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Riot Orbit Pre-review

Riot's first "butt-bouncer" is a success. The new outfitting puts them at the forefront of stock/production outfitting, extremely forgiving but maintains carving performance.

This weekend I tried the Orbit on a short play run. There were two main play features -- a slow wave and a very fast wave with good blunting shoulders. Both were relatively small.

Me:
~165#
32" inseam
Size 9 American foot.

Orbit:
Length: 6' 2" / 188 cm
Width: 25" / 63,5 cm
Weight: 33 lbs / 15 kg
Volume: 47 US gal / 177,9 L
Depth: 12" / 31 cm
Cockpit: 33"x18.5" / 84x47cm

Outfitting:

Definitely the best outfitting I've seen from Riot, probably the best outfitting out there right now. The seat is in a great position and adjusts easily and the backband now ratches tight on a buckle between the legs. If I were to have one of these personally, I've probably take out the hip pads and replace it with something a little bit thicker that extends over the hips, but that's me. The kneebraces absolutely kick ass - great support and leverage and they hinge out when exiting, which makes getting out of the boat very very easy.

Small wave performance:

The Orbit holds onto the carving ability that Riot is known for, but adds another dimension. Coming from the Air 45, the difference in feel between the two is notably different. Whereas the Air tends to carve in the direction of the dropped edge, the Orbit almost gouges the wave: it heads down the wave, then the bow curls back up into the air. There's several advantages to this. First, it's almost impossible to pearl or bury the bow without really trying. Second, it lets you shift your weight backward and get perfectly set up for an aerial move -- the nose automatically rises at the end of the arc. And finally, you can use the rocker to get bouncing up and down to get even more air going into your move.

One minor shortcoming/compromise is the surface area of the planing foot. On the slow waves I was surfing, it didn't get that greasy feeling the Air 45 has for me. But this is also a recent trend in boats to maintain quick edge-to-edge transfer (which it definitely has), and I was also at the very top end of the weight range for it. Given a 150# or less paddler, it should be easy to flat spin on slow waves.

The Orbit is a very forgiving boat. Not only do the edges avoid tripping or catching, it has a natural tendency to avoid pearling. Necky started this trend with the bow kick rocker in the Chronic and Vibe, and the Orbit has taken that up a notch. The Orbit has the Wave Sport Stubby style surf where the nose is angled up, unlike the Air which tends to just drive down the face of the wave.

Overall:

I was impressed and surprised by the Orbit. It would be perfect for me if it had a little more planing surface for slow/small waves, but what it might lack in flatspinning it makes up for in overall "aerability". I look forward to trying this boat in a hole since that is, according to Riot, what it was primarily designed for.

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