Bell Wildfire, Royalex vs. Composite

I really like what I’ve read about the Wildfire. I just don’t know if I’m ready to pay that much more for it than what I can get with a Yellowstone Solo (basically the Royalex version of the Wildfire). I’d get the Yellowstone if I was sure that the downgrade in performance is minimal. I can live with the weight and apprearance trade off. Can anyone comment on how much of a performance (speed, freestyle manuevers, etc.) drop-off there is in going from a Wildfire to a Yellowstone Solo?

I would be interested also to hear how the Wildfire compares to the Flashfire. I paddled a Yellowstone (royalex) briefly and did not find it as responsive.

If it’s the same hull and the only difference is the material… I doubt that there woud be a “significant” difference in performance. The key word is significant… as no doubt in a lab youd be able to measure the variations in forces… but if you’re the guy with the paddle… the weight would be the most significant difference.

I just looked at a one of the HighEnd glass layups in a wildfire… BlackSteel? BlackMagic?.. sorry old brain cells fail me this late at night. It was agreat looking boat with low freeboard.

You may want to try to talk a dealer into a test drive of both layups… if you do… please let us know what YOU think :slight_smile:

different spec
The rocker is different on the Yellowstone; 1 1/2" stern and 2 1/2" bow. The composite Wildfire has 1 1/2" rocker both bow and stern.

The differential rocker in the Yellowstone will track a little better, however the substantially blunter entry line on the bow stem cuts the speed a touch. The composite Wildfire works significantly better for freestyle manuevers.

I paddled a composit Wildfire for one day at a freestyle class. At the end of the day I jumped into a roylex Wildfire for a half an hour. Hardly an objective test, but…

I walked away with a strong desire to own the composit boat and not much interest in the roylex.


Yellowstone and old Royalex Wildfire
are not the same boats, While both are Royalex there were subtle changes made to the rocker on the Yellowstone.

I noticed that you haven’t filled out a user profile, can we assume that you are a beginner to canoes in general and/or solo canoes in particular? User profiles DO help with these conversations.

At any rate if that’s the case I doubt that the hull material/cost difference would be of much value to you at this point. On down the line, if you seriously get into freestyle (only a small percentage of canoeists actually do) I think you’d find the composite version would be more appropriate.

That being said I’ve seen some pretty amazing freestyle maneuvers done with some pretty unlikely canoes. From what I’ve observed freestyle has a lot more to do with skill than hull (within reason). Still… if you’re setting your mind on freestyle and are willing to spend the serious time that discipline requires you’ll probably want a composite Bell (either a Wildfire or a Flashfire depending on your size/weight) or even better yet (and even more expensive) a Loon Works cedar/canvas canoe (also designed by David Yost, built by Tom MacKenzie).

On the other hand if you’re a “destination oriented” paddler who’s primarily into river running and you’d like to have some fun using some freestyle techniques along the way the Royalex version might be just the ticket for you. When it comes to solo freestyle I know of no better Royalex hull than the Bell Wildfire (now Yellowstone).

In other words: it’s all a matter of personal preference and how you’ll use your boat.

That being said, I know freestylers who have a Royalex “beater” that they use for river running and also own a fine composite or cedar canvas canoe that they use exclusively for their still-water freestyle practice/playtime. There are also those who enjoy the increased performance of a composite or C/C so much that they’ll take their expensive boats down river… If/when they get damaged they can be repaired after all. A sad thing to see is a person who owns only one canoe (a top of the line boat) who won’t do any river running for fear of dinging up their hull. What they’re missing!

Wildfire has 2 1/2" rocker bow and stern

can’t trust bell’s literature
they’re not the same boat, at least down to the details. i’ve found that you really can’t trust what the manufacturer tells you. designers and market folks tend to hide the truth. i’ve been told for years that rob roys were made from the magic hull, then the merlin hull, then part magic-part bucktail. i think i know the actual answer now. it’s none of the above. i’d paddle both and make a your own decision. BTW, doesn’t bell offer the wildfire in royalex?

Used to be Wildfire in Royalex
but it never had the same specs as the composite. It has been renamed “Yellowstone Solo”

Mohawk Solo 13 & 14
are some pretty sweet freestyle Royalex boats.

Also I should say composite Wildfire
is not even comparable to the Royalex version except in length. It has much sharper lines and leans more towards the Merlin in that it will track better and be faster on flatwater. I do like the fact that you can beat the heck out of the Royalex and it won’t hurt a thing.