Straight vs Bent Shaft Paddle? - Mountain Buzz
 

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Old 2 Days Ago   #1
 
lookout mnt., Colorado
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Feb 2008
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Straight vs Bent Shaft Paddle?

Been using a bent shaft paddle for the last 20 years or so. Been noticing over the last couple of years that lots of people are now using straight shafts, especially almost all of the sponsored kids. Was listening to a Hammer Factor podcast and man are those guys super anti bent shaft. Then I was listening to an EJ podcast about paddles and his take was that bent shafts don't have enough bend in them. Listened to another podcast from some youtube guy named Alex, (he has great reviews by the way, seems fair and non biased and will give out bad reviews to products his shop sells) and he uses and likes both. Me, I'm in the market for a new paddle, it will be a Werner Sho-Gun. I went bent 20 years ago because that's when they first came out and everyone was making the switch. I'm perfectly happy with a bent and don't need to switch back to straight just cause everyone else is, but man the $100 less for a straight has me thinking about it. It's too bad kayak shops don't do demo paddles though I can understand why. What are y'all's thoughts on the pro's and con's of each?

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Old 2 Days Ago   #2
 
Portland, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1970
Join Date: Feb 2016
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Bent for the flats, straight for the white. For 30 years, I've seen a lot of newbies (which we've all been) trying to use a bent shaft backwards. Then they say it doesn't work. my preference for a real flatwater touring (racing) canoe is a short bent shaft with a short hard chop. For a tripping canoe, I'll occasionally switch to a light, slender, long, ash flipper. It was dubbed my "6-foot moose-killer" by the old friend George, now gone, who made it. Every stroke, I miss those campfires under the borealis. But for whitewater, I like a straight shaft, medium wide blade, light weight with a reinforced tip. Yeah, that's all Old School. I reckon the natives were paddling canoes and kayaks long before I came on the scene, and I'm not likely to improve a great deal on their recipes. Until Ole' Evinrude came off with his 3-bladed paddle. ~~~__/)_~~~
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Old 2 Days Ago   #3
My name isn't Will
 
Will Amette's Avatar
 
Willamette Valley, Oregon
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villagelightsmith is talking about canoes, and I kind of agree, but I don't have a boat that works well with a bent shaft. Soon perhaps. When I find a place to keep it, a Prism might be a fun addition. For WW I use a Bandit laid up in carbon fiber. It's so light that if I had another one along side it, they would float off into the air....


MCSkit is talking about kayak paddles. I've borrowed bent shaft paddles to try them out. They are fine, but have limitations. If you have wrist or elbow issues (tendonitis), bent shafts can help mitigate that. But you are basically limited to ONE grip position. Anecdotally, they seem to break more often. As you mentioned, they are more expensive. I like a fairly short straight shaft paddle without giant blades.



Surely someone can loan you a straight shaft paddle in the length you think you need to try out before you buy one. That's what I would do. Take a while with it because it will feel really different.


I had some fun with hand paddles for a while. I remember pulling them out and letting a friend carry my paddle along with hers while I tried them. When I got that stick back in my hand, it felt really odd. Maybe that's what you need - hand paddles. Leave the stick at home. Sucks in the flats, though....
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Old 2 Days Ago   #4
 
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Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1974
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For flat water I love my Werner Kalliste Carbon bent shaft two piece. My preferred blade angle is 15 degrees. With stronger headwinds I set the angle to 30 sometimes.

A couple of months ago I put forth the question on MB of whether other people have noticed the benefits of a straight, small diameter shaft for whitewater. I'd years ago determined that I preferred straight, shorter, small diameter shaft, smaller blade for squirt boating and my more difficult boating(Class v). RPM's seemed to make up for any loss of single stroke power. I didn't think about it much. It was just the way it was.

Anyway, the last couple of summers my significant other and I swapped out an old small diameter shaft while WW kayaking, mostly mileage but easy whitewater(She also has a bent shaft Kalliste for sea kayaking).

We could be wrong but the bent shaft seems mostly for comfort and not performance and that we get the same benefit with the small diameter shaft for ww since our hands are not forced to twist/torqued as much to conform to the large diameter straight shaft.

I didn't get much response to my MB query but based on our experience I recommend checking out a small diameter shaft. Best of all worlds. You can grasp tightly if not better when you need to, actually feels more nimble/lighter and still achieve substantially reduced strain and fatigue.

Full disclosure, I'm in the process of ordering Werner small diameter straight shaft Stikines for me and my SO for our Katana's intended mostly for self-support mellower multi-day WW trips. (Hey man, we're on social security.)
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Old 2 Days Ago   #5
 
Flagstaff, Arizona
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You will get used to and like whatever paddle you purchase. I paddled with a straight shaft and liked it. Now I paddle with a 30 degree bent shaft Werner Stakine and like it. My four piece backup is a straight shaft Powerhouse.

The bent shaft took some time getting used to. In particular, I found that I had a difficult time getting my paddle in proper position to roll - at least moe so than with a straight shaft.

What I like most about the bent shaft is the ease at which I can go from a stern draw hold stroke to a forward stroke without lifting the paddle blade out of the water.
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Old 1 Day Ago   #6
 
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Montrose, Colorado
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Just getting back from a trip and was feeling like my bent shaft Powerhouse is out of date. General consensus from our guides was that bent shafts are helpful if you have tendonitis problems (I would agree based on past experience).

Sounds like the small diameter straight shaft is most en vogue now.

You should buy all of them from Backcountry.com, take them out for a demo in some manky gnar, send them back, and then buy the one you like when they put it on GearTrade.com.
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Old 1 Day Ago   #7
 
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Golden, Colorado
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Howdy Dunkins,

I'm very interested in knowing if someone you've interacted with lately voiced the opinion that smaller diameter kayak shafts relative to "standard" diameter have merit? I believe you are saying that("most en vogue now").

I wonder if the original standard diameter for a shaft was based on stock material that was available and the material that was best suited to the task at that time, i.e. would not brake and yet be suitably light and hold able.

Do materials like carbon fiber redefine suitable strength versus diameter and lightness?

Obviously there is a diameter of "dimensioningly" return, pardon an attempt at a pun "diminishing" return. When does a shaft become small/difficult to hold/control versus optimal performance/pleasure. Hummm, what is the diameter of a average male........ never mind that thought. I never suggested it.

This is a suitable topic for a master's degree thesis in various fields of engineering, ergonomics, etc . I could easily write this up and propose it to thesis advisers. It is up to the student to define a suitable test bed and standardized measures. I've got more thoughts here but bring me the student. Anyway, just thinking about it.
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Old 1 Day Ago   #8
 
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Nampa, Idaho
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I'm in Idaho and paddle with a lot of avid paddlers. Werner seems to be the paddle of choice around here.

I grew up using straight shafts, and over a decade ago started using bent shafts, then about four years ago went back to a straight shaft.

My opinion, and something I've heard from several of my friends, is that we are getting more power out of a straight shaft. Many of the locals have switched back to straight shafts in recent years and prefer them to bents.

I love Werner paddles but the bend is not something you can customize. And I really enjoyed using their 194cm bent shaft paddles, but as a large adult male, that paddle length is short and something I will only use now for playboating. I don't like the way the longer lengths feel in a bent shaft.

Also, I agree that the small shafts are trending. I haven't heard anybody that says they really don't like them and even with my big paws, it feels awesome! I feel like in a severe beatdown situation, you're more likely to keep your grip on a small shaft versus a normal shaft.

Just some of my thoughts.
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Old 1 Day Ago   #9
 
Fort Collins, Colorado
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I think you are all having two different conversations. MCSkid, are you asking about a kayak paddle with curved grips, but a blade that leaves the shaft without an angle? Or are you asking about an oopen boat canoe paddle with an angle of between 7.5 and 15 degrees between the shaft and the plane of the blade?

You mentioned Jackson, they paddle kayaks, not canoes. Canoe paddles are generally Straight for the white and Bent for the flat. Down river racers might be exceptions.

You might want to clarify.
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Old 1 Day Ago   #10
 
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Lakewood, Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twmartin View Post
I think you are all having two different conversations. MCSkid, are you asking about a kayak paddle with curved grips, but a blade that leaves the shaft without an angle? Or are you asking about an oopen boat canoe paddle with an angle of between 7.5 and 15 degrees between the shaft and the plane of the blade?

You mentioned Jackson, they paddle kayaks, not canoes. Canoe paddles are generally Straight for the white and Bent for the flat. Down river racers might be exceptions.

You might want to clarify.
Everything he talked about in the original post was about kayaking including the people and the model of paddle he is looking at...so I think the answer to your query is pretty obvious.

I guess not for a few people though based on a couple of responses.
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