Submitted: 06-21-2011 by Jim Cherry
First Impressions: I was very eager to test drive the Cooper. Its skin/frame system was very similar in size and shape to a skin-on-frame (SOF) kayak I'd built the year before and so needless to say, I had a certain level of expectation – the Cooper did not disappoint!
The Cooper performed as described and as advertised… quite the feat in today's exaggerated world of marketing hype. From entry to exit, the Cooper behaved smoothly and I was pleased to find its cruising "sweet spot" was a nice respectable pace. I haven't GPS'd it yet but in comparison to the multitude of other boats I've experienced in my lifetime, the Cooper was more than adequate – it was a good time.
How can a 16.5 foot boat be only 39 lbs? Let me rephrase that, "How can a 16.5 foot production-grade kayak be only 39 lbs and still provide years and years of service life?" As a product developer, I constantly run across similar customer needs i.e. make it quicker, faster, lighter and stronger…and make it cheaper too! The Cooper is a solid design made of quality components and clearly assembled to a high level of tolerance and standardization. This approach doesn't necessarily represent a high profit margin but it does guarantee a strong, loyal customer base.
My first time assembling the Cooper was less than perfect (I still took it out on the water anyway!) whereas the second assembly was significantly improved. This was more of a reflection on me and my urgency to hit the water. Specifically and as a system, the assembly is easy going and natural. I found myself working ahead of the instructions, making assumptions and for the most part, the correct assumptions. This reflects the intuitive nature of the design and once experienced, repeat performances no doubt improve dramatically.
Dis-assembly was unremarkable and if anything, it was a depressing event. I mean really, who wants to pack up and store away a Cooper? If I was to have any recommendations for Folbot it would be to include a few more photos in the instructions that correlate with the step-by-step assembly procedure. Perhaps add captions to the photos for guys like me who only look at the pictures.
No problems found or identified in the design or delivered product worth mentioning. I hear of various nit-picks and find them to be rather nitpicky. However, I'm not so naďve as to think things don't happen and neither is Folbot. That takes me to the next category – customer service.
What a wonderful world it would be if my telephone, cable TV, car, HVAC or any other aftercare service provider could be as good as Folbot's! Real people answer the phone – customers come first – simple solutions offered to solve complex needs.
Summary: OK, I'm done - two thumbs up - it's a keeper!