft, a true paradigm shift.
So in many ways, comparing the entry level Spark to pre-existing models is like comparing apples and oranges. My GTX S 155 is a more traditional PWC that’s perfect for all day Sea-Doo touring I do but is less adept for just playing around. It delivers optimum comfort and stability in a broad range of various riding conditions, but at the cost of increased price, weight and fuel consumption. Spark excels at playing, is good for casual riding, and combines the two at a fraction of the cost. But Spark takes a unique approach to get there…
Spark has a state of the art, purpose designed, Exoskel and an advanced, deep-V hull made from recyclable Polytec, for lightweight strength. It’s powered by a next generation 4-stroke, the Rotax™ 900 ACE engine, capable of decent power and delivering up to a very respectable 35% fuel savings over more traditional models. This feather-light package weighs up to 50% less than traditional models. That makes Spark a good choice for the cottage, as a tender on a cruiser boat, and for towing, even behind a compact car—another money saver at the pumps.
I was also pleased to discover that Spark doesn’t cut corners when it comes to many of the Sea-Doo exclusives I love on my GTX and other premium models. This means that Spark owners also benefit from Intelligent Throttle Control (ITC), D-Sea-Bel sound suppression system, Closed Loop Cooling, Multifunction Digital Info Center, and Off-Throttle Assisted Steering (O.T.A.S.). Intelligent Brake & Reverse (IBR) is an available Spark option, and knowing the importance of being able to stop on the water from personal experience, I highly recommend getting it.
Spark sizzles with multiple colour choices and various wrap designs that make customizing options almost endless. So not only can you personalize your Spark to taste, you can simultaneously make sure you’re highly visible to other boaters on the water.
So, what kind of ride did I get on the Kawartha Lakes? Riding Spark is an out and out blast. It captures the essence of splashy fun on the water, where body English, angle and attitude enabled me to put the very nimble Spark through whatever exciting paces I attempted (and a few that I didn’t). Sea-Doo has achieved this remarkable manoeuvrability without sacrificing stability or ride confidence. These latter two characteristics are important for those who just want to toot around their lake; but remember that if you intend to do much riding double, be sure to get a two or three-seater Spark for the optimal ride.
Sea-Doo upped the Spark ante again for 2017 with the debut of young and super agile Spark Trixx. It takes the Spark experience to the next level—as the ultimate watercraft for those who really want to perform water tricks like a pro—and go places too.
Judging by how many happy looking Spark riders I spotted on my Kawartha Lakes test ride, there’s no doubt that many others would agree with my praise. So, if you’re looking for the most affordable motorized fun on Ontario’s waterways, think Sea-Doo Spark.