This model looked good in all the reviews. Went to a local dealer's demo days to try out some kayaks, and the Expression was perfect. Fits nicely - absolutely love the thigh braces, and you can lift the seat bottom to fine-tune contact with the boat. Turns very well. Love the rounded bottom - no hard chines - so you can really play with the edging. Easy to handle in the waves. Skeg is easy to deploy but to be honest I haven't needed it. This boat does not seem to weathercock much, especially compared to the Seaward 17' I used on one course.
One downside is that the seat back is tall and it flops forward. This was an issue when I was trying to learn the scramble re-entry, and would be an issue when I get to learning how to roll. So, I've ordered a back band. This is not a standard swap for this model. There are YouTube videos on how to swap with a couple of the older style backbands, but those backbands are no longer available in North America. My local dealer has been back and forth with the manufacturer, and they are sending me out something I can try (I think he said it's the old backband from the Essence). I'm sure I'll figure it out. I am just really surprised that a back band is not a fully supported option with this kayak. On the Perception's UK site it is - you can by the Expression new with either full seat back or backband. I wish they would do the same here. It is a terrific boat and it performs very well. I think they are missing out - potential buyers may take one look at the seat and dismiss it as being a rec boat, and it is not!
Note that my husband really likes the current seat back because it is so comfortable, and he has no ambitions for rolling the boat or scrambling back into it. He's keeping it the way it is.
Even with the cost of a new backband, this kayak is terrific value for the money. It is a very fun, capable kayak for the beginner/intermediate.
I really like the way the cradle is shaped, the lip,at the front makes it easy to hook one side in and then the other (I use Yakimas 'BoatLoader' when I load by myself and it is a piece of cake). Holds the kayak right where it should be. Easy to install, no tools, folds down.
I don't know why you'd pay more for Yakimas BowDown. I got a bunch of lock cores cheap on Amazon so I have the same key for the rack and all Jaylows. Very happy with my setup and would highly recommend it to others