Do Jet Skis Have Brakes?


When you propel yourself forward in a vehicle–be that a car, a bicycle, or even a jet ski–the reasonable assumption is that you can brake as well. Then you take a ride on a jet ski, and you can’t find the brakes. Are you looking in the wrong place or are they not there? Do all jet skis have brakes?

Not all jet skis have brakes, but PWCs from Yamaha and Sea-Doo include braking systems. For jet skis without brakes, you can still stop, but you have to either go into reverse or relax the throttle thrust.

We’re sure you have many more questions about braking on a jet ski, and we’re here to answer them all. Ahead, we’ll discuss why some jet ski models have brakes and others don’t, and how to stop. We’ll also share our favorite jet skis with brakes. You won’t want to miss it!  

So, Do Jet Skis Have Brakes?

If you recall from this post on the blog, the average speed of a jet ski is between 40 and 70 miles per hour. You couldn’t imagine hurtling yourself through the water at such high speeds only to not be able to stop using a traditional brake.

Yet for many jet skis, that’s precisely the reality you’d face when you grip the handlebars, activate the throttle, and begin riding. 

That sounds scary, right? Actually, it sounds horrifying. Relax, as it’s not as bad as you think.

It’s not that you can’t stop on a jet ski, just that not all models use brakes to slow you down. The first jet ski to innovate in that direction came from Sea-Doo in 2009. 

The GTX Limited that year included Sea-Doo’s iBR, which is short for Intelligent Brake and Reverse. Today, iBR is a common feature across Sea-Doo jet skis. 

According to Sea-Doo’s website, the iBR is a second-generation braking system that doesn’t require you to take a hand off the handlebar to stop your watercraft.

iBR can stop your jet ski about 48 meters or 160 feet faster than if you don’t have traditional brakes. If you’re trying to avoid a collision with another jet skier or even prevent yourself from hitting a dock, that stopping distance can make all the difference.

The iBR system isn’t only about stopping, of course. You can also switch between reverse, forward, and neutral gears while maintaining your handlebar grip. Sea-Doo promises that the iBR system makes jet skiers more efficient when “maneuvering around docks and other boats.”

Once Sea-Doo introduced the innovation that was iBR brakes, it was only a matter of time before the competition followed. 

Around 2016, Yamaha answered Sea-Doo’s call with its own jet ski braking/reversing system known as Reverse with Intuitive Driver Electronics or RiDE. The acronym certainly rolls off the tongue more smoothly than iBR.

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RiDE takes many pages out of Sea-Doo’s iBR handbook. The controls for reversing with RiDE are on the handlebars of a Yamaha jet ski, much as is the case with Sea-Doo (just with a Sea-Doo jet ski). Yet the two braking and reversing systems are not the same, far from it. 

For instance, Sea-Doo’s iBR lever takes your jet ski to neutral or reverse from forward. There’s a bit of lag as you go from one setting to another. Yamaha refined that with the RiDE system, as it doesn’t slow as you go from neutral to reverse and back again.  

The reason for this comes down to design. The RiDE system, when the lever is depressed, will override the jet ski’s throttle, powering the reverse function. If you press on the two levers at the same time, then you activate neutral mode.

The rate at which deceleration occurs when you pull on the lever of either braking system is also quite interesting. The RiDE system sends water out of dual exits, both of which have forward-facing angles. The water travels out of the reverse bucket sides. This doesn’t cause the bow to drop, which keeps you level and secure.

Sea-Doo’s iBR system sends the water upward until you get to about 10 MPH. Then iBR then uses reverse thrust to help you stop further. You’re less level with this braking system. 

How Do You Stop on a Jet Ski Without Brakes?

If yours isn’t a Sea-Doo or a Yamaha jet ski, then you can assume it doesn’t have brakes. While we’re sure that other manufacturers might eventually innovate jet ski braking further than even the Yamaha RiDE system, that has yet to happen as of this writing.

As we said earlier, if your PWC has no brakes, it doesn’t mean you can’t stop. You just can’t rely on a dedicated braking lever to slow down your jet ski. 

Okay, so how do you brake then? We’re glad you asked! 

Before we can explain how a jet ski without brakes comes to a stop, you need to understand how PWCs work. Boats tend to use an external propeller for power. Due to the low positioning of the prop though, it’s not a viable option for jet skis.

Thus, the internal impeller became common. If you ever get to see your jet ski’s impeller, it resembles a corkscrew. When you rev up the motor of your jet ski, the impeller brings water in large quantities to the propulsion channel. The water will then exit through a jet nozzle. The conical shape of the nozzle controls water release. 

Since impellers lack reverse or neutral transmission, mechanical failure risks are minimized. What else is nice about the impeller is that everything is tucked neatly within the jet ski. The impeller can’t snap off, even if you ride in especially shallow waters.

With no transmission system, brakeless jet skis will feature a bucket or another type of physical barrier. The barrier also allows for reversing and neutral or idling. When water reaches the bucket, the water is then sent towards the front of your jet ski. Sometimes the angle of the water flow is downward.

The bucket can help you come to a stop, but you know what else helps? Letting go of the throttle. Yes, seriously! Once you disengage the throttle, the jet ski is no longer getting power. It’s only a matter of time before it will roll to a stop.

Using a bucket as a physical barrier can help you stop faster, but even that feature isn’t completely necessary for stopping. 

If you’re nervous about driving a jet ski without brakes, here’s what we recommend. Start in a small, local body of water that you’re comfortable with (and one that’s legal for jet ski riding). Get on your jet ski and blitz around.

Then, when you’re ready, release the throttle. You’ll see that stopping isn’t such a big deal even if your jet ski doesn’t have a traditional braking system. 

10 Jet Skis with Brakes

Since introducing their respective iBR and RiDE braking and reversing systems, both Sea-Doo and Yamaha don’t build jet skis without brakes anymore. Here are five jet skis per brand, with 10 overall, for you to peruse. All models are from 2022 unless otherwise indicated. 

Sea-Doo GTX

The Sea-Doo that started it all, the GTX, has not shed its iBR braking system even once since that system’s debut in 2009. 

The GTX’s hull is now built wider for stability. Cargo space in the front of the jet ski makes accessing all your essentials easy and convenient. You can select from several Rotax engines, each of which boasts tremendous power up to 300 HP.

Modular Ergolock seating features a stepped design so your position when riding feels completely natural. An attached swim platform is the perfect place to dive into the sea from. Also included is a BRP premium audio system with Bluetooth that’s completely waterproof.

The GTX starts at $13,399.

Sea-Doo GTX Limited

One step up from the GTX series is Sea-Doo’s GTX Limited. Called the “gold standard,” the GTX Limited comes equipped with a Rotax 1630 ACE engine capable of reaching 300 HP. iBR braking and reversing are standard.

The ST3 platform and swim platform make the GTX Limited a very efficient jet ski. Features such as a built-in stereo system and front storage make a return. Included as well is a colorful display gauge in high-res quality that uses Bluetooth.

On the display dashboard, you can instantly review data such as the weather and maps. You can also use Sea-Doo apps.

The GTX Limited costs $18,299. 

Sea-Doo GTI SE

A jet ski built for the whole family, the GTI SE includes a touring seat and a boarding ladder so the adults and kids alike can have a blast on the water. The inclusion of a platform lowers the GTI’s center of gravity so you’ll always feel secure on this Sea-Doo PWC.

Select from two versions of the 1630 ACE engine with power up to 170 HP. Come to a stop when needed thanks to the iBR system. You’ll also like the watertight phone compartment that includes its own USB port for charging cameras, tablets, or smartphones. 

The lightweight Polytec Gen II hull is practically scratch-proof. You’ll have more towing options than ever with the GTI SE. The jet ski also has a Variable Trim System or VTS and a premium audio system from BRP.

The GTI SE starts at $11,099, making family fun more affordable! 

Sea-Doo Wake Pro

The premier jet ski for watersports enthusiasts, the Wake Pro has everything you need to spend more time on the sea. The Ski Mode includes speed and acceleration preprogrammed profiles for launching. 

The Rotax 1630 ACE engine, which reaches 230 HP, will make all sorts of aquatic activities feel speedy, adventurous, and exciting. Front storage and a phone compartment give everyone room to stow their stuff.

The Bluetooth color display lets you track gauges and metrics related to your jet ski in real-time. The Wake Pro also includes iBR, of course, as well as a convenient boarding ladder.

The Wake Pro costs $16,499. 

Sea-Doo Spark Trixx

Inexpensive yet efficient, the Spark Trixx is such a beloved Sea-Doo jet ski in part because the iBR helps it stop when needed. Its hardy Rotax 900 ACE engine delivers 90 HP for speedy travel over the waves. 

In Sport Mode, you’ll enjoy higher responsivity. The Polytec hull makes the Spark Trixx towable. Its VTS has an extended range for allowing you to customize the positioning of the jet ski’s nose so you can pull off a wider variety of tricks. 

Within the handlebar are all the custom steering commands you could ever want. Step wedges allow you to stand up on your jet ski comfortably so you can show off in front of all your friends. Bluetooth-friendly audio will get you pumped up to ride.

The Spark Trixx starts at $7,899. 

Yamaha WaveRunner GP1800R HO

Moving on to Yamaha now, the GP1800R HO is a three-seater jet ski with 18.5 gallons of fuel capacity and a dry weight of 717 pounds. This 14-foot jet ski includes the manufacturer’s RiDE system. The 1.8 HO Yamaha marine engine promises winning performance.

The deck and hull of the GP1800R HO are race-worthy, and the handlebars include Yamaha’s adaptive steering system. The jet pump and intake grate resist turbulence so your rides are smooth.

Auto Trim allows you to engage Cornering Control to move the bow down as you slow the jet ski, which further enhances the feeling of racing. An integrated GP audio system with waterproof marine speakers will let you blast your favorite tunes. 

The GP1800R HO starts at $13,149.

Yamaha WaveRunner EX Limited

The bright blue EX Limited is a huge Yamaha jet ski measuring 123.6 inches long with room for up to three. This family-friendly PWC has plenty of awesome features, from the RiDE braking and reverse system to a tow hook, dual side mirrors, and pull-up cleats. 

The Yamaha TR-1 three-cylinder engine improves fuel economy while keeping speed and performance top priorities. The EX Limited costs $9,899. 

Yamaha JetBlaster

Colorful, vivid, and bright, the JetBlaster is a mid-priced Yamaha jet ski with a fuel capacity of 13.2 gallons and a dry weight of 549 pounds. The sporty side decals and Day-Glo colors make the JetBlaster a head-turner.

The jet ski features raised handlebars to improve your leverage on the water. The electric trim is custom-tuned so you can do an assortment of tricks, including spins and popping out of the water. You can also adjust the throttle to seamlessly shift between reverse and neutral.

All this is powered by the JetBlaster’s TR-1 HO engine. The JetBlaster starts at $9,999. 

Yamaha WaveRunner VX

A classic WaveRunner, the VX is a mid-sized marvel. Its deck and hull are new and improved with a more comfortable seat and self-draining footwells. Integrated bow and glovebox storage gives you room to keep a duffel bag of your essentials as well as a few towels for drying off after a fun ride. 

The reboarding step allows for easy access onto the jet ski after a dip. The real star of this jet ski is the RiDE throttle control system, which lets you reverse and decelerate with more ease than ever before. The TR-1 HO engine in the VX is a powerhouse as well.

The VX costs $10,449. 

Yamaha FX SVHO 

The last Yamaha jet ski with the RiDE braking system that we want to talk about today is the FX SVHO. The jet ski measures 140.9 inches long with a fuel capacity of 18.5 gallons. It’s designed for up to three riders and weighs 858 pounds dry.

The integrated speakers included with the FX SVHO will make jet skiing more fun than ever when you can listen to music along the way. The two-channel amplifier keeps the volume loud!

A Connext infotainment system with a seven-inch glass touchscreen display lets you access Drive Control and map GPS coordinates. The glovebox is watertight and the handlebars have integrated hook loops. Oh, and don’t forget the 1.8-liter Super Vortex Output Marine engine!

The FX SHVO starts at $16,799. 

Final Thoughts

Jet skis usually don’t have brakes unless Yamaha or Sea-Doo manufactures them. The respective RiDE and iBR braking and reversing systems allow you to stop faster than you could when foregoing brakes. However, even if a jet ski doesn’t have brakes, it can still stop!

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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