R84 durability

I’ve never paddled, touched, or even seen in person a canoe made out of R84 Royalite. I’ve only been able to read the basic info found on the Spartech website and from the two builders that I know of that use it (Mohawk and Nova Craft). I’m quite familiar with Royalex, and was wondering if the decrease in durabilty vs. weight savings is worth it. I do all kinds of paddling except whitewater, and want less weight than Royalex but can’t afford Kevlar. Most of what I’ve gathered is that R84 would be fine for my needs, but wanted to ask those that may be more objective about it than the builders themselves. Thanks for any info.

I imagine it would be fine for flatwater
The major complaint I have heard about R84 is the difficulty folks have getting anything to bond to it well.

I have been told Stabond works. I’m not sure about G-Flex. This would only be an issue for you if you wanted to bond D-rings or other outfitting to the hull.

aka Royalite?

– Last Updated: Aug-23-11 9:08 PM EST –

if so, my primary poling boat is a R84 Swift Dumoine. No noticeable wear characteristic difference between this and my royalex boats.Actually it's a harder surface and doesn't gouge as easily. I use 3m5300 to bond d-rings, knee pads etc...my boats rarely see flatwater.
Dumoine is 10 years old, several hundred outings, Cracked a gunwale all to pieces, but the hull is solid.

The durability of R-84 depends mainly
on whether the builder goes for a lighter boat which still has good strength, or a boat about as heavy as Royalex which is stiffer and stronger.

An alternate coating with more strength and stiffness replaces the vinyl surface layer. (The vinyl layer contributes very little to strength or stiffness of Royalex.) With more strength in the outer layer, the ABS layers may be thinner. Or, may not.

I understand Esquif does it pretty well. The Spark is R-84 and has been a light, stiff boat.

If you want to see some affordable, stiff, light boats, check out millbrookboats.com . The one-man builder crew, Kaz, makes them with S-glass outside, Kevlar inside, and most are vacuum bagged. Only thing is, his selection of flatwater boats is limited.

Nova Craft DOES NOT use R-84
Dear cave-demon,

That’s taken right off of page 13 their 2011 “Waterlines” catalog.

In their words, Royalex is the heavier “expedition” grade and Royalite is the standard grade of ABS sheet material. They custom order their ABS sheet material to meet their specifications.

R-84 is merely one of the component layers of the ABS sheeting used by other manufacturers, it is not a type of ABS.


Tim Murphy AKA “Goobs”

Royalite vs Royalex Lite
It can get confusing because of the similarity between the terms Royalite (R84) and Royalex Lite (lightweight “real” Royalex) Actually, Nova Craft in the Waterlines article does not use the term Royalite, they say Royalex Lite.

Had a R-84 Mohawk Solo 14
The outer layer wasn’t very durable, but was easily repairable. I used mine on rocky Ozark streams. The weight savings was about 5 lbs and it was about $150 cheaper, as I recall. It was worth the weight savings and money savings for me. NOW, Mohawks sell the boats at almost the same price. The thing is, the way I used mine, I would have eventually had to add skid plates and fiberglass patches to a ROYALEX boat too; albeit, probably later. So the weight savings may be enough to sway me.

As for oil canning and flexibility with the R-84, all I have to go on is that boat. It was not an issue, but may have been had it been a wide, flat bottom boat?

BTW, I didn’t put on skid plates until I had wear through of the outer layer. Thanks to people here at P.net like g2d, I learned that heavy, big, kevlar skid plates are a poor substitute for fiberglass for the job. I had a few lbs of fiberglass on it when I sold it a few years back! It was ugly, but no worse for all the wear, and is still being used after 10 years of HEAVY use. Hope that helps you! WW

plenty stiff and strong
I have an Esquif Avalon, made from Royalite, and find it plenty stiff and strong. The boat is 58 lbs, about the same as similar canoes from other OEMs made of Royalex, but less than Esquif Royalex canoes. I read somewhere that Esquif goes for heavier Royalex layups and I’d believe it. Anyway, that’s a long way of saying that while the Avalon Royalite is perfect what I paddle - currently only flatwater, maybe some easy class I or II in the future - its still too heavy to really be considered a “poor man’s kevlar.”

For that, I would look at higher-end fiberglass. I hear that Wenonah’s “Tough Weave” is quite good. For the same model, the jump from Royalex to Tough Weave is only a couple hundred bucks, but the weight comes down pretty substancially and I assume that the fiberglass layup can be molded with finer lines for a faster hull. If I was in the market for a dedicated flatwater canoe, that’s the route I would go unless I just ponied up for kevlar.

Don’t know about R84…
…But having had several royalex boats (some lite and one not), one fiberglass Mad River and now one kv/fg Millbrook - I would not buy another flatwater boat in anything but composite. The above suggestions for Wenonah Tuff-weave and the Millbrook boats are good ones. Just 2 or 3 hundred more than many royalex boats are listing for now, and better performing (and better looking) boats. Worth the wait.

millbrook canoes
look like an incredible value. First time I looked at his website, I thought his boats were Royalex based on the prices. But then I saw he uses kevlar. Wow!

Only issue is that all the Millbrook canoes are WW and river designs. No flatwater designs. Maybe the AC/DC? Still a pretty highly rockered boat. The OP did specify he wants a flatwater canoe.

You could get a Swamp Hen, but
as it’s a downriver racing boat, it might not be as good a fast lake boat as a Bell.

Or you could get a Souhegan of Coho, both pocket tandems designed for poling, but not particularly fast on lakes. Probably would keep up with Prospectors fine.

Good thinking, jdb. Actually Tufweave
boats from Wenonah will be about as durable as their Flexcore Kevlar, and more durable by quite a bit than their lightweight Kevlar layups.

Don’t know about the Souhegan…
…but I’m gonna say on flatwater the Coho will keep up with a royalex NC Prospector just fine. The stems are not as fine as my Malecite, but finer than my royalex Prospector. The bottom is slightly rounder and L/W ratio is about the same as my NC Prospector, at least on paper. Stiffer and much lighter too. The Coho is definitely quicker in acceleration, has better glide, and is less vulnerable to wind. I wouldn’t be afraid to use it as an all-around canoe.

Thanks everyone for your input. I definitely don’t want to turn this into another “what canoe should I buy?” thread, but I’ll look a little more closely at tuf-weave and millbrook.

Tuffweave vs Royalite
I’ve owned two Wenonah tuffweave boats. Both held up well on Ozark streams and canoe trips to the rock-laden BWCAW. Paddles more efficiently and it will last for decades. It’s a layup I’d highly recommend over R-84.

new boat?
If you are looking at buying a new boat you will probably have to pay at least $900 (not including tax) for a new Royalite boat.

If you look around a little, you will almost certainly be able to find a used composite canoe that would suit your needs better on flat water for the same price, or possibly less, and save on tax.