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Boardworks SHUBU Raven Review
Cons: Slightly wobbly in middle of board, construction materials may be thinner than others tested.
The Raven is a light touring board for the more advanced paddler. It has a long, narrow, slightly rockered nose and its material is slightly thinner most of the other boards we tested, which makes it one of the easiest to roll up and transport. This board measures 12' 6" x 30" x 6".
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Raven is a nice long, narrow 12' 6" board with a very narrow pointy nose and tail. It comes with a fold up style backpack and one of the best hand pumps tested. It is constructed with a thinner material than most of the other boards tested and a quick release clip system for the fin, both of which make it a breeze to roll up and transport. It also has a four D ring cargo bungee system with thin straps on the nose.
We really wanted to love the Raven and score it highly in every metric because it is so easy to transport. However, it scored a bit lower than expected in this category because it was a bit wobbly in the middle and this was especially evident when cutting through boat wakes or rough water. It is just ever so slightly thinner than the other 6" thick boards tested, probably because of its construction materials. This slight loss of thickness makes it a bit wobbly. If you stand with both feet side-by-side in the middle of the board when crossing over a wake, the middle of the board wobbles up and down, where most of the other boards tested remained rigid.
The Raven does glide nicely and, again, we really wanted to score it highly in every metric because it is so easy to transport. But an interesting thing was discovered about this board that didn't happen with any of the other boards tested. It doesn't glide straight. It is easy to paddle and cuts through the water easily but when you make a paddle stroke on the right, it steers to the left and when you dig a paddle stroke on the left hand side, it goes to the right. We found this to be slightly frustrating. We did discover that if you lift your paddle out of the water halfway through the stroke, it lessened the turn factor, but then you have to paddle twice as much. We suspect this is due to two factors: 1) it only has one large middle fin and is missing the smaller side fins on most of the other boards tested and 2) even though its center fin is very large and long, it is much less of a curve to it than on any of the other boards tested. (Except the Baron 6 that has the same shape center fin, but it also has two rather large side fins.)
Ease of Transport
The Raven is the easiest high performing board tested to transport. Only the Wakooda is as easy to transport, but it doesn't perform as well in the stability or glide performance metrics.
Lastly, the fin attachment system was one of the easiest. Simply slide the fin in and slide in a quick release plastic piece that snaps into place. Voila. Takes less than one minute to install. No screwdrivers, Allen wrenches or hand twist tightening.
Only the Baron 6 and the Wakooda have fins that are as easy to install. With the Wakooda you do have to remember to install the fin before you inflate the board. Woops. We found this out the hard way. The Baron 6 has exactly the same fin installation system as the Raven, only the Baron has three fins to install. Please see the NRS Baron 6 review for close up photographs of the quick release fin system identical to the Raven's.
We do wish that this board came with a strap/ handle on the nose or the tail or both. We took the Raven on a river tour where we had to drag it up on the shore to avoid some obstacles and we had to drag it out by the bungee straps. In that situation we could have really used a handle on the nose.
Ease of Inflation
Though the hand pump that came with the Raven
The material that the Raven is constructed with and the material that the edges are reinforced with are just a slight bit thinner than is used on most of the other boards, which make it easier to inflate. The Wakooda is as easy to inflate for the same reason. The Uli X Surf is easy to inflate as well because it's two inches thinner and doesn't take as long to inflate as most of the other boards tested.
The Raven is great if you are going to paddle somewhere not close to your vehicle. The backpack is one of the easiest to use. No stuffing and cramming the board in the bag or re-rolling the board because it isn't rolled up small enough to fit. It also rolls up smaller than most all of the other boards besides the Wakooda. The Raven does score higher than the Wakooda in glide performance despite the fact that it turns slightly when you paddle. It's faster than the Wakooda.
The Raven is good for flat-water touring. If you're not going to use its backpack and you're just going to roll it up and stick it in the back of your vehicle or its very small trunk, this product rolls up very small.
For $1300, we wish that this product were just a bit more stable and glided more straight. It does have an awesome backpack and pump (one of the best tested), but keep in mind that it does not come with a paddle. The Uli and the Baron 6 and the only other boards that we tested that don't come with a paddle.
This product was a breeze to inflate and transport. We loved it for those two factors. It is one of two boards tested out of nine that rolls up the smallest when deflated. It comes with the coolest backpack and one of the easiest pumps to use (and that has its own mesh pump bag). It also has a cargo system on the nose. In the stability and glide performance metrics it's a bit wobbly and doesn't glide very straight.
— Valentine Cullen
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