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 Post subject: TRAK folding kayak
PostPosted: Fri Aug 11, 2006 9:18 am 
lord high faltbotmeister

Joined: Fri Apr 15, 2005 8:44 am
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Location: Colorado
Below is a Link to a promotional video about the TRAK folding kayak. For all I know, this may have already crossed the forum. A builder of one of my boats saw one of these at an outdoor retailers expo. Looks like a Feathercraft clone with some First Light gimmicks thrown in to "wow" the $$$$$ public. :) Slick video none the less.

http://video.raremethod.com/s/Showcase

Regards,

Tom


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 13, 2006 6:34 pm 
knight of the folding kayak realm
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Adjustable rocker - I like it. Other than that I see very little in it to "revolutionise" the kayak market.

Nohoval


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2006 1:02 am 
lord high faltbotmeister

Joined: Fri Apr 15, 2005 8:44 am
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Quote:
Adjustable rocker - I like it. Other than that I see very little in it to "revolutionise" the kayak market.


First Light (NZ) uses a variable rocker system in their boats. Therefore, TRAK has done nothing revolutionary with the possible exception of their promotional video. :)

Tom


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2006 7:16 am 
knight of the folding kayak realm
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Quote:
First Light (NZ) uses a variable rocker system in their boats.

I didn't know that. Well then there's nothing original in the boat. Maybe they're talking about their inventory/distribution system. Or maybe even price.

Nohoval


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2006 8:00 am 
Site Admin

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And their distribution system was pioneered by Folbot a looong time ago.

The boat looks like a Feathercraft- enough so that I wonder if their prototype seen in the video isn't in fact a Feathercraft. All we know about them is that they have one boat and are looking for money. I'd love to see a real product.

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 Post subject: Oh, I wouldn't say that
PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2006 10:39 pm 
Since Tom Yost has not seen the Trak boat in person, I'm having more than a bit of trouble getting past the heavy pronouncements based on supposition, rather than substance.

No doubt that Tom has earned a spot in the line of folks who have the goods to "have a take", but let's be reasonable about it. When you are tossing verbal grenades from the next county and you don't know what you are aiming at or what you might be hitting, it doesn't come across as poignant or valuable observation.

Frankly, I expected better from Mr. Yost, especially since he has a responsibility to the folding boat public due to his position of visibility.

Come on, Tom, just what is it about "the boat that you've never seen" that gets you all riled-up? Why have a hardened stance when you are speaking from speculation? Well, one can only guess as to that source of the motivation until Tom actually speaks, OR he see's the boat in person and can finally make a statement based on direct inspection.

Tom seems more than a little disturbed that a boat company is in the game of applying new technology to further the end result for their customers. There's something fundamentally wrong with a criticism of others in the search for new and better products when Mr. Yost, himself, is utilizing PVC coated fabrics, aluminum tubing and man made plastics to produce the boats of which he is so rightly proud.

So, that means that it's OK for Tom to advance the potential of folding boats through technology, but not for someone who enters the market with cash resources and a well produced video. Nope, only he is entitled to do that. Maybe you see something uncomfortable with that position as well.

Trak's system for rocker and hull side curvature is not like anything that has come before it and that includes the First Light products. As for the use of a "Just in Time" style of production and fulfillment, there is an argument that it's not new.

The system that is in use is an on-going, evolutionary process of refining the manufacturing potentials and delivery of goods to minimize waste, enhance quality control and reduce un-needed repetition in the manufacturing cycle.

Certainly none of us can argue that Toyota has swept out of a relative automotive position of somewhere back in the pack to a juggernaut of the highest order in the car world. They now solidly own the number two spot right behind good old, sitting on their thumbs, General Motors. It won't be long before they knock them out of the way as well.

Toyota uses the exact same design/build/fulfill system that is now employed by Trak. Can you really argue with that success? The fact that another folding boat manufacturer has used a process of this type is not a significant factor. So does General Motors. It's what they do with the system that counts and on that subject, the jury is still out with regards to Trak.

Lastly, I'll leave you with these few bits to ponder as you consider the whole set of issues and not just the dogging by one individual.

Chris Cunningham, of Sea Kayaker Magazine also made a visit to the Trak booth at the Outdoor Retailer Show. As most of you know, Chris is very experienced with skin boats of all types, mostly due to his position as editor of the magazine. Manufacturers try to push their products in front of him constantly to gain a market foothold in a very competitive area. He has also designed and built many skin boats himself and by anyone's standards, he knows of what he speaks on the issue.

Chris sat in the boat, worked the adjustment controls, examined the quality of the product and let it be known that he found the boat to be a significant development when looking back at the last 20 years of folding boat history. I have no way of telling if that was overwhelmingly sincere, or what, but think of it this way... Why would a guy who has so much invested in kayaks, specifically, make such a statement on his own without being pushed?

Lastly, a fairly well respected paddler by the name of Ed Gillette has played a valuable role in the development of this boat. You know who he is... the guy who paddled a sea kayak from Monterey, California to Hawaii, solo in 63 days? Yes, that one.

Well, don't be surprised if Ed starts to take paying clients around the world for kayak tours while shepherding them in a fleet of Trak boats. Why would he do this when he can get his hands on any boat in the world for this application and get a dandy price on them to boot? Could it just be that they deliver on the promise an he finds the technology to be a powerful tool for folding kayaks?

So, there it is.

I'm not involved in the company, don't own any stock, not paid by them, etc., etc. Just keep an open mind about the boat's potential until you get a shot at paddling one yourself. If you succumb to commentary made on the fly, you'll be doing yourselves a disservice.

Chris Ostlind
Kayak, Canoe and Sailboat designer


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2006 6:36 am 
knight of the folding kayak realm
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The video is short on detail - if I was a potential investor I'd have a lot of questions to ask. They say they're going to revolutionise the kayak market, and I hope they do, but right now folding kayaks are a niche within the sea kayak market - a niche so small that it supports fewer than a dozen companies worldwide. JIT fulfilment will certainly make life easier for dealers, but the fact is that they stock what will sell, not what's convenient. Folders are already fairly easy to stock, but most dealers don't.

I don't mean any of this to be negative. The video is intended for investors, and clearly contains some hype. I like the idea of adjustable rocker and cross-section profile, because it exploits a unique feature of SOF boats. I like the look of their boat, and I wish them well. I just have doubts about some of the more extravagant claims in the video.

Nohoval


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2006 8:53 am 
Precaution is a normal, healthy reaction to such kind of „promotional” video.
We more or less know what to expect from traditional producers, for TRAK there is too little info. Even with all new nuclear technologies involved, there can be restrictions in a boat performance.
I would like to see longer review with photos and comments after short expedition. As I understand Chris and Ed can give some very authorised references in future.

Verners.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2006 10:40 am 
Site Admin

Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 12:34 pm
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Location: Southeast Michigan
Chris, some of us have seen a lot of flash-in-the-pan folding boats over the last decade, and we've learned to be skeptical- particularly when a maker begins by making doubtful claims about unique distribution systems and variable rocker.

It's certainly possible that some newcomers have come along and designed a revolutionary new boat. Doug Simpson, Phil Cotton and Alv Elvestad all made radical changes to folding boat construction when they introduced their boats.

I'm sure we'd all like to see another really revolutionary boat, but until we see more than that skimpy promotional video I think our skepticism will remain.

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 Post subject: Agreed
PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2006 10:46 am 
Nohoval and Verners,

I cmopletely agree with you guys about the positioning of the video as a source of info to the public on the new boat. As I have come to understand it, the video was strictly intended for the potential in vestors in the company and was presented along with a whole sales pitch argument to that end.

A asked the folks at Trak about the video and they supplied that info. The video was not supposed to be seen by anyone but potential investors and has since been pulled from the web for the reasons that you guys have noted.

Yes, of course, it is natural to question a product that claims to be new and exciting in an established marketplace. What I find inapproriate is the process of taking shots on a a product without having seen or paddled it and that was outlined firmly in my first post above.

I'm sure that if you were introducing a new boat yourselves, you would only ask the critics to hold-on to their comments until they had a chance to experience the boat personally. Even though undue, and unfounded criticism before the fact can hurt a new product, the process of jumping in like that can also come back to slap-down the originators of said comments if the product turns out to be as claimed.

I'm saying, that it's perfectly normal to have a reaction. Just take a look at the source of the motivation behind uninformed, reactive comments and adjust from there.

Normally, I think Tom Yost is a pretty interesting guy with a lot of cool ideas that have enhanced the sport for the common man. Tom's contribution is especially true for the guy who is handy with tools, has the time and motivation and wants to build his own boat. I think the craft of folding boats has a place for guys like Tom and I'm personally glad he's involved the way he is.

Chris Ostlind


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 Post subject: Again, Agreed
PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2006 11:09 am 
Hi Michael,

Yes, there's much to be learned in the intro of the Trak product. I didn't get to paddle the boat myself, though I hope to correct that issue in the coming weeks. What I reacted to upon seeing the boat and operating the adjustment controls was a very big potential to arrange the variability of the hull geometry, on-the-fly, to suit the conditions and interests of the paddler.

As a designer, you couldn't wave a much bigger flag in front of my face than that. Designers of fixed hull craft are in a constant battle with minute details in order to effect the best compromise available for a given hull and its assigned parameters from the design brief. Up to now, the potential for "designing on the fly" has been impossible, mostly due to the characteristics of materials that are used in hard-shell hulls. This boat represents a wholly new potential.

Of course, and in this regard I completely agree with your previous position, nobody really knows just where this conceptual approach to a "morphing boat" may lead commercially. There are literally hundreds of issues that go into the successful production of any marketable product, with expensive products in the outdoor industry having a particularly critical series of mileposts in order to gain, and then maintain, market position and success.

Since it's not my direct energy involved in the business dealings, about all I can say to that argument is... We'll see. I would like to see these guys succeed as I feel they have the right temperament as a group, as well as having a nicely made product with a unique and interesting set of potentials.

I’m only arguing that they be given a chance to get out on the water to show what they’ve got.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 03, 2006 5:00 pm 
knight of the folding kayak realm
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Wow, Trak actually have a full-page ad in the latest issue of Sea Kayaker magazine - and it's right opposite the contents page, which I assume is a very expensive position. Looks like they mean business, but their web page still has next to no actual information.

Nohoval


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 Post subject: Just came up on Pnet
PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 10:47 am 
Brotherhood of the Golden Paddle
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With the new video. I really do not see any critique of the boat here, just the advertising style and essentially not all that revolutionary. The only thing really new is on the fly rocker adjustment. Wish them well and hope the boat really is all that.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 12:47 pm 
Brotherhood of the Golden Paddle
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If not... will it give folders a worse name?

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~'91 Klepper A2 w/ BSD schooner rig.
'64 Klepper Passat/Tradewind and T12 restoration projects.
Non-folding: '84 Hobie 16; early '90s Old Town Canoe.
Previously owned '04 Pakboat Puffin II and '05 Swift.


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 Post subject: That TRAK boat
PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2006 12:40 pm 
Hi Chris and Chuck,

Could you guys clarify for me just what it is that bugs you about the TRAK boat?

Chuck, you indicate that the boat has nothing really revolutionary and to be fair, you also said you wish them well in their endeavor. Chris, you are concerned that they may give folders a worse name. I would suggest that both of those positions are probably better left until after you get a chance to paddle in one of them and see for yourself.

I'm not sure of the exact date of the first folding boat to hit the marketplace, but it was a considerable amount of time ago. I also think that the first boats were wooden throughout with treated canvas skins. Since this first model appeared, there have been many incremental developments in the materials and also to some extent in the structural methods used for these boats.

Now, I'm not sure what you guys deem as "revolutionary", but it would seem that there have already been some rather marked changes in the boats over the years from an engineering and materials perspective, that may or may not be referred to as revolutionary. Perhaps we should keep in mind that truly revolutionary products come along fairly infrequently in any marketable discipline and the jury is still out on the marketing claims, as they are made by TRAK.

There have been changes in product such as: Wood to aluminum and in some cases carbon for tubing, wood to plastic for frames, treated duck to PVC and/or urethane for skins, improved zipper and waterproofing strategies for easier loading and assembly, overall lighter materials, etc.

The boats have remained, essentially, the same product with different materials, as well as certain engineered inprovements to allow for different shapes afloat. They have continued to be sold as a really interesting solution to an age-old set of problems regarding transport and storage. How is the incremental development of the shape adjustability of the TRAK boat any different in that regard?

I don't have sales figures in front of me, but it's not my take that there is some sort of sensitivity in the folding boat marketplace that would indicate that it is ripe for disaster because of one new manufacturer and their product.

Is it change, itself, that bothers you guys or sets your antennas to waving? If so, do either of you have any of the above mentioned product developments on any of your boats? You know, the PVC or urethane skins, aluminum tubes, plastic frames, etc. etc? Or are you both still sporting original folding boats with original materials and engineering?

Lastly, I really don't understand how the TRAK product can actually make the market worse for folders. I guess I need a lot more clarification to get that particular position. Is TRAK doing something that isn't already being done to the market by having boats built in China? How about boats that are entering the market built from lesser materials or workmanship, no matter the country of origin? Do these examples make for problems for all folding boats?

I could use some more information on these topics to help get the issues as you describe them.


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