Hobie finally came out with some new fins! They look like Turbofins, but are the same length as standard fins. I just picked up a set and am definitely impressed!
Here's a picture showing the ST Turbo
, the ST
and the standard
First impressions: In terms of pedaling ease, they feel very similar to the standard fins. They are noticeably easier to operate than the Turbos, but they have more "bite" than the standards. They don't feel harder to push, but you get more out of them. This is especially true in the higher speeds -- when the standard fins feel like mush, the ST's are still driving.
My wife, who likes to join me occasionally on the tandem, has always preferred standard fins over the Turbos. When she tried the new ST's, she found a new favorite. That's a strong endorsement!
Actual performance: As one who always likes to go fast, I have a little speed course that I use for comparisons. Here's how the ST's stack up against the standards and Turbos using the Hobie Adventure (average speed using time and distance):
Slow cruise (40 cycles per minute):
Standard fins 3.0 MPH
ST fins 3.4 MPH
ST Turbo fins 4.5 MPH
Fast cruise (60 cycles per minute):
Standard fins 4.4 MPH
ST fins 5.0 MPH
ST Turbo fins 5.7 MPH
Sprint speed (average, using GPS):
Standard fins 6.5 MPH
ST fins 7.3 MPH
ST Turbo fins 7.5 MPH
As you can see, when the speed increases the ST's start leaving the standard fins behind and begin closing the gap with the Turbos. I was really surprised and impressed at how good they got at the higher speeds!
If possible, it feels like these fins are providing gain without pain here. I'm guessing 1) the design shape is better, especially near the tip where most thrust is made; and 2) the materials provide better airfoil control, helping keep their composure at higher speeds.
If there is a downside, it would be that the ST's are not as rugged as the Standard fins; they are made of the same shape and material as the Turbos. On the other hand, they shouldn't get banged up as easily as the Turbos since they are 2 inches shorter!
Installation is a piece of cake. These fins slip on the standard masts; just un-pin the old fins, slide them off the masts, slip the new fins on and re-pin. The next picture shows the change over on one of our older drives:
As I recall, the Turbos cost about $80. These ST's were only $46 (PN 81193001). Easy to install and a bargain price to boot!
Personally, I still like the Turbos better. But unlike the standard fins, I wouldn't mind using these at all -- they are a hot performer for their size. They would be ideal for anyone who feels the Turbofins are a bit too much, but aren't entirely happy with the standard fins. In fact, Hobie should consider making these the new standard fins!