Bell Black Gold layup

I test paddled a Kevlight Bell Seliga Tripper recently, having only ever paddled canoes made of Rx and usually my Yellowstone Solo, I was really impressed with the way this canoe felt on the water and was so easy to manage solo on a day of strong winds. First time I’ve been in a canoe and actually felt I was handling a canoe that felt light and so responsive on the water. The single skin Bell Kevlight layup had a really good finish, much better than the Black Gold with a clear gel coat I’ve seen before. Can anyone please advise if Bell’s present day black gold layup still has a clear gel outer coat, or if like the Kevlight it’s a single skin??

Have been thinking of buying a BG Northstar as a fast tourer, solo or packing light tandem, or a RX Northwind, but the Seliga Tripper made me smile and I think would be a real pleasure to own and paddle. Still can’t decide between the standard aluminium trim and wood…practicality v looks and feel…ever been tricky that one.

Can’t help with the layup question, but I do use a kevlight Nortstar for solo tripping and really like the boat. My RX boat is getting a bit lonely, cause this one is just to easy to portage, load on the car and paddle.

finely engineered laminate
Bell’s black/Gold is one of the best engineered laminates available. [Hemlock and Placid use similar schedules.]

Selecting skin or gel coat, and both were available last year, comes down to a weight verse durability choice. How long do you want to keep that boat and how careful will you be with it? Will you acquire a boat bag and use it?

Bell’s aluminum trim is one of two on the market that are two piece, and actually capture the laminate’s top edge adequately. [Swift’s is the other.]

That said, aluminum comes from dirt and has no soul. Aluminum is best used to contain beer; unfortunately, it is the second best material used to perform that function.

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on the trim
I have always been into low maintenance light weight aluminum trim on all my canoes, thought I have had a seguay into wood when I built a CLC Patuxant.

Last year I was in the market for a new tripping canoe I decided on a Northwoods after having paddled one the summer before.

I drove 90 miles to the nearest dealer who was selling their demo in the old white gold layup for a really attractive price.

When I got there and was looking the WG canoe over, I asked them to pull down a Kevlight version to compare weights.

I decided that I was going to spend the extra money for the kevlar layup (based on weight and looks). Then they pulled down a wood trimmed kevlar Northwoods and put them side by side.

There was no turning back. I simply had to have the wood trim after sitting in both canoes, and paid the extra money without hesitation.

Personally I would buy the wood trim over the aluminum if I were doing it again. It seems to give the canoe a lot more personality than others I own.

Charlie’s comment on "soul"
is true, but Bell’s aluminum trim is the best looking aluminum trim in the business IMHO. It will come down to your personal preferences and if you are willing to do the maintenance (I am and do).


Does the buyer now have a choice and can
request the Bell black gold layup with, or without, the clear gel coat? Or is the choice between single skin Kevlight or Black Gold with a clear gel coat.

Bell’s wood trim is really good and I’m very tempted. The canoe will live in the garage although it will have to earn it’s keep on the water.

The Seliga Tripper I paddled was in kevlight with wood trim, I think I would have bought a Rx Northwind by now but for that test paddle. Anyone else paddled the Bell Seliga Tripper, I can’t find any reviews.

outers and shapes
Best way to figure what Bell is doing for 09 is to call 866.437.0081.

There is little to compare between the NorthStar and the Seliga. The Seliga is an update of a 1950s wood-canvas workhorse design. It was never anything special.

NorthStar is a decade-old design from one of the outstanding paddlecraft designers of all time. With trim lines, differential rocker and tumblehomed paddling stations, it may be the best small-class tandem ever developed - especially friendly yo smaller bow paddlers.

how is it solo
I’d think the other model would be a better solo than the seliga. But you said it handles winds pretty well.

Also, I think aluminum lacks any soul, as said earlier. It takes more maintenance, but wood is worth it on a canoe that you’d consider a member of the family.

Having said that, my next canoe will probably have aluminum rails. But it will be a used wenonah advantage. There’s no soul in racing. :slight_smile:

CEW as usual has a way of…
turning a phrase that rings true. I used teach with a lady that had a Bell like me except it had Alum. gunwales. Below the gunwales I knew they were the same but I used to cringe upon hearing the clang of a paddle on metal and feeling the coldness of it. Just not the same. She’s gone from us now, and sad to say, I miss her, but I sure don’t miss those cold gunwales.

I’ve had a million people deny this, but I know for certain that paddling is more enjoyable when you’re motivating a hull that’s compatible with your soul.

BG Seliga

– Last Updated: Oct-28-08 3:00 PM EST –

IMO, the Seliga is a fantastic boat - massive capacity, but real easy to move even loaded.

Bell stopped offering clear gel coats towards the end of 2006. You can get almond (almost white), spruce green, or red, in either Black Gold or Kevlite. The clear finish now is the skin coat.

keep in mind the Seliga Tripper is a big boat. Gel coating a hull that size will add significant weight. Personally, if you're getting a Black Gold, you really don't need it unless you're dragging it around...if its that nice of a boat, you're going to take better care of it. Right?

The aluminum is great looking and tough, but I can tell you for a fact that at least 90% of the Seligas they sell are wood trimmed, because its absolutely stunning on a boat that shape in Black Gold. Go wood, you'll be much happier with it in the long run. Its one of those that the wood trim guys _like_ to build, because it really is a work of art.

The Northstar is a different boat entirely, and I think a kneeling thwart should be standard in that model. My favorite tandem to paddle, actually, and does well even on some swift rivers. Gel coated, its not too much heavier, but I'd do it over the BlackGold. Go Northstar if you're going to be solo often enough - easier to manage, more compact - unless you're a bigger guy with a bunch of stuff.

Wood trim it is, bkuhn thanks again for
giving advice on the Bell canoes. Back in August I posted asking for advice when I’d narrowed the choice down to a composite Northstar or a Rx Northwind. You put in your reply that you’d only recommend the Northwind if going for bigger open water which we don’t have in Britain ‘unless paddling the English Channel’. Which made me smile then because I was in the midst of planning an attempt to paddle across the English Channel, which myself and two friends suceeded in doing on the 12th of October. We left a slipway in Folkestone harbour on the South coast of England and landed on a beach near Wissant. I paddled my trusty Rx Yellowstone Solo. Haven’t yet found a record of anyone else crossing in a totally open canadian canoe. I posted a message on here afterwards and you may have seen it, but in case you didn’t I hope it’s okay to mention it again.

I’ve never seen a Northstar, I don’t know that one has ever been imported to England so I’m having to go on pictures and reviews, but the measurements look right and the reviews always rate it highly. The Rx Northwind is the easy option, as there are two on the shelf, no doubt waiting for an owner and the chance to get wet.

The Seliga Tripper is so much more full bodied and I’m sure those curved ends in composite would be very vulnerable but it didn’t feel oversized when I was paddling solo,(I’m only 5’7 so I expected it to). Bell have clearly put their mark on the original design with some differential rocker, paddling the Seliga canoe felt different, like I was connecting with the water and the canoe differently, it just felt really good. The Kevlight Seliga Tripper I paddled is still for sale but I think maybe the Black Gold would add some valuable extra resilience to little bumps(not least other peoples canoes, and stones on the shore). Maybe it just felt so different because I was in a lighter and more responsive composite canoe for the first time and I would have felt the same in a composite Wildfire, Merlin, Magic or Northstar.