R - 84 Solo Canoes

How does the lighter weight royalex perform in solo canoes? Stiffness, durability and light weight are all considerations. Use would be on shallow rocky streams with maybe some class II rapids here and there.

I’ve been using
a Solo + ,which seems to be Royalite, for three years now. I absolutely beat the heck out of the boat in class II & III water. The boat is prone to creases from sliding over rocks, etc. The bottom & sides show denting from impacts, but no breach in the vinyl outer layer. These dents do not appear through the material on the inside of the boat. I’ve been watching for any signs of hull flex or oilcanning when I use it as that was a rap on the material I heard before buying it & I’m happy to say I’ve never seen it either in solo or tandem use. All in all I’m very pleased with the materials performance and lighter weight. The boat’s design may affect the suitability of this material for a particular hull shape, though, but I’m very happy with it in this Wenonah design.

better in solo
The royalite or R84 is a fine material for solos. Solos have smaller, narrower bottoms with not much in the way of relatively flat areas. Stiffness is good. In some tandems, however, especially those with flat bottoms, I have seen R84 hulls with what I would consider an unexceptable lack of stiffness. The weight savings is great however and I would consider snapping in a couple of steam-bent white cedar ribs to supplement the stiffness. I have done this on old royalex hulls that are in good shape, but have lost the stiffness in the bottom. It works very well.

Try Again, Agree With Seumas
My first reply didn’t post! It works for my Mohawk Solo 14, can’t imagine R-84 in my old Mad River Revelation, it would have oilcanned terribly. And I think Mike’s remark about Wenonah’s royalex is right on the mark. I believe their royalex layup (and Dagger’s and Old Town’s)) was somewhere between the heavy duty Mad River version and Royalex “Light.” Did not find it a problem in the Wenonah or Dagger Royalex boats I owned. If you would primarily paddle those East TX streams we paddled, Rob, I would think to go with the Royalex “Light.” In retrospect, I should have paid the extra $ for the heavier layup for long term use on our rocky, Ozark streams. WW

Mohawk 14
Thanks Terry. I didn’t know you’d gotten the Solo 14 in R -84. If I get another solo (its always a money thing :slight_smile: ain’t it) it would probably see more use in the hill country which is much more like your Ozark water.

What do you see as the negatives with R - 84 for your use, less abrasion resistance? Getting dent’d up, gouged? It sounds like stiffness may not be the problem.

That is what I was wondering about – wouldn’t the size and shape of solos work well with R-84 from the stiffness standpoint? At least one manufacterer’s web site states that it does. Nothing against the manufacturer, but of course I’m looking for more objective opinions.

On Royalite, the foam core is essentially the same as Royalex, it’s the vinyl outer skin where there’s a difference. Based on my experience, I definitely wouldn’t recommend it for shallow rocky conditions as it just doesn’t have the abrasion resistance that the skin on Royalex offers.

The skin on my Royalex canoes, while scratched up, in some cases pretty badly, still hasn’t worn through yet. Shortly after getting a canoe in Royalite and before I paddled it myself I loaned it to a freind for the day. While paddling a short distance behind him that day I saw the stern just barely scrape the rocky bottom making a little noise. I remember thinking at the time, “well the first scratch is out of the way.”

At the end of the day when we were loading it up I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that the skin was totally missing in the same spot I had seen the stern scrape earlier that day. In an area the size of a silver dollar, the green foam core was totally exposed, in fact there was not a speck of skin left anywhere in that area.

While it usually takes years before I have to install skid plates to cover the wear on the ends of my Royalex, it took one day with my Royalite hull.

When I called the manufacturer to tell them of this, they said that the skin on the Royalite has very little abrasion resistance and that I should have went with Royalex. I explained that I had ordered this canoe in Royalex, which is the only way I could, and that THEY had switched up on me that year only offering this model in R-Lite so that’s what arrived at my dealer.

Heck, he {dealer} didn’t even know that they were going to do this until the canoes I had ordered during the winter showed up that spring. When a manufacturer reserves the right to make changes they may just opt to make it a major change.

A couple of years later I noticed that the manufacturer dropped only offering this model in R-Lite so I picked up the phone again. By this time the bottom of the canoe had been touched up many times to cover exposed core material using the can of spray paint that I ordered with it that matched the color as I knew I might need it someday.

When I asked why they dropped only offering this model in R-Lite his answer was short, sweet, and to the point “not tough enough.” He went on to add that they only recommended it for lake or deep water use.

If I only knew then what I know now I would have passed on this canoe altogether but knew nothing of the differences. I just thought that the sheet of Royalex used to make this hull may have been a little thinner to reduce weight, hence the name.


Have Had It Since September, Rob

– Last Updated: Mar-12-04 1:06 AM EST –

Oilcanning isn't a problem, nor hull flex. It just seems to dent easily. No "Wear throughs" in the vinyl, but have only had the boat since September '03. If I had it to do over again, I'd spend a few extra bucks and get the "Regular" Royalex and not the "Light" version. The weight difference isn't that significant, and I don't think the money is that much more either. BTW, Ogilvie Special, that's some excellent imfo. WW

Thanks WW! I also noticed that my R-lite hull dented much easier than my Royalex. I’ve also seen the same thing you mentioned as far as flex & oil canning is concerned, in fact, it was actually less than in the Royalex canoe by the same manufacturer {different model} that I picked-up at the same time.

Here’s a little more on what I’ve seen dealing with abrasion resistance. One day we took our daughter & her boyfriend on a four hour river trip and I put them in this canoe.

The next time I washed the canoe, I noticed where it appeared as if the stern paddler {boyfriend} had raked his paddle along the side of the hull and that the paddle had sandpaper on it! It even raised a serious area of “fuzzies” about the size of a football where he did this. I can only imagine what it would have been like if I hadn’t applied 303 to the hull the day before, which should have acted somewhat like a lubricant, for a while at least.

When the manufacturer told me that this material had very little abrasion resistance he wasn’t kidding!

It was kind of funny that day. While paddling, my daughter asked why I had given them plastic Carlilse paddles to use and we had wood.

I just smiled.

About an hour later, as we came into the backwaters of a small dam, they veered off to the shallows so we coasted to a stop to see what was up. As they got up near the lily pads I saw him rear back with his {my} paddle and “whack” a huge carp that was up there. While he was up there “whacking away,” which went on for about 10 minutes, I turned to my wife and said “And she wanted to know why they got the plastic paddles.”


The vinyl skin on the three new royalex boats I’ve had in the last couple of years has not impressed me much. The abrasion resistance is only fair. So if the R-84 skin is even less abrasion resistant I don’t think I’d be satisfied. I’m starting to wonder if, no harder than I abuse a canoe, maybe a used glass or kevlar boat wouldn’t be a better fit for me, even in these boney hill country streams.

Thanks for all the input folks.

Hey Rob and Ogilviespecial

– Last Updated: Mar-12-04 12:05 PM EST –

If the Mohawk Solo 14 came in 'glass, I'd have thought about 'glass. 'Ol Blue, the Wenonah Adirondack that I am re-purchasing, is about 13-14 years old and has probably seen >1000 miles of Ozark streams and a dozen trips to the BWCAW with nothing more than a few gelcoat chips and lots of scrapes. I wouldn't hesitate to reccomend Wenonah's tuffweave glass boats for rivers. Don't get me wrong, I love my little Mohawk. Just wish ALL royalex boats were made with the heavy duty stuff Mad River and the old Blue Hole canoes uses. And Olgilviespecial, are you Bob's friend that helped Bob get that Chestnut re-finished? If so, heard a lot good things about you from Bob! Like the story about "Paddling" Carp! WW

Thanks, Terry.

One of the boats I’d like to paddle is a Vagabond in the tuffweave. No more serious white water than I plan to do, a Vagabond might work, and the price is quite reasonable. I enjoyed paddling a royalex Sandpiper and thought it was a fun little boat – even if Jill’s kinda looks like a minnow :-).

Guess I’m really thinking of one of the river tripper type solos though, Odessy, Wildfire, Guide, Raven, SRT or Supernova. A guy can dream anyway!

Paddled Rhow’s Vagabond
I was told it gave me a big smile I didn’t realize was even there! Considered the Vagabond, but liked Bob’s Mohawk Solo 14 a little bit better. I think you would be happy with either boat, but if your Hill Country streams are like our Ozark streams, get the heavier Royalex if you choose the Mohawk. WW

Yep, that’s me. I usually tell people not to beleive anything Bob says, but in this case will say everything you heard is probably true! We should be paddling with Bob one month from today, or thereabouts, which is always a pleasure!!

I too have also found We-no-nah’s Tuf-weave to be pretty Tuf. I’ve never used my Sundowner for tripping but it’s gotten a lot of use with the only “damage” to the finish, with the exception of a few expected scratches, being a small chip in the gel-goat on one of the stems.

Ironically, this happend right after we brought it home from the dealer when my oldest son droppped it and it landed right on the edge of a concrete step but even that was pretty minor and only in the surface of the finish.

That was another case of, “well, I got the first scratch out of the way,” but this time it was before the canoe ever saw the water.


My 2 cents worth…
If I had to pay full price for an R-84 Mohawk Solo 14, I wouldn’t have a Solo 14. I found one in new condition (literally/used 4 times on a lake)for 400 dollars (paddle, portage strap & foot pegs included) & it has turned out to be a great little boat for the money, for my wife to paddle. The jury is still out(no oil canning/very little flex) on how it will hold up long term, but it definitely scratches & dents easier than Royalex. Sure is easy to move around & load;like it’s handling too! That said, if I had to pay full price for a new Solo 14; I’d rather pay a little extra & get the Royalex version instead.

My Odyssey 14 is Royalex & am very happy with it; as I am with Royalex versions of my MRGuide, and Bell Wildfire. All 3 suit my Ozark river running needs.


P.S. I’m going to make an effort to keep Jack & Terry apart; don’t know if I can handle the both of them together, ganging up on me! Could be a devilish duo!

Aw, C’Mon, Bob!
Look at all the fun you’ve had at MY expense! A turn of the tables would be fun! I haven’t even told you about our latest “Key Fiasco,” but we found out Piedmont has someone who can break into the Escape! WW

Have to be in Poplar Bluff tomorrow for a funeral (going to miss Black river trip). If I didn’t have to be back here sunday, I’d stop by Piedmon & aggravate you two! Giving presentation to local historical society here on monday.


I have picked up a used Mohawk in r-84. it took 800 miles of river tripping to wear out the bottom at the stern. I added skidplates, no problem. I sure am glad of the light weight on frequent portages.