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 Post subject: Short take on my new Mk1
PostPosted: Mon Dec 12, 2011 3:53 pm 
This is a early comment on my new Mark 1. For reference: It replaced a Klepper Aerius 1, which I owned for about 10 years. I also own a fiberglass Kajaksport Millenium, at 18'3" and approximately 22" at the beam, a fast, Finnish sea kayak. The Mk 1 proved to be a real challenge to assemble the first time, frankly a surprise considering my Klepper experience. According to Mark Eckhart, first time assembly is greatly facilitated by a spreader bar that unfortunately I did not have. If your new boat inadvertently arrives without the spreader bar, I strongly suggest holding off that first assembly until you get it. After the initial assembly, however, the boat went together much more easily. I can easily assemble the boat now in less than 30 minutes, taking my time and explaining what I am doing to curious onlookers.

A few additional assembly comments might help other new owners. Make sure the bow and stern pieces are fully inserted all the way on the keel. Otherwise the keel will be difficult to push down flat and stay down flat when both halves are inserted into the skin. Very Important for the new style pedal assembly: Install the pedal assembly to the keel before inserting the bow half of the frame into the skin as it is not possible to install the pedals once the frame is in the skin. Note, the placement of the pedals cannot be adjusted inside the skin either, which is more than a bit bothersome until you find the spot that works best for you. This is a function of leg room of course, but also boat trim and will require some experimentation. For reference, I am approximately 6' tall and weigh 210 lbs. and find that the pedals work best for me with the pins inserted through the bracket that is forward of rib #3, and in the second set of holes in front of the rib. For greater clarity, that means there are two more sets of holes forward of the ones I am using now. This positioning might still change, but having to partially disassemble the boat to remove the bow half of the frame from the skin in order to adjust the pedal position has definitely put a damper on the fun. Of course, this inconvenience goes away totally once you figure out your optimum location for the pedals. Comparing the stamped aluminum clip fittings that fasten the ribs to the longerons found on Kleppers, the tab through slot stainless fittings held in place with a snap hook used in the Mk1 are faster, stronger, and simpler. Less to go wrong, easier to align, in my opinion a definite improvement.

In terms of paddling, as Mike and others have posted elsewhere in this forum, the Mk 1 is more stable than the similar AE 1. It tracks well without the rudder and turns easily. With the rudder down the Mk 1 holds course quite well. I paddled for over 3 hours in 25 mph winds on Florida's Intracoastal Waterway the first time out and never had trouble holding course. Clearly the rudder is well designed and not only effective, but it is easy to deploy and pull up from the cockpit too. Ralph Diaz talks about the advantage of boats like the Mk 1 in his book, The Folding Kayak, in rough conditions because it is possible to focus on forward motion and not spend half your energy bracing. In 25 mph winds, 3'-4' chop and white caps, with a few big boat wakes to liven things up even further, I can definitely confirm that Ralph is right. Over the same course and in similar wind and waves, I can cover the distance faster and return more relaxed in my Mk 1 than I can in my Kajaksport Millenium. This is a three hour trip that is far more revealing than how fast one paddles his or her craft in calm water looking at a GPS. In fairness, in calmer conditions the Millenium is faster of course.


PostPosted: Mon Dec 26, 2011 8:37 pm 
Brotherhood of the Golden Paddle

Joined: Sun Aug 16, 2009 10:05 pm
Posts: 1406
Location: South Salem, NY
So Bill, are you happy with your decision to get the MK1? Did you consider the longer 490? A1 in your decision making? I have a Ute and really love the construction but that construction comes with a little additional weight that always concerns me. Always love to hear more impressions on the MK1.

Klepper Aerius II
Klepper T9
Long Haul MK1 Expedition 'light'
Klepper S4 sail rig
Kayaksailor 1.6 +genoa

PostPosted: Tue Dec 27, 2011 1:08 pm 
The short answer to your question is that I am very happy with the Mk1 and would recommend the boat without hesitation. The other boat that I considered was the Feathercraft touring kayak, but really two things pushed me away: One is the price, and the second is that the FC is quite similar to my Kajaksport Millenium in terms of overall dimensions. I wanted something shorter and more maneuverable for Florida rivers. My Aerius 1 met the need, but I could never get comfortable in it. The Mk1 solves that dilemma.

In direct comparison between the Long Haul and the Klepper there are tradeoffs. My Mk1 is a bit heavier than the my AE 1 Expedition. Perhaps 5 or 6 lbs. heavier. As I said in my first post, the metal fittings on the Mk1 are superior. I definitely prefer the Sunbrella deck fabric to the cotton as it dries very fast allowing the boat to be folded and stored quickly. The Mk1 is noticeably more stable. The Mk1 is handbuilt under the close and direct supervision of the owner, Mark Eckhart, and the attention to detail reflects his involvement. The frame is dipped first in primer and then three coats of marine varnish. The finished frame on the Mk1 is nothing short of functional art. The skin fits like a glove. The difference between the two boats is that while they are similar, the Mk1 is like a Gucci shoe, and the Klepper is like a Murphy shoe. Hand built by artisans vs. factory built utility. Both equally functional, both superior products, but the Mk1 simply takes the concept to the next level.



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