Not too long ago, the Honda AquaTrax was one of the best jet skis on the market. Before Honda stopped making watercraft, the AquaTrax was the leading waverunner in their PWC lineup.
Unfortunately, they’ve since stopped production, but that doesn’t stop old fans from hunting for them on the used market. A lot of jet ski enthusiasts debate on whether old Honda watercraft are money pits or diamonds in the rough. The honest truth is that sometimes they can be a little bit of both.
Because it’s been out of production for so long, it can be difficult to find a recent Honda AquaTrax review. This leaves a lot of potential buyers unsure if it’s worth it to buy an AquaTrax, considering they are over a decade old.
What Happened to Honda Jet Skis?
For anyone new to the world of PWC, it’s a bit of a mystery why Honda disappeared. At one point they were one of the top makers of personal watercraft, and out of nowhere, they halted production.
In the time period that Honda made PWC, they built up a large and loyal fan base. People really enjoyed their watercraft, so it’s difficult for some to understand what went wrong.
Although they had a decent sized market share, Honda was never really dominating the PWC game. Their models had some features that topped the competition, but nothing that really beat out their rivals. It’s not that their jet skis were mediocre, they just weren’t spectacular.
A mixture of declining sales and a shrinking market eventually led to them ending their PWC program. This is ultimately the reason why Honda stopped making jet skis in late 2009.
It’s arguable that Honda was never really losing money making PWC, they just weren’t making enough to stay in the game. Either way, there are currently no Honda jet skis available that were made after 2009.
Honda AquaTrax Review
There were several versions of the Honda AquaTrax over the years, but to keep things competitive and relevant, this review is going to go over the F15-X. Of course there were other great versions of the AquaTrax, such as the beloved F12-X, but they don’t compete as well against newer models from other manufacturers.
The Honda AquaTrax is the perfect blend of a performance watercraft and a family cruiser. It was never the fastest jet ski out there, but will definitely blow your hair back. Where the Honda AquaTrax really excelled was its maneuverability, reliability, and fuel efficiency.
Regardless of what some people may say, Honda was a pretty innovative manufacturer during its tenure in the PWC industry. Even if their models weren’t the most extravagant, they still helped raise the bar in the world of PWC.
Hull and Deck
The F15-X has a strong resemblance to the F12-X, but it’s much larger. It’s just over 11 feet in length, making it about half a foot longer than the F12-X.
If you ask owners about how the hull performs, you’re likely to get mixed reviews. Overall, it does an excellent job at cornering maneuvering. It doesn’t have the fastest top speed, but it has a very responsive ride to make up for it. The only drawback of the hull on the Honda AquaTrax F15-X is it doesn’t perform the best in choppy waters. It’s not going to toss you off every time you come across a wake, but it doesn’t exactly slice through them either.
There isn’t a large amount of free space on the rear deck, but the rest of the body has a fair amount of wiggle room. It has a surprisingly comfortable 3 person seat considering how dated it is, and even passengers would agree.
Surrounding the edge of the F15-X is an improved rub rail that is thicker than previous Honda AquaTrax models. This is a much-needed improvement from the thinner rail on the F12-X.
One of the drawbacks of the AquaTrax is its lack of cleats. 10 years is a long time, but you’d think that even a decade ago cleats were an industry standard. Instead, users may need to do some improvising when tying off.
Storage and Fuel Capacity
Storage on the Honda AquaTrax is more than enough for the average rider. For starters, it has a large 21.4-gallon compartment located in the bow. If that isn’t enough, it also has a 1.7-gallon glove box and a 1.5-gallon tray below the seat. All of the storage compartments have easy access, so there’s very little fumbling around when trying to retrieve items.
With 24.6 gallons of storage total, most people should have enough space to store their essentials. If you need more than that, then maybe you should get a boat instead.
When it comes to fuel, the AquaTrax really excels. Not only does it boast a fuel capacity of 18.5 gallons, but it’s very efficient as well. Riders can expect to go full days on the water without ever needing to refuel. This is mostly due to its 955-pound curb weight and fuel-efficient turbo engine.
Handlebars and Dashboard
One of the biggest pros of the Honda AquaTrax F15-X is also one of the biggest cons. The handlebars/dash were somewhat ahead of their time, but at the same time, they were pretty archaic.
The AquaTrax was one of the first jet skis to introduce a digital dashboard with modern functions that people have come to expect. It has a speedometer, clock, trip distance display, fuel gauge, and shows the amount of ride time until empty. These may seem like basic necessities now, but at the time all of that was pretty high-tech.
The major drawback that comes with the handlebars is the lack of riding positions available. Attempting to ride while standing is problematic because the handlebars are in a fixed position. Most riders have come to enjoy a variety of handlebar positions that accommodate their height. If you choose to get an AquaTrax, expect to spend a lot of time sitting down.
Honda AquaTrax Top Speed and Engine
The Honda AquaTrax top speed averages out to around 66 mph, or 106 km/h. This is a standard for much of the PWC industry today, but back then that was pushing the envelope.
If speed is a genuine concern, there are several ways to make a jet ski faster. Some videos out there show Honda jet skis hitting 70+ mph, so it’s definitely possible to increase their top speed. Just because it’s an older jet ski doesn’t mean it can’t hang. It really just boils down to how much money and effort you want to put in.
Under the hood of the AquaTrax is a turbocharged engine that makes for one of its strongest selling points. Unlike some of the previous models, the F15-X has very little turbo lag. Typically the turbo kicks in around 2500 RPMs, so it takes very little time. This makes the 1,400cc engine feel like it produces much more than the 200 hp it’s rated for.
Aside from its impressive acceleration, a huge benefit of Honda’s turbo engine is the fuel efficiency it provides. Honda is known for creating fuel-efficient engines, and the turbo allows them to maintain that without sacrificing speed.
When the F15-X was released, much of the competition had engines with 250+ horsepower. However, the fuel-efficient turbo engine really gave the Honda AquaTrax a leg up in the race.
When the Honda AquaTrax F15-X was released, the base model had a price tag of $13,299. There was also a deluxe version available with GPS capabilities, a reboarding step, and a two-tone seat for $14,299.
Luckily those prices are what it cost when the AquaTrax was brand new. A decade later a Honda AquaTrax F15-X costs between $3,000 and $8,000 on the used market.
Honda left the PWC industry very abruptly, so there was a lot of leftover models that sat for a while. It’s not uncommon to find used models with only 30 or 40 hours on them, simply because they sat for so long.
Since all Honda personal watercraft are dated, be very cautious of sellers. Always educate yourself before buying a used jet ski to ensure you don’t make the wrong decision.
Pros and Cons
Just like with anything else, the AquaTrax comes with its own set of pros and cons. Some of these are more important than others, but they should all be considered before buying.
- Generally Reliable
- Has several modern amenities
- A good mix between performance jet ski and family cruiser
- Newest models are almost 10 years old
- Finding replacement parts may be difficult
- No cleats to tie it up (Seriously Honda?)
- Not as advanced as newer models
- Trip Distance Display
- Fuel Gauge
- Estimated Ride Time
- GPS (Deluxe Model)
- Boarding Step (Deluxe Model)
- Tow Hook
- Two-Tone Seat (Deluxe Model)
- Seats up to 3 passengers
- Top Speed of approximately 66mph
- 18.5 Gallon Fuel Capacity
- 24.6 Gallon Storage Capacity
- 1470cc liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, four-cylinder turbo engine
- $13,299 Base MSRP
- Curb Weight: 955 lbs / 433 kg
- L x W x H: 11.15 inches x 49 inches x 42.4 inches
An Honest Opinion
A lot of people are reluctant to buy a Honda jet ski, and for good reason. It’s been years since production stopped, so many people are worried about their reliability and general quality.
Questioning the reliability of a decade-old watercraft is logical to do. It makes sense that things would start to break after 10 years. However, Honda jet skis aren’t like some of the other manufacturers that have come and gone. *cough* Tigershark *cough*
Honda jet skis have proven their reliability, and they can still be spotted out on waterways today. As long as you can find a good deal on a model with low hours, Honda jet skis are still a good buy.
Of course, there is the drawback of finding parts, but for the most part, it’s all oil filters and spark plugs. If finding the more expensive parts is a genuine concern for you, look around for their availability before buying one. Depending on what it is, a lot of parts can still be found floating around out there.
Overall Honda jet skis can still be considered a solid option if you’re in the market for a used jet ski. They aren’t going to come with all the bells and whistles of modern jet skis, but they’re reliable and functional. If you can get over the possibility of having to track down replacement parts, then there’s no reason not to pick up a Honda.