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Vintage Water Thrills: A 1978 Spirit Marine Wetbike Available for Sale
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Vintage Water Thrills: A 1978 Spirit Marine Wetbike Available for Sale
2 months ago Others
Sponsored by Moto Animals

If you're a fan of unique watercraft, this 1978 Spirit Marine Wetbike might catch your attention. Originally marketed as the "Wetbike Watercycle," this intriguing machine is essentially a motorcycle designed for use on the water, featuring planing skis on the front and back instead of traditional wheels.

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Production of the Wetbike spanned from 1978 to 1992, making it one of the fastest personal watercraft available during its time. Its impressive speed was made possible by a 723cc two-stroke twin-cylinder engine, producing 50 bhp, and propelling the craft with an axial-flow waterjet drive.

The Wetbike made its debut in 1978, designed by Nelson Tyler, known for his innovative "Tyler Mount" utilized in the film industry. Tyler's remarkable achievements include developing the rocket pack featured in the opening ceremony of the 1984 Olympics in LA, as well as receiving an Academy Award in 2005 for his gyro-stabilized camera systems.

Although many credit Kawasaki with introducing the first jet ski in 1973 with the Kawasaki JS400 Jet Ski, the concept of a personal watercraft had actually been pioneered by Clayton Jacobson II in Europe during the 1950s with his "Water Scooter." This design evolved into the Bombardier Sea-Doo, produced in limited numbers.

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Kawasaki later reached a licensing agreement with Bombardier to use Jacobson's invention, and in 1973, they released the commercially successful Kawasaki JS400 Jet Ski. During the late 1970s when the Wetbike was introduced, the entire jet ski industry was still in its infancy. The Wetbike offered several advantages over its jet ski counterparts, with front steering facilitated by a planing ski on its own shock absorbers. This unique feature allowed for motorcycle-like steering and the ability to lean into turns, while the front-end shock absorbers smoothed out the ride.

One of the main challenges of riding the Wetbike was mastering its learning curve. Riders had to learn how to reach the craft's planing speed of 11-15 mph, at which point it would rise up onto its front and rear skis, enabling a top speed of up to 36 mph, depending on water conditions. Once riders became accustomed to the sensation of piloting a motorcycle across the water, it was a relatively straightforward experience. Some even found it easier to ride with a passenger on the back, creating a rear-weight bias. Skilled riders could even tow a skier behind them.

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The Wetbike had its fair share of brushes with fame, starting with a memorable appearance in the 1977 James Bond film "The Spy Who Loved Me." In this movie, Roger Moore, portraying 007, rode a Wetbike to the villain's lair. It's worth noting that the Wetbike featured in the film was a prototype, as the commercial version was not yet in production.

The Wetbike also made an appearance in a 1982 episode of "CHiPs" titled "Overload," where Ponch and Jon utilized rented Wetbikes to chase microchip thieves attempting to escape in a speedboat. In the 1986 film "Police Academy 3: Back in Training," a group of police recruits employed Wetbikes to pursue thieves in speedboats during the film's climactic scene. Furthermore, the 1990 film "Red Surf," featuring George Clooney, showcased surfers using Wetbikes to transport cocaine across the water at high speeds.

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If you're captivated by the idea of owning a vintage watercraft with a fascinating history, this 1978 Spirit Marine Wetbike presents a unique opportunity. Prepare to enjoy thrilling rides and stand out among water enthusiasts with this rare "water motorcycle" from the past.

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The vehicle you see here is a Wetbike from the first year of manufacture – 1978. It benefits from a recently fitted new battery for the electric start and a cleaned fuel system.

It’s being offered for sale out of White City, Utah and it comes with a& Utah registration in the seller’s name and a bill of sale.

If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here on Bring a Trailer.

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