JK crosslink, not all it's "cracked" up to be - Mountain Buzz

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Old 12-02-2010   #1
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 09
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 69
JK crosslink, not all it's "cracked" up to be

I just broke my cross link Jackson Villain on its 4th trip ever down a river. Just a routine gentle rock bump and bam!... a huge 7" gaping crack. The crack actually sprang open. I am getting a warranty boat and I really love the design. Also, I had my first trip down Gore in it. But... I just don't trust their plastic after paddling 2 miles on the Big T in a boat full of icy water. Can anyone out there give me some feedback of their experience with JK crosslink? Is this just a rare defect or does it just suck?

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Old 12-02-2010   #2
Indian Hills, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 221
stopped paddling jackson. very poor plastic, especially for the increased price.
Jace Crane
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Old 12-02-2010   #3
Cphilli's Avatar
Copper Mountain, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 289
I had a crosslink allstar this year. By late season it had cracks in it. The CKS and Jackson warranty team were amazing and hooked me up with a new one for next season.

I had the green/white/black mix, and actually saw a superstar of the same colors go back for warranty.

With new technology in boats it seems there can be issues for a few seasons(I think Jackson knows this and is making it right for those that pay retail).

Personally, I stick by the Jackson playboats, but will most likely continue to buy my creekers from other companies.
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Old 12-02-2010   #4
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 774
I have broken two Rockers both after about a year of hard use. I've put a solid year on a third and have no problems yet. Jackson's warranty is great and they will have a new boat to you quick. The boat breaking on its forth trip seems odd.

All boats break and I think most situations that people break boats any boat would have broken. Big T at low water in 20 to 30 degree weather is going to make the boat a little more brittle and there are a few rocks in that creek. With the two that I broke I thought they broke in gentle rock bumps while the boats had held up to hard rock hits that I would have expected a break to happen. I don't know that the crosslink plastic holds up any better than linear and you can't weld it, but with Jackson honoring a two year basically no questions asked you broke it they replace it warranty I have no problem paddling their boats. Especially if you like the design.
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Old 12-02-2010   #5
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Boulder, Jackson Kayak, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 911
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Mocha, there are a lot of aspects to buying a kayak that are taken into consideration when making a decision, performance/outfitting are the biggest initially but the close second is how well a brand stands behind the investment you made into them. I encourage you to read other posts on what a warranty experience is like w us. I doubt you will hear anything but that it was easy, quick and with genuine interest to rectify the situation immediately. The warranty you have is 3 years ([email protected]%, 3rd year 20% of msrp). That is Rather handsome and reflects our investment/trust in this material and we have the most to loose. It's that good.
Here are some words from Ej that he sent me this morning to respond to your question. He doesn't have a buzz login and knows I am a long time buzzard so asked me to post it for him. But here is the quick/dirty of it... All kayaks break. The process of molding kayaks is far less a science than an art. And that is exacerbated 10x with cross link. A lot of detail here that i wont get into, but suffice to say that cross link isn't just a material, it's also a chemical process that has to happen while cooking, and that can be tricky... rare, but it happens. Due to what I just described, typically if a crosslink boat fails, it fails almost immediately and the failure is catastophic. This is exactly what happened to you, your kayak shell did not "cross link" while in the oven and the result is that it is going to break rather quickly. As ej describes below, we test for this and that usually catches most, but not all. Here is something to chew on...Have you ever noticed the 12+ year old wave sport "y's on the river? They look fantastic and yeah know what? They are cross link...

From EJ:
When a Jackson Kayak breaks….

All kayaks eventually break, and a cross-linked Jackson Kayak is least likely to break due to superior materials.*** However, like all things, nothing is created equal, and we make manufacturing mistakes from time to time.*** We do a “bend test” on every cockpit cut-out to check for “cure”.*** How the boat was “cured” during molding determines the properties of that hull.** A good cure and it is at maximum strength, and a poor cure and it will be weak and prone to breaking early.***** Unfortunately testing the cockpit cutout isn’t ideal, because it is the hull, the bow, and stern that are most likely to take a hard hit and break.*** Obviously you can’t cut a piece out of the hull and test it, because you don’t have a boat anymore.** This is the challenge for quality control, and it is impossible to know other than monitoring each kayak during the process for heat, time, cooling, etc. to keep consistency.******* The concept that “cross linked plastic” is the issue is simply incorrect.*** Everyone has a story about how they saw somebody break a boat with a small hit from each manufacturer.**** It is easy to point to the plastic itself, but that is rarely the reason.**** For this post below, you can find 10 people who will attest to how their cross-linked Jackson Kayak withstood more abuse than they imagined it ever should take and came out with flying colors.* ***We also make Super Linear hulls and appropriate outfitting for them at $150 less than our cross-linked “elite” models.** Anyone doubting the durability of our Cross-linked hulls are welcome to purchase our Super Linear versions, made of the same material from the same manufacturers as Liquid Logic, Dagger, and Wavesport here in the USA.** Schulman and Muhlstein supply most of the Super Linear and the boats are all made of the same materials from the same manufacturers, from the same sales reps.** I obviously have access to both cross-linked boats and super linear boats and always get myself a cross-linked boat for both creeking and playboating.** There is an advantage to super linear, however, and that is when it does break, you can weld it closed again, while with Cross-linked material you can only “fix” it with some kind of tape.****** Meanwhile- some people get all of the luck, good or bad.** This person has had some bad luck with their hulls and Jackson Kayak will take good care of them with our warranty.


Mocha, please call me personally. We'll get this worked out between you/us/and the dealer in 10 minutes and you'll be on your way. 3 oh three, five 1 seven, 2 six 2 one. Or please email to marty at jacksonkayak dot com

Isn't the Big Thompson the best!!!!! I love that run!!!!! One of the best in the front range, probably my favorite.

Marty Cronin
VP of Sales, Jackson Kayak
"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body. But rather...To skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming... WOW !!!! What a ride!!!!!!"
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Old 12-02-2010   #6
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Seattle, Washington
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Booyah! I've been paddling Jackson since the year they first started and that's the customer service experience I've had every time. Killer.
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Old 12-02-2010   #7
Provo, Utah
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 115
So you just got a reply from the owner of the company and the vp of sales. Both of them offering good answers and you also got a phone number to speak with the vp personally to make good on the warranty. This is good customer service!
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Old 12-02-2010   #8
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 3,107
I have broken a creekboat every year (sometimes 2 a year) for several years running. Broke multiple nomads, broke a jefe, and this last season I paddled a crosslink villain. They all break. I keep a paddle log and have tracked how many days on the water each boat has lasted. I've broken nomads after as low as 20 days on the water, but averaged 42 days on the water prior to cracking on nomads and jefes. My villain cracked at the end of this season after about 55 days which meant it held up longer than any other creekboat I have owned and lasted 30% longer than my average boats while I was paddling harder, steeper, mankier runs. To put it bluntly, I put the villain through the front range super mank test and it surpassed my expectations! My observation is that the crosslink does not gouge deeply like regular plastic and it definitely holds up to abuse. I charged the new villain on multiple SSV runs, which is one of the most notorious boat breaking runs there is in colorado (up there with the source and obj), and it held up to the test.

So, all kayaks break, and if you paddle the mank, they can break quickly. My strategy is to find a boat that paddles well that has a good warranty. The villain paddles great, and jackson's warranty seems like one of the best in the industry. I'm a registered boat breaker, and finding an optimum between boat durability and warranty has been a big deal for me. I'm happy with my jackson villain on both counts.

If your boat cracked early, sounds like its a manufacturing defect, and I've got no doubt that Jackson will honor it. If you like how the villain paddles, I'd have no reservations paddling it, and I don't think you are going to get significantly better plastic from another boat with the exception of prijon.

So I think your experience is a rarity, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend getting a new villain.
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Old 12-02-2010   #9
surrounded by mountains, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1981
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 501

As responded to above, Jackson does make great boats and has superb warranty handling service. My family has owned 7 Jackson boats (4 currently) and have never had an issue with the plastic other than one came without threading in the drain screw hole. Which, they fully acknowledged and happily replaced the boat. Personally, I think their plastic is excellent, the boats are the highest performance designs, and their service is excellent. In my opinion, the Villain is the best creek boat ever made. I'm sure JK will take good care of you.

No risk, no reward. It is not that we have to, it is that we get to. Preparation and education are essential to self-confidence and success. - KV
"If there is no risk there is no adventure."- Bill Briggs
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Old 12-02-2010   #10
Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 311
Originally Posted by Cphilli View Post
I had a crosslink allstar this year. By late season it had cracks in it. The CKS and Jackson warranty team were amazing and hooked me up with a new one for next season.

I had the green/white/black mix, and actually saw a superstar of the same colors go back for warranty.

With new technology in boats it seems there can be issues for a few seasons(I think Jackson knows this and is making it right for those that pay retail).

Personally, I stick by the Jackson playboats, but will most likely continue to buy my creekers from other companies.
Yeah, I think you saw my cracked white/black/green Superstar outside of Alpine Quest. I cracked it on a random rock in class II water! Was a bit surprised. But warranty was excellent, so no regrets. Got about 105 days between the two hulls.
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