Thinking about a new Royalex canoe?

-- Last Updated: Dec-07-13 5:00 PM EST --

Richard Guin of Mohawk Canoes says he was just informed by Poly One (the sole manufacturer of Royalex) that any orders for Royalex sheet for new boat construction must be placed by the close of business on Monday.

Poly One will cease all Royalex production as of next April. Guin had previously been informed that manufacturers would be able to place orders until or through March of next year.

So if you were thinking about buying a new Royalex canoe next year, better call the manufacturer or their dealers pronto and see if they have any in inventory, and if not, ask if they are ordering Royalex sheet to manufacture any next spring.

Want to buy my Penobscot 16 ?
I’m only asking $10,000 for it.

Jack L

Royalex canoe…
Oh yeah, that’s a steal of a deal; someone should snap that one up really quick…it’s gonna be a “collectible”.




So if not Royalex, everyone buys a Q 17?
Quetico 17’s in each driveway?

Hard to believe and so sad
I distinctly recall dragging my 100 pound Mad River Royalex Explorer over boulders in the Sierra Nevada mountains of northern California, circa 1981, and saying that the three greatest inventions of my lifetime were Pampers, velcro and Royalex.

I subsequently changed my mind about velcro.

Does anyone know
why the manufacturer is dumping the product and why they have not spun it off to another manufacturer?

not profitable enough
Apparently, the bean counters at Poly One decided that manufacture of Royalex sheet was not profitable enough to continue production even after they jacked the price up about 20% immediately after buying out Spartech.

I have heard rumors that the original production equipment circa 1972 is wearing out. Royalex did not garner as wide a market as Uniroyal had originally hoped. It was hoped that the material would appeal to the auto industry, but auto makers found cheaper alternatives. I understand it was used in submarine construction but is no longer. The market for Royalex has therefore become limited to canoe manufacturers and that market has peaked.

I assume no one has picked up the rights to manufacture because the anticipated profit margin has been insufficient to garner interest and capital expenditure. If the price of Royalex was increased much further the price gap between Royalex and composite boats would be narrowed to the point at which Royalex would probably be unattractive to many potential customers.

Gourmet Meal For a Piece Meal Capitalist

– Last Updated: Dec-07-13 4:36 PM EST –

The sum of the parts
is greater than hole
left in some parts
where we don't price the soul
of a business at hand
to delve out in share
what's piecemealed so richly
when a whole just did fair

and thus Warsaw rockets
shot quickly through arc
where material needs
flex little past spark
which flames of invention
supplied to demand
for the appetite meager
in big box lunch land

Talking to the guys at Mohawk they said
It’s not even about manufacturing rights. That’s all public domain now. It’s that there are few needs for big sheets of extruded plastic, and even fewer needs for sheets of bonded layers of the stuff. Anyone who had the machines could start making it tomorrow.

What would be a good last buy
I recently ordered a mohawk odyssey 15 in solo, haven’t even got it yet. It was a toss up between the Solo 13, but I went for the ability to carry some overnight camping supplies or a young grandkid. They are both 30" wide. (The Odyssey and the Solo, not the grandkids) I paddle some good sized rivers and stumps lurking just below the surface are an issue. I don’t have any whitewater to paddle.

I was telling my wife about royalex going away and she is very familiar with the weight of polyethylene and aluminum canoes, she said maybe we should get another before they’re gone.

So is there some boat I’ll kick myself later for not gettin, or just bank the money for a Kevlar hull?

It is hard for me to believe
that various companies making royalex canoes are actually going to let it go. I have to assume that royalex continues to be a big part of the sales revenue of Old Town and Nova Craft and Mad River - others as well.

Note Old Town is transitioning
all rotomolded canoes and kayaks to LT 9000 which is lighter than current PE. I look for it to be a replacement for Rx

Do they have a choice?
All that I’ve been reading here suggests they have no choice about this at all. Clearly it can’t be economically feasible for a company to equip themselves to make a material that’s only used for making canoes, unless it could be done with very little investment (and that doesn’t seem to be the case). It was one thing for a big company like Uniroyal or Spartech to try to market it for many purposes, and failing that, to continue making material for the tiny canoe market until the machinery wears out since the capital investment has already been made. Apparently the new owners of Spartech don’t want to waste money on replacing aging equipment to produce a product that can only be sold in small quantities, and I can’t imagine how some other company could find a way to make Royalex production profitable. I’m as disappointed as anyone, but would be amazed if Royalex somehow makes a comeback.

Lets see, in royalex I have…
two WW solos, one flatwater solo, and a decent tandem/poling boat. Unless these boats get stolen, that should last me a lifetime, or at least until some new product replaces royalex.

Hopefully there will still be used boats around for years.

more info

– Last Updated: Dec-08-13 10:59 AM EST –

Here is an article that was written back in August of this year that might shed a bit of light on the situation:

No doubt, smaller manufacturers that only manufacture Royalex canoes and do not sell composite or poylethylene boats, like Mohawk canoe, will be most affected.

Paddle sports dealers will be much less affected. In the article I linked the owner of Jersey Paddler, a large paddle sports retailer in Brick, NJ, is quoting as saying that although 80% of the canoes he sells are Royalex boats, they account for only 8% of his total paddle sports retail sales.

Some larger companies, like Johnson Outdoors (Old Town) claim to have secured enough Royalex sheet for the 2014 production season. As well as Esquif canoe. In a post on their Facebook page back in August Esquif made the following statement:

"Esquif has secured enough Royalex for our 2014 production including an anticipated increased demand. Esquif is working on and is very confident about a long term solution.
Also, don’t forget about our very successful #Twintex material."

Small volume manufacturers are not going to be able to make the capital expenditure to order a big inventory of Royalex sheet for the coming year. What Mohawk Canoe has been doing is taking preorders for new canoes for next year and requiring a sizable down payment up front before they order new sheet.

I read somewhere (can't recall where) a few months back that a number of canoe makers were having "discussions" about the feasibility of some sort of consortium taking over Royalex production but I haven't heard anything come of it recently.

It would appear that we potential buyers of new Royalex canoes are too small a market to make it economically worthwhile to continue Royalex production. Per the article I cited:

A former executive of Spartech and Uniroyal Inc., which introduced Royalex to canoe manufacturers in the early 1970s, said it’s unlikely anyone would buy the business given that more than 90 percent of the material is sold to canoe manufacturers.

"Rolayex is a difficult product to make, and once it’s vulcanized you can’t recycle it because of the mixture of different materials," said Philip Karig, managing director of the St. Louis consulting firm Mathelin Bay Associates and former chief procurement officer for Spartech. “The canoe market may be too small, the manufacturing process too complicated and the growth prospects too few. When you put all those things together, you have to ask what someone would want with it."

Who needs it?

I do feel for the whitewater noobs. Royalex takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’… to a point.

After that point there are better boats in glass, PE and Twintex.

There were good canoes before Royalex.

There will be good canoes when Royalex is no more.

So long Royalex!

It is probably a small market but
these boats will be badly missed by those of us who enjoy trips in the arctic regions. I still believe they will find a way.

The Chinese. I mean with the expansion of the Panama Canal and all those freight containers for the unloading and our need to import to settle their nerves about all the cash we borrow … some US entrepreneur should be able to get the Chinese to buy that royalex equipment for pennies on the dollar and Voila – Chinese popout canoes made from native American designs. The American patriot way. At least until the oil patches don’t run dry.

I’m with Tommy
They don’t make auto bodies out of royalex - for a reason.

If you want your composite to weigh more, just ask the manufacturer to add more layers of glass. Why not coating your boat with truck bed liner? There are alternatives.

I agree in part
It is true that good quality composite boats made with a robust layup will be plenty strong enough for the vast majority of users, including those who do a lot of river paddling, and even some of those who paddle whitewater. But good quality composite canoes have been significantly more expensive than Royalex boats which puts them out of reach for some folks.

Short, solid polyethylene solo whitewater canoes have largely (but not completely) supplanted Royalex boats, but there has really only been one solid polyethylene tandem whitewater canoe, the Blackfly Octane 92, and I understand that Jeremy Laucks isn’t making it anymore. Solid polyethylene is simply not a practical material for longer whitewater boats like a whitewater tandem tripper.

I have talked to a number of owners of Twin-Tex Esquif Zephyr whitewater solo boats. While a couple have been very happy with them the consensus opinion that I have gathered is that the material is not that suitable for hard core whitewater use. It is too susceptible to cracking and far too difficult to repair.

So far as I know, the only outfitter licensed by Esquif to repair cracked Twin-Tex boats is Blue Mountain Outfitters in Maryville, PA (that might be outdated info, however). I have heard of a few people attempting backyard repairs with variable results.

The Esquif Zephyr was introduced in 2005. As far as I know, it and the Robson Homes are the only whitewater solo canoes that have used this material. (The Esquif Mistrals are made out of Twin-Tex but are not generally considered to be whitewater boats). Esquif invested quite a bit in R&D and tooling to develop this material and if it had been a raving success among whitewater boaters, I would have expected to see more designs in Twin-Tex by now. It might well become the new favored material for general river use, though.

One of the biggest impacts of the death of Royalex will be that many good hull designs, which were never offered in composite construction, will simply no longer be available. It is conceivable that one or two of these might be resurrected by someone building a composite mold, but I doubt it will be more than a handful. Also some boat makers who currently manufacture only Royalex boats, like Mohawk Canoe, will simply be gone. Mohawk has been tying to develop a blow-molded polyethylene whitewater canoe for a couple of years, but it remains to be seen whether this can be brought to market in time to save the company.

For good reasons or not, Royalex canoes have constituted a big part of the retail market for new canoes. As was mentioned earlier, Royalex canoes account for 80% of new canoe sales at the Jersey Paddler. I think the loss of Royalex is going to leave a pretty big hole in the market.