Research Kayaks in the Buyers' Guide!
Select Kayak to View in Buyers' Guide
I also love that, while I most often go paddling by myself, with the Mercury I can add the second mid section and bring somebody along. Which I have done several times. I also want to mention the special rudder on this kayak. The end part of the hull moves and with the skeg that drops down from inside the rudder it is much more efficient than the deck mounted rudder on my old kayak. Why has nobody thought about this before?
The kayak also looks amazing and whenever I hit the water other kayakers turn their heads. When they see me taking it apart and loading it in the back of my car, now that's a conversation starter!!! I have used the kayak extensively this spring and summer and it still looks brand new.
I adjusted the length of the rudder lines so that the pedals are vertical. I'd suggest to sit up-right or slightly leaned forward (belly muscles under tension) and keep the legs loose (which means a beginner should start without leg drive in my opinion and focus on "paddler's box" and "torso rotation") and use the toes for rudder control (only slightly tipping the pedals). The pedals are not really comfortable when paddling with bare feet because of the ribbed design, but ironically that just helps to not put too much pressure on the pedals to avoid unwanted rudder moves. I'd only paddle with bare feet (shoes in the hatch) if weather allows anyway. Paddling with sneakers? Well, first try to get them in and then still be able control the pedals, for most shoe sizes this might not work and here I mean size 9 for men and larger. I have 9 1/2 and normal sneakers don't fit. I'd recommend neoprene surf socks/shoes or paddler shoes with flexible soles.
I now have to replace the rudder lines (ordered them elsewhere, costs $32 for a pair of tough ones I hope) as they got close to tearing apart since the last paddling.
Transport: the three Solo pieces - of which two pieces can be nested so it's actually two parts to transport - even fit into compact cars. The nesting capability is just great. "Even fit into a compact car" does not mean that all parts fit into the trunk. They do fit into a compact car though when you can fold the rear seat or a part of a split rear seat bench and staple the two parts of the Solo on top of each other. For a small car that's the co-driver's side, because you might also have to fold the co-drivers seat or slide it to the front as far as possible. However, make sure the parts are securely fixed so they don't knock you out in curves.
I would never leave the Mercury pieces for too long in a car when it's hot in the summer. The interior of a car can heat up to 160°F (70°C) or higher and the pieces could warp.
I would have given the kayak a better evaluation (maybe even an 8/10) if the built and design quality would have been as it could and thus should be. Next time I'll not forget to double check where things are manufactured before I order.
Concerning the strap connection, I never felt that it would tear apart and although being a cheap solution (strap material), I always felt safe.
Assembly is very fast and easy to do, there are videos for that on the internet (as almost everything that should be in the manual - which is a joke - is on YouTube). However, the plastic ratchet straps wear fast and seem to become (pricey) replacement parts. I'll also make my own fastening as the other reviewer suggested.
To me, Rockpool has (they use metal quick tensioners) and Australis seems to have a better solution.
When ordering online you can be lucky and get a Solo where all three parts fit more or less with only slight projections at the bottom, but you can also be unlucky and get a loosely fitting Solo with quite some projections (drag). I regret now that I did not buy where I could see how the sections fit on the kayak that I would buy. This even gets a bigger problem, if you first buy a Solo and then order online the mid-section to make it a Tandem. This could become an odyssey to get a fitting one in the end. Now I would only buy when I can see myself that all parts "fit" for both cases, that means when assembled as a solo and a tandem.
Made in China.
Check for tiny holes at the corner and rims of all sections as mine had water leaks. Can be welded water-tight though.
The warranty is a "1-year Limited warranty". 1 year? I had to read that twice to believe it.
The PE material appears brittle and scratches very easily (sand and small pebbles at the shore scratch the bottom when putting the section together), so now I only put the three parts together in knee-deep water at the shore, that's even easier.
The thickness of the plastic appears thin, the plastic also gives easily when pressing a bit with a finger (at the bottom of the mid section).
Color tone did not match for the sections. The tandem section also had a different color tone. I don't care, but it's not rocket science to get that right.
The rudder is way too sensitive and the pivot angle is too large which makes straight paddling a pain. To speed up and avoid unwanted rudder activation I found it feasible in the beginning to keep the legs loose (that means no leg drive) to not move the pedals unwillingly and just paddle with torso twist + "paddler's box"+ belly muscles. I keep the skeg in the up position so the rudder can not move 45° in each direction but only by 5-10 degrees, that's sufficient. I don't use the skeg at all even with wind. When windy, I just use the rudder and adjusted paddling strokes.
The skeg did not come out of the rudder anyway when I wanted to try it, as there wasn't enough tension on the spring for the skeg. One can increase the spring tension by turning the adjustment pin in the skeg box, but the pin can not hold the spring under tension. This can be overcome though by screwing the pin in
(e.g. with a wood screw) after the having turned it to bring the spring under tension.
The skeg itself was warped to one direction which itself does not aid to paddle straight line.
The line for lifting/lowering the skeg was wound the wrong way inside the knob for pulling the line, so turning the knob does the opposite of what's written on it. Ok, that can be changed by dis-assembling the know and rudder line tube etc., but I decided to not spend more time.
Talking about lines, the rudder lines are not wear resistant as the braided protection already disappeared at the bends on the deck after 40 hours of paddling.
The seat caused me "dead legs" after a while. So I put a Thermarest inflatable "lite seat" on it (only inflated it a bit). I also inserted a plastic bag between the original seat and the Thermarest seat, that allows a better torso twist and even to start using a soft alternating leg drive and using the toes for rudder control. I wonder though, that even just a slight leg drive might be to much force on the mountings of the pedals in the long run.
So what's my take?
It would be really a decent recreational kayak, but I found it to have too many design and manufacturing flaws.
I have a Solo and another Solo with a Tandem section and will keep them for family recreational use.
Occasionally used, it will be fun enough at the lakes for that purpose. But for how long, one summer? Or two? To be honest, it does not seem to be made to last long and the warranty is only 1 year.
I was excited when I found it on the internet, when I got it and when I unpacked it. Also when I first used it (until I found out it leaked). I got less and less excited with each use. I'll be getting another sectional for myself elsewhere next summer. There are a lot of companies to choose from when looking for sectional kayaks. Besides some well-known sea kayak brands (I will go for one of them and choose a company that manufactures where it's located) which all seem to have a custom option for sectionalizing their composite kayaks, there are even those I never heard of before Googling, but which apparently have been around for some time with sectionals.
Once on the water, the kayak is great. Stable, comfortable and large, while not being slow (not really fast either). The seating position is very laid-back compared to, I think, any other kayak I have been in, but it is comfortable for me.
Unfortunately, the construction of the kayak leaves a lot to desired. The pieces of the hull attach with chintzy plastic ratchet straps that do not release easily, and worse, are probably not going to last very long (the teeth on my straps are already showing wear... in a week). I am going to replace all of mine with some stainless tensioned clamping latches, since ratcheting straps are the wrong choice for this application. It is very disappointing that I have to swap out parts on a new boat.
Also, the solo Mercury middle section ships with rudder control strings that are long enough for the tandem model, so you have to shorten them. The adjusters do not have enough travel to take out all that slack. I am going to make my rudder strings modular, like the kayak, with a few cheap carabiners inlined. Would have cost Point 65N about $2 to do this at the factory, but I guess they couldn't be bothered. Finally, when Point 65N manufactured my boat, they didn't bother to thread the rudder strings into the pedals, so I had to do that myself... which was fun with my head nearly inside the kayak. I could've removed the pedal assemblies, I guess, but I already had to do way more work on a brand new boat than I think I should've had to... and I still need to replace all the cheap ratchet straps. Again, on a brand new boat, I expected far better quality for the price.
This is my first, and will be my last Point 65N boat.
Like the earlier models, it can be assembled either as a solo or by adding an additional section it becomes a tandem. This makes it like owning two kayaks while only buying and storing one. The convenience of the modular design cannot be overemphasized. Taken apart it fits in the back of a SUV or in a closet. Each section (about 25 lbs.) can be carried to the water’s edge and assembled there. This opens up kayaking to people who would not be able to load a 75 lbs. kayak on top of their vehicle.
This new model is a true touring class kayak. It is longer, faster and more maneuverable than the Martini model. It has sufficient storage for a multi-day trip. It features both a rudder and a skeg.
More reviews of all the Point65 kayaks are at: Point65.net
120,000+ people can't be wrong!
The Paddling.net Newsletter is a must if you like to canoe or kayak! Each week it is packed with great articles, photos, product reviews, and special features. Better yet, we promise not to sell your email address to anyone; that's right ZERO spam! Sign up today and find out what you've been missing!