Mohawk Canoes

I have two Mohawks, Solo 13 & 14, which came from Florida. I am in the market for a new WW boat. I have had great customer support with the old Mohawk people and couldn’t be happier with how the boats have held up. So naturally I am considering a Mohawk for my WW boat.

But… I was talking with a friend that is a pretty active WW paddler and he told me that Mohawks customer service and quality of product has greatly decreased with the new owners. Just wondering if anyone here has experienced this?


new Mohawk
The new Mohawk canoe is completely different than that which you know.

I haven’t looked into it for a couple of years so I don’t know how the dust has settled, but the situation with Mohawk was rather chaotic for a time. Two individuals bought the Mohawk name, the molds and the designs and they had a falling out in a very major way.

I am aware of some folks who bought Mohawk whitewater OC1s in recent years, who felt that the hulls were way too flimsy, but the general consensus is that Royalex sheet is much thinner and less durable than it used to be.

I would call Mohawk and speak to them to try to get a feel for what the current situation is.

Mohawk WW OC1s
You should check this recent thread, which contains a link to a short video. The info relevant to Mohawk is on the second page of the thread:

Mohawk has the rights and molds for some great Royalex WW OC1s including the Viper 11 and 12, the Probe, and the Shaman.

Clipper Canoe makes composite Viper 11s and 12s as well as Probes.

Hemlock Canoe Works makes composite Shamans.

Obviously, these boats are much more expensive. Your best bet might be locating a used boat, if you want Royalex.

Not just Mohawk…

– Last Updated: May-06-09 4:21 PM EST –

>I am aware of some folks who bought Mohawk whitewater OC1s in recent years, who felt that the >hulls were way too flimsy, but the general consensus is that Royalex sheet is much thinner and less >durable than it used to be.

I think the poster might be looking for something UNIQUE to Mohawk.

I think it’s in our interest that
the “new” Mohawk be successful. Of course this must be balanced off against the fact that buyers can’t use whitewater canoes that are too floppy. I have had satisfactory dealings with new Mohawk on accessories, and I hope people will not avoid Mohawk because of concerns that might actually have more to do with the supplier of Royalex sheets.

Mohawk canoes
I too would like to see Mohawk be successful as they have some great designs.

But I have heard multiple complaints, in recent years, about the build quality of Mohawk boats and that is specific to the brand.

As for the Royalex sheet, I have seen a good number of Royalex boats made in the past few years. But I have not seen any whitewater boat manifest the characteristics of the Viper shown in this video:

If you haven’t watched it you need to. I was looking at ordering a Royalex Viper. I would not do so after seeing this. And I had a Mohawk Royalex Viper so I know what that boat should be like. I am now looking into a glass Clipper Viper.

Would like to have seen the blue boat
get more licks, but the yellow boat obviously is too flexible. Also wish I knew the weight of the yellow boat. Comparing that with the usual weight of vipers would show how much the Royalex sheet was “off.”

oh the humanity
that video made me go hug the pair of Encores, Reflection, Pyrana, and Dumoine out in the yard. How something like that could leave the shop is beyond me. A few years back I heard about delamination issues, specifically a purple Mohawk. I went and checked my abs supply, and also got my kevlar canoe building book today.

According to my son, he’s heard Esquif has the toughest royalex these days.

I have made a few calls to Mohawk recently. All my calls were answered as well as all my questions. They were polite and curtious.

According to them Royalex hasn’t changed at all in the last 8-12 years, just rumors floating around. That doesn’t explain the problem with the hull in the video though.

I have lined up a demo paddle in a Shaman, with the boats designer, Harold Deal. It is a Florida made Shaman and I think the new ones are just a little different, according to Harold.

If it paddles anything like my SRT, also designed by Harold, I think I’ll like it. But then the question still remains, will I get a flimsy hull or not?

I’ve met Harold
I believe the first time I met him he was paddling one of his designs…in KEVLAR :-0. Lackawaxen maybe 3 or 4 years ago.

Saw him on the Tohickon about 6 weeks ago. Pretty much a triple drop, didn’t see what he was paddling, carnage everywhere.Dark hull, may have been the same boat.

A lot of decent WW designs from Mohawk, I just wish they had dealerships or demos… Even the local dealer, handling Esquif, MR, and Bell, won’t stock any WW boats. I’ll stick with my jar of abs for the time being.

Harold Deal

– Last Updated: May-06-09 9:00 PM EST –

Harold is a soft-spoken, nice guy, and a great paddler. I'll bet he was paddling his composite Hemlock Shaman.

The Shaman paddles nothing like the SRT, in my opinion, but both are great designs. The Shaman hasn't gotten the attention it deserves. I think it is a boat that has to be paddled for a while to be fully appreciated.

The prior incarnation of Mohawk made the decision sometime back in the early 1990s, I believe, to go to a factory-direct sales and marketing system. I first paddled the Mohawk Viper at an NOC open boat clinic. That was when Mohawk still had dealers, and NOC was one. Of course, once NOC no longer sold Mohawks, they pretty quickly dropped them from their instructional fleet, since they want you to become familiar with a design that they sell, in hopes of making an additional profit off you when you buy one from them.

The factory-direct sales system I think has hurt Mohawk, although it allowed them to sell boats at a very competitive price. Since the boats are not available at dealers to look at and demo, and since schools like NOC are not motivated to have them in their fleets, the only way to get to know about them is word of mouth, and trying a friend's.

Despite this obstacle, the Mohawk Probe gained a very wide following, and there are more than a few who revere the Viper and the Odyssey.

Lot of the Joisey boys (HRCKC)
paddle Mohawks, but generally the older models.

Mohawk update

– Last Updated: May-24-09 8:30 PM EST –

Well it didn't go so well.

After paddling Harold's Shaman, I decided to order one agaisnt what my better judgement was telling me from what people told me about the new company.

I called on a Monday and talked with Richard, he said the computer was slow to start up and he would call me back in 30 minutes witha price quote and a shipping quote. Well 2 hours past, no call, so I called and left a message. An hour later he calls back and tells me he couldn't figure out how to work the computer. But the guy that does that stuff would be in tomorrow and would call me first thing.

Tuesday morning came, no call. I called and left a message with no return call. Tuesday night I sent an e-mail telling them my situation and that I was willing to give them another chance if someone who could answer questions and take an order would call me by noon Wed.

10am Wed. Sam calls, answers all my questions, so I ordered the boat. Told him I needed it by the following Friday for a weekend trip. He said they were caught up on builds and it shouldn't be a problem and it may ship as soon as Friday,but wasn't going to promise anything.

Friday afternoon I called to check the status. They just started putting it together, should be done Monday and ship out.

Monday afternoon I called, Sam said they were just finishing it, but it was too late to ship. But it would ship out Tuesday, still enough time to have it by the weekend.

Tuesday afernoon I called, and Sam told me he got his wires crossed. The boat he was telling me about the whole time wasn't mine it was another costomers. They now would have to form my hull and it would be another two weeks. Yeah right, no way, they can kiss my a**.

So much for Sam telling me about the origanal boat that was well cured and how they are stiffer if they cure awhile. Then he wanted to ship me a fresh hull, WTF?

So I tried, but they dropped the ball. Just wanted to follow up with my personal experience with the new Mohawk. Nothing like the old.

That’s too bad. There was just recently a thread on in which the owners of Mohawk were soliciting advice from users on new products and what they could offer to broaden the appeal of Mohawk boats.

It was obvious from the large number of responses, and their contents, that many boaters would like to see Mohawk successful, but stories like this don’t help.

Found it thanks
I posted my experience there as well. And an add for a used Shaman.

there’s Royalex and then…
there’s Royalex. All is made by Dupont( or used to be).The original Mohawk Solo 13 and 14 were made of a grade of Royalex known as Royalite, a thinner product. The WW hulls were a thicker Royalex. Not sure what is happening since the new owners took over but that’s the way it used to be. The Royalite boats did not hold up as well but not too bad for the price. Sometimes, ya get what ya pay for.


Royalex was developed and manufactured by Uniroyal Corporation and is their tradename. Since 2000 Royalex has been manufactured by Spartech Corporation which bought the tradename and the rights to produce the thermoplastic. Royalite or R84 is also manufactured by Spartech.

Mohawk offers R84 as an option for some of their boats but, I believe, most are made of Royalex. There have been numerous complaints in recent years from those in the whitewater open boating community, regarding the durability of Royalex. It isn’t clear if this is due to some change in the manufacturing process, or whether manufacturers are specifying thinner sheet. Not everyone has observed a decline in the durability of Royalex, however.

I think the trick with Royalite is that
to get a lighter boat, the ABS layers may be thinner and lighter, but there is another surface plastic on the outside, replacing the vinyl, which has some stiffening effect on its own. The Esquif Spark is made with a version of Royalite, and the roundish hull helps keep it stiff enough even with the lighter material.

The stiff outer layer on Royalite wears differently from vinyl, and some didn’t like that.

Some years ago
I stopped at the Blue Hole plant and spoke to the owners. They spent a lot of time with me and let me observe their operation. They told me that that each boat manufacturer specs. thickness and reinforcement for the Royalex sheets for their individual boats. There is no standard spec. The Blue Hole folks told me that they were making boats for overseas sale under a private label. Although those overseas boats looked like OCA’s or OCV’s they were in fact specd. lighter.

Assuming that what I was told was correct, it would be safe to assume that it is not that Royalex in general has become thinner, but more likely that some manufacturers are specing lighter materials for their boats.

Marc Ornstein

Dogpaddle Canoe Works

Custom Paddles and Cedar Strip Canoes

Interesting. My MR Synergy, made
almost a dozen years ago in NE, is very solidly built and shows evidence that the builders ordered thicker bands in places for stiffness. But perhaps some manufacturers want to save both on material weight and on the weight of the final product. Not that my Synergy is heavy for Royalex… I always carry it on my head, balanced on the pedestal.