Submitted: 08-18-2007 by David Scott
I recently bought a royalex Yellowstone tandem to supplement a kevlar Mad River Explorer. The Explorer is fine on lakes (but see review below), but not great on twisty rivers with logs. Before the purchase, I exchanged MANY emails with Bell canoe while I decided which canoe would best suit me. My emails were always answered by the next morning and were very detailed and helpful. There was no pressure to buy any particular boat, but there was an interest in finding a boat the would be best for my purpose. During the decision process, the customer service was excellent. The folks at Bell seem to want you to like your canoe, and recognize that it starts with a good fit between canoe and owner.
When I ordered the canoe, it was delivered on time and in excellent condition. Only a few minor surface blemishes - nothing like the extensive gouges and dents I have seen in other royalex canoes. The cane seats are slightly slanted, which I really like. It gives some resistance when I am sitting and plant my feet (so I don't feel like I am going to slide off the back of the seat), and is also a good angle for kneeling. I don't notice any tendency to slide forward when sitting, as other reviewers have.
Another aspect of the boat that I really like is that it has wide gunwales with substantial overhangs, which provide a very secure grip. My Explorer has narrower gunwales that are much harder to get a good grip on. Finally, the boat is great to paddle. It glides easily, tracks reasonably well, and turns very well. It is at least as easy to paddle and as fast as my Explorer, and maybe easier and faster. My wife and I both like it better than the Explorer, even though the Explorer is kevlar, has a shiny sleek hull and cost a lot more. After a three hour lake paddle on a hot day with our two young children, both my wife and I felt that the boat required less effort to paddle and had more comfortable seats than the Explorer (which has molded seats). Overall, I have been very satisfied with both the buying and paddling experience.