Home Boats Boat Review: Pyranha Molan Kayak

Boat Review: Pyranha Molan Kayak

Fast as a wet bar of soap and just as slippery

Feature Photo: John Rathwell

Pyranha has a well-deserved reputation for releasing fresh, progressive designs year after year. In 2010, the English boat company rides onto the new wave of ultra-short playboats with the unfortunately named Pyranha Molan. With recent Worlds competitions showcasing how much is possible on just a small wave, Pyranha is betting that size does matter—and shorter is better.

Pyranha Molan Specs
(S / M / L)
Length: 5’7” / 5’9” / 6’4”
Width: 24.4” / 25” / 26.6”
Volume: 46.2 / 56.5 / 58 U.S. gal
Weight: 30.8 / 31.2 / 33 lbs
Weight Range: 90-175 / 120-200 / 185-285 lbs
MSRP: $1,099 USD or $1,299 CAD

The Pyranha Molan springs from the page

The Pyranha Molan is a small package designed to go big on the moderate features and in the whitewater parks where most freestyle kayakers practice and play. It replaces the Rev as Pyranha’s sole freestyle design, but it shares little with its predecessor.

In fact, says lead designer Graham Mackereth, the Molan started quite unlike most new kayak designs—as a blank page. Instead of refining an existing model, Pyranha’s design team looked at top-end freestyle boats from every manufacturer and tried to figure out how they could better the lot. After extensive testing of multiple composite prototypes, the Pyranha Molan emerged.

The Molan has the volume on high

First impressions are that the Pyranha Molan looks a lot like another new playboat, the 2010 Jackson Star series, with a bit more volume in the trunk. Given the Stars’ stellar performance at freestyle competitions from local festival throwdowns to the World Championships in Thun, Switzerland, last year, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Pyranha recognized a design that works—one that is suited to the modest wave slated to host the 2011 Worlds in Plattling, Germany—and tweaked it to make it their own.

Mackereth says the key design features are a high-volume bow and stern, centred around the kayaker to provide maximum pop for loop-based tricks; slicey, balanced ends for easy initiation of moves on flatwater, waves and in holes; and what Pyranha calls two-way rails. According to Mackereth, the rails are intended to be forgiving on the upstream edge, but will engage to provide a release edge.

Finely tuned for catching big air

Our testers found the Pyranha Molan generated plenty of air even in a small hole, and cartwheeled faster than we could keep pace with. On a wave, it had just the right amount of looseness without feeling flighty. Pyranha is known for speed on a wave and the Molan is no exception. For such a small boat, it accelerates and surfs incredibly fast, a trait that comes at the cost of stable carving edges. You have to work at keeping the Molan on its soft rails—no “sitting on edge” or transitioning predictably from one edge to the other; it’s fast as a wet bar of soap and just as slippery.

Man paddles a Pyranha Molan freestyle kayak through whitewater
Feature Photo: John Rathwell

Much design energy has clearly been focused on making the Molan effortless to throw around. A full six inches shorter than the Rev, the Pyranha Molan ties the Jacksons as the shortest playboats on the market. This makes it extremely quick in the air. Combined with a low cockpit rim and narrow, supportive knee bump, it has much to offer smaller paddlers. The trade-off is that performance is quite dependent on precise trimming. Sit too forward or back and the miscalculation is noticeable, although less so if you stick to the middle of Pyranha’s generous weight ranges.

Go short and sweet with the Pyranha Molan

Beginning freestyle paddlers will appreciate the Molan’s high performance on small, friendly features. This same trait will be a draw for more advanced kayakers throwing together combos in the park or in competition.

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