Boat Review: Riot Edge 14.5 Thermo

Paddling Buyer’s Guide

Porsche’s bestseller is a four-door sedan. Dodge’s new Charger SRT Hellcat seats the whole family and hides 704 horsepower under the hood. Carmakers know most drivers want a vehicle that’s comfortable and practical, as well as high-performance. It’s a trend that kayak manufacturers like Riot have noticed as well, leading them to launch the Riot Edge 14.5 Thermo.

Riot Edge 14.5 Specs
Length: 14’4”
Width: 22”
Weight: 51 lbs
Max Capacity: 325 lbs
MSRP: $1,800

Introducing the Edge 14.5 touring kayak

With sleek, muscular lines and our demo’s flawless, Ferrari red finish, Riot’s Edge 14.5 thermoformed plastic kayak looks like an expensive composite boat, or a sports car. And it’s just as much fun to drive—er, paddle. Where Porsche and Dodge lured soccer moms and hockey dads with traction control and spacious seating, Riot’s directional control and cockpit outfitting also speak to a more recreational everyday consumer.

On the Edge of your seat

First, there’s the seat. Grippy, moulded-in thigh braces and a padded seat pair with a substantial back rest that adjusts from extra-high to skyscraper. While it’s certainly supportive, that comfort comes at the expense of paddler mobility and spraydeck fit.

Then there’s Riot’s rudder system. Sliding foot pegs are familiar and intuitive for many rec paddlers, but offer less stability than the toe pedal systems found on many premium sea kayaks. The rudder itself is new this year from Riot and features an innovative, scalloped leading edge for improved hydrodynamics.

“It is bio-inspired from a humpback whale flipper,” explains designer Felix Martin, “they have the shortest turning radius for whales.” The plastic rudder tapers in thickness and is shaped to reduce drag in the water.

THE EDGE 14.5 THERMO By Riot Kayaks

Indeed, we noticed very little resistance with the rudder deployed, and a push of the pedals swerves the boat around like a 458 in the Corkscrew at Laguna Seca Raceway. On the straightaways, the Edge is equally well behaved, tracking obligingly with rudder up and crosswind gusting.

Color-matching thermoform lids and neoprene hatch covers bow and stern. Screw-top front deck pod is a bit of a reach for shorter paddlers. Be wary of cross-threading and sand—we closed it once and never got it open again.

Paddle float self-rescue straps and a low-profile back deck behind the cockpit aid re-entries. Just watch for snagging on the skyscraper seat back.

Learners’ permit or ticket to ride

Besides coloring, our demo Riot Edge 14.5 shares a few other traits with the Italian stallion. The lightweight hull accelerates quickly, cruises effortlessly and is wonderfully maneuverable. Like its name suggests, the Edge’s moderate V hull and hard chines make for dynamic yet stable edging. This is a kayak in which developing paddlers will love cutting their first carved turns.

With those crisp hull lines, it’s no surprise the Edge handles rough water like a champ—powering across currents, sculpting S-turns amid the rocks, and slicing through haystack waves.

Riot’s Edge 14.5 will rev your engines

When automotive aficionados say a car “has good bones,” they’re referring to the vehicle’s structure, its essence—not trivial details like trim and upholstery. The Riot Edge 14.5 is a novice-friendly day tourer with the bones of a supercar.

Screen_Shot_2015-07-07_at_3.08.23_PM.pngThis article first appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of Adventure Kayak magazine.

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