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Jet Ski Ride Plate (What Is It & Why Is It Needed)

If you have been into jet skiing for a while you must have noticed how seriously the professionals consider the jet ski ride plate. As a beginner, it is easy to wonder whether a simple piece of metal plate can make that much of a difference. Well, it actually can.

A jet ski ride plate is a plate attached to the rear of your personal watercraft. The watercraft needs this plate for a variety of purposes. Such as, protection from impact, keeping excess water out of the machinery, aid in propelling, and enhancing racing or stunt performance. 

A beginner jet skier must know in detail about what does a ride plate do on a jet ski and why it is so important.Because without proper knowledge you might install the wrong plate and face some disastrous consequences. 

What Is A Jet Ski Ride Plate? 

A ride plate is essentially a specially designed metal plate (some models are fiberglass) fitted at the back of a jet ski. You can find this plate right at the bottom of the pumps of your watercraft. This means their location is just behind the intake grate or the large bar that keeps debris from getting into the interior of your jet ski. 

The Jet Ski ride plate has two kinds of axial orientation. Forward and rearward. This orientation is calculated against a theoretical axis of the watercraft. As a result, a channel portion forms in the ride plate. The channel portion has two parts. The central portion, and a pair of wall members. 

As the wall members slant away from the central portion, they create an intake chamber in the ride plate. This permits the water coming from the intake grate to flow through the channel.

Plus, as the chamber-members are open at both ends, any debris or excess water has no other way but to leave the intake portion of the plate. 

Why Do You Need A Jet Ski Ride Plate?

The jet ski ride plate has many functions. It protects, enhances performance, and gives the rider more control over the craft. Therefore, you have to consider the ride plate seriously if you are getting into competitive jet skiing. 

Protective Function 

The main function of ride plates is protection. It guards a portion of the hull and jet nozzle against impacts of water and debris. Thereby it saves these parts from abrasions.

They are like a protective covering for the pump. Moreover, they protect the intake grate and help to keep any excess water out. 

Ride plates also protect the engine of the Jetski from overheating. Some personal watercraft have a Closed-Loop Cooling System. In these vehicles, the ride plate acts as a Heat Exchanger and consistently cools the engine so that it does not become too hot. 

More Control For The Rider

Anyone who rides a Jetski knows that turning corners is one of the hardest tasks. Even experienced riders might lose control when they make sudden corners. In this case, a purposefully designed ride plate can be of great assistance. 

As the ride plate is the part of the PWC that keeps the most contact with water, it reacts strongly to every movement the Jetski makes. Therefore, if you can design it the right way it will help you to master more control on your turns. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that the ride plate significantly affects the propelling of your jet ski. It creates the chamber that keeps an available water supply for the impeller to draw from.

So, a good ride plate will help you customize the propelling function of your PWC. 

Enhanced Speed Performance 

As the ride plates provide better control of your watercraft it helps the rider with enhanced performance. In addition, it has two other major contributions from this aspect.

Firstly, it stabilizes your jet ski by reducing the excessive side-to-side and up and down movements. This is known as decreasing the porpoise of your jet ski. 

Secondly, ride plates can increase the speed of your jet ski. Speed increasing plates lift the front part of the Jetski above the water. As a result, the watercraft has less contact with the surface.

This translates to more speed. However, this also means reduced control. So, you have to decide which one is more important for you. 

When Do You Need To Change Your Jet Ski Ride Plate? 

All Jetskis come with a pre-installed plate from the manufacturer. If you are not a professional rider or do not ride your Jet Ski often, then you may do fine with the pre-installed ride plate. However, if you want to enhance jet-skiing performance you might need to change the plate according to your needs.

You might want to consider a change in ride plate if you experience too much bouncing in the front end of your craft. Because this can hamper your performance. In the same vein, if you need more speed or sharper turning, the pre-installed ride plate may need changing. 

Another reason for changing the jet ski ride plate may be that you are a large person. In such a case, you need a customized plate to balance between the front and rear ends of your PWC. You may also need a stronger better-suited plate when you ride in rough waters. 

A new jet ski ride plate costs anywhere from 150$ to 400$. Keep in mind that, there are various types of ride plates and each is designed for a particular function.

In other words, the plates that give more control might reduce the speed of the craft. So, get the plate that is suited to your purpose. 

The Different Types Of Jet Ski Ride Plates

There are mainly four types of jet ski ride plates you can find in the market. These are the extended, D-cut, concave, and traction plates. Each of them has its specific purpose. So, choose the one that serves your jet skiing goals. 

Extended Plate or Speed increasing plates

If you are a competitive jet ski racer then this one’s for you. The extended plate boosts the speed of your PWC. At the same time, it helps with stabilization and keeps your craft steady. You can think of them as the rear spoilers of a car. But instead of air, these plates push on water. 

However, you will lose some of your control when you install these plates. These plates work to keep the nose of your jet ski above water. As a result, you will find it hard to cut sharp corners with your vehicle when this one is installed. 

Cut Jet Ski Ride Plate for Freestyling 

These plates are designed for jet skis that perform freestyle tricks. Such as, jumping above the water or other stunts of that kind. The D-cut plates are therefore popular with daredevil jet skiers.

As the D-cut plates work to keep the nose of the watercraft up, these too are not good for control and turning. But that is not a problem for experienced jet ski stunt performers.

On the other hand, if you are not into that kind of stuff or a beginner, this plate might be too much for you to handle. 

Concave Ride Plate 

The concave plates are also a type of speed-increasing plates. But compared to extended plates they are more extreme and must only be used by the driver who has a lot of experience. Mainly, professional jet ski racers use the concave plate. 

These plates can be easily distinguished by the presence of fins protruding out of them. You can compare the fins to that of a surfboard, although these are less exaggerated. The fins add a slight curve to the plate which translates to extreme speed performance.  

Traction Vent Ride Plates

These are the plates you should install when you need better control and turning in your jet-ski sessions. Suffice to say, this will compromise your speed. So, if top speed is mandatory, you may not want to install the traction vent jet ski ride plates. 

The body of these ride plates contains traction vents. The vents help to contain the flow of water and keep the nose of your PWC lowered into the surface. Therefore, you get maximum contact with the water surface. This helps you to smoothly and precisely turn corners. 

This type of plate is popular with jet skiers who participate in obstacle races. The traction plates work as an effective cornering tool and can also serve as a makeshift brake. 


The jet ski ride plate has a very important role in your overall performance as a skier. Therefore, you must choose the right kind of plate for your watercraft. Now that you know what does a ride plate do on a jet ski, I’m sure it will be much easier for you to pick the right one for your specific water craft. 

Only go for the aftermarket plate types if you are a professional or have enough experience and knowledge of what you are doing. 

Ride safe out there.