Werner Ikelos carbon fiber bent shaft kayak paddle review

While I was somewhat hoping for unadulterated bliss with the Werner Ikelos kayak paddle, what I found was a mixed bag. I had never paddled with a really “high end” paddle before, and this was my first experience with a bent shaft as well.

Ok, I admit that writing objective reviews can be pretty tough when you are an unabashed gear-head. How am I expected to be mindful of flaws in the Werner Ikelos carbon fiber bent shaft kayak paddle that I’ve been lusting after since I first saw it?

Werner Ikelos carbon fiber bent shaft kayak paddle review

Werner Ikelos carbon fiber bent shaft kayak paddle on the water

As it turns out, it really wasn’t that hard. While I was somewhat hoping for unadulterated bliss, what I found was a mixed bag. As a relatively new paddler with an unrefined paddle stroke, I had never paddled with a really “high end” paddle before. This was my first experience with a bent shaft as well.

Werner Ikelos carbon fiber bent shaft kayak paddle review

Werner Ikelos carbon fiber bent shaft kayak paddle review

The fit and finish on the Werner Ikelos carbon fiber bent shaft kayak paddle was very nice. Although the particular paddle that I used had been in the demo fleet for a while and the insert that holds the paddle shaft’s feather adjustment had come unglued.  This allowed the feather angle to change during use, which, ironically, is exactly what the device is installed to prevent. Inspection showed two things: 1) a tiny hint of glue residue along the inner rim of the insert 2) significant abrasion on the outer mating surface of the insert. It clearly had been freely rotating in the shaft for quite a while. I think that this is a design flaw, as it is just a matter of time before the glue will fail. Then the whole feather adjustment mechanism degrades from precise and reliable to vague and variable. Hardly what I expected.

Werner Ikelos Carbon fiber bent shaft kayak paddle review

Werner Ikelos Carbon fiber bent shaft kayak paddle on the water at Smith Mountain Lake, Va

 

I was advised that the root of each blade hides a foam core, which contributes to buoyancy and reduced paddling effort. For someone of my skill level (very low), this is pure marketing speak, in my humble opinion. Maybe a more skilled paddler could discern a difference, but I couldn’t. The Werner Ikelos is a high angle kayak paddle. It seems to me that the high angle paddling style naturally negates any flotation provided by the small chunks of foam forming the core of the blades.

Speaking of the blades… the Werner Ikelos kayak paddle has very little dihedral in the wide, relatively short, cupped blades. While I am still experimenting with this, it appears that little to no dihedral in a kayak paddle blade contributes markedly to the likelihood of blade flutter. The aggressive asymmetrical Ikelos blades move a lot of water, and felt very stiff. I suspect that the blade flutter that I noticed is predominantly a hydrodynamic phenomenon related to shape, and not a product of significant flexing of the blade under load. The latter, I suspect plays a role in the flutter on my Carlisle Day Tripper paddle.

Werner Ikelos carbon fiber bent shaft kayak paddle review

Werner Ikelos carbon fiber bent shaft kayak paddle

Product Details from Werner via GetOutdoors.us:

  • The Werner Ikelos is an aggressive High Angle design for well conditioned and experienced paddlers who want a durable paddle with a powerful catch and smooth linking strokes.
  • Full size performance core blades are great for well conditioned paddlers
  • Performance core blades are buoyant, light and durable
  • Extremely stable bracing and rolling
  • Ultimate high angle blade design
  • Blade Length & Width 49 x 20 cm
  • Surface Area 710 sq cm
  • Weight for Size 210cm
  • Neutral Bent Shaft – Carbon 751g /26.5oz

Werner Ikelos carbon fiber bent shaft kayak paddle on WS Tarpon 160

Jeff likes:

  • Lighten up! The all carbon fiber Werner Ikelos paddle impressed me with overall light weight, and low swing weight. The bulk of the weight was concentrated around the fancy feather index adjuster at the mid point of the shaft. The low-mass paddle blades generated less inertia than the heavier nylon paddle blades that I have grown accustomed to, making for lower overall paddling effort.
  • I’m too sexy for this kayak. It must have been interesting seeing my old, beat-t0-hell Wilderness Systems Tarpon 160 paired with such a sleek, and sexy paddle. It REALLY looks cool. 🙂
  • Bent shaft. I expected the bent shaft to feel at least a little weird, but it felt totally natural. I’m having trouble describing WHY I liked it, but I did.

Jeff doesn’t like:

  • Cost! Odd as it may sound, I actually felt a bit self conscious about using a paddle that cost more than my boat!
  • FLUTTER! OMG!! Yep. The driving force behind seeking out an expensive paddle to test was to get away from the blade flutter that drives me completely nuts with my Carlisle Day Tripper paddle. Sadly, I think the flutter was just as bad, if not WORSE on the Werner Ikelos. The paddle blades wobbled/fluttered almost as bad on very light strokes as they did on more powerful strokes.
  • Poorly designed adjuster. Honestly, Werner. If you have to put a big sticker on the paddle warning people NOT to twist, then that should have clued you in that the design is flawed. I expect better from a pricey paddle.

Werner Ikelos carbon fiber bent shaft kayak paddle review

Werner Ikelos carbon fiber bent shaft kayak paddle on WS Tarpon 160

Conclusion: Part of me wanted to LOVE Werner Ikelos carbon fiber bent shaft kayak paddle. It looks cool, is light, and expensive. Those attributes usually imply that the paddle will kick ass. Another part of me hoped that I would hate it, as that would make the decision NOT to purchase one much easier. The way this played out was emotionally painful. There were a few awesome things about the Werner Ikelos carbon fiber bent shaft kayak paddle, a few not so awesome, and a big dose of AWEFUL paddle blade flutter. In large part, the flutter is why I just can’t recommend the Werner Ikelos carbon fiber bent shaft kayak paddle. This is definitely a paddle that you will need to demo before you buy. Maybe you’ll be lucky and won’t have the flutter issues that I have. So far, the only paddle I’ve used that didn’t suffer from incredibly annoying levels of blade flutter is the relative bargain Harmony Adventure (update: Also from Confluence Watersports, I’ve had recent success with the Adventure Technology Exodus Superlight Carbon fiber bent shaft kayak paddle). I’ll miss that sexy Werner Ikelos carbon fiber bent shaft kayak paddle for its smooth, natural bent shaft and space age looks. However, I can’t say I’m still longing to sign over half a mortgage payment so that I might own one. If it were a $100 paddle I would expect much less, but at nearly $500 msrp, it doesn’t live up to my lofty expectations.

Jeff’s rating:

Gear Score
Gearswww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
If it were a $100 paddle I would expect much less, but at nearly $500 msrp, it doesn’t live up to lofty expectations.

Please leave a comment to let me know if this review was helpful to you.

Thanks to Will at GetOutdoors.us for making the demo paddle available over the long Labor Day weekend so I could do this review. I’m sure he was hoping that I’d love it and write a glowing review. Sorry, Will. What I can say is that the folks at GetOutdoors are awesome and know their stuff. Consider checking them out if you are in the market for paddling or outdoor gear.

 

 

 
 

About Jeff

Jeff is the Editor in Chief of Gear Report and a National Shooting Sports Foundation Media member. He reports on the outdoor industry, reviews gear for camping, hiking, shooting, hunting, paddling, backpacking and other active pursuits.

A USAF veteran, Jeff earned a MBA in Marketing and Health Services. He specializes in consultative selling and internet marketing. As the VP of BD & Marketing, Jeff provides sales and marketing leadership to MGECOM, Inc. and helps http://MGECOM.com acquire new clients in need of solutions for online merchants in need of Affiliate Marketing program management.

Jeff founded and manages Cress Sales & Marketing LLC, offering online sales and marketing consulting and services to online merchants and service providers.