Royalex vs Royalex Light

A friend of mine is going to examine a used canoe that’s for sale. It’s a Mad River (not sure what year - I know that many folks really like the older ones better than the new ones), and the catalog description says it’s made from “Royalex Lightweight”.

First, is “Royalex Lightweight” the same as “Royalex Lite”, and is it the same as “Royalite”, or are there two or three different versions of lightweight Royalex?

Second, I know from reading various posts here that it won’t have as much abrasion resistance as regular Royalex, and might tend to have the outer layer peel off instead of getting gouged, but what do you folks know about the stiffness of the material? I already think that a lot of regular Royalex boats have way too much flexiness. Will Royalex Lightweight be a lot more flexible, or just a little more flexible?

I hope to look at the boat soon and get a rough estimate of how flexible it is by pushing against the hull, but nothing beats testing it on the water, which I don’t think will be possible (at least not enough to really answer my questions), so all experience-based comments are welcome.

My O2
I have the Eclipse in R lite. It is rigid, no flex so to speak. I can’t answer your question in the difference between the two materials if there is even a difference. I can say that it scratched easily which why I am reserving it for big rivers and lakes for it’s use. It really didn’t take much to wear through on the bow and stern ends which I put some KealEazy on. I do like this hull but one has to be a bit tender if you don’t want to spend a lot of time worrying about the cosmetics.


Have you read this
though it is not from Mad River?

Mad River is/was usually good about
controlling oil-canning of Royalex or Royalite.

The outer layer of Royalite or R-84 is acrylic, UV resistant and harder and stiffer than the vinyl outer layer of Royalex. This stiffness means that the weight savings of Royalite will be subtracting the weight of the absent vinyl, and subtracting the weight of some of the ABS structural layer, and then adding in the weight of the acrylic. Math…

But what it means is that Royalite can actually be made stronger, if you don’t want weight savings, or it can be less stiff and strong, and lighter, if you mainly do want weight savings. Or both. Whatever.

I haven’t heard of the outer layer of Royalite peeling off. I would think the hardness of the acrylic and the ABS are similar. I can peel the vinyl off Royalex in one pass with a chisel, but normally the vinyl sticks fine.

Mohawk uses

– Last Updated: Mar-01-12 4:09 PM EST –

I can't comment on what sort of mixes of plastic layers other manufacturers use but here at Mohawk our R-84/Royalite canoes differ from RX/Royalex; the outer skin is acrylic in R84 and the outer ABS substrate layer is marginally thinner, from 0.01 to 0.025".

For example, the outer substrate on an RX Nova 16 measures 0.075, on R84 it is 0.05". On all models the boat is strengthened in key areas with extra patches of plastic.

R84 will generally abrade away more rapidly than RX. If you can peel either skin off of the substrate than you in all likelihood have a dodgy piece of plastic. If anything the bond between the acrylic and the ABS should be stronger.

In all of the MRC catalogs I’ve seen

– Last Updated: Mar-01-12 4:15 PM EST –

which mentioned Royalex Lite, Lightweight Royalex, or whatever they called it, MRC always insisted that they did not ever use R-84 (Royalite). Their Royalex Lite was just a lighter weight Royalex than their "regular" Royalex, using thinner/fewer layers of Royalex, so it still had a vinyl layer on the outside. The weight of their Royalex Lite also varied acording to the boat and the uses MRC anticipated it being used for. We owned an Eclipse and an Intrigue (now Horizon 15), both of which were listed as Royalex Lite. The Eclipse had a noticeably heavier layup and almost no oil-canning, while the Intrigue, which I think was aimed more at "casual recreational" use, was lighter and did oil-can some. I suspect that MRC's "Royalex Lite" was actually pretty similar to a lot of other manufacturers' "regular" Royalex. MRC's regular Royalex was pretty heavy.

R 84
I have paddled a few R 84 boats and have not noticed any lack of stiffness compared to regular Royalex, assuming that the boat is indeed made of R 84.

Makers can spec different thicknesses of the Royalex sheet manufactured by Spartech (and previously by Uniroyal) so I suppose that the lightweight Royalex could just be thinner sheet of the same basic compostion.

The biggest gripe I have heard about R 84 boats is difficulty bonding D-rings and similar anchors to the interior. Typical vinyl adhesive does not work well. Stabond is supposed to work well. I suppose G-Flex would as well, but I have never owned an R 84 boat.

This evening Rena (the prospective boat buyer) and I looked up some info on the boat in question, and we found an old Mad River catalog which said exactly what Headwinds said, that their “Royalex Lightweight” is just a thinner version of their regular Royalex. The boat in question is the Eclipse, and that same catalog took a rather indirect route to explain that this model was Royalex Lightweight, but another old catalog I found online yesterday specifically stated that it was Royalex Lightweight. On that note, thanks to Headwinds and Dougd for their remarks regarding the relative stiffness of that particular model; it sounds promising.