A Stage III kit costs a bit more than $6,300. This kit includes most of the components of the Stage I and II kits, as well as a Riva Pro Series ECU, which alters the fuel delivery, timing, and rev limiter to match this now highly tuned engine. Other mods include new fuel injectors, thermostat, impeller, and even pricy titanium valve spring retainers.
Against the gun, the Stage II package ups the ante yet again, peaking at 75.4 mph while lowering my acceleration time to 1.62 seconds. Aboard the Stage III rocket ship, I hit 80.1 mph, reaching 30 mph in only 1.41 seconds-I'm grinning like a madman. Eighty-plus on a craft that weighs less than 800 pounds isn't for the fainthearted, nor the recreational driver. Still, I'm shocked by how stable and comfortable I feel in the saddle. I'm also looking around for the nearest sucker with a go-fast.
The verdict? For cheap speed, nothing surpasses a waterbike. Certainly much of it is due to the craft's natural thrill potential. Being so close to the water lets you feel every one of those 70 miles you'd cover in an hour. Acceleration is ultra-strong and just as important a rush as that top number. Thanks to the near-instantaneous throttle delivery, you get to top speed in the amount of time it would take your average go-fast to get on plane.
But it's the waterbike's ability to reach that vaunted 70-mph zone for so little money that's the ultimate measure of bang for the buck. For less than $12,000, I was able to experience that intoxicating thrill. If I were willing to go nuts on the Stage III setup, there would be few boats that could keep up, and none that cost less than $17,500. Or even five times that. In short, in a head-to-head battle I can now kick a $100,000 boat's ass for a total investment of $11,873.
Now that's a cheap thrill that's priceless.