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Discussion Starter #1
So here goes, I am hoping to get a new paddle company off the ground. My initial thoughts are for these to be simply the best paddles on the market. Hand crafted, wood, some customization, and durable. Another route is to go after some high end composite material, which could also be customizable. Either way, the idea would be for these paddles to accompany the hairiest decends and the biggest moves.
I'm thinking two or three basic shapes/sizes and then costumize an number of features.

So, since its for you ladies and gents, what do you want?

Size/shapes/look/bent or straight/degrees/ect. ect.

-aaron
 

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Custom work is where it's at. Everyone likes something different and there is definately a market for people who don't fit most sizes of mass produced paddles. My Woody is 191 with about 5 degrees offset. It's the best paddled ever made because the spacing of the bends in the shaft are matched perfectly for my shoulder breadth. I'm a size in between most small and medium sizes so custom is the only way I could get the right paddle.

D
 

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well - this doesnt seem to be the way you're going, but i'm a cheap ass, and it is still crazy to me that $400 is required to get a nice paddle that doesn't leak (werner) -

it sure seems that if we can put a man on the moon, there should be a good paddle for the reasonable price of 150-200$.

personal preference is bent shaft and carbon fiber, but as you can tell, i don't own a woody.

didn't they go out of busniess? maybe a lower cost quality paddle is a better market? (very uneducated opinion)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
my initial thoughts are to go high end custom. kinda like buy one now and never have to replace it, type thing. good warranty but not if i can see tire tracks. I dont really have the capital to compete with werner and at. so i need a niche. i believe i can do one offs or slight assembly line stuff but most of it will be done by hand. so obviously the price point will have to be a bit higher, but the goal is for the quality and my standing behind it to make it worth it.
however, maybe i'm way off.....so as my customer base, i'm counting on you guys to let me know.

thanks
-aaron
 

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That's exactly what I look for in a paddle manufacturer. I'd say you're right on.

D
 

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Look man, a lot of people might have some real important opinions about what they like for a paddle, but if they don’t know the difference between a bent or a straight shaft and a 15 degree opposed to 30 degree offset, then what’s the point in asking. I think you have a good idea about asking what people want, but I think Joe Kayak isn’t the best place to start. If you make a bad ass paddle, and bad ass paddlers love your product, then they will do the promoting for you. If all the experienced paddlers or salesmen in paddling stores for example use and love your paddle, then they’ll tell everyone to check out your paddle. I personally don’t know all the details about paddles and what improvements should be made, but I can observe the obvious that characterizes a ‘good’ paddle. I’ve had a number of different brand paddles leak within 2 months of use. So try to make something that has very few connecting/construction points for moisture to enter. Glue or adhesive by itself just isn’t enough to seal these points especially if you try to repair a paddle that has already had water inside and expect it to still last forever. Also, these connecting areas can be the weakest part of the paddle, so the fewer the joining points the more durable. I think it will be difficult to make something with a ‘life long’ warranty, but try to consider all aspects of how and why a paddle might fail. I’m sure I’m not saying anything you didn’t know already, but I think you have to keep it simple at first. People never really know what they want or what they like until they try it. So if you build it, they will paddle it. Also, if I were you I would contact some local sponsored boys or some of the Colorado legends that having been running all the big shit in the state for years. This ways you might get an idea of what might work for play boating and what might be better for creeking. I’d also talk with some paddlers from Cali to see what the most common failures are when breaking over waterfalls. Basically, long story short, ask paddlers that are the hardest on their paddles and have seen it all. Just another observation on my part, bent shafts are more desired if you already willing to spend a little more money. I usually only see people who want to save some money or truly old school paddlers using straight shafts these days. And grips (narrow or shape style) and blade size seems to be a big factor as well. If you don’t feel comfortable and strong holding onto your paddle and have enough bland in the water that stokes easily past your boat, then you might move on to the next paddle even though a different paddle might be more expensive and less durable. Hope this rambling helps you head in the right direction, but remember to make something that work for you, because you don’t like to paddle it then I’m sure I won’t either.

Good Luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the engouraging words and i agree with many of the points. You might however be suprised with the people who frequent mountainbuzz. Many of the one's i've met, paddled with and talked to, know their stuff. I would also bet that there are more Woody owners on here per capita then anywhere. While i can and will make a paddle that i will boat with, my preferences may not be inline with everyones. Especially considering the only paddle i've ever owned is a five year old straight shaft Waterstick that is too short.


some of the guys i'd like to hear from, if possible, are like-bowens, don, parkito, meng, twitch, milo, thekid, finney, ect. ect.
 

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Custom Paddles

Back in the day I only bought AT paddles. AT headquarters was close to my home and Drew always treated me right. I had the same ATX for about 6 years and every couple of winters I took it back to AT for some touchups. I'm not sure what they did, but I would get my paddle back looking like new and they only charged me about 30 bucks.

I finally switched to a Werner when AT sold out and moved. Now I'm looking at all the dings on my DoubleD and wishing I could just drive to the headquarters and get it touched up.

I hear that surfers buy a board and then get it touched up every season. I would be psyched to do that with a paddle.

Good luck.
 

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Hey aron cool idea! The biggest things to me are the things that AT has excelled at. This is alway room for improvement though, and I wish you the best. Here is why I think AT is the best paddle company on the planet. First the grips, which I think are so key. There is nothing that has ever fit my hand or any majority of the paddling populations hands better than the grip on an AT. THey slot right in, there are no flat parts to the grip. This is key, and where werner fails. There grips are so un-natural. AT has the grips stomped. The other thing that AT does so well is maintaning blade shape. The cloth and epoxy edges of the AT 2 hold better blade shape than any paddle I have ever seen. You can put those blades through hell, scape around all over the park and they will hold there shape longer than almost anything out there. They have also done a great job repilcating the feel of wood in a composite paddle, now its not a prefect substitue for a wood pladdle but the AT 2 Flexi has great natural qualities, at a high proformace low weight level. That has always been the draw back of a wood paddle for me. THe swing weight is insane. If you plan on picking up where woody left off, I saw many of the later modle paddles they made right befor they shut it down, and they were breaking left and right. I spent 2 weeks in orgeon and meet 4 people whit woodys that were basicly about to totaly fail on a horrible level. It was so sketchy, some of these guy hand only had there paddles a very short time, and the were delmaintaing exteremly rapidly. As for duriblity with AT everyon has there own opinion most people out there say AT's are weak. But I have beat the shit out of my AT's and they hold up better than any other paddle I have owned, I had a werner double D for awhile, and that paddle started falling apart fast, THe epoxy on the blades was chipping of like crazy. That paddle only lasted one week in Panama one week in costa, and a month in Chile befor I cut my losses and sold it. I hope this helps you some what, or at all. This is my theory on paddles. Everyone else will probly tell you something eles. The truth on what really works is different for everyone. Welcome to my opinion. There it is. Excuse the spelling.
 

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AT

well i'm surprised to see so much AT love here. I'm on my 3rd AT, a new one every year except this one, only because they keep leaking and thankfully alpenglow has been honoring the warrenty for me.

It is bomber, and feels strong (or heavy some may say), but somehow always leak from my experience.

next paddle for me, i'm going to pony up to the werner (unless of course there is some other bomber new paddle on the market, reasonably priced and hopefully leak free!).

S
 

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I cant count the number of at2 flexi's that i have seen broken. the paddle has a good feel but doesnt seem reliable. i will keep my werner.
 

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Sorry double a that was OT. You make a paddle that feels like an AT and make it bomber and light and I would be interested.
 

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Paddles

High-end paddles are tough, for with price increase- so increases the expectations. I’ve been a gear queek longer than I’ve been in the biz. I started buying gear for my college kayak club way back in the day. Paddles are a tough nut to crack, and the hardest by far in the WW world. Most paddle companies don’t make a high-end whitewater paddle. It’s not a money maker, and it might not be enough to keep the lights on.

For a lot of reasons: Almost all paddles break. If you don’t want to break your paddle, buy a Norse. Super heavy-duty fiberglass shaft, massive blades with steel at the edges, 10 lbs of glass, and cheap. Can’t break it (bend yes, break no.), but they paddle like poop. The higher the end materials the more fragile it is, and to make it stronger you’d have to make it thicker- this adds both cost and weight. Again, if someone thinks it’s carbon it better be light. The more custom you make it, the more labor intensive it will be. That comes out of your pocket. Plus, if people drop big coin on this… to them it’s bullet proof, till they prove you wrong. Then it only takes one bad review, from some random weekend warrior snow surfing in Kansas. And, you name is tarnished forever.

Now enough of the negative and on to the perfect paddle. 1) Wood shaft (not the blades- too much impact), 2) neutral bend (AT is very nice. Werner is nice too, but if you really want it to be better flip the Werner upside down- I think Werner made a mistake and won’t fess up- try if and tell me if I’m joking. It’s a 100 times better upside down), 3) 30 degree offset- great for everything (I like it others like less, and others like more) Remember you can set the trend- Waterstick did., 4) Keep the price under $300. Beginner paddles have a market, stay focused you can’t make everyone happy. Start with making the people who buy your paddles happy. 5) A nice kinetic blade shape, not too thick not too thin. 6) The blades should be buoyant and crisp at the edge (some dense ridged rubber would be nice, some thing better than rope and better than exposed cut edge). 7) Modular construction would be the best for both custom off-sets, future blades, and warranty and service.

Good luck and have fun.
 

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how 'bout grips like seven2 used/uses? they gave a great feel and reduced the shaft diameter. and mix wood and carbon fiber without comprimising structural integrity.
 

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Don't forget Waterstick/H2O lessons learned

I'd recommend checking out lessons learned by Waterstick, many of which have been improved with H20 - assuming the paddles ever get popular. Also check out the Mitchell's - once a popular wood paddle, now more of a niche company?

1 - grips: Waterstick had a great grip, improved it with the "divits" making it a great fit/feel/grip. AT uses the old Waterstick grips, but not the later ones w/ the divits that I thought were better.

2 - grips again: H20 (the new waterstick) is now using rubber grips - similar to Seven2 but with the grip being more full sized/traditional.

3 - materials: Do you remember the Ti-Stick that Waterstick made? The paddle cost $400 or so, basically had a lifetime warranty, etc, etc. It was super light weight and bomber strong - the shaft was near impossible to break. It was also the stiffest and most unforgiving shaft ever made. The blades (carbon) eventually cracked on the one I had - I tried to get them replaced to no avail - my newbie brother is still using the paddle with glue sealing up the leaking cracked blades.
Waterstick didn't make the paddle for long - either they realized they couldn't lifetime warranty the paddle, or do to expense, or that it never caught on.

4 - Materials: H20 has come out with a plastic based blade for their paddles - bomber strong - will they catch on with the masses or do people still prefer glass/carbon instead?

5 - Leakage in the shaft: By the time Waterstick called it quits, they were having a significant amount of quality issues - yet their process was one of the most high-tec in the industry. While Waterstick is gone, much of the innovation can be found in AT's paddles, manufactured by the same company that made the Waterstick paddles (baycomp).
 

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Discussion Starter #16
thanks all,

keep the goods coming. I'm starting to work on a few sketches and quite a bit of materials pricing. I think i might have a really cool compound to use but i'm yet to find out if it is cost effective in the manner that i think it should be.


thanks again,

-aaron
 

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Also, there is definately some demand for paddle repair and maintenance. If you offer to repair your paddles for a cheap price and other paddle brands for a reasonable price it will go a long way in bringing in future customers. If you did an awesome job of repairing the paddle I didn't buy from you I would guarantee that my next paddle would be from you.

COUNT
 

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I would change Counts post to reasonable price. For me, if you do a good job and do it the first time, I will come back.
 
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