Sunday, March 28, 2021

Helpful YouTube Links

 As of March 28, 2021, these YouTube videos were still available regarding the Riot Mako Air kayak and its “Impulse Drive” pedal motor:

Assembly of Kayak: -Note that this video reviews/shows a 9 foot preproduction version.  The one currently available from Riot is 8.5 and does NOT currently include the fishing rod holder, the storage bag, nor the paddle leash.  In addition, the video shows the installation of a clear plastic splash shield that IS included BUT should not be as its installation would make it impossible to remove the motor in shallow water and difficult to launch the kayak.  

Impulse Drive (Review of Internal Parts): - Excellent - Incomplete: video ends before entire drive is examined.

First Two Rides On The Water

 On March 23 and 27, 2021, I took the Mako Air out on the Williamette River here in Portland, Oregon

Both days were perfect and I had a blast.  The kayak is super stable even in wake generated by speeding boats and I was comfortable on the water.  I also enjoyed “traveler” conversations with several people I met during the journeys - including some folks living permanently on the water both in lovely floating homes and in boats anchored in the river.  Here is a one minute YouTube I put together about my very first voyage.

The Mako Air was easy to launch (about 50 lbs fully loaded with seat in place), as mentioned, stable on the water, easy to pedal (a comfortable 2 mph (3.2 kmh) with very relaxed - I could do this all day - slow pedaling - about 3 mph (4.8 kmh) if I wanted to make it a “fitness” experience). I’ll post more about speed later, but suffice to say this speed is very acceptable with virtually little effort and comparable to recreational kayaking - without the paddle dripping.   

The Mako Air does need to come with a few important instructions (mentioned below) but so far I can only find one fabrication flaw - the preassembled steering control is either labeled or connected incorrectly.  Pulling up on the the steering control lever toward the letter “L” (marked for “left”)  turns the kayak toward the right - and vice versa.  I’ve already been in touch with the importing Canadian company - Kayak Distribution, Inc. - about this and the missing parts (see prior posting) and will blog about their response later.

The recommended instructions resulting from my two outings involve the rudder.  The rudder is designed with a cord-pulley system so that the operator can move the rudder into and out of the water while seated.  Just pull the black cord knob (located on the right side of the seat) to move the rudder into the water and pull the red cord knob to remove it.  This is a useful feature as one gets near the shore and the rudder would otherwise get damaged in the rock or mud.  Here are the essential instructions:

1.  Be careful how you install/tie down the chair to the kayak.  It needs to be cinched in where it is not sitting on the rudder pull-cords guides. While this might seem intuitive - don’t sit on the cords! - it isn’t because the cords are routed in tubing and the chair can be wrongly placed on this tubing.

2.  The rudder needs to be placed in a hard left steering direction whenever placing the rudder in the water or removing it.  The design of the rudder placement/removal cords makes them impossible to move until the steering direction is full left.

I have several other operator suggestions - but for now, those are the only things I wished I had known before my use - and they each took some experimentation to figure out.

Monday, March 22, 2021

How I Made The Decision To Buy The Riot Mako Air

Excerpted and edited from an email I sent my adult children to give the background on my purchase of the Mako Air:

...Over the past several weeks I’ve enjoyed the kayak rabbit hole – and explored all five kinds (sit inside – also called recreational, sit-on-top (SOT), inflatable, touring (usually longer than 12′ and tighter entries), and pedaling. I even did in-the-water testing (Scappoose Bay) on two SOT kayaks this morning – each with the two competing pedal system drives (one a propeller like on the Mako – and on the other the pedals push two underwater fins). 

I found it quite interesting that to date all pedal kayaks are almost completely the domain of fisherman – as they allow hands free maneuvering. I questioned every sales/support person I met about their opinions on why they haven’t yet caught on among recreational and SOT kayakers especially with the current focus on cycling for fitness (rather than building upper body strength with an oar). The answers were variations of “people like to do what they have always done,” “pedals are new to the market,” and “the price point eliminates many buyers.” As you might imagine, the local stores carry very few pedal craft – Portland Kayak Company had only one – in green/brown camo for the fisherman.

For me – this Riot Mako Air was the perfect combination of convenience, stability, uniqueness, and nostalgia (I loved our lake paddle boat). I also think it might be brilliant to be able to put in at one spot – spend the day floating to another and then take it out, and call an Uber to get back to the starting point where the car/truck is parked. The photo on the web site also gave me the idea of packing a tent/sun screen (so I ordered this automatic pop up one and decided to add this portable/packable toilet.  I plan to also get this very inexpensive ($21) pop up toilet tent and these waste bags as more convenient/lighter options when I don't anticipate much shore time during my outing/adventure.  I like the idea of having a shore toilet with me rather than having to plan my trip/adventure around finding a toilet or limiting my water intake. 

We’ll see how all these plans work out...


Background For This Blog

 Welcome to my blog about the Riot Mako Air pedal kayak (sometimes called the 9.5, the 9, and the 8.5 but all believed to be the same product - which is actually 8.5' x 3')

 On March 21, 2021 I bought one - $1799 at Next Adventures, Portland, Oregon.

My Mako Air - March 27, 2021 - Williamette River, Portland, Oregon

While unboxing and setting it up, I made videos - which I plan to post here in the coming weeks. Thereafter I'll post info about my first usage.  If anyone has videos or information they would like to add - please get in touch.  

Be aware that the shipping box identifies it as the Mako Air 8.5 - and that is its correct length notwithstanding it being called both 9 and 9.5 in various promotionals. It is also 36" wide notwithstanding the company’s own web site info (here - as of March 28, 2021, the specifications had been corrected but the photos were still of a preproduction model that includes fishing rod holders). In addition, I was told by Next Adventures' staff that none of the ones shipped to them came with the carrying case, the paddle leash, nor the rod holders (the photos on Riot's Teaser (previously here but as of March 28, 2021, it had been removed - maybe because I contacted distributor - more on that in separate posting) show rod holder mounts which are also not present).  I'll update here on Riot Kayak's response to my inquiries about obtaining the missing parts.  It also didn't come with any instructions - though it was easy to assemble and tools are included except for a needed philips head screwdriver. If any owners read this, please get in touch so we might start a owner's group. I am looking forward to enjoying it - and I am not a fisherman - but happy to have all who are interested in the Riot Mako Air represented here.

Happy to answer questions - please write to me at