I did replace the axle after 71 miles since sand had worn a groove on each side where the wheel hubs sit. Even though I wash off the cart thoroughly after each use, the high mileage and one instance of forgetting to wash the cart after going through deep sand resulted in visible wear on the axle.
Fortunately, Wheeleez sells replacement axles at very modest cost, so I bought a new axle. Apparently, they do not keep them stocked; I had to call a couple of times to request one, but they did come through. A quick wrench job gave me a refreshed device and I am a happy camper.
I will probably need to buy a new entire cart after another 70 miles or so, or whenever the wheel tread wears too much, but given the reasonable cost of $89 for such a good product, I can't quibble over that.
Kudos to Wheeleez for making a compact, high-quality cart that is easy to use and fits in my hatch compartments.
Stopping to inspect what happened revealed that the right-side support L-bracket (the side that my sea kayak was NOT on, fortunately) had actually broken off where it attached to the crossbar and allowed that rear crossbar to drop down. I was very luck in that the bolt end protruded enough to make the angled crossbar wedge against another part so that it jammed in the new position. The kayak was, of course, sloping downward because of that but due to my habit of running both straps under the deck rigging, it didn't slide backwards onto the road.
I don't know if the rear crossbar made a hard hit when it dropped or if it grated down slowly as it appears to have done, based on the scratch marks on the contact area. I just hope that if it was the former case, my kayak didn't get jolted hard enough to damage the glass.
For several months prior, I had noticed the rear crossbar wiggled/rocked. I had tightened the two (the ONLY two) bolts holding the rear crossbar to its L-bracket supports. Recently I had checked those same bolts and found them tight yet the movement persisted. What I did not realize at the time was that the L-bracket must have been cracked right at the bolt hole, with the crack hidden from view.
I could probably replace both L-brackets and maybe the crossbar but IMO both the front and rear support systems are not well-designed. They allow too much flex in such a long trailer, and aluminum plus flex is a bad combination.
In sum, this trailer might be fine for short trips or occasional use, but I cannot recommend it for more frequent or longer hauls. The amazing this is that I only used it frequently between spring 2011 and summer 2012--barely over a year. There was ONE 1500-mile trip from CO to WA. After that, it's hardly been used and is stored in a garage, rinsed off after literally every use, and generally well-maintained.
Now I'm not sure what to do, since I need a light trailer but no longer trust pieced-together aluminum trailers.
The wheels are small enough to fit in my NDK's front or rear hatch compartment (not quite small enough to fit through the smaller day hatch opening). The frame folds down so I can slide it into a dry bag and then into my front hatch compartment. The quick-release clips holding the wheels to the frame could not be easier to use, and Wheeleez supplies a spare pair of them. You can prevent loss of clips simply by re-clipping them to the frame after removing the wheels. That way they are there ready for use, and it's a logical place to put them.
The beefy wheels roll well on hard paved surfaces, bumpy ground, grass, and sand. On deep, dry sand they will not have as much flotation as balloon wheels, but at least they don't sink down to an abrupt halt like my hard, narrow 7" plastic wheels did.
As soon as I began rolling the kayak on this cart, I could hear and feel a big improvement from what I had been using (the tiny Quantum Kayak Cart): The ride is SMOOTH even on rough hard surfaces. The foam in these wheels does a much better job of damping vibration than I expected based on squeezing them with my fingers. My kayak thanks me. Probably so do my neighbors, who could hear the noise of the old cart rumbling down the rough road, shaking everything in the kayak with it. Now I can be stealthy....er, as stealthy as you can be while pushing a 17' mango-and-white banana.
In addition to the easy rolling and smooth ride, I can now place the cart farther forward under the kayak. I put mine just behind the day hatch, which is about 1.5' forward of the frontmost place I could attach the skinny Quantum cart. There is now noticeably less weight for me to bear, and the added height of the new cart also makes it easier to handle.
Strapping the kayak is done using 2 cam-buckle straps, the ordinary kind. The included straps are longer than necessary for my narrow sea kayak, but they held the boat securely. The key to a stable attachment is just this: When you place the cart under the boat, CENTER IT relative to the keel line. Then follow the simple strapping protocol. That's all. My boat did not budge from its assigned position, even though I did not tighten the buckle hard. My portage takes about 12 to 14 minutes each way.
Bear in mind that this review was written after only one use, but it is an auspicious start. If anything changes, I will post another review. Meanwhile, consider me one very happy customer. Thank you, Wheeleez!
* I say "light duty" because the cart rating on the box says the payload is 55 kg/121 lbs, which is plenty for daytripping and some camping trips but not for big loads.
It's still too early to write about long-term durability, but this trailer appears to be up to snuff for Interstate driving. Quiet, smooth, no swaying, no damage.
The bad news:
ClearGuard is hard to buy. I think that 3M must want it installed by professional detailers; it is mostly used to protect hoods and fenders against rock chips. Therefore, I told prospective vendors that I was NOT applying it in that fashion (which requires a fair amount of skill to look good) but using it just to protect high-wear areas on a fiberglass kayak and at strap contact points on my truck. The first time I bought it I found a detailing shop that let me buy some scrap pieces. The second time, I contacted the distributor for my region and bought a 10' x 6" strip for $30. That was the minimum amount required (which I didn't mind because the stuff is so useful). Your results may vary, so ask nicely and be prepared to shell out some dough.
I highly recommend this product for the 3rd purpose above.
High protein, contain "good fats", almost zero carb content, lightweight, no refrigeration needed, and they taste good. They are higher in protein than any other nut-type food I can think of except maybe soybeans (which I don't like the taste of). Higher in protein than almonds or peanuts or peanut butter.
In case your lips are puckered up thinking of the white, salt-coated, shell-bearing bar food version of pumpkin seeds, these are definitely NOT the same. For one thing, no shells. For another, very lightly salted. And you can buy them in bulk at Whole Foods.
Tote a couple ounces of pumpkin seeds along with a piece of fruit and some whole-grain crackers for a satisfying alternative to sweet energy bars. They keep me alert and fueled better than anything but a meat sandwich type of lunch. I've also found them to be good for pre-paddling breakfast protein.
For warmth in the armpits and arms, I wear a RipCurl 1mm long-sleeved shirt under the Bahia Jane. This has been a good combo for me in the "shoulder seasons". For winter wear, you'll need a thicker fullsuit or a drysuit, but in between hot summer and cold winter, the Bahia Jane provides versatility and comfort.
This is the most comfortable neoprene I've worn to date.
When I demo'ed the boat in a pond, it felt very forgiving and was easy to roll. That despite it paradoxically feeling "tippier" than I am used to, mainly because it was the very first time I was near the TOP of the recommended paddler weight range instead of at the BOTTOM. Next I paddled it in a play park, simply running down it with a couple of stops in eddies along the way. The boat handled well and felt comfortable. I decided to buy it (I should note that at the time, I had only taken one WW lesson a few years before but had lots of seat time paddling sea kayaks).
Now that it's been more than 3 years, during which I only practiced in the play park (not playboating, just basic stuff) for a short period each year, I can look back and say that it is a good kayak for learning to handle a short boat in moving water. As stated before, the fairly high sides and bulbous ends make it forgiving despite being narrow for a WW kayak (22.25" beam). In fact, the high volume at the ends means I cannot sink an end while inside the boat (unless in a hole); I had to get out and sit way back on the stern deck to make it sink.
It is easy to roll, and I have no trouble switching back and forth for rolling practice with a sea kayak. Balance brace, flop over and roll the boat back up to balance brace position, butterfly roll...all doable with this kayak. I mention these because the little WW boat is a lot easier to bring to some places, such as indoor pools, than a sea kayak is. So it is versatile enough to serve as river runner, technique honer in and out of micro-eddies etc, and rolling machine.
The only thing I dislike is the outfitting. The thigh braces do not curve down at all, the SweetCheeks beanbag is "grabby" on Cordura or raw neoprene clothing (I prefer slidey), and neither the bulkhead footrest nor the backband stay put well. Both the latter are secured by small cords, and frankly they are not secure enough for an adult's foot pressure. I frequently check them during a session and usually have to tighten them yet again.
So overall, it was a good choice for my purposes. I am now interested in trying boats with slicier ends, but it's probably a good thing I started out with the Side Kick
The SUT-350-M2 arrived via UPS in 5 boxes this March. I had a real nightmare with UPS's mis-handling of the long tubes, but apparently it was a problem with UPS, not Trailex. Anyway, the assembly was easy, a simple bolting together of parts that joined without any headaches. Only a couple of tools are required. One of them is a torque wrench--make sure you use one, because you are working with aluminum and should not overtorque the bolts.
Wiring was another story. It was not so much the act of wiring itself that was frustrating (though I think trailer wiring is a PITA). The source of my anxieties was the fact that a couple of steps in the instruction were missing. I figured it out before doing anything wrong, but if you don't read and understand the sequence BEFORE starting the wiring, you could be in for an unpleasant surprise. Luckily, Trailex's tech rep was both available and helpful.
Once everything was together and working, I was happy to find that the trailer rides very smoothly. You barely know there is a trailer behind the tow rig--something to keep in mind because this is a LONG trailer befitting its long cargo. The axle is near the end of the trailer. While this probably contributes to the smooth hauling (more cargo weight over the tongue tube), you need to train your brain about the extra length when turning. My husband curb-checked the trailer wheel. I didn't have any problem with this, but if you tend to drive on autopilot-brain (or pay more attention to talking or passengers than the driving), a trailer (any trailer) is probably something you'll need extra practice with.
I set the crossbar span to about 6'. If you have short boats, the shorter versions of this trailer would be more suitable. However, if you want longer span, the SUT-350-M2 will accommodate that. Crossbar height is good for transferring to and from shoulder carries.
Our kayaks sit on minicell shaped foam blocks: husband's kayak rides upright on the hull; mine rides on its side on half blocks, using the center riser bars for stability. We transport only the two kayaks; the trailer is rated to carry up to 4 on their sides.
The crossbars are padded with rubber strips on top. Probably fine for carrying canoes. Kayakers should use foam blocks or cradles for hauling.
Trailer wheels are the small 8" size. I have used that size of trailer wheels for 11 years, with no problem on either local roads or long Interstate drives. Just keep the tires inflated enough. The sticker on the trailer recommends 20 psi, but I use 38 to 40 psi as I always have, and that works very well. (The tires themselves are rated to at least 60 psi max.)
One thing I dislike about many boat trailers, including this one, is that the taillights are horribly vulnerably to damage. You may want to make some brackets to surround the taillights to protect them from damage.
Also, I placed reflective tape pieces all over the main tubes plus other places, because this trailer is so skeletal that it's hard to see without boats on it. I noticed a different small boat trailer at the ramp that was painted bright red, and it had white rims. That trailer stood out clearly among all the other low, low-visibility boat trailers. Kayak trailers would do well to copy that example.
In short, the SUT-350-M2 is light, accommodates long boats with good crossbar span for them, and can be fitted for a gear box over the box frame at the axle. I have yet to take it on a long road trip, so that aspect remains unknown. However, based on its behavior on the 40-mile highway run to my favorite local lake, it should do well on road trips.
The cart worked well on a recent trip where I needed it to get to the water without driving, about a 15-minute haul on foot each way, each time. I may put in a very thin foam pad or shelf-liner to make softer contact between the "scoop" and the hull. But in stock form, it holds the kayak well (with straps).