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Discussion Starter #1
I’m looking for a fun, fast river runner with edges, and I’ve narrowed my search down to the Zen 65 and the Burn III (or possibly a Diesel 70).

I’m 6,’ 135#, and consider myself to be an intermediate (Class III) boater. After getting into WW with a Pyranha Fusion, I did most of my learning in a Hero, then bought a used Villain S midway through last summer, and a new Karma S at the very end of the season – haven’t paddled it yet, but I got a good deal on it. I still have all the boats except the Fusion, and since my wife and I aren’t too far off in weight, we share a lot of our boats.

Anyway, what this means is that I have plenty of options in the quiver for larger volume displacement/semi-displacement hull boats. What I’m looking for is something that is more responsive/edgy. About a year ago I bought a used Diesel 80 really cheap with the intention of using it as a loaner boat for friends/family. I ended up doing some outfitting so I could paddle it, and was shocked at how much I liked it. It felt really responsive despite being “oversized” for me, and it got me thinking about buying a boat like it that actually fits me. That feeling of carving as if on rails was great.

So I’m down to a shootout between the Zen and the new 3rd Generation Burn (or possibly the Diesel 70). I’ve done quite a bit of reading about the Zen and Burn III, and I’ve compared the stats on both boats, which aren’t really that different – the Burn is a little shorter and heavier, and just slightly wider. I know the Burn is considered a high-end river runner that can creek, whereas the Zen is a more dedicated river runner. The Burn has more rocker in the nose than the Zen, and the Zen is likely a quicker ride. However, the Burn III is being described as more river runner, and less creeker, in comparison to the previous Burns. (They have apparently mellowed the edge behind the seat.) It is also supposed to be faster, and have the knees moved in vs. previous models.

My main concern about the Burn is that it might be too much boat for me. My main concern about the Zen is that it has such a low/flat nose that it likes to submerge more than I might be used to – though maybe that is something I should work on getting comfortable with. I know the Burn III is brand new, so it may be difficult to get feedback on that specific model, but any Burn vs. Zen thoughts would be appreciated!
 

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I’m looking for a fun, fast river runner with edges, and I’ve narrowed my search down to the Zen 65 and the Burn III (or possibly a Diesel 70).

I’m 6,’ 135#

Anyway, what this means is that I have plenty of options in the quiver for larger volume displacement/semi-displacement hull boats. What I’m looking for is something that is more responsive/edgy.
with that said, the Zen is a great choice, and I am sure it will be your wifes favorite boat.

The zen has a lower deck hight and lower volume, making it easy for woman and childrenz. Since you are tall and thin you will like the way it moves around as well.

It should be a good addition, the burn is too much like the rest of the boats you mention.

the zen stands appart from your other boats
 

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Discussion Starter #3
with that said, the Zen is a great choice

It should be a good addition, the burn is too much like the rest of the boats you mention.

the zen stands appart from your other boats
Thanks Bob. Overlap/repetition is definitely something I'm trying to avoid, so your comments are helpful.
 

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The Burn isnt too much boat for anyone. If you like to carve into eddy's, you will like it.
 

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I picked up a Burn III (medium) last November and went to town on the outfitting... I love it! Very responsive, very stable, very comfortable. I wouldn't say it's too much boat for anyone even a beginner. I'm 5-10ish and 145#. I haven't run anything gnarly in it yet but feel confident that it will perform exceptionally.
All in all, it fits my style of paddling so it works great for me.

Mr French
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The Zen is a great boat, if I didn't get a Karma last year I would have one now...
It's funny that you say that Dman, because I was just starting to wonder if my Karma S (which again, I haven't paddled yet), might be edgy enough to suit me. It doesn't have any real edges to speak of, which is obviously not a great sign, but the hull is quite flat, and the boat is rather narrow. And here's part of Clay's response to a customer inquiry that gets to my point: "...Karma series, which is designed with speed and aggressive handling in mind."

Also, because I'm in the top half of the weight range (range is 80-155; I'm 135), I should sit a little deeper, and get a more responsive ride. I just doubt that it's going to give me the truly "riding on rails" type feeling I'm looking for, but we'll see soon enough - spring is close, even in MN!
 

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If you paddle really aerated water with deeper waves( say 3-4) then the secondary edges really carve thru the gnarly stuff in the Karma and doesn't get pushed around. It goes up and over where sometimes the Zen would 'spear' the next wave and punch thru. Class 2-3 is a different story where the Zen can zip around and is superfun but the Karma is slower and spinny. I paddle 3 with some class 4 features so either boat works for my area. I have found that on flatter water you need to lean a bit with each stroke to engage the secondary edges to go faster in the Karma. It surfs as good or better than then Zen though probably due to the high rocker. I am 6' 225 # so I am at the limit of my Karma MD, I didn't like the L for river running cuz it sits too high in the water for my weight and I don't truly 'creek' yet. I won my Karma at a festival while I was demoing a Zen. If that didn't happen I would have bought a Zen 75.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Holding Off For Now

After further pondering and discussion with outside resources, I've decided that I really need to paddle my Karma before knowing if I "need" a Zen or Burn III. I would also like to see some real-world reviews of the Burn III, which should be showing up soon. In my searching, I got some great feedback about these three boats from a very knowledgable representative (they handle product reviews) at a very large and respected company. Both shall go unnamed to avoid any trouble for the company/person, but I've copied some pieces below for those who want to dig in:


Compared to the Zen, the Burn is going to be much more precise. The edges are crisper. That would be the main noticeable difference.
As far as hull speed goes, they are pretty similar boats. The Zen was never a super popular boat for us. It seemed like it was a decent downriver paddler, but was not stellar in any particular category.
All that I can tell you, is that people are EXCITED for the new Burn. You can tell a lot about a boat from looking at it - and it looks awesome. Everything from the hull design, to the cockpit, to the volume looks great.

The new Burn looks like it will excel at high performance river running in the class III and IV realm. I know that Team Pyranha will use it as a creeker as well - but the sweet spot of the boat looks like crushing class III and IV runs - especially big water. It will also surf better than the Zen because it has a flatter hull…

Not to harsh on the Zen too much, it was just never a super popular boat. The Liquid Logic Remix takes the cake for boats with that design IMHO.



I think that you may like the Burn III a lot. Typically, Pyranha is known for performance paddling - meaning that their boats are crisp. The Burn, Jed, Nano, etc…They all have a very flat hull, and crisp edge..with the exception of the Shiva, every one of their boats has rails. One of the major changes with the Burn III, was leaving the rails, but smoothing them out in places that trip you up, and catch paddlers off guard. They took the bottom of the tail from the Nano, which is more rounded, and less edgy - the sten edge of the hull is where people usually catch their edge…The overall goal of the Burn, is to do EXACTLY what you just mentioned - they want to give you that riding on rails feeling, but at the same time, keep thing predictable, and easy to paddle in tricky water with strange currents…it is not quite as edgy as in years past. It is also faster (more narrow and longer).

The other boat, that could be fun for you if you like Jackson, is the Karma - I paddled it a few times and really liked it. The edges are there, but are not grabby at all. They are one step down from the Burn III I would say. I was in the Large Karma, which meant that the rails were almost up in the air (105 gallon boat!!), which may have something to do with it. The Karma is an easy boat to paddle. It is easy to get used too, and easy to maneuver…It’s funny - it is listed as a creek boat, but really feels like more of a river runner to me…a river runner that can paddle class V any day of the week. Planing hull, mellow edge, loads of volume, and good rocker, but not too much - it is still fast.

TOUGH CHOICES eh? The good news is that you are looking at the best 3 river running creekers on the market. They are all incredible boats.
 

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Thanks Bob. Overlap/repetition is definitely something I'm trying to avoid, so your comments are helpful.
Did I miss something? You have three creeker/ river runners and now you want a fourth one. How is this not overlap? I understand that there are nuances to each ones edge design and rocker profile but I think it is more important to just spend time in one boat to be comfortable in it. People run the NF Payette in "creek" boats all the time just like Big Timber gets run in "river runners". If you want to avoid overlap get a dedicated play boat, or a squirt boat.
 

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Yeah get a playboat. MN only has so much class III so eventually you're going to get pretty bored in a river runner. Plus it'll teach you a ton.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Did I miss something? You have three creeker/ river runners and now you want a fourth one. How is this not overlap?
You sound just like my wife! :D And you're both probably on to something. To me though, paddling a Diesel feels quite different from paddling a Hero. I'm actually considering selling the Hero and Villain and picking up a single boat for me (another Karma, Zen, or Burn III) so my wife can use the Karma we have.

I already own a smaller boat (2013 All Star), and I'm not really interested in squirt boating. As for BrainP's comments about MN, don't forget the many North Shore Class IV-V runs, though they admittedly are A) beyond my current skill level, and B) flashy/spring runs. Perhaps more relevant is the fact that the wife and I plan to move this summer. We are torn right now between the SE (Asheville) and PNW (mainly because we are teachers, and NC teacher pay SUCKS right now!), but either way we should have access to much better WW soon.
 

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I live in duluth..was just going off your original post where you said you mostly paddle class III.

Although a while other topic in itself...If you're going to move, go PNW
 

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Did I miss something? You have three creeker/ river runners and now you want a fourth one. How is this not overlap? I understand that there are nuances to each ones edge design and rocker profile but I think it is more important to just spend time in one boat to be comfortable in it. People run the NF Payette in "creek" boats all the time just like Big Timber gets run in "river runners". If you want to avoid overlap get a dedicated play boat, or a squirt boat.
Amen.

I'm thinking about selling my stomper this year and getting a new Burn (After I paddle one). Love the edges on the old one though, and I paddle my wife's any chance I get, it's just a little to small for me.
 

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I live in duluth..was just going off your original post where you said you mostly paddle class III.

Although a while other topic in itself...If you're going to move, go PNW
Oh, my mistake. I get what you were saying now - that MN doesn't offer a lot of variety in the type of paddling I do. I actually paddle mostly in WI (Wolf, Peshtigo, Pine, Pike, Red) and the upper peninsula of MI (Paint), but yes, it can get repetitive, hence the desire to move.

I see your user profile shows Seattle. Did you use to live in WA? And can you give me a little info about why your vote goes to the PNW rather than the SE? As you mentioned, it is off topic - maybe I'll start a thread on this one - but it is a pretty big decision for my wife and I.
 

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Did I miss something? You have three creeker/ river runners and now you want a fourth one. How is this not overlap? I understand that there are nuances to each ones edge design and rocker profile but I think it is more important to just spend time in one boat to be comfortable in it. People run the NF Payette in "creek" boats all the time just like Big Timber gets run in "river runners". If you want to avoid overlap get a dedicated play boat, or a squirt boat.
From the OP: "I’m looking for a fun, fast river runner with edges ..."

I gotta' agree with Montuckyhuck - this seems like a rather strange conversation. A Burn is "responsive"??? I have a Burn and love it, but it's my creeker, and by far the _least_ responsive of all of the 7 (yes, seven) boats in our family.

Before you get yet another high volume boat, borrow or rent something that's really different. For what you're talking about, I love the RPM. It's an old design, but there's a reason that it's the best-selling boat ever produced. It's very fast, doesn't pearl when surfing (the Diesel is terrible for this!), has real rails, and you can really carve with the sharp chines on the stern. My wife (~110 lbs) and I (150 lbs) both fit and like it. There are of course much newer designs that are planning or semi-planning. The RPM is a displacement hull, which you may or may not like, but despite what anyone else says, displacement hulls are _fast_. Displacement hull boats don't spin, but you'll catch waves that everyone else blows by.

Depending on how much you paddle, you might want to stick with a planning hull. Planning and displacement hulls usually have quite different feels, and the secondary stability characteristics are also usually very different. The choice of boat also depends a bit on where you want to go. E.g., highly asymmetrical boats (like the RPM) are more difficult to control when side-surfing. If you aspire to do rodeo moves, then you'll want a boat that supports those. If you're mostly surfing, get a boat that surfs well (this is most decidedly NOT a Diesel or Burn!).

Regardless, it really seems like you want a much higher performance river runner, or maybe even a play boat, before you get yet another slow, high-volume boat. I could go on about this, but you really need to try a few more boats and see what you like. Sounds like you'll be happier with Fun Runner, Axiom, RPM, Remix, or similar. See if you can borrow a some different designs, even if it's only for a few quick surfs or ferrys during a lunch break. There are many older designs that are excellent all-round boats - way higher performance and much more fun than a Hero, Burn, Mamba or the like. And with a bit of experience, any of these are fine for Cl 3 an 4.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks johng. That information is helpful. I am surprised to read that you don't see your Burn as responsive though. I've always been told/read things like "Typically, Pyranha is known for performance paddling - meaning that their boats are crisp." That is from the guy I quoted above, who is in charge of product reviews at one of the biggest online WW retailers. Am I making a mistake by associating being "crisp" with being "responsive"?

I enjoyed reading your RPM and hull descriptions too. I have a buddy with an Axiom, so maybe I'll give that a paddle.
 

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I haven't lived or paddled in the SE but I did live in Seattle for two and a half years. It gets my vote because from downtown Seattle you have class II-V within 30 miles, 365 days per year. Extend that to a few hours of driving and the possibilities are endless. Especially out on the OP.

There are plenty of people to paddle with at every level, BUT you will never ever wait in line for a playspot except on the wenatchee for 2 months during the summer. If you're a playboater, its worth it. Its just awesome to have so many rivers and miles of wilderness completely to yourself.

Seattle speaks for itself. The city is great and my take was that the education system there is really good.
 

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Each to their own. The RPM was a horrible boat for me and I love my Burn. Demo and decide for yourself.
 
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