This is a review based on my maiden voyage (1st paddle) in the Speeder, so it's strictly first impressions. This could change over time, so I'll review again in a few months after I've had more seat time in it.
About me: I'm female, 5'7", 180-ish pounds. I'm an intermediate level flatwater paddler so I can't tell you how the Speeder will perform on whitewater. This review takes place on a lake.
Having said that, I'm gonna go with a 7 rating for now, only because that hatch really bugs me, and I don't like the weathercocking and having to work really hard to correct for it. But then, it's not really intended to be a lake boat. Again, with "seat time" in it, I might be able to figure out how to mitigate the negatives. Feel free to e-mail me with questions or comments.
- Appearance: Nice looking boat... very sharp lines, aggressive looking. I got the red/black mix. Nice. And everybody knows red is faster...
- Quality: Seems to be well made in general. Bungees are really tight (good), seat is comfortable. Only problem is the Kajaksport rubber hatch cover. HARD to get on. REALLY HARD. Seems too tight or something. When you get one side down, the other side pops up. Maddening. Took me 15 minutes of messing with it to get it on. It just doesn't want to go completely over the hatch coaming lip. I put float bags in the stern before I ever took it out in case I capsized and that hatch cover came off (I didn't, though, and it didn't). The Speeder's weight is as advertised; didn't feel very heavy at all, easy to load and unload using my "system".
- Misc: Doesn't have footpegs; it's more like a whitewater kayak. There's an easily adjustable front bulkhead. The kayak came with a foam kit for outfitting (I'm still working on getting the setup right for me.) I'll probably put a couple of small float bags in the bow, too. Seat was SUPER comfortable, and backband was low. I could see myself rolling in this boat someday.
- On the water: Took it to East Fork Lake. Windy day, lots of boat wakes and chop, 18-20" waves. I had heard the Speeder was tippy and it really is, at first. Reminiscent of the Prijon Barracuda when you first get into it and start moving. Secondary stability is better than primary, but neither is bad once you get acclimated. I could actually sit still in the waves (depending on orientation) without a problem - something I didn't ever dare to do in the Barracuda.
Oncoming waves: handled these just fine... slices through the waves and chop; splashes just run off the sides of the deck; mostly a dry ride even without a sprayskirt. Quartering waves: I just kept paddling and again, fine in terms of stability, although it DOES have a definite tendency to weathercock. Kept doing corrective strokes and wishing it had a rudder. Following waves: it likes to surf a little bit but bigger waves felt like they were trying to broach it, but I was able to correct for that.
- Speed: I've saved the good part for last. When I finally did get to a fairly protected cove area and paddled flat-out without worrying about power boats and jet skis and wave action, I found that this kayak is well named. It's FAST. Fastest boat I've ever paddled. Or, having owned a Prijon Barracuda, perhaps I should say, it's the fastest **I've** ever paddled a boat. The 'cuda is a faster boat, I'm sure (theoretically) but it felt heavy and hard for me to push because I'm not very strong. The Speeder (at 2.5' shorter than the 'cuda) was much easier for me to deal with and I was able to really FLY in it. I liked it a lot!