Kawasaki JAMS: From Two-wheels to Watercraft

Apr 10, 2019 View Comments by

Kawasaki Jams event, testing a Jet Ski

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “Kawasaki?” For many of us, it’s something related to motorcycling. Maybe it’s one of their legendary machines, like the venerable Mach III, or it’s the ever-popular Concours or the KLR650, one of the original adventure bikes.

From One, Comes Many
Back in 1878, Shozo Kawasaki established the Kawasaki Tsukiji Shipyard in Tokyo. This shipyard became the foundation for what would become the multinational powerhouse known today as Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. (KHI). Fast forward more than a century and today KHI’s different divisions manufacture everything from submarines, helicopters and jet engines to train cars, wind turbines, and more.
One division, Kawasaki Heavy Industries Motorcycle & Engine Company, builds consumer-oriented goods like all-terrain vehicles, watercraft, and of course, motorcycles. When Kawasaki invited RoadRUNNER to attend its “JAMS” (Jet Ski, ATV, Motorcycle, Side X Side) event in beautiful Hurricane Utah, we happily obliged.

Let the Good Times Roll (and Float)
On day one, we were introduced to the Teryx4 LE Side X Side and set free in the off-highway vehicle area of Sand Hollow State Park. The amazingly capable machine proved itself in deep sand, rugged terrain, and seemingly 90-degree climbs. The sprawling OHV area allowed plenty of room for exploring. Hats off to the Utah State Parks department for creating and maintaining this incredible playground.

After lunch, it was time to get wet. While I have had some experience in the driver’s seat of a side-by-side, the same couldn’t be said for piloting a Jet Ski, or anything else that goes in the water for that matter. I was truly a fish out of water, in the water. Suited up, I climbed aboard the Jet Ski Ultra LX. After some time puttering around the water, calming the nervous landlubber inside, I gave it some throttle. The incredible speed of these jet-powered water rockets had me asking myself, “Is this legal?” While I can’t say I became entirely comfortable off dry land, I can say I did have a great deal of fun. As the comedian Bill Hicks once said, “Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy a Jet Ski, and you never see an unhappy person riding a Jet Ski.”

Kawasaki Jams event, riding motorcycles.

Return to Two Wheels
Day two and the kind folks at Kawasaki brought along their Versys line to try out. With a choice of either the 650 or 1000 model for the morning ride, I opted for the latter. The long-legged sport tourer really impressed on a spirited ride through Snow Canyon State Park and Pine Valley Recreation Area.

At our lunch stop we were met with the Versys X-300, whose tag line is “any road, any time.” Off pavement the nimble X-300 proved itself more than capable. The diminutive twin cylinder 296cc engine has plenty of grunt and its long travel suspension and relatively low seat height make traveling backroads a breeze. Out on the super slab, the little engine that could, did, moving along at 75-80 mph. With plenty of large displacement adventure bikes on the market, it’s nice to see this smaller and more easily digestible do-it-all bike being offered.



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About the author

I've been called a "Free-Spirit", "A Lost Soul", and "A Wanderer" for as long as I can remember. I prefer to think of myself as a Traveler. Most at ease when I am in motion, two of my favorite things are arriving somewhere new, and heading off for somewhere yet unexplored.