Bonafide SS127 Kayak – Part 3
Bonafide SS127 Kayak – The Hatch, the Hull, and a pedal drive.
The Front Hatch
One most impressive features on this boat was the ability to open the front hatch from both ends. (Notice the hinges on both sides of the hatch.) It was very surprising to see how many people simply didn’t get it. When the hatch opens one direction, you can access it from the cockpit (on the water), when it opens the opposite direction, you have all the room you need to access the hull. Can you say “rod storage”?
One of the most common questions I’ve seen is why didn’t you come out with an alternate version of the Bonafide kayak that offers a pedal drive?
“The biggest reason is that we are not going to do another of what’s already been done. If we ever do a pedal drive it’s going to have to be something unique.” Luther went on to explain that there are only 4 of them working on the SS127 which started in November of 2016…and he is running two companies. By investing time in a pedal drive, they would have had less time to focus on the boat, and the over all design would have suffered as a result.
I understand that he doesn’t want to do another “bicycle” style pedal drive because it falls into the “me too” category of design, but this is one instance where I have to disagree with him. Really, there is only one way you can efficiently turn a prop manually, and that is with pedals. The challenge for Luther and his team is how to put their own unique twist on it. The first thing that comes to mind would be to put the prop on the stern of the kayak like it is on an actual boat. I understand that it’s a simple concept but the execution is much more complicated. The point is that you can’t dismiss a solid concept simply because others have done it.
We have to talk about the rear handle, which is built into the stern, and designed to fold out of the way when not in use. I have seen a lot comments on social media saying that once you put a trolling motor or a power pole on it, the rear handle is totally useless. Luther explained that they designed the Bonafide SS127 so you can get two hands on it. All you need to do is grab the handle on each side of the trolling motor or power pole and you’re all set.
The hull is something that Luther and his team paid special attention to. It’s “more of a catamaran. It doesn’t have a true center keel. It’s got a little bit of one in the back for some tracking and its got a little bit of one in the bow to cut the water.”
What you see with the geometry on the sides is because we wanted to push that stability as far forward as we can to get close to a true catamaran. But we wanted the ability to cut the water and keep the noise down, like a more conventional hull.” Luther went on to explain the high level of testing that went into the design of the hull, and how that led to a concept that is unlike anything else on the market.
Stability, traction and glide were just a few of the key concepts that they started with. The design process was dictated by the data provided by the testing. When I say data, I mean computer data…not just Luther closing one eye and watching really closely.
He told his team, “’Let’s look at the numbers and plot the curve.’ It was so cool the first time we saw secondary stability on a curve.”
Initial Stability vs Secondary Stability
If you want to truly understand what makes the Bonafide SS127 unique, you have to understand this concept. For those of us who are not kayak designers, or familiar with the term Secondary Stability, Luther explains it this way.
- “Initial stability is how stable it feels when you first sit in it.” The more “initial stability” the less manoeuvrability a kayak has.
- “Secondary stability is when you start to lean and [it hits] a lock point.” The geometry of the hull creates a brake that prevents it from rolling, up to a certain point.
Once you pass secondary stability, the kayak rolls over. “What’s nice about this boat, is that it has good initial stability, but you can manoeuvre the boat. That was intentional. We did not want a floating platform…that’s not what a kayak should be.” The secondary stability kicks in very quickly. The end result? A kayak that paddles easily, is very manoeuvrable and is as close to “unflippable” as you can get.
When someone tells me that it’s all but impossible to flip a kayak, the first thing I want to do is try it. If you’re familiar with our extreme stability videos, you know what I have in mind. He said that when they get an SS127 in the Dallas area that they would let me put it through its paces.
As always, we have one simple question: Did Luther and his team get it right, or did they miss something?