Well, I had the wonderful pleasure of taking a demo ride (or whatever you call it on a pedal powered kayak) on an Adventure today.
I live in Vallejo, CA and drove to Santa Rosa where Wind Toys is located. I was treated very well by there people and they showed me a few things about the Adventure and Mirage drive, helped me load it on top the Isuzu Rodeo and off I was to Spring Lake (78 acre lake).
First thing I noticed, was when I was showed how to install the Mirage drive. Wow, how very simple that is. Many of my questions in my head were answered when I saw the drive for the first time. Now I understand how the drive can be removed while you're still in the boat!
Also, I was impressed how easily I was able to take the boat off the rack and set it into the water. I'm sure everybody doesn't do it like I did, but I'm sure some do. Simply grab it by the handles, carry it overhead to the waters edge, rotate it right side up and set it in the water parallel to the shoreline. I thought it was going to be more of a bear unloading it by myself.
Now the fun part!
A little background about myself. I'm 32 years old, 6'1 or 2 and 195-200 pounds. I try to stay in pretty decent shape. I bike to work almost every day on my older mountain bike. 8 miles each way so I bike about 16 miles a day. I was very excited to try the Adventure and the Mirage drive.
Started out and was impressed with the comfort of the seat, the nice strap to hold the paddle to the side of the boat, and very impressed with the twist and stowe rudder. I was even more impressed with the rudder once I got going. Very nice and easy to maneuver the rudder lever with you left thumb and index finger. I was expecting a larger rudder control lever for some reason.
Next I was impressed how easy it was to pedal between 4.0 and 4.5 mph. I had my handy Magellan SporTrak hand held gps with me. I did one lap around the lake (about 1.5 miles or so) at around 4.5 mph and was really impressed how easy it was to go 4 mph. I've read lots of peoples experiences with boat speed and stuff and was glad to experience for myself that 4.0-4.5 mph wasn't too tough.
Next I took about 3/4 of a lap or around 1 mile at 5.5-5.7 mph. That was getting to be a pretty good workout. I could feel the calves and gluts a bit following that lap!
Lastly, I had to do a top speed blast to see. So with a very small breeze, I let it rip and got to 7.9 with a couple blips on the gps at 8.0.
So that was that, one more lap at 3.5 - 4.0 mph and then my allotted trial time was over. I used it all and a little bit more! I'm still amazed how nice and easy that boat glides through the water.
Oh yeh, I paddled for a bout 1 minute. I paddles with the flippers up against the hull and with the rudder down in the water. It was finnicky getting the boat to track and I had to keep making small (very minute) adjustments to the rudder to go where I wanted to go. I know some folks live the rudder up when paddelling but i didn't try this. Also, I didn't try removing the drive and installing the cassette plug when paddelling. I'll do pushups if I want an upper body workout!
Only negative I had, probably because of the dealer. I noticed some splashing through the daggerboard hole. They didn't give me the foam plug that goes in that daggerboard slot so I got some splashing/sloshing from that hole. Oh well, it was a nice cooling effect!
I had a very high expectation built up in my head of the Adventure and Mirage drive going into this demo. Usually that image in your head is almost impossible to meet. However, the Adventure and Mirage drive met this high expectation and may have even exceeded it! Way to go Hobie. I'm very jealous of all you folks that are enjoying Hobie mirage drive kayaks!
My wife and I have a small, one bedroom apartment and that is currently the limiting factor on me getting one of these.
I still think our first boat will be a tandem so we can both enjoy the wonderful Hobie kayak and the beautiful water.
Thanks to everyone on this sight who gave me insight into my tandem question I posted a couple days ago. I now have to get the mrs. out for a test ride in the Outfitter they have at Wind Toys. I do think the Oasis sounds like the better choice for us though. Speaking of the Oasis, have they moved the hole where the sail mast goes or does it still go right where the front person would sit? That is the one negative the dealer pointed out to me regarding the Mirage tandem/Oasis. For some reason he was much bigger on the Outfitter. From what I see, I think I'd prefer the Oasis.
That's it. Hope this review may help somebody looking for a kayak.
P.S. This was the first time I've ever been on a kayak for more than 15 minutes. The wife and I took out a paddelling tandem on our honeymoon for a short period of time. So I really have little to no experience with any paddle kayak. I don't think I ever will!
One more thing. I'm an engineer so this is the geeky side of me coming out. I noticed when I was going faster the rudder was making a lot of splash noise. It seemed like the rudder was quiet to about 4.5 mph and then got louder above that speed. The 5.5-5.7 mph lap is when I noticed this large splash of the rudder. I wonder if at higher speeds, a smaller rudder would actually be quieter and offer less resistance. At higher speeds I would think a smaller rudder may have adequate steering effect. By the way, with my limited experience I thought the Adventure turned on a dime! I'm sure the shorter boats would blow me away with their turning capability. Also, has anyone ever tried any type of wax or something in an attempt to reduce water friction along the poly hull of the boat. Just wondering.