This could be one of the coolest contraptions we’ve seen in a while.
The Gratis X-1 is an electric-powered personal water craft — a stealth jet ski, if you will. It uses no fuel, makes no sound, and produces no emissions, so you can ride the environmentally friendly X-1 in small lakes, inlets, and other places gas-powered boats and PWCs can’t go. Zero Motorcycles supplies the powertrain, providing 46 horsepower and propelling the Gratis X-1 to a top speed of 40 knots (about 46 mph). The X-1 plugs into any wall or generator and charges in a couple hours from a typical 110v electrical outlet. And because no one ever could stay on board a stand-up jet ski for long, a peak charge usually provides about 45 minutes to an hour of shredding time.
Free Form’s CEO is 24-year-old Jordan Darling, who founded the company as a junior in college after developing a plastic called HULKLite. The super-sturdy polymer blend makes an ideal hull for PWCs; it’s so strong it can be smashed with a sledgehammer or dropped off a pickup truck without effect, so tricksters don’t have to worry about breaking their toys (only their necks) when practicing flips. Plus, it’s far lighter than fiberglass, meaning the Gratis X-1 weighs in at just 380 pounds — nearly 171 pounds less than Kawasaki’s reincarnated 2017 SX-R Jet Ski.
For what it’s worth, Darling claims the X-1 is also far easier to pilot than Kawasaki’s legendary ankle-breaker; not only is it far lighter, meaning greater buoyancy, the Gratis is a full 10 inches wider than the standard Jet Ski, providing more stability and superior rider balance.
So while a run on the Gratis X-1 sure looks like a blast, we had obvious questions: First and foremost, is it freakin’ safe? Hello, water and electricity! Darling assured us there was no chance of electrocution in case the seal on the airtight drivetrain were breached. “I wouldn’t be putting my company on the line by putting a toaster on the lake,” he laughed, likening the risk to riding a motorcycle through a stream. As for the lack of sound increasing the risk of a collision, nothing beats rider awareness. And there’s certainly no shame in gearing up.
The Gratis is anything but, starting at $17,990 via the Free Form Factory website. Still, we look forward to taking the X-1 out for a nice, quiet spin around the lake this summer. Stay tuned.