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    Speed Junkie UnleashedBeast's Avatar
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    Real world comparison - 2015 Yamaha FZS vs. 2015 Kawasaki Ultra 310X SE

    If my signature hasn't already given it away, I own both of these skis. They are brand new, both with less than 10 hours of use to date (Yamaha less than 4 hours). Also note that both skis are 100% STOCK. No mods have been installed to date. There is a constant buzz in all PWC forums about this comparison, so I'd thought it would be a good thing to hear it from someone who actually owns and rides both models. This is not a thread to begin arguments or bashing, only real world fact comparisons. I will break it up into categories, then share my experience and thoughts of both skis. That being said, let's begin.....

    Security (Key vs. Remote)

    • Kawasaki uses a key to secure the craft from unauthorized riders. Yamaha uses a wireless remote control, which I think is damn cool on a watercraft. Just don't drop that thing in the water, as it's not waterproof, only water resistant. In this comparison, I prefer the remote. Kawasaki made the Ultra turn off when the engine isn't running for so many minutes. In order for the craft to start again, you have to remove and reinsert the key. What a hastle. This isn't the case with Yamaha. At the beginning of your day, unlock the craft with the remote and party on. They even included a nice place to keep the remote safe in the center console while you ride. UPDATE: Learned all you have to do is push in the Kawi key to recycle the system. It works perfectly. No need to remove and reinsert the key.

    Steering

    • Yamaha's method to "periscope" the handle bars made me LOVE stand up riding. I'm 6'4" and had no problems with comfort while standing up. Kawasaki used a method to shift the bars more towards the gauges for stand up riding. While they do not come up as far, and are not nearly as high....they do angle the controls more upward. The 310X SE's factory handle bars are also a bit "loose" from the factory. They will "jiggle" back and forth stock, requiring the owner to tighten them up. From what I have read, this is something the dealer will not do for you, and they all come that way. Yamaha wins this round, as the bars are tight from the factory and I've never had a better stand up riding experience. I'm confident the 310R doesn't share the same problem as the 310X, 310X SE, and 310X LX.

    Trim Control

    • Yamaha's approach to trim control on their race inspired beast utilizes old school manual cables, while Kawasaki uses a complete electronic method. It's easier to adjust trim on the Kawi, while the Yami requires some wrist action, also requiring you to release the throttle to make an change easy. When you are in the chop, standing up while riding, it's not easy to change trim on the Yami without some practice. While I love the Yami's race inspiration, I feel electric trim control in 2015 is a must. Kawasaki wins this round.

    Instrument Cluster

    • The digital cluster on the Kawasaki reflects what a buyer would expect to see in 2015. It's loaded with information and features, even some you would not have expected (i.e. fuel consumption by hour or mile). It even has a clock, just to be sure you don't miss that appointment you agreed too which interrupts water play time. The Yamaha, while effective, is still stuck in the past. The digital display is lacking most of the features found on the Kawasaki, even some I really like to have. Sure, the analog sweeping gauges reminisce to my muscle car upbringing, but I feel like the LCD center gauge could have more "flash". I choose Kawasaki here also.

    Reverse Control

    • Many have complained Yamaha should have installed their reverse control on the left side like Kawasaki. While I do not find it a problem to multitask between throttle and reverse while riding the Yamaha, it has a little more "thrust" in reverse and it's far more responsive turning left and right than the Kawasaki. The more I use reverse on the Yami, the more I like it better. Yamaha wins here.

    Ride & Handling

    • No easy way to say this Kawasaki lovers, but the 310X is a tank in the water. Sure, it's quick in choppy water and can stay planted, but it doesn't turn nor handle nearly as well as the Yamaha. It's not nearly as nimble in sharp turns or aggressive maneuvers. Guess this is the reason why FZ owners label the 310X as a "one trick pony". Now guys, let's not sling mud here. Both of these skis are stock. I'm sure others have found ways to make their 300X or 310X handle much better in the water. One other thing about the 310X that I do not understand. It "tracks" or is easily pushed around by parallel wake when riding. The Yamaha doesn't fall victim to this hardly at all, not like the Kawi does. If you are not under good power when trying to get out of parallel wake, the Kawi will get pushed in the direction of the wake. The wife didn't care for it, making her not have confidence in the craft. This explains why she felt more confident to ride the Yamaha, even in the chop.
    • UPDATE: The R&D ride plate and R&D intake grate solved the parallel wake problem, making the ski much more predicatable. While it still doesn't bite as hard in the corners as the Yamaha, it's because the 310X's sponsons are very mild. Comparison real soon when the R&D sponsons are installed on the 310X.
    • UPDATE: The R&D intake grate was removed and stock intake grate reinstalled. Now the craft has the holeshot/rough water hookup it lost AND the handling improvement. Unless you ride on glass water all the time, skip replacing the intake grate on your Kawasaki 310X.

    Features

    • The more I ride the 310X, the more I LOVE the features. Cruise control is a MUST for long trips, as your fingers will easily grow fatigued over longer rides, especially in chop. I also love "no wake" mode on the 310X. The FZS is race inspired, having neither of these features. Those were reserved for the FX SVHO. I wish the FX SVHO skis were more attractive, as it may have been a better choice for my riding style and need. Looks are subjective, but I just couldn't get into them. I'm not a fan of chrome and squared body lines, two strikes for my taste.
    • Hydro Turf on the Kawasaki 310X, SE, and R is a diamond like pattern, and not as forgiving on your feet as the Yamaha's straight bar layout. Obviously, this should not sway your buying decision, but it's worth mentioning. The Ultra 310X LX has the same layout as the Yamaha.

    Hull Noise

    • The Yamaha has a lighter hull, and you can tell it from it's handling characteristics. However, that comes at a price. When you are riding aggressive over chop, the hull sounds much thinner as it slaps the water. It's loud when water crashes underneath it. The Kawi hull is not like that at all. It's quiet, you only hear the water from the sides of the craft. Kawasaki has the advantage here, at the expense of added weight of the hull.

    Seating

    • The seat on the Kawasaki is harder and very uncomfortable on hard chop. This is the standard seat included with the "SE" trim (orange colored craft in 2015). My "manhood" was tested when riding the chop in a seated position. Yamaha's seating on the other hand is much nicer and more comfortable. Even the wifey agrees. Yamaha wins here.

    Storage

    • No contest, instant win for the 310x with its industry leading 54 gallon storage tank. I have two aughog anchors in the Kawasaki, when fully assembled, would not fit in the front of the Yamaha FZS. The storage is nice when you are riding to a family function or event and you need to bring things.

    Overall Appearance

    • I love the orange color of the 310X. However, the deep blue and metallic black hull of the Yamaha had everyone in awe. If I had to choose on looks alone, I would choose the 2015 FZS. All the body lines are sexy and the hydro dripped gauge cluster cover is a nice touch.
    • UPDATE: Contrary to my original thoughts, the Orange 310X SE received three compliments on our last trip. No one said a word about the Yamaha. Every time we go somewhere, people comment how the orange 310X is an eye grabber. When I have someone else riding the Kawasaki, I admire it's orange appeal. Tie to both skis.

    Fuel Economy (Glass water)

    • The wife and I took a river run trip one afternoon. Both skis were filled to the "rim with brim" when we hit the water. I mirrored her speed and direction the entire trip and duration. That night, after flushing and a wash down, I took them to the fuel pump. The Yamaha used 8.53 gallons of fuel. The Kawasaki used 9.72 gallons. It's also not news the 310X consumes more fuel. I've never tested Eco Mode to see what kind of savings it would yield. However, at the speeds the wife was riding the 310X, Eco Mode would have told her to get bent. Isn't it odd how a larger engine can get better fuel economy. I will say it's because the Yamaha is a lighter craft with less hull in the water. The longer we ride them faster, this gap grows larger. It's not uncommon for me to fill both skis after 2 hours of WOT fun on the river, the Yamaha might need 13 gallons of fuel, where the Kawasaki needs 15 to fill it up. Wouldn't lose sleep over WOT fuel consumption of the Kawasaki. When the 310X is in part throttle, it does as well as the Yamaha at part throttle.
    • Testing the Kawasaki in Eco Mode. Took a 116 mile round trip. During the first phase, I rode 50 miles in Eco Mode. The 310X consumed 10.5 gallons of fuel. On the return trip, I didn't use Eco mode and made some WOT runs. The 310X comsumed 14 gallons of fuel. Eco Mode for long trips makes a difference at part throttle.

    Holeshot

    • Even though the Kawasaki is heavier, having more hull in the water, it gets out of the hole without any cavitation. If you are not firmly gripping the handlebars with both hands, expect to get bucked off this wild stallion. The Yamaha in stock form, while quick, doesn't yield quite the same grunt as the Kawasaki. The Kawasaki's intake and pump should be renamed "Black Hole". The vacuum is so great, not even light can escape. Heck, if a Shop Vac had this kind of suction, it would be too dangerous to use anywhere. It's not a surprise why the 310X is so awesome out of the hole. Car guys like me know a TVS Eaton blower has an instant torque hit (instant boost). The Centri style blower on the Yamaha has to build boost (and torque) through the rpm range.

    Top Speed (Glass and light chop - Cruising start)

    • This goes without saying. Despite both skis being factory limited to 68 mph (supposedly), the Yamaha made quick work of the Kawasaki. Without effort, on a ski with only 2 hours, left the Kawasaki in the Yamaha's wake. Despite the Kawi having a 118 lbs. driver and the Yami having a 250 lbs. driver. This isn't "new" news, we've already known the FZ series of Yamahas are glass and light chop champs. *I consider light shop to be less than 12" (1 foot)* From a dead stop "drag race", it would not be the same results over a predetermined distance, as the 310X's instant torque hit the Yamaha can't compete with.

    Top Speed (Medium to heavy chop - dead stop race)

    • Had a friend who would ride in moderate chop at WOT take the 310X (still stock) out while I rode the 2015 FZS (still stock). From a dead stop, we went WOT at the same time. The Kawi jumped out 4-5 boat lenghts ahead immediately. The Yami wasn't able to reel in the difference in the chop. It kept bouncing over the chop, pump unloading, and lost speed each time. The Kawi actually gained some distance between boats by race end.

    Top Speed (Medium to heavy chop - crusing race)

    • This time, I was on the Kawi and the friend was on his 2013 FZR (100% stock). While not the same engine as the SVHO, the Kawi was able to leave him in the chop by a few boat lengths. He could not keep up for the same reasons posted above. The 310X's hull and added weight kept it planted in the water, never heard the pump lose water once.

    Warranty

    • Standard for the 310X is only 1 year. One dealer offered me 3 extra years on the Kawasaki (total of 4 years) for about $1200. Needless to say, I passed on that deal. Surely that was full retail on the plan and I wasn't going to pay it. The FZR gets 3 years standard. Buying an extra 2 years on the Yami (total of 5 years warranty) was only $350.00 + tax. This is a clear win for Yamaha.

    Reliability

    • 2014 is a concerning year for the SVHO platform engine found in the FZS and FZR. Timing chain issues are causing engine failures while drive line issues are causing pump stuffing, bucking off the rider, and injuring them. Threads are plentiful about both of these issues. Kawasaki's worst and only problem really mentioned in 2014 was ECU programming where the ski would not achieve it's rated 68 mph speed limiter. Kawasaki revised the ECU in 2015 to correct that issue, making it a ski that will be there for you when you need it. The jury is still out in 2015 on the SVHO.
    • UPDATE: My 2015 FZS broke the timing chain while wide open throttle on the river (glass water) at 65 hours. Dealer repaired it, and feels awesome fast again.
    • UPDATE: My 2015 310X has a boost problem (won't boost more than 11 PSI). Speed and RPM have decreased, still trying to isolate the cause. Thread LINK.


    Which ski should you choose? It's a hard decision to make, and why I own both. If you ride on medium to heavy chop found in the ocean or intercoastal waterways of Florida, buy the Kawasaki hands down. You will want to mod it for better handling, but overall it's the better choice for a smoother ride in rough water. If you only ride on glass water and/or very mild (ripple) chop, the Yamaha is better for that. It handles unreal in stock form, with the potential to be much faster than the 310X. Sure, you'd have to live without all the nice features of Eco Mode, Cruise Control, and the LCD instrument cluster. I will admit though, the holeshot on the 310X is like nothing else you have ever ridden. The FZ skis will never match it in stock form. It's a rush, and a huge thumbs up for the Kawi. The 2013 FZR owner could not believe the torque/holeshot difference of the 310X. He now wants to own a 310R so him and the wife can ride together and have both, like I do.

    Hope this review has been helpful from someone who actually owns both skis.


    June 3rd, 2015 UPDATE: Ordered the R&D ride plate, intake grate, pump shoe seal, and sponsons. Next evaluation is to compare the 310X with R&D mods versus a stock FZS. I know what some of you may be thinking, "It's not fair to compare a modded ski to a stock ski." Actually, considering these are handling only mods it's fair, and will explain why. The ride plate and sponsons of the FZS are very aggressive stock. The ride plate extends beyond the jet and both factory plastic sponsons are shaped like aftermarket versions set all the way back, and all the way down. Stock versus stock, the 310X didn't have a chance. However, let's see how the skis compare when the "mild" stock plate and sponsons are upgraded to match the FZS.

    June 6th, 2015 UPDATE: R&D ride plate and intake grate made a significant difference in the handling of the 310X. The ski is no longer pushed around by parallel wake, making it more stable, giving the rider more confidence. The craft is more predictable now. You will also stay dryer, as the nose doesn't ride as low in the water, reducing porpoising. However, the intake grate sacrificed some of what makes the 310X so great, rough water hookup and the holeshot. The pump will unload easier over chop now and the dead start doesn't feel strong as it was with the stock intake grate. This isn't a problem for those who ride glass and mild shop all day. However, if you ride medium to rough chop, the R&D intake grate is not for you. Keep it stock. My next test will be the stock intake with the R&D ride plate as a compromise. I expect to lose some top mph speed, but at the gain of an awesome holeshot and rougher water hookup. One good thing to say about the R&D combo being installed, it can now match the Yamaha FZS's glass water top mph (both still having the stock speed limiter). I would not rely on that, as the FZ series with a reflash only is proven to be an 80+ mph ski. The Kawasaki will never do that without a boat load of mod money.

    June 21st, 2015 UPDATE: Installed a Riva SCOM, Candoo GPS speedo module, and Tommy Jordan's exhaust modification on the 2015 FZS. However, with these new mods, the Yamaha was still not able to beat my 310X with these mods (SCOM, Candoo GPS speedo module, R&D ride plate, R&D intake grate, removed rear hull vent tubes, fully tightened waste gate). The skis are neck and neck from a cruising start. From a dead stop, the 310X gets a massive lead that the Yamaha can't recover from. I was expecting the Yamaha to beat the Kawasaki this time with new mods. Previously, when the Yamaha was stock, the Kawasaki barely inched away. The new mods only made it a riders race from a cruise, was expecting more. The FZS needs a prop and a reflash!

    Correction: Was curious why the SCOM on the FZS didn't seem to make a difference. Took the ski apart to inspect the install. I installed the new PIN in the wrong hole. It was in location #11 not #10. Dang it! Hope that didn't fry something. Will report back to see what the Yami can do now.

    June 23rd, 2015 UPDATE: Testing after correction of the improper SCOM install, the Yamaha topped out at 73.2 mph. On the same day, not longer after, the Kawasaki hit a new best of 72.0 (previously only 70.2). The SCOM works, but I still want more. It's an addiction.

    June 29th, 2015 UPDATE: The R&D intake grate was removed and stock intake grate reinstalled. Now the craft has the holeshot/rough water hookup it lost AND the handling improvement. Unless you ride on glass water all the time, skip replacing the intake grate on your Kawasaki 310X.
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    Last edited by UnleashedBeast; 03-08-2016 at 04:24 PM.


  2. #2
    @JC's Avatar
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    Man that blue is sweet. Thanks for the balanced review.

  3. #3

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    The telescoping steering was one of my favorite features on my '09 FZS. In the rough waters of the Gulf it makes stand up riding very comfortable. I think most people will pick the FX hull for a rough water application but the FZ hull is very competent in that application. There are some water conditions where I miss it (compared to my RXT-260).

  4. #4
    Speed Junkie UnleashedBeast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by @JC View Post
    Man that blue is sweet. Thanks for the balanced review.
    Die hard Ultra owners suggest my review doesn't reflect their choice of craft in a good enough light. They can get a bit "defensive", saying the negative side effects of handling can be corrected with aftermarket parts. That is true, and I will be adding a ride plate and Sponsons to improve the 310X's handling, then reviewing again. However, they seem to forget, this is a stock vs. stock comparison only. In other words, like one of my statements in the review.....

    "If I had to keep both craft stock, I would never buy the Ultra 310X."

    I think that statement ruffled their feathers a bit. However, it's true. Stock vs. Stock, the Yami is a better craft for handling and confidence, hands down, period. Features, the 310X wins.

    I will mod the Ultra, then re-review the results when compared to the stock FZS.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by UnleashedBeast View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by @JC View Post
    Man that blue is sweet. Thanks for the balanced review.
    Die hard Ultra owners suggest my review doesn't reflect their choice of craft in a good enough light. They can get a bit "defensive", saying the negative side effects of handling can be corrected with aftermarket parts. That is true, and I will be adding a ride plate and Sponsons to improve the 310X's handling, then reviewing again. However, they seem to forget, this is a stock vs. stock comparison only. In other words, like one of my statements in the review.....

    "If I had to keep both craft stock, I would never buy the Ultra 310X."

    I think that statement ruffled their feathers a bit. However, it's true. Stock vs. Stock, the Yami is a better craft for handling and confidence, hands down, period. Features, the 310X wins.

    I will mod the Ultra, then re-review the results when compared to the stock FZS.
    Tough. You're entitled to your opinion. If they don't like it, they can pound sand. This forum needs more unbiased reviews from Yam and Kaw guys both. The Doo guys need to continue to get the reliability mods word out (lol). "My Doo has been 100% reliable" isn't a statement that's going to help anyone.

    We're all on the same team, can't move forward with tech and tuning without pointing out flaws in watercraft. I'd rather go in informed, than non-informed. I'm still leaning towards the Kaw for it's hookup and roughwater performance. Closed course turning is easy to fix. The handle bars can be fixed in the aftermarket.

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  7. #6
    Speed Junkie UnleashedBeast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buliwyf View Post
    I'm still leaning towards the Kaw for it's hookup and roughwater performance. Closed course turning is easy to fix. The handle bars can be fixed in the aftermarket.
    You are 100% correct. Most of the tests the Kawasaki didn't do as well in are areas where aftermarket parts can fix. You can see why the Yami handles better, when you compare its stock ride plate and sponsons to the Kawi's OEM equipment. The FZS's parts are far more aggressive from the manufacturer. The ride plate is more angled and extended past the hull, and the sponsons are more like an aftermarket pair set all the way down.

    I'm confident the 310X will perform worlds better in handling after the plate and sponsons.

  8. #7
    Gsmith88's Avatar
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    Good review, nothing wrong with being honest. Im about to put my r&d intake and ride plate on , I'll let you know what I think of them compared to stock if you'd like.

  9. #8
    Speed Junkie UnleashedBeast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gsmith88 View Post
    Good review, nothing wrong with being honest. Im about to put my r&d intake and ride plate on , I'll let you know what I think of them compared to stock if you'd like.
    I'm actually shopping for parts now, not sure which to choose, so your input would be greatly valued.

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  11. #9
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    Cool , I'll pm you this weekend & let you know what I think of them. Leaving sponsons oem for now though

  12. #10
    Speed Junkie UnleashedBeast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gsmith88 View Post
    Leaving sponsons oem for now though
    For straight line speed, stock is fine. However, when turning....you can tell the OEM sponsons are not aggressive enough for a boat this large and heavy. Kawasaki left a lot on the table to be desired for handling.

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