Epic Cruiser 16 vs Epic 16X Performance.

-- Last Updated: Feb-25-07 2:01 PM EST --

I had been considering a used Epic Cruiser 16 as a light weight kayak with bulkheads for someone my size - 5'6" and 150 lbs, but when I went to the Epic web site, I saw that they no longer make it.

They have replaced it with the Epic 16X Performance http://www.epickayaks.com/products/details.aspx?nid=663&cid=3367 with the new Epic Track Master steering system, which appears to be standard and not an option http://www.epickayaks.com/products/details.aspx?nid=663&cid=3367.

Has anyone paddle both boats? Comparisons?

Thoughts on the new Track Master rudder system?

I’m Very Skeptical

– Last Updated: Mar-05-07 1:50 AM EST –

I want to start by saying I love the looks of the new X series Epics. These are boats that could win my heart and mind, HOWEVER...

I am skeptical about the steering system on the new X series Epics. I suppose it provides a shallower draft boat, but that hardly seems to justifty the high drag to lift ratio of steering by pivoting a portion of the stern.

The Epic only meets the USCA sea kayak specs and not others, like the Sound Rowers FSK specs. Since the USCA is a canoe racing organization and mostly races on flat shallow rivers, perhaps shallow draft is the primary goal of the pivoting hull. Maybe they have figured out that over a longer river course benefits of always having some steering control outweighs the drag.

I think most paddlers would prefer a choice of a kick-up stern hung rudder or an understern rudder like on surf skis. These standard rudder choices, theoretically, are more efficient than pivoting a portion of the hull. A foiled rudder steers by generating lift with some drag. The pivoting hull would appear to steer only by generating drag. The Epic system is not that different from dragging your paddle on the left side of the boat to steer left.

Standard rudders also sit deeper in the water so remain effective for much more of the time when in wavy conditions. You don't see Greg Barton or Oscar Chalupsky in surfskis with pivoting tails.

I haven't seen the system in person, so I have no idea how the pivoting hull is controlled. However, it would be difficult for me to see how such a system could have less friction than a simple rudder shaft through a couple of bearings. I also wonder about additional drag created by the gap in the joint between the two portions of the hull. This drag is always there whether you are steering or not.

There are no alternatives with this system. No fine tuning rudder area to suit your weight, or conditions. You cant swap out the system for a different rudder system if you just don't like it. The rudder system is the hull. The only way to try something else is to buy a different boat.

Does anybody know what magic the Epic steering system uses that could possibly make it more efficient and effective in real world conditions than a standard rudder? I would love to hear the science behind this not marketing lingo.

I just don't get it. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall in the meetings when the system was discussed. I can't imagine the decision to go ahead with it was made lightly. But I personally think they may have made a design and marketing error. We will see.

I predict Epic eventually drops this system and offers a standard rudder system. I will take a closer look at the 18X when they do. In the mean time I watch with great interest to see what happens.

I saw the boat in action…
last April in Charleston. The boat was beautiful and I am sure very fast. I was not excited about the new rudder system so I didn’t paddle the boat. I paddle their ski’s instead, very cool. I have owned two Epic’s so far. I love the boats, not so sure of the quality. The China X boat looked very well made and well built. Much better than my South African boats. I did watch lots of people paddle the X in that small flat lake. The rudder system did not seem to turn the boats very well and looked like the system stalled the boats quite a bit. On Epic’s defense, that was a first and a prototype. They have since added a small fin on the wagging tail.

I am interested in paddling the X and will this Kayak Festival in Charleston, April.

I have about worn my great QCC out!

Find a kayak festival or shop and paddle the boat. The guys at Epic are great! Call their headquarters in Charleston and they will tell you where the closest X’s are located.

Good luck!


Epic Cruiser 16 in Carbon Fiber for sale
Look at the “Gear Swap” forum of Chesapeake Paddlers Association. The owner of the one for sale also has the newer 16X. He can discuss the differences. He is an Epic representative.


I can’t find the details of the new
steering system anymore on their web site. Am I just not seeing it, or is it no longer there?

Vulnerability of the new rudder fin to
damage from just sitting kayak on a hard surface? It seems that the fin would vulnerable to damage from just sitting the boat down. I’ve never been around a boat with a permanently fixed fin on the bottom, so I may be overly concerned about the fragility of the fin or the care that must be taken not to damage it. I sometimes have to sit my boats down on concrete, asphalt or gravel boat ramps etc…

If you go to the Epic website and click on the FAQ tab there is information on the Track Master.



They used to have pictures too.

On the Epic website the pictures and stories under -News and Notes- revolve every few minutes. There is info on display there of the track master.



Anymore feedback on these boats?