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While the newer 4-stroke pwcs are darn nice machines, the carbureted 2-cycle PWCs of the 1990’s have a few qualities that the newer machines will never have … The most notable are:
INEXPENSIVE TO BUY - There are thousands of desirable models of used 1990s PWCs that are in excellent condition, and available for a fraction of the price of a new model 4-stroke PWC.
SIMPLICITY - With far fewer moving engine parts, and fewer computer controlled devices, the ‘90s pwcs are much less likely to develop complex problems requiring dealership computer diagnosis. In addition, the problems that can surface are usually much easier (and cheaper) to resolve.
LIGHT WEIGHT - There are many 1990s pwcs whose light weight and smaller size offer a more “sports car” type of riding experience. It will be some time before there are any 4-stroke models that can match the riding experience of a Blaster, ‘96XP, or 2-cycle stand-up pwc. In addition, these smaller and lighter 2-cycles allow for a solo person to launch and retrieve from a pick up truck (an important quality for many owners).
SHEER DURABILITY RESISTANCE - Because 1990s pwcs have fewer moving engine parts than a 4-stroke, they have fewer parts to fail. But more importantly, the relative “crudeness” of a carbureted 2-cycle allows it to endure more abuse. For example, it often happens that a pwc will completely sink. Such a sinking completely fills the engine compartment “and the engine itself” with water. With a 1990s 2-cycle, a “swamped” engine is easily drained, cleared of water, and back on the water within 30 minutes. The sinking of a 4-cycle engine is not nearly as simple to deal with. The risk of damaging “lubrication sensitive” internal moving parts, and fuel management components, is much higher. If you sink a 4-stroke pwc, your weekend is over.
BUILDING A “HOT ROD” - Among those that modify their PWCs for unofficial "grudge-racing", 2-cycle platforms are still clearly faster and more affordable to maintain. There are some fast (supercharged) 4strokes than can run the speeds of a 2-cylce. The difference is that the 2-cylce machines can easily be modified to net considerable increases above those speeds while retaining pump gas compatibility and good longevity. It’s unclear how the reliability of 4-stroke pwcs will be affected by increasing power and rpms to those same levels. The most popular tacktic for getting big power gains from 4-stroke PWCs has been the inclusion of a supercharger. Whether OEM or aftermarket, the super-charged 4-stokes have yet to match the reliability of comparable 2-cycle PWCs.
COST EFFECTIVENESS - Dedicated pwc enthusiasts, who log 100+ hours per season, might easily be able to justify the cost of buying a new, top of the line, new technology 4-stroke pwc. However the “average” recreational pwc owner logs 20-40 hours (that’s 10-20 tanks of gas) of use per season. Where a recreational “toy” is used less than 40 hours per season, it’s worth wondering how much “more fun” those 40 hours would be with a new $10,000+ 4-stroke pwc..... vs. a new condition restored $3000-$5000 1990s pwc. For a toy that spends so much time at rest, the less expensive 1990s pwc makes lots of sense for many owners.
THE KIDS - Many folks use their pwcs for family recreation. While we would all like to believe our kids would treat a brand new $10,000 pwc with kid gloves … that is unlikely to happen. For a family with younger users, it makes great financial sense to let the kids use (and abuse) an older pwc that is, slower, better suited to endure abuse, and cheaper to repair. It’s the same reason that most kids’ first car is an older, more dependable, vehicle.