James-Bond-Approved: 1978 Spirit Marine Wetbike

Is it too early to think about summer? I didn’t think so. And, some areas of the country and world don’t get snow and freezing rain and otherwise non-summer-like weather. If you’re in one of those areas or you just want a “classic” summer water toy, this rare, first-year 1978 Spirit Marine Wetbike may be for you. This wave-runnin’-wonder is listed on eBay with a single bid of $900 and there is no reserve. That’s a crazy low amount for so much unique fun. It’s located in Hereford, Arizona and you can drive it home.. if you live on the other side of the lake..

Ahhh.. Arizona, where else would a person use a machine made to be on the water?.. what the.. I know, there are probably hundreds (dozens?) (handfuls?) of lakes and waterways, I was just kidding. Not to mention that I’m jealous of people who live in sunny, dry, warm areas of the country. Here’s an aerial view of Hereford, Arizona for anyone else who may be interested in searching for longer than I did for a place to ride a water craft. See anything promising? They look really fun to ride. Here is an old McDonald’s ad on YouTube showing a couple of 1978 Wetbikes and how they somehow relate to Big Macs, and it also has one of the least memorable jingles that I have ever heard.

These are rare machines and they’re fairly famous, or they were a few decades ago, when James Bond rode one in the movie: The Spy Who Loved Me. They were introduced by a company called Spirit Marine, a division of Minnesota’s Arctic Enterprises – maker of Arctic Cat snowmobiles, ATVs, UTVs, and other fun machines. They were originally known as the Wetbike Watercycle and they were designed and patented by a gentleman named Nelson Tyler from the film industry who made a small fortune with his invention for a camera mount. The seller of this Wetbike says that it’s in “original form, complete restore” and I’m not quite sure what that means. I’m assuming that it’s been restored to its original form, but then they mention that it has “Custom paint with vinyl graphics.”

These early Wetbikes used a Suzuki 50 hp 723cc two-stroke engine and a small jet pump for propulsion. These watercycles are tricky to ride, at least at first. Nice, original examples can sell for $3,000 or more so this one could end up being a great deal with just a day left on the bidding and it being January. Have you heard of the Wetbike?


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  1. SAM61

    Scotty, cool find…for $900 why not?

    Our cottage neighbors in Door County Wisconsin had one these back in the day. They are tricky to ride especially in any chop and consequently saw little use.

    Another McDonald’s tangent…bring back the McSteak sandwich.

    • MSG Bob

      I think that was a Wisconsin-only sandwich. Never saw anything about it in Indiana. Of course, back then I think we still had Burger Chef restaurants, and I know we had Arthur Treacher’s (The Original) Fish & Chips.

      • SAM61

        We had McSteak in NW Indiana where I grew up in the late “70’s

      • Steve M

        Arthur Treacher’s….eeewwww gag a maggot,we had these in the malls in Florida in the 70’s and early 80s. I still remember the smell of the place, and I LOVE seafood.

  2. rmward194 Member

    Parker Canyon Lake: http://www.parkercanyonlake.com/

    About 90 minutes from Hereford across the mountains on an unpaved road that I believe would require a high-clearance vehicle. At least it would be a beautiful ride to the lake!

    You would be surprised at the number people that own boats and jet skis in Southern Arizona. I’m just not one of them.

  3. G B Fish

    As an aside, anybody notice a few miles north-east of Hereford is the “Hanging Double D Ranch”? Wonder what they cultivate there.

  4. Coventrycat

    As clunky looking as an 80’s cell phone.

    • Rx7turboII

      So are bmw 2002’s but look how desirable those are to people! LOL
      Personally, if they brought back Pac-Man arcade games, Datsun 280ZX’s and Commodore computers I would be in heaven again! Love the wet bike!

      • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

        Ha, Commodore! I still have my Commodore 64 with Commodore monitor, both in the original boxes. I wonder if they’ll ever be worth anything? Not to mention my Colecovision video game console and games all in their original boxes, too.

  5. Nick Member

    The video made me want the bike and a big mac.

  6. Grid Michal Member

    Actually they’re as easy to ride as a snowmobile, but trying to get that across to a Southerner is like trying to get him to enjoy a McRib sandwich. When we first opened for business here, our “investigative ability” with the Suzuki/Spirit engines spread fast. A guy brought one of these from Richmond, wanted it to go fast. All we understood was powerheads, so we gave him what he wanted. It would snatch a center-console boat off a dry bunk trailer. Unfortunately .35 years ago we didn’t understand pumps, gaining only 2MPH top end and he stopped payment on the check and disappeared. Vertical learning curve.

    • Howie Mueler

      Yes easy to ride, but a little tricky to get on it. And big and heavy compared to a Jet Ski.

  7. PAW

    Would have bought one (or two) ages ago. Only that one cannot import these to EU footprint. And here these are more rare than hen’s teeth

  8. Robert Rose

    I stories of bikers buying these and getting an instant power enima when they dragged a knee during a turn.

  9. GearHead Engineering

    I remember these from back in my Kawasaki stand up days. I rode them once or twice. Very different from the stand up jet ski. Seemed like the hardest part was getting them out of the water and back into the truck and/or trailer. I haven’t seen one on the water in several years.

    Almost all PWC have the risk of a power enema. In fact, I have two Yamahas with warnings about exactly that written on them. They even list the orifices you need to be worried about. Coming off a PWC at speed requires some technique to avoid a variety of painful outcomes. At 35+ mph, the water isn’t as soft as you might think. I once sprained both of my ankles at the same time, but that wasn’t from hitting the water. I no longer race or do crazy stuff, so not as big of a problem as it used to be.

    I bet you could get this for less than the asking price. Might be worth it to give it a try, especially if you live on a lake.

    – John

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