I'm in a bit of a quandary and I'm hoping for some help. I currently paddle mostly a Villain S, and I've planned on adding a more dedicated river runner to the quiver since last year. I started thinking Burn 3 or Zen (with the Diesel, Remix, Mamba, and Axiom also in the back of my mind).
I paddled a Zen a few years back, and wasn't in love with the bow's low rocker/profile. I sat in one again a few weeks back, and felt the same: great fit in seat/hips, but not very comfortable up front - restrictive, and not enough rocker for my taste. This left me thinking Burn 3 (size M)...
HOWEVER, I just got an email from a local shop about a sale starting Thursday with a Mamba 7.6 for $700. I did some research and like what I'm hearing. In fact, it sounds quite similar to the Burn.
CKS has a nice writeup on the Mamba here: Colorado Kayak Supply Blog2012 Dagger Mamba Review w/ Andrew Holcombe and Mark "Snowy" Robertson
In the comments below it, Bobby at CKS responds with this:
The Mamba is the most popular river runner that we sell. Itís popular because it is very stable, has an edge under the seat (where you need it)but is not very edgy at the bow or stern. It is more user friendly than the Burn, but also less precise. People have been using the Mamba as a big water boat and creeker because of itís overall ability to paddle all types of well.
Also Ė the new 2013 Burn may be of interest to you. Itís going to have a narrower knee area, so you may fit in it better. It will also be faster (longer)Ö
I'm not sure how the Burn 3 will compare, but it seems the idea was to keep it just as precise, but a bit more forgiving, which sounds great! My concern with the Mamba is that it's shorter and lower volume vs the Burn 3, so it will likely be slower. I'm 6'0" 135# with a 31" inseam. The guy at the shop had similar shoe and inseam sizes to me, and hopped in the Mamba for me - said he fit fine. I'm considering a drive down tonight to try it myself. BTW, I think the 8.1 is too big. I compared the stats side-by-side (see spreadsheet screen-shot attached); 8.1 seems too wide and I don't even touch the bottom of the rec. weight range. Let me know if I'm wrong, but keep in mind that I have a creeker if I need/want big volume, so having a smaller, nimbler boat is kind of what I'm after.
The Mamba is the play/regular seat, not the creek version, but from what I've read there are pros/cons to both, so this doesn't seem like a deal-breaker.
The main problem is this: The only Burn 3 I've found is my "home" paddle shop, which is about 5 hours away in WI (I paddle there most of the summer). I was planning to check it out, or maybe even paddle it, over Memorial Day Weekend, but that is, obviously, AFTER I would need to make a decision on the Mamba! Nobody else nearby has one, so I'm stuck needing to make a call on the Mamba without ever giving the Burn a real chance.
So there it is. Thanks for reading, and for any advice you can provide.