Bell Solo 16 ft Solo Canoe

-- Last Updated: Mar-10-10 7:33 PM EST --

saw this on local craigs list:
1992 model. Description:
"Bell Solo 16 ft Solo Canoe. Kevlar Gold C.J.Solo Model. Has a caned seat (not pictured). Oak Trim and knee pads . This canoe was only used 6 times and has never spent the night outside. It is SUPER LIGHT approx 40 lbs."

Pix show white gelcoat.

Any comments or info on this boat?

Buy it (nm)

Nice looking …

go for it
If you don’t buy it, I will. I have the same thing in the Whitegold layup and love it. If it’s as good as it looks you can’t go wrong for $900.

go for it
I just bought the BG magic listed just below it.

I also had a CJ in the early 90’s when it was one of the better (few) choices for a lightweight solo boat. I found it a bit squirely when leaned but otherwise a nice boat. Personally, I think there are better/newer design choices for a solo. The CJ was sold to me as an “all around” tripper. At that time, where I lived, you either bought a flatwater tripper or a river boat. There are more specific designs now and I would look at how you plan to use it and shop accordingly. A boat that tries to be everything usually misses target somewhere. Paddle it before you buy it.

CJ Solo

– Last Updated: Mar-13-10 11:45 PM EST –

The CJ, named for Cliff Jacobson, Solo was designed by Bob Brown for Old Town in the mid-late 80's. Ted Bell bought the mold from ~ 1990 when OT dropped the concept of making serious canoes.

The CJ was an important hull, because the biggest builder in the market commissioned a solo boat; underlining that solo canoes had arrived. Beyond that, it is not 16 feet long, designs have progressed quite a bit since, and 40 lbs has never been lightweight.

The CJ hull was/is 15.5' by 28.5" max at the rails and pretty wide below, with a 27.5" waterline. With no rocker and vertical sides without tumblehome, it seems huge and fits only larger paddlers. Trim was always ash, so the oak is a refit.

It was a great joy for me to discontinue the model from Bell's array in the mid 90s, replacing it with the Yost designed Merlin II; 15' by 29" with over 3" of tumblehome, and differential rocker of 2" in the bow and 1" stern.

“It was a great joy for me to…
discontinue the model…”

Thanks for the comments, Charlie. I figured you’d know this one. As noted above I fell for the Magic.

Cliff Jacobson on the CJ Solo?
As I read the post, the following is an e-mail from Cliff Jacobson to Pierre Girard:

***** QUOTE *****

Hello PG:

The Bell CJ has an interesting history. It began life as a wood-strip canoe I built with the help of my friends Bob Brown and Darrell Foss. IT was similar to your boat but had curved back stems and about 3 inches of rocker at each end. It was my first solo tripping canoe, built around 1979, if I recall. I sold the design to Old Town who straightened the stems and removed the rocker (big mistake!). They called it the Old Town CJ Solo. At the time, it was one of a very few true solo tripping canoes on the market. Old Town sold only a few dozen CJ’s and I got the mold from them and gave it to Ted Bell who lightened the construction and generally improved the canoe all around. He named it the CJ Solo and it was Bell’s first successful solo canoe. It has been out of production now for I’d guess about 10 years. It was a good canoe—high volume, relatively fast and very seaworthy. But by today’s standards it is simply too big for most people, and the zero rocker and square ends make turning it a chore. Still, it’s a nice canoe, though not in the league with the top Bell’s and We-no-nah’s of today.

The more you paddle solo canoes the more you come to realize that the CJ is bigger than you need. I weigh barely 130 pounds and that old CJ is way too big for me. Indeed, even the Yellowstone Solo or older Bell Wildfire is marginally too large for me. The little Bell Flashfire is really a more perfect fit for someone my weight. But, I still prefer the YS because of its versatility—reasonably fast on the flats, pivots on a penny in rapids and is very seaworthy in big waves.

Your Bell CJ is a fine old canoe, and a good boat for a beginner. When my daughters were little I installed two extra seats in it and the girls paddled it like a tandem canoe. They could really move that boat: my wife, Sharon and I had a Sawyer Charger (18.5 ft) at the time and the girls could keep up with us if we didn’t push real hard.

I think you’ll enjoy your CJ. It won’t depreciate any more than it already has. You will probably be able to sell it for more than what you paid for it five years from now—that is, if you can bear to part with it.

You’ll find some references to the old CJ in my book CANOEING WILD RIVERS (revised edition). The newer versions of this book (EXPEDITION CANOEING) reference more recent designs.


Cliff Jacobson

***** END QUOTE *****

See post 27 in this thread:

Are you with Bell?


– Last Updated: Mar-13-10 3:06 PM EST –

I was with Bell from 1993-2000, during which time I designed the wood trim, the two piece aluminum rails and brought David Yost in as designer. I was one of the Madison WI dinner party that came up with the Black/Gold laminate and I speced eight of the hulls. I also ruined a lot of clothes laminating canoes and earned a free lifetime pass to Interstates 80, 90 and 94.