Monday, February 28, 2011

The Freeride: A new playboat by Liquidlogic

Maria sitting pretty in the new Freeride by Liquidlogic

(If you would like a theme song for the Freeride scroll all the way down to Edgar Winters video and press play, if not just keep reading and looking at pretty pictures.)

The Liquidlogic Freeride 57 spins into the final cycle of the design process this week.  What’s been fun with this one is that it was a boat that we had started designing a while ago and then you all requested it from us through feedback on our facebook page.  Your feedback in discussions helped us fine tune and polish the completion of this model.  This communication also brought momentum to a mission that we have taken on fully here at LL and that is the "automatic for the people revolution".  In the coming years, we aim to bring you all what you want, to ask you for your advice and run with what we hear from you.  For that I can already say big thanks, you've inspired us to push forward on even more new stuff at Liquidlogic. 
And now the rest of the story.

A couple years have passed since the last all new whitewater design at LL. That gave me the time to develop several different concepts to have ready when we were ready to put new designs into our whitewater line.  The concept started with the desire to fill the vacancy left by the CR series, but with this advance in the playboat concept we added a more play performance-oriented hull shape and slicier volume distribution to a very stable and comfortable design.

Here are the stats on the boats.

Freeride 57
6'6" long
25.5" wide
57 gallons
xl cockpit

Freeride 67
6'9" long
26.25 wide
67 gallons
xl cockpit

We had paddlers in the 57 ranging from 5'3" and 135 lbs to 6'1" 200lbs.  The weight range seems like it will settle out to be 140 to 210, and the Freeride 67 will be around 180 to 250.  We haven’t completed testing on the 67 so that is an estimate.

Here is what the Freeride looks like in the digital world.  

Click Here to view or download a 3-D PDF that you can rotate yourself.  

PCs may be able to just click and view in your browser. 
Macs will need to download or save the file from the link.  Then open it with a recent edition of Adobe Acrobat. 

Once you have the file open it’s very cool to move around.
If you have a mouse you can use your mouse to click and move the mouse to rotate the model, or with a touch pad just click and move your finger over the pad to move the model.  Hit control and you can also move the model across your screen.

The Freeride 57 model in real life

When we first started talking about the Freeride, Woody and I discussed where exactly we should focus this design and we completely agreed that it should be: more playful than the CR series, easier to roll, faster and looser on a wave, slicier, and still get you downstream predictably.  We decided to make it a great playboat that was easy to paddle.  Of course we knew we wanted it to be comfortable but that’s easy when you put Bad Ass Outfitting in it.  I also added a few special little touches on this boat that some may not even notice.  The drain plug is positioned so that when you put the boat on your right shoulder (sorry lefties We are the minority) the water drains while you carry to the car.  I recessed the cockpit itself for a tighter fit for a skirt so that less water can blast up under your spray skirt, reducing the main way that water gets in your boat.  We also enlarged the size of our cockpits to make getting in and out easier even for Woody-sized people. (and to think, he still hasn’t grown up.)  I’ll share other bonus features in later posts.

Freeride model driven by test dummy

The first prototype of the Freeride kick flipped out like most of my first attempts at a new design.  It was great in some ways and terrible in others.  It had the speed and smooth carving edges I hoped for which made surfing waves easy and fast.  As is normal for me when working on a new design,  I like to pick one attribute or feature from which to build the boats character.  The main emphasis for the Freeride was to make a fast predictable and playful hull.  Followed closely by being an easy boat to paddle.  So I had gotten the hull very close on the first try but the volume in the bow was too much to really deal with when you wanted to cartwheel, especially in flat water.  The stern came through nicely but the bow was a little big.  We took it back to the garage for work.  I dropped quite a bit of volume out of the bow but kept the nose rocker up so the boat would stay on the surface while running the river.

Fergus and Isaac at the Charlotte Whitewater Park. They are dummies as well.

Prototype 2 was a huge improvement.  The lower bow volume made her much more manageable in the ends and the fellas cartwheeled clean and smooth.  They could bow stall much more easily.  We had lighter paddlers in proto number 1 who had a hard time initiating the bow stall but could control stalls and even do flat water loops in proto 2.  The one major downside of proto 2 was an edge that was catching a little on the stern of the boat while trying to cartwheel and run rapids.  It was subtle but could throw you off balance a little every once in a while.  Back to the shop again for proto 3.

Freeride front flip

Prototype 3, which we are paddling right now, feels right on the money.  I added a little more roundness to the stern deck of the boat so that water doesn't have an opportunity to pile up on it.  This really solved the slight edgy feeling I was getting from earlier versions.  The ergonomics are lining up really well. I have been paddling this boat with full-sole booties.  So the boat is super comfortable and the performance is really right where I want it now.  We have a few more trips we need to do to completely confirm the design, after all, getting out there and testing is the best part of my job.  

"Yeah, guys, it really looks like I need to go test that boat again today.  I'll see you later."  :)

Here is a little teaser video on the day we paddled with hundreds of ya'll on the Cheoah.

And of course the theme song for this boat will be...

Stay tuned for more updates on the Freeride which will be coming to stores in June.  Just in time for some summer lovin' 1972 style.
More posts to come about the Freeride!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

From Here to There: 19 Miles on the Versa Board

Just last weekend Woody and his lady Kim (Woody is also Kim's man) had come over to visit and cook out on my brand new grill (it’s bad ass).  Over a good evening of chatting and hanging out with our significant others, Woody said that he had the idea to stand up paddle 20 miles on the French Broad river on the Versa Board the next day. Betsy (my lady) said that I had to go because she had a pile of grading several megabytes deep to do and she wanted me out of the house.  So there it was: the scene was set.  We both needed to get on the water and with unseasonably few whitewater options, this looked like the adventure at hand.  The idea was exciting as a challenge always is but I also felt a kind of sinking dread: this was going to hurt.

In the morning Betsy and I made a big breakfast of Palak Paneer Omelettes and buckets of coffee to help with her heavy pencil pushing, and my long longboard pushing for the day. 10:00 am.  We took off like a herd of turtles.  

We drove into downtown Asheville, to the River Arts District, to set shuttle.  If you ever get the chance there is lots to be done down by the river.  The Wedge Brewery waits directly across the street from the takeout.  A short quarter mile down the road they serve the best BBQ ever at 12 Bones.  Artists practice their craft in several locations along the way including an old friend of mine Pattiy Torno at the Curve Studios.  It’s a great place to spend some time.

As we pulled away from the take out and headed to the top of the run,  I thought to myself (and I am sure Woody was thinking the same thing),  "We can put in anywhere. We don't have to do 20 miles."  To tell you the truth, neither one of us really knew how much river we’d bitten off.  We knew there was a put in near the Asheville airport and by road it was 16 miles to the takeout so we figured it would be somewhere between that and a lot more.  As we were driving up, we started laughing about it and that pretty much sealed the deal.  We both agreed: we had to do the whole adventure.  

As you can tell it was not the most perfectly planned mission.  Woody's booties didn't fit.  We didn't know how far it really was.  He hadn't eaten lunch. I had one Snickers bar and a gallon of water.  We were putting on at 1 pm for a potential 20 mile trip.  Which left about 5 hours of light.  But the real issue we’d left far back in our minds was the headwind.

The French Broad River flows from the airport North into Asheville past a complete mix of scenery.  You paddle through urban sprawl, industrial landscapes, farmland, and a large chunk of the Biltmore Estate. Even the downright ugly was interesting to paddle through because as paddlers we just don't paddle through that type of environment often, but the section through the Biltmore estate was beautiful. The Biltmore house itself has 175,000 square feet of space and 250 rooms.  It the closest thing we have in the U.S. to a castle. The estate today consists of 8,000 acres surrounding the house and along the river, and paddling gives a great way to see it.

But remember that part about the sinking dread? At times the head wind pushed back so strongly that we both considered the possible escapes from the mission. (Knocking a couple riders off their horses we saw along the river, climbing up a bridge and sticking out a thumb…) Woody and I would plant the paddle deep in the water to hold our ground against the wind.  If we didn't, the wind pushed us upstream.  As we started to see more signs of getting close to town our energy rebounded (or maybe it was that half a candy bar).  Our legs ached from the hours of standing.  Our arms and hands were tired from the constant pull.  Three days out I can still feel the tension in my forearms from the long leverage of the stand up paddle.  As Woody put it, "this is the type of mission that you are psyched for when it’s done".

Looking back on it we can say we enjoyed the trip. I may even do it again.  And as you can see Woody is psyched that its done.

Click Here for the link to all the photos from the day.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Liquidlogic Outfitting Ideas for the Future

The last couple weeks we have been busy chatting about many different boat designs.  This next week or so I would like to focus in on outfitting ideas.  There have been many suggestions tagged onto other posts but I would like to have one stream of thoughts just about how to improve our outfitting and accessories for Liquidlogic.  We really do want to hear what you have to say.  The boat discussion was great feedback and fun for us.  I think the hundreds of answers to the numerous posts were evidence that you all enjoyed the process as well.  And I think the thousands upon thousands of views of the posts was evidence that people are interested.

So this is it!  This is your time to tell us what you would like improved on or developed in the near future for Liquidlogic's outfitting and accessories.  Yes that is Biscuit and Tater above.  It can be anything.  No idea is too small.  I spent half a day making a video about inserts that hold our security bars so I think that pretty much sums it all up.  Every part of the kayak is important and we want to hear what you think.  Leave a comment here on this thread or over on the discussion page.
Outfitting Discussion on Facebook Page

Or check out the other discussions on the discussion page.
Liquidlogic Facebook Discussion Page


Shaneslogic Comments