A kayak model question

Discussion in 'General Paddling Discussions' started by Denis Dwyer, Jun 10, 2019.

  1. Denis Dwyer

    Denis Dwyer Paddler

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    I have a question for the west coast sea kayaking community. Is there something wrong with Easy Rider kayaks? I bought one of their expedition models back in the mid 1980’s and it is one of my favorite boats. It’s carried me thousands of miles with plenty of cargo capacity and a decent relationship between speed and stability. When I mention to someone that I paddle an Easy Rider their response is a timid, “Oh that’s nice”. Any insight into the apparent aversion to this brand of kayaks would be enlightening.
     
  2. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    Perhaps it's ignorance, not aversion?
    I've seen ads on Seattle Craigslist for EasyRider kayaks but have never seen one in 'real life' here in BC, and I take a lot of interest in different kayak brands and models. :).
    You might get the same response if you mentioned any 'less common' kayak brand?
    I get the same response ("That's nice") when I mention my Bjorn Thomasson-designed kayaks, or even my Mariner(s).
    What other tripping boats have you paddled? Have you done all your 'big' trips in the EasyRider?
     
  3. Denis Dwyer

    Denis Dwyer Paddler

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    I have paddled some Necky, Seaward, and Current Designs models. All were fine and compared favorably with the Easy Rider. One drawback to these models was the small size of the hatches which made loading and unloading difficult. The Easy Rider models all have large hatches and carrying capacity which makes loading and unloading easy. I also find the rudder system on the Easy Rider to be the easiest to use with the fewest moving parts. All of my big trips have been in my Easy Rider Eskimo Expedition.
     
  4. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

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    I seem to remember that their ads were kind of cheesy [ie didn't show of their kayaks too well] and that might have stigmatized the kayaks as just rec types.
    And just looking at their website, I get this image [outline mine to show extent on screen]:
    EasyriderWebpage2.jpg
    and although to me you are a kayak god, I have to say I have a different take on that odd appendage on the end of their kayaks:
    Eskimo17rudder.jpg

    And I now remember why I never took them too seriously . . . the coamings had/have an odd peaked shape [in plan view] like one from 40 yearws ago and in all their ads in magazine or online, I never saw anyone with a sprayskirt. It looked as if they were just dilettantes and didn't take it seriously - that's why I would react that way.
     
  5. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Denis, my first sea kayak trip, a guided week long affair in Mexico, was in an Easy Rider double, December 1986. Boat was very serviceable and handled well, my then-13 year old son up front. I think ER is just enough out of the mainstream that they do not enjoy the same following as other brands. The owner in 1986 was a onetime Boeing engineer who had to find a new profession when Boeing went into a nose
    dive in the late 1960s.

    In 1986 their rudder system was a bit of a kludge, but it did the job. I remember the owner/designer got a little huffy when I suggested a couple ways to improve his rudder setup, five years later when I visited his shop, shopping for my first Eddyline boat.

    Close friends have used Easy Rider's monster tandem decked canoes on many ventures in BC, and found them ideal for their style of coastal paddling, packing gigantic loads, featuring ample meals, heavy on durable fresh vegetables and gallons of cheap wine. They sit on the cockpit coamings in all but the roughest waters, sweeping huge strokes using large kayak paddles. On every trip I did with them, they beat me to the beach, every day, despite my sleeker, more advanced single kayak.

    EDIT in response to Mick (we crossposted): the tandem canoes came with lowtech coated nylon sprayskirts, which did the job. I agree their marketing was kinda cheesy. I got the feeling the owner had an attitude of "my way or the highway." He struck me as a bit arrogant.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2019
  6. Mac50L

    Mac50L Paddler

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    And the rudder was designed by a sacked Boeing engineer? I'd be hard pressed to see any worse design than that. The design I now use (since early 1990s) was designed by an air traffic controller. My original design was a "quick & dirty" which worked very well, simple, tough and cheap, but stowed vertically, simply because it was the easiest way to do it.

    Necky - always seemed to design good kayaks. Seaward - the one I paddled in the Queen Charlottes I knew just looking at it what was wrong with the design, pounded into a head sea because the angle of the bottom planks stayed the same over the entire length. The "proper" way is to change the keel angle over the whole length such that it is flattest amidships (flattest, not flat) and fairing into the sides at the ends.
     
  7. Denis Dwyer

    Denis Dwyer Paddler

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    Mick - I agree about the website. It hasn't changed much since computers were invented and has been pretty cheesy the whole time. This may be one reason that they are not taken seriously by the paddling community. As far as the rudder, I like how it automatically centers itself when foot pressure is released and that the whole mechanism can be removed from the boat with the push of a button. Another point that I have considered is that since their boats are only sold through their website and their own store they don't have wide representation through regional kayaking shops. I appreciate your insight and can see how your points could be part of the problem with how Easy Rider is perceived by the paddling community. Thanks
     
  8. Denis Dwyer

    Denis Dwyer Paddler

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    Dave - Thanks for your input. I have had a few face to face conversations with the owner over the years and he does come across as arrogant. One of his employees, a former Mad River canoe employee, was an absolute jerk. Alas the word is full of arrogant jerks so what is one to do. I have made some modifications to the rudder system on my boat which greatly improved the look and function of the whole mechanism. Possibly the same changes that you recommended to the owner years ago.
     
  9. Denis Dwyer

    Denis Dwyer Paddler

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    I would be interested in hearing your input as to which aspects of the rudder system design are undesirable.
     
  10. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

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    Mack50L will have his own particular take, but here are a couple of general points:
    - the long, open [ie non-boxed] ,narrow cantilevered blade support extension from the rudder pivot point means [from an engineering point of view] a poor use of materials for a rigid blade support - ie if not really good materials etc, that rudder blade will wobble from side to side. And as there are no 'housing cheeks' to keep the rudder stiff, it relies on that extended unboxed narrow structure to fail to attempt that. It looks like there is just a bolt
    - the weird lever retract mechanism means that rudder will not retract over to the back deck like other pinhead rotators will at least do - the rudder will stick almost straight up in the air when 'retracted'.
    [​IMG]
    - and lastly with the rudder extended way out the back, it will be in the water less [wave bobbing] and will be more damageable [longer lever arms] and will be more prone to damage as just farther out there to be damaged.

    However it has one obvious point: as the blade is an inverted triangle shape, it becomes immediately effective even when partially immersed in contrast to other rudders that have to be more fully immersed to gain effectiveness. The centering point you make is easily placed on any rudder, is not unique to this, and is also a paddler/sailor preference or not - some get tired by continually holding pressure.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2019
  11. Denis Dwyer

    Denis Dwyer Paddler

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    Mick - Next time I'm in Washington I'll have to take a closer look at the various kayak rudder designs to get a better idea of the concepts that you are describing.
     
  12. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

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    Just to note if you are not also aware - I have similar types of criticisms of the more usual pinhead style rudders and others out there. This one is just a bit of an outlier but my critiques are widespread. There are long general threads about rudder types and their issues as I and others see them on this forum.
    The critiques are not about rudders per se - as variable geometry is interesting and rudders are cool - but just about what the particular issues may be.
     
  13. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    "Sacked" is an unfair characterization. Fifty one years ago, Boeing's bottom line was very much dependent on its success in selling bombers to the US Air Force. When that market "shifted," Boeing had several thousand surplus aeronautical manufacturing personnel. A dozen or so were friends of mine. Good technicians and engineers, but caught in a tight seam. All lost their jobs, through no fault of their own. Many went on to success in other areas, some producing sea kayaks. Others used their skills making climbing and hiking gear. One, much appreciated here, worked at REI in design and product QC for many years.

    Off the soap box. For the record, that Easy Rider rudder design definitely has flaws. Failing to improve the design is unfathomable.
     
  14. designer

    designer Paddler

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    This is not the kayak "model" topic I was hoping for.
     
  15. Mac50L

    Mac50L Paddler

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    Mick has fairly well covered what is wrong with the rudder in question. Not good engineering, flimsy bits holding it together.

    There is also the other item, "Don't fit a rudder because it might break." How often have we heard that as a reason for not using rudder on a kayak? It is obvious that a craft with a greater need of safety is an aircraft so they obviously don't fit rudders to aircraft - or do they?

    So what if the rudder breaks? As far as I remember the rudder fell off the Concorde when flying from New Zealand to Australia. They found it missing when they landed.

    My first rudders were a block of plastic about 120 mm square by 20 mm thick. A hole drilled down through it, top edge to bottom edge about 15 mm in from the front edge and this was the pivot (left/right). A hole through the middl e of it for the blade pivot. A slot cut in it just a slight bit wider than the blade thickness. A couple of L pieces, one each side for the steering lines. This could have been a SS tube right through just aft of the vertical pivot pin. A pull up and pull down line.

    Being wooden kayaks a V piece over the stern below the rudder and a metal plate on the deck for top and bottom supports. Simple, cheap and tough. Note - tough.

    Alt rudder.jpg
    Rudder pedals, full-foot size and the hinges are about level with the ankle, not at the bottom of the pedal. The full-foot pedal supports the whole foot and can be braced against for power and support. not these toe tip type of pedals.
    Pedals and rudder.jpg
    The Alt rudder picture.
    The style I now use. That bit the blade is in rotates 90 degrees when pulling up the rudder and the blade slides in it forwards to stow.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2019