Speed: The boat is about 5-6.5% faster on flat water than an Epic Endurance. It catches waves very easily for sometimes near effortless surfing. On flat water, it is very quick, being as fast as an EFT, or ICF trainers. It will get left behind by full on ICF K1s on flat water. The front deck is high enough that it keeps afloat in much rougher water than other ICF / touring boats like a Talisman.
Stability: This boat can be handled by a kayaker with reasonable balance and bracing. It is not a rough water boat, and is not a good choice for all but highly skilled paddlers in more than 1 ft chop.
Tracking is really the boat's weak point. It can be impossible to control well in some beam wakes off the starting line with K2s or C2s. The problem is quite pronounced, making steering such a problem that it makes application of paddling power impossible until the field is broken up and spread out (often minutes into the race!!).
Overall, I think this boat is best used as a training tool for fitness, stroke development, and just general workouts on protected water. This makes it a very good boat to train with. The narrow, low deck up front helps get the blade closer in, allowing one to develop better technique and propulsion.
With a fin under the hull, or a larger rudder, it might track better. If the tracking problem could be solved, I'd give this boat a 9, if not a 10. Again, it is a good choice for fitness training, and stroke development in rougher water than higher performance K1s can handle.
The boat's construction quality is very high, and sturdy. The rudder lines (poly cord) are quirky and hard to adjust well.
Overall, a fine boat that is rewardingly quick in sheltered waters. The seat adjusts for height (2 positions), It also can be moved forwards/backwards, as can the footrest. Steering is with a tiller bar controlling and under stern rudder.
When it comes to the interior and rudders, Nelo unfortunately doesn't know what they are doing. If you order a Nelo with over stern rudder, you will get Kajaksport Navigator. It doesn't work at all. I swapped it to Seal line and worked great.
I expect that the manufacturer knows what rudder that works, but they don't.
This review is entirely subjective. My experience may not fit yours, but I will try and give the most accurate review I can, taking in different circumstances. Please feel free to contact me with any questions, I will be happy to try and answer.
I have the WWR layup, which weighs about 35 lbs. I ordered it with hatches and bulkheads, but it came without them for some reason. It comes with two rudders (for an additional $50). You can take out the under-stern rudder and put in the end of the boat rudder. The cockpit is typical of a K1 so there is plenty of room for good rotational paddling. I have a Tripper spray skirt that keeps the water out. The seat is adjustable (very comfortable) and the rudder is controlled by a tiller bar system with a very solid platform to push off from. I added a pull bar to the platform. I also added thigh straps so that I can roll the boat. Since they connect directly into the hull, they do not slip or come off, which I have heard complaints from EFT paddlers on the Velcro kind. This boat rolls so nicely, partly because of the very low and flat deck right behind the seat. It was surprisingly easy with the thigh straps. It’s around 17’ long and 21” wide (19” at the 4” waterline.” The bow is very narrow and cuts through the water like a knife. I added a beckson hatch and a lightweight plywood bulkhead to make it seaworthy. I added a fin (1.5” x 3”) just under my feet on the bottom side of the hull for directional stability in a following sea. I will say more on this later. Final weight is closer to 38 lbs.
Reasons for buying a Razor:
I bought the razor as a winter boat for the cold weather. I was looking for a stable (relative to a tippy surfski) boat that would have a narrow paddle placement in order to continue to practice and make better an efficient forward stroke. Most kayaks were just too wide in front of the paddler. I was also looking for a good fitness paddling boat that was light and easy to cartop. I wanted something that was fast and could put in the miles.
On flatwater or going into a current or wind, the razor is at its strongest. It is a pleasure to paddle this way and accelerates nicely with the effort. I recently took it out on a five mile loop in small wind and my guess is that it is about 35-45 seconds less per mile than a racing K1. Again, I would say the biggest benefit to performance or fitness paddling is being able to have the freedom to do an excellent forward stroke, THIS BOAT ALLOW THAT. The nose is like a razor and little waves spin off the top in a way similar to a bicycle wheel shedding water - wonderful to watch. With so little volume to present to the wind or the current, it really shines.
Winds 5-10 kts, air temps warm, wind waves 1-1.5’:
When I paddled into waves, the nose cuts through the oncoming wave instead of going over it. My sense is there is not much loss of speed going this way (like a submarine in a sense). Having no hatches in the bow is nice as the water smoothly wraps over the top of the hull. From the beam, the boat handled really well, allowing the small waves to ride effortlessly under. I was able to pick up energy from the wave and add to my speed. The initial stability is high for me. If the Mako surfski is a 2 this boat is 6, a QCC/Epic might be 7-8. The hull flattens out and is very shallow behind the cockpit. The flatness gives a great deal of support. The secondary stability is less, which is why I think it rolls so easily. A layback roll with the thigh straps offered no resistance to coming back around.
Winds 20-25 kts, NW wind waves up to 3-4’. 62 degrees air and water temps:
Going out against the waves, which were very steep and being blown off the tops, the Razor handled pretty well. By staying more in the water than out, i.e. not taking too much air off the top and slamming down the backside, the boat seemed to maintain forward speed without giving up stability. The submarine effect keeps the boat in the water and more stable, in fact this is an exciting element to paddling this boat, and adds to the experience.
Going with the big, steep wind waves was a problem, before the addition of the fin. The desire to broach made by the fact that the thin bow just doesn’t seem to hold the line, made it a huge challenge to go fast with the waves. When I did get it right, the boat managed to go almost 10 mph with the power of the wave rocketing it. After adding the fin, I had much better results with the steep waves, but these would be challenging to any kayak. A surfski is really the best boat for those conditions, although it sometimes can be too long to fit in very steep waves with short intervals. I did find that after a while working the waves, that it was able to bounce from wave to wave and pick up different power angles. Good surfing technique seems to inspire multi directional changes, instead of just going straight down a wave without changes. Most kayaks plow into the back of the wave that is in front of the one that the paddler is surfing down. This stalls the boat and takes huge energy to get the boat back up to speed. By bouncing from angle to angle, the paddler can reduce this stall. Also the Razor, when it plows into the back of a wave, seems to have so little bow that it submarines right through it, with less loss of speed - a very unique feature.
I would highly recommend this boat to any intermediate paddler or above, who wishes to develop the best and most efficient forward stroke possible in a kayak. It is not an expediton boat, but a true exercise machine for those of us who go out to paddle for fitness and fun. One hour or four, It is comfortable as can be and highly adjustable. I fine with the tiller bar system, that I no longer have cramps in my legs and butt. With the sealine system used in the Epic, the angling of your knees in and then your feet out, made for extreme discomfort. The low profile of the boat, as it offers itself to the wind, means less for the wind to grab onto. This gives it a great advantage to windy conditions paddling.
With the fin I added, the boat has an incredible ability to turn (the fin did nothing towards restricting the turning ability), yet tracks 150% better. I’m not sure if anyone has put in a forward fin in a kayak as of yet, but it is truly remarkable how well it works. A small daggerboard could be even more interesting. I think kayak builders can learn from sail boat builders.
I hope this review is helpful to anyone considering the Razor.