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Reviews for Magic Canoe by Bell Canoe Works


Rated: 9.29/10 Based On: 34 Reviews

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10-11-2013
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     It's a 10-ish canoe. Not giving it that yet as I have only been out in my Magic 5 or 6 times. It's Kev-Light with Wenonah bucket seat, foot brace and aluminum trim. I'd rather have bought the black-gold, but I got it used for a song.

So far I have owned a Merlin (original in black-gold) a Merlin II in Fiberglass, a Rob Roy in glass (which I still have) a Mad River Independence and Savage River solo marathon. I live in South Florida and really like the delta hulls. It is typically 5 feet or less in depth, so maybe that's why I like the Deltas.

The Magic feels very similar to the Rob Roy hull, only it's easier to hold cruising pace. Seems a hair faster, but not a whole lot of difference when all-out paddling. At cruising and racing speeds, it's quite fast. Haven't put a GPS on it yet, but it feels great, cuts through the water very well. Also put two dogs in the bow with no gear in the stern to trim boat. It paddled pretty well to be that unbalanced, well enough to island hop along the coast. Been using a ZRE and a Kialoa outrigger paddle. I've wanted a Magic for at least 10 years. I finally have one, and plan to put several thousand miles on it.

I'll add a more thorough review when the winter tripping season is over. Should have enough experience with the boat at that point.

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03-31-2013
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I have taken my Magic on 3 extended Quetico trips, and could not be more pleased. Trim fore and aft carefully, and then relax. I found it very stable in a chop, using either a bent shaft or a double-blade. Tracks really great, and it is certainly easy to portage at only 34 lbs. If you are a solo tripper this is a boat you absolutely must consider.
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09-12-2011
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I put in a review after owning a Magic for 6 months in 2003. It was a short great review. After using my Magic for over 8 years, it is still a wonderful canoe and I have no reason to replace, well maybe with another Magic? It tracks straight as an arrow, handles wind and current well, and is stable.

I have a QCC 600 that I also like. When I paddle my Magic with my kayak group they are shocked when I out pace them every time. They are surprised when I take the canoe out of the water using one hand! I am 64.

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07-25-2011
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     The number is arbitrary. I like the Magic. It is fast, it is predictable in waves, it is well designed and constructed. It does not turn well compared to shorter, more rockered boats, but it turns better than anything else in its class (fast solo touring boats). No surprises - if you want this sort of boat the Magic is a winner. Incidentally, while I really like Bell canoes, I really did not like the Yellowstone Solo, which was quite sluggish all around.

I have used a straight, bent, and kayak paddle and it responds well to all three, though the double-blade really gets it going in a sprint.

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06-04-2010
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I read the enthusiastically positive reviews and with equal enthusiasm join the crowd. On my Kevlar Magic maiden excursions on the Connecticut River and on Lake Champlain, it handled beautifully, was very stable, tracked like a compass needle, and is so light I carried it to and from the water on one shoulder--and I'm a 72 year-old non-athletic retired desk worker. That it scratches easily is a trivial price to pay for such a great canoe.
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05-24-2010
Submitted by:
Rating: 10 of 10

     I own two Bell Magic Kevlar canoes with ash rails. I loved the first one so much that I bought a second one the next year. I grew up paddling an 80lb aerocaft fiberglass, a hand me down from the 1950s. Probably logged 1500miles in my teens on that one. Then in 1998 bought the "Bell" brand new for $1200. There by cutting my portage load in half with 40lb difference.

I outfitted my Bell with a spray skirt/cover $300 and double blade Gray owl wood paddle (kayak paddle)$150. My first voyage was solo 2400 mile trip down the Yellowstone/Missouri rivers from Billings MT. to Saint Louis MO. Me at 185lbs and around 100lbs of gear the Bell handled every water condition flawlessly. From 9 mph flood stage waters with boulders in the Yellowstone to midnight paddles in 25mph winds on Lake Sacajawea to barge wakes South of Sioux city. A few scratches and 52 days latter pulled it up on levee under the Arch in St. Louis.

Next excursion two years later the whole Mississippi 2400miles from Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico. Again barge wakes, boils , and whirlpools. The Bell did exceptionally well in all water conditions. I frequently canoe throughout the winter as well as paddling at night or pouring rain I am still paddling same canoe 12 years later. Probably logged more than 10,000 miles in this canoe and cannot say enough good things about her.

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05-04-2010
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Following are my initial impressions from my maiden voyage in my new-to-me kevlight Magic. I was very impressed with how easily it glides across the water and it tracks even better than I expected. Pleasantly surprised by more than adequate stability, even in an unloaded boat. It is very light and easy to car-top. I did a lot of pre-purchase research, paddled several candidate solos, and am very happy with my selection of this canoe. Kudos to Dave Yost and Bell for designing and manufacturing an elegant craft.
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07-12-2009
Submitted by: MrSquirrelSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Just rented the Magic for a week in the Boundary Waters, and I was impressed. Excellent solo canoe. Easily carried an over-packed load for a week. Nice balance... Tracked well on open water, even in choppy water with small whitecaps and strong winds... And yet maneuvers well in the rocky streams. Feather light on the portages. Highly recommended, I will seek one out for my next solo trip. Can't think of anything I didn't like about this canoe.
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01-19-2009
Submitted by: NickSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I borrowed a Magic for a 200+ mile solo trip across the Boundary Waters. This boat is incredibly fast! I paddled with a kayak paddle and was able to paddle up to 45 miles in a day. It also handles Lake Superior's big waves wonderfully.
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07-03-2007
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I bought my Magic late in 2006 and have paddled it just enough to give my first impressions. Like sports cars and women I was attracted by it's looks, and the Bell Magic certainly caught my eye when I first saw it. No doubt this canoe is stunning to look at and even more so when it's afloat. The canoe attracts a lot of attention from other paddlers. I bought mine in black/gold with wood trim and cane seat, it weighs 34 lbs.
I have been using a 54 inch bent shaft paddle from various positions but kneeling is the best for me. Kneeling puts me in position to get the best performance from this canoe. It tracks better when I'm kneeling and requires less switching and it turns far better from the kneeling position, especially when I lean the canoe over. I've raised my seat two inches by cutting off the drops . This gives me just enough room to get my bare feet under the seat and with a kneeling pad I bought at Walmart I find it very comfortable. I've used a Werner Camano 240cm when crossing open water or just want to go fast but I expect over time, as I perfect my solo strokes I'll leave it home, as it is a rather boring way to paddle for me.
I find the canoe to be stable and with a little practice easy to stand in for fly casting. I'm anxious to try using a straight shaft paddle and more advanced stroke as well as an over nighter to the Adirondacks. I use a Thule rack with canoe attachment and foam pipe insulation for the wood gunnels.
Over all I'm very pleased with this canoe.

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05-21-2007
Submitted by: DaveSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I have had a kevlar crystal Magic for about 4 years now. I love this boat. It does exactly what my dealer said it would do. Don't think for a second I believe this is the only solo there is, because I have several other boats. All of which has it's own purpose. I can do 20 miles of flatwater in a day with this boat. I exercise, trip, and fly fish from this boat. It does not require a bent shaft paddle or a double blade to preform. By the way: I am over 50, 165 lbs, and of average build. There is no such thing as a boat that is perfect for everything, but in the hands of a paddler with a moderate level of experience this boat can seem a little magical.
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05-07-2007
Submitted by: MarQue LintvedtSend Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     I've done a lot of paddling - hundreds of miles over 15 years in a 34 pound Blackhawk Zephyr. When I wanted a longer 16 foot boat, I naturally tried to find a Blackhawk Starship. I've paddled Starships on many occasions (I used to build Blackhawk canoes in Wisconsin) and have always LOVED them (at least some of them). In the end however, I decided NOT to get one - they're just too damn heavy (well over 40 pounds) and hard to come by in great condition. Sigh. Anyway, I test paddled MANY boats over nearly THREE YEARS and decided on the Bell Magic - with no good close second choice, honestly. It's the best, lightest, fastest, 16 foot canoe I know of, but it's not perfect.

Yes, it's fast, relatively stable, and at only 32 pounds in the Kevlar/Carbon/Aluminum gunnels configuration - quite light weight. My Kevlar/Carbon Zephyr has beautiful all-mahogany rails and after 15 years of sanding-in Watco oil, you can KEEP that beautiful wood! But, I digress... The WORST things about a Magic, are the design of the sharp inner-side of the rails (it really cuts into the side of your leg if you lean it against the side. I even place my trusty sponge alongside the rail and hold it with my knee sometimes. At one point, I even considered adding water-pipe foam insulation to the rails! That would really look awful, so I deal with it - but you get the idea. I'm pretty used to it now, so it's not as much of an issue, but still a major design flaw.

In the lightest, clear gel-coat lay-up, you can expect to see a lot of star-cracks and scratches after a season or two of serious use. If you only paddle open water and lakes, it's fine, but if you're pulling it over downed trees and doing some serious exploring, it'll show it's use. I'm not complaining, it's still a good trade-off for such amazing light weight. I mention it only because if you want to buy a boat to really beat on - the light-weight clear model isn't the one for you (I still love it, though!).

The other comment I would make is on turning. Others have said that it turns on a dime and leaves you change. That's just plain stupid. It turns well enough for a 16 foot long boat, hell - maybe it turns better than any other 16 foot boat in current production in the whole universe - but it's no dime. Why exaggerate? I've taken freestyle paddling classes and paddled with paddling instructor Patrick Moore (I still use one of his AMAZING paddles) many times and take great pride in controlling my boat with style and seemingly effortless grace, but this boat turns like a good 16 foot boat should - no better (that's why it tracks so well). When I jump in my 14 foot Zephyr, I never cease to be amazed at how FAST the Zephyr turns. Not a fair comparison, but it doesn't turn nearly well as a 16 foot Blackhawk Starship in competent hands either. To be fair, the Starship won't track as well as the Magic, but anyone who is an accomplished paddler can make a 55 gallon drum track a straight line, so I don't put as much emphasis on that as others. After all this criticism, you might be thinking that I don't like this boat much. Not true! I think it's the best boat made today for fast, day or week long camping trips if you want to carry a total weight over 250 pounds. Put that much weight (or more) in a 14 foot boat and you'll have nearly as much boat below the water than above. So buy TWO! Thanks for reading all my rambling - now go paddle! -Q

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09-11-2006
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I own a Bell Magic in black gold. As I'd never done any solo canoeing (at least not with a dedicated solo canoe) before I bought the Magic, I found it hard to manage with a straight paddle - or even a bent paddle. I started using an eight foot double bit paddle and found it to be the best way to propell the Magic. With the double bit paddle, the Magic moves like a dream. There is very little effort to paddling this way. As somewhat of a traditionalist, I found this hard to take at first, but it just works too well to ignore.
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08-11-2006
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     In the past I owned a Wenonah Solo plus, and also a Blackhawk Starship. I liked both of those canoes, but eventually sold them, partly due to weight concerns (a bad back) and partly because I wanted a more responsive design. This gave me the opportunity to research and test paddle several other canoes. It didn't take long to zero in on the Magic. It combines what I consider to be the best aspects of a modern, high-tech solo canoe. It's quick, tracks well, is easy to manuever, stable enough, lightweight, well-constructed - in short it is a pleasure to paddle. My use has been well inside the design limits, meaning small lakes and big slow rivers, without carrying gear. Sometimes I take my time, other times I get fly up or down the river much faster than I would have thought possible. I use a bent-shaft, and vary from sit and switch to kneeling. Either style has worked well for me with this canoe. The layup I have is the light kevlar with wood trim. It weights about 30 pounds. I would be remiss in not giving it a 10 out of 10.
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07-21-2005
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I’ve been paddling my Bell Magic, in WhiteGold with wood gunwales, now for about four months. My longest trip to date was a 55 miler called the Hugh Heward Challenge, completed in about twelve and a half hours. Mainly I use the Magic for paddling in nearby small lakes and do take it to Lake Michigan and Lake Superior for coastal canoeing. I purchased her from Carl and Jon’s in Madison, Wisconsin and was very happy with the sales and service received from them. The Magic is a solo canoe but I rarely paddle solo. My Belgian Malinois dog is my paddling partner on almost all my trips. She weighs just less than sixty pounds and rides in the bow. On day paddles without gear, I offset her weight with a 10L MSR Dromedary bag filled with water in the stern. If she gets nervous or lonesome she will crawl under the forward thwart and rest her head on my leg. I kneel in the canoe and have built a kneeling thwart out of walnut. The thwart is placed as high on the gunwale as I could get it to accommodate my size 12 feet-and I feel that the stability is fine with this setup.

My first multi-day trip with the Magic was a recent run to Killarney Provincial Park where we spent four nights out. I had plenty of room for gear and dog and we could have easily accommodated more food for a longer trip. I’m sure I could handle a ten day trip with the Magic no problem.

I have found the Magic very stable with light chop and small waves. I have yet to get into anything big. However, I have had the Magic out in very strong winds and found my control and ability to make forward progress very reasonable. The dog shifting around can be a little concerning at times and I do try to keep her in once place. Once while paddling with two dogs I had a near capsize. Both dogs shifted in the same direction at the same time while I was not paying attention and the near gunwale went down to the water level-below the water level actually. Water was pouring in and the dogs abandoned ship. I was kneeling and was able to flick the boat back up. I paddled to shore with a about 3-4” of water in the boat. The Magic gives you a good chance to save yourself even if the gunwale is on the water. However, if you let too much water pour in over the side it will sink fast and wallow just at water level or an 1” below the surface. I had not intended to test its flooded floatability but did on a recent overnight trip in Lake Michigan. Luckily I sunk her near shore-while exiting.

I use a bent shaft carbon fiber paddle and hit and switch. Prior to the Magic, I paddled “Canadian style” in a tandem canoe. While I like the style and grace of paddling Canadian style I do prefer the hit and switch. I feel that my speed in the Magic is adequate for what I need to do. Really, I could not be happier with this canoe. Prior to buying the Magic I had test paddled a Swift Shearwater which turned out to be my second choice boat. Perhaps someday I will own a Shearwater or Osprey as well. But, I think the Magic is a great all around canoe for solo day and multi-day trips.

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11-15-2004
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I came to a Magic after a painful relationship with a Curtis. It seems the 80s era solo boats just had to be tippy or Real Men wouldn't be caught dead in them. Thankfully, things have changed. I paddled the Magic on day and overnight trips for its first year and found it fast, a bit wiggly, but ultimately pretty comfortable. Last summer it got loaded down with gear for a week on the Spanish River. That slowed its roll down just a hair, which let me get through lots of standing waves and long strings of rapids. Maneuverability isn't its strong point but it worked out OK and gave me TONS of confidence in how it handles itself. This is definitely a keeper!
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11-07-2004
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 10 of 10

     Last Saturday I got in touch with Mikey "The Beard" at the Duluth Pack Store to arrange for a paddle in a Bell Magic. We set up Monday morning as a paddle date. I showed up at the store about 9:00 AM Monday, only to find Mikey had no way to get the canoe to water. I'd driven Wing's little Ford into town, and Mikey commutes to work on a bicycle. We made a date for today, (Tuesday) at the same time. This morning, when I awoke, rain was coming down steady. I checked on the Internet for weather and the weatherman said partly sunny by noon. I called Mikey and made a date for 1:00 AM.

At 1:00 AM I rolled in with the pickup and trailer. We picked up the Bell Magic and a Bell Merlin II for a test paddle. As we were strapping the canoes down, I thought, "We're not doing this right." We had one strap over both canoes on the end of the trailer, and two straps, one over each canoe, at the front of the trailer. It should have been exactly opposite. "Oh well," I thought, "We're not that far from water."

Instead of going two blocks to the waterfront, however, Mikey directed me to the end of Park Point, over a mile away. The roadway was rough, and you guessed it - one of the canoes fell off. I've been hauling canoes around for decades and this is the first time I've ever lost a canoe. Fortunately, there wasn't a car behind us, and we were only going about 20 mph. The canoe, which is used by the staff at the canoe store - and is already scratched up every where a canoe could be scratched - showed little sign of its sudden parting from the trailer.

We threw the canoe back on the trailer, rearranged our straps, and continued on our way. I've been hearing good things about the Magic ever since I started thinking about a solo canoe, three or four years ago. The only negative I'd heard was it had some initial stability problems commensurate with its slim design. Everyone advised me it was tender, but that you soon got used to it. Having had a lot of initial stability problems with the We-no-nah Minnesota II, I was not about to pay a lot of money for a canoe I didn't like the feel of. That's why I wanted to try out the Merlin as well.

We put the canoe in the water and put a 40 pound tent in the bow for stability. I asked Mikey to let me get in the canoe by myself. I stepped in and crabbed up to the seat, turned and sat myself down. Hmmm - no stability problem there. I reversed and paddled down along the shoreline. There was a fair chop going, and I decided I should be going against the wind - rather than with it. I turned around. No problem. I went up wind - into the waves. Canoe handled fine. I layed in the trough - just to see how the canoe would handle. I tried ommering - just for the heck of it. Going down wind, I tried quartering, and decided there was no need for it. The Magic went so fast with the wind; there was no point in quartering. I was at shore before I could have made the necessary adjustment. I tried exiting the canoe - without help, and had no problem at all. I kept my feet dry, and did no damage to the canoe.

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03-24-2004
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 8 of 10

     I've been paddling my black-gold Magic for almost 3 years now, and I'm definetly a fan...but not a fanatic. It is a beautifully designed hull that delivers a nice combination of tracking, speed and turning, but it doesn all of those things well, not spectacularly well. Looking back, I'd have to say Bell's literature oversold its hull speed when I bought; they made it sound like the fastest solo on the market and somthing that could rival marathon racing hulls. It's not.

I agree with those who have criticized the low-slung seat. It would be nice to make adjustments in the height and the front/rear position more easily. I can't paddle my boat from a kneeling position, and, because the seat is fixed, if you set off with a trim problem, you'll probably have to get into shore to change your load. When I inquired about seat alternatives, the company's response was basically that I was an idiot for asking.

I like the Magic better than the Wenonah 17 and 17.5-footers that compete with it for paddling aesthetics and overall design, but if I were buying again today I'd probably take a longer look at those two boats.

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01-02-2004
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Superb design that does an excellent job of balancing solid tracking, good initial stability, good maneuverability, and excellent secondary stability. It handles wind, waves, and chop more easily than the vast majority of the other boats I have paddled. Although not as fast as a Wenonah Advantage or Voyager, it accelerates quickly, is easy to hold at cruising speed, and is fast enough to satisfy the vast majority of paddlers. The gunwale width and overall width are narrow enough that the boat is very comfortable to paddle. If I could only have one solo canoe, the Magic would be one of my top choices.
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11-17-2003
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Best solo tripping boat on the market, period. Hauls my gear for 7-10 day trips. Makes single portaging realistic. Handles well in chop; stays dry. Tracks smoothly; turns responsively. I use a bent shaft, and also sometimes a 270cm kayak paddle if I want to approach lift-off speeds. Great fishing platform too. I have a Wenonah tandem that is great for its purpose, but the Magic is the boat that gets my pulse up. Not really pricey when you comparison shop and consider what you're getting. Do the math: $1600 amortized over 30 years = $53 per year, and that's if you only take one trip per year! Don't think the boat will last 30 years?! With reasonable care it will go more. If you're looking for a solo, buy this boat with confidence and you'll soon brag it is one of the best things you've ever done. And lordy does it ever look good too.
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06-12-2003
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I bought a sea kayak for my solo paddling because I hadn't seen a solo canoe I really liked. Not to slight my kayak...I love it...but I would have bought the Magic if I had seen her first. This boat has it all. She's beautifully made, half the weight of the kayak, tracks and handles like a dream, is FAST and comfortable. There isn't a criticism I would make...except that she is pricey. But you get what you pay for, and she costs no more than the kayak did.Okay, I can't take her off shore like I do with the kayak. But She's better to fish from and will handle a good chop and heavy wind with ease.
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06-06-2003
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I have paddled my Majic/Kevlar for about six months and have found it to be a fast straight tracking canoe that handles well in all wind and current conditions. For me it is a great tripping canoe. I can pack a fews days of food and gear along with my 70# labradore and move very quicking on the streams and rivers in Florida. It's narrow beam does make it a little tippy but once you are used to that the speed is well worth the stability trade off.
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04-16-2002
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 10 of 10

     I own a Magic, BlackGold, with wood trim. First off, Bell canoes are hard to hide from your wife because they look too darn good not to notice! She said the fit and finish of my Magic made my Daggers look plain. So suffice it to say: this is a beautiful canoe with great lines.

The Magic looks like a really aggressive (tippy) design. But I have never paddled another solo canoe that offers this degree of user-friendliness. I use mine for tripping and lunch workout paddles. Hit-and-switch is a good method with the Magic. The seat drops are long for this reason. (But Bell offers shorter drops, or you can easily trim the stock drops yourself to kneel in the boat.) I found the low seat to offer the ability to stretch on water without losing the stability or control of kneeling.

The canoe hums along. The tracking is wonderful; it corrects effortlessly as well and because of this is a joy in funky, windy chop. The boat is dry in head on and quartering waves. It seems to read my mind when I'm concentrating on holding a line in strong winds and it stays the course. Following seas? No problem, shift the load and enjoy the ride. This canoe surfs boat wake and wind-driven waves with an amazing amount of nimbleness and control.

Face it: would you buy a 16 foot solo and expect it to turn like a fourteen footer? The Magic practically does. I have a 14'9" Dagger Sojourn that will not flat turn and struggles to hold its heel angle for leaned turns. Not only will the Magic flat turn, it does so with a week's worth of gear in the bilge. Heel it and it spins like a 16 foot canoe should not. This is pretty easy too given the exceptional secondary stability in the Magic's design.

Be fair -- if you're shopping short canoes, don't expect the Magic to feel like canoes that aren't in its class. But other comparable designs (e.g. Wenonah Advantage) can't touch the Magic's versatility. It is a great boat the beginner tripper as well as the initiated backcountry traveller can enjoy because it is stable, easy to control, and reassuring in all kinds of water.

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03-19-2002
Submitted by: ChuckSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I own a Magic Kevlar with aluminum and it is a dream to paddle. It does require a bent shaft paddle, I've tried both. It does turn on a dime if you pretend you are a bow paddler. Just place your paddle at a 45 degree angle into the water just in front of you and it turns on a dime and leaves you change to boot! I agree that the metal gunwales, what a pain! Hard to carry or lean your leg against, a design flaw. But otherwise it is a dream. I own 8 kayaks/canoes and this one is special.
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03-05-2002
Submitted by: JeffSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Traded a kayak for this boat. I was tired of sitting in one position for hours, and since I don't have the neck of an owl, I could never look behind me. This boat is faster, more comfortable and glides better than the yak. Still has the rock and roll feel of the kayak, without the weight. Only complaint, is the rather sharp inside edge of gunnels.
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01-25-2002
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I have owned & used my Magic for almost four years now. It is a whitegold w/wood gunwales/decks. I use it primarily for trips into the Minn/Canadian boundary waters w/both straight & bent shaft paddles & find it a pleasure to travel in. Even on extended trips with heavy packs, it cruises very nicely.
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10-13-2001
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 8 of 10

     I have a Bell Magic with the Black gold-Carbon/kevlar material and ash gunwales which is much stiffer than the Kevlar and easier to hold onto and more attactive with wood. I'ts a good fast boat. I don't like the plastic grommets at the bow and stern as these have popped out a few times but intend to replace them later. I also removed the Brand and model labels cause I like the cleaner, less comercial look of it, I hate buying an advertisment LOL. It turns pretty well I, though a lot better when leaned on the tumblehome. You don't need a bent paddle as I read iin these reviews, I often use a traditional or ottertail for canadian strokes or longer distances. I got the optional cantilever portage yoke which works well except it has to be stapped onto the seat or it falls out when loading and unloading, not a big problem but requires some forethought. The standard seat drop is too low for me and it has been difficult (about 3-4 months)trying to get the 2" one I ordered. They sent another 4" one the first time, and the right one is slow in coming. I have been kneeling without a seat in the meantime but that kills the hamstrings after being out all day for a few days. Also if you don't like seeing scratches don't get the Black gold with clear gel coat cause they really stand out. The Clear saves a few pounds so I don't mind but cosmetically it's going to look like hell after awhile if you use it much. Other than that its easy to paddle, stable, track and turns well and lends itself to solo techniques well.
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08-31-2001
Submitted by: Alan
Rating: 9 of 10

     I've had a Magic since last November and love it. It fits like a glove with its narrow paddling station and I like the low seat since I don't kneel in it. The tumblehome keeps it very stable even while sitting and absorbs waves easily. On flat water it starts up easily, paddles fast, and glides forever. I've been able to glide up on dozing geese in the early morning and even slid underneath a roosting bald eagle before it spooked. I had it in some class II last weekend, which it is definitely not designed for, but managed to make it through the turns and waves with a little extra work. It is a beautiful boat, but I agree that the plastic end caps are not well done. Mine had a couple of extra holes where the rivets had obviously not fit correctly and had been re-drilled, and the bow cap has already cracked. I also have a Royalex boat from Bell and the bolts holding the thwarts and seats are so short the locknuts don't fit completely. Perhaps the touted workmanship and detail are to be found in the more expensive black gold layups.

Aside from the minor construction details, I like both boats, and love the Magic. It fits and moves so well you could almost bond with it. I've found I can't go too long without getting my "Magic" fix.

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08-30-2001
Submitted by: LarrySend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I just spent 11 days in the Boundary Waters with a rented Magic, and was very pleased. To put my comments in perspective, this is the only flatwater solo boat I have paddled any distance. However, using a bent shaft paddle, I was able to keep up with my sons in a We-no-nah Champlain paddling up wind, though not down wind.

Most impressive, was the trim and workmanship in this boat. Before this trip, I would not have considered purchasing such a boat with aluminum gunnels. However this boat had the best aluminum gunnels I have seen on a boat. The pop rivets were concealed and the aluminum was nicely anodized in a light slate gray color.

The hull was Bell's Kev-Crystal, unpigmented. The fabric in this lay-up alternates black strands with natural colored kevlar strands. This provides a much more pleasing look than natural kevlar alone. From a distance it gives the boat a somewhat green color.

All that detracted from the experience were the rather ugly plastic end caps, and a seat which was hung to low (on this particular boat) for me to slide my feet under when kneeling.

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02-01-2001
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     My last name is Bell, but there is no relation to the manufacturer or related reason for buying this canoe. I love it. I also have another canoe and three rec/touring kayaks. The Magic is my favorite unless I'm feeling the need for a backrest. It is very efficient in the water, yet has sufficient rocker to turn well. I'm convinced that they met the varied needs of forward speed, trackability, and turning capability very well. Plus, mine with wood trim, is flat-out beautiful!
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10-20-2000
Submitted by: AlSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     This boat repesents the essence of efficient solo canoeing. no it won't turn on a dime but i've run some class II water fully loaded and stayed dry.it excels on lakes & ponds with mild chop.
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10-17-2000
Submitted by: KevinSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I was not going to review this boat yet but decided to after reading the previous reviews. I like the boat a lot. It is very fast. I can keep up with most tandems. I also have a Wildfire and it is MUCH faster than the Wildfire. I have a black one with the wooden gunnels and it does not bother me to carry it at all. Mine is a little heavier than the advertised weight. The boat will turn very well when leaned to the outside of the turn. I have even done a partial christie of about 135 degrees leaning to the inside. I normally use a Zaveral bent shaft but occasionaly a large freestyle paddle. No, it will not turn as well as a Wildfire but I bought it for different applications. I like mine a lot.
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10-15-2000
Submitted by: Tom
Rating: 4 of 10

     I don't like it. I had one and traded it. I wanted to like this boat based on it's specs. In reality it does not like to turn, and I'm not impressed with the speed (it may be pretty fast if you whip it hard with a bent shaft, but it just takes much more muscle than it should). As the former owner said, this canoe likes a bent shaft paddle. In retrospect I concluded than any boat that demands a bent shaft paddle, just isn't a boat I'd want....a good boat should respond well to a straight shaft paddle; if it requires a bent shaft that means it's a slug.
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09-18-2000
Submitted by: CASend Email
Rating: 6 of 10

     I have a Kevlar Magic and basically like it. It's fun to paddle and is stable, fast and light. I use a 250 cm kayak paddle. The gunwales of the boat should be much smoother though. The aluminum edges are actually sharp and if you carry the boat any distance your hands hurt. It's a serious design flaw. I like the boat, but because of this I wish I had shopped around more.
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