NELO 560M Review

2 years 6 months ago - 2 years 6 months ago #26380 by photofr
NELO 560M Review was created by photofr
The new NELO SURFSKIS have made their way to Brittany, France. With this comes the brand new NELO testing facility: it’s very small, but easily accessible for about 1/3 of the entire French population. The small testing facility is conveniently located on the water’s edge of a protected sea, with easy access to the ocean less than 1km on a surfski.

Currently in stock for testing: the NELO 520 and the NELO 560M.
The NELO 560L is on its way!

The 520 is super cool, and very versatile (I’ll spend more time on it during the next couple of weeks and try to provide some real life feedback) but this review is about the NELO 560M.

NUMBERS
560 represents its length: 560cm, 5.6 meters, or 18’4 feet.
M Represents a ski designed for Medium to Small paddlers (roughly 77 kilos or less).
(For reference: I still haven’t measured the width, but it’s supposed to be 45cm.)

LOOKS & FEEL
First thing out of the box, you’ll notice a very glossy and shiny ski. Its near-perfect finish will still remind you that this was hand-made, with real humans behind it. Overall, the ski is super clean, so don’t expect too many blemishes because it’s super sharp looking.

The curves are beautiful: essentially, a needle nose ski with a “fat” behind for added stability exactly where you’d need it (behind you).

RIGGING
There’s no denying it: you will be very impressed. I know I was blown away by what I saw. First, there’s the carbon foot plate and pedals (they are very different from anything out there). Adjusting the foot plate length is super easy and very secure once in place. Speaking of adjustments: I have “the world’s shortest legs” and I like to have my knees a little higher than most people. Naturally, the first thing I did was to check if this was going to “work” for me. So, shorter paddlers: finally a ski that will fit you, with plenty of room for the long-legged-counterpart.

Next, you’ll stumble on the foot strap: this one is padded, but rigid. The additional power you’ll get from it may just blow you away. Its adjustment is a little finicky but actually quite simple, with multiple pre-sets.

Took me 15 minutes to unpack the entire ski, rig it, and paddle away. Takes about 20 seconds to change the foot plate length. Too cool.

BUCKET
There’s something missing in the bucket: the hump is nearly all-gone. How does this affect drainage? I don’t know, but I can tell you this: I have swamped my ski trying to draft a boat and it emptied itself in record time. We may very well see copies of the disappearing hump quite soon, because it may not be needed as much as we “thought”.

SEATING AREA
It’s higher than what you are used to if you have used a ski in the last 7 or 8 years, but that’s a good thing. After all, think about it: when we want to seat down at the beach, we try to find a rock, a stump, a step… something to ultimately place our butts higher than our heels. It sounds simple, but try this: seat down on the floor (butt and heels at the same level) and stay there for 2 hours. Now try the same thing, but instead of seating on the floor, try seating on a small step, or even a small phone book. Feels better, doesn’t it?

Well, essentially, the seating area will feel way more natural, right off the bat. More comfort equals more power, so I am all for it and wouldn’t have it any other way.

The bucket is an ergo bucket that isn’t as deep as many other skis. This is one of the first skis where I won’t need any padding for hips, but because it’s ergo, my wife will also be able to paddle it.

Is the bucket the most comfortable bucket ever? I don’t know, and I seriously doubt it. Everyone is made differently, so you’ll have to see for yourselves. For me, it feels natural, and very comfortable (I have narrow hip bones). For my wife, she loves it (and needless to say: she wished she had narrower hip bones). 

DRAINAGE
The NELO drainage is highly efficient: see above as it drains faster than ever. The best part: its ease of operation, where finally you are able to concentrate on your paddling, while using your feet to naturally open and close the latch. It’s very intuitive, and very well placed.

THE CATCH AREA
Being a “needle nose” ski, you’ll find the paddle entry point to be very narrow. It’s pure physics: this will make for a more efficient paddle stroke. There’s one little drawback that I noticed after the first 20k: the outside of the pedals stick out a little… and I have hit it with my paddle a few times, but that’s an easy fix.

For me, there’s nothing worse than a wide catch area – coming from someone with a narrow frame. This feels super nice, comparable to the Spark, but with more comfort and less “boat”.

STABILITY
The seating area of the 560M feels higher than the V10L, and much higher than the Spark. Stability, however, feels way better than the Spark and better than the V10L. I feel a lot of additional stability due to how snug the boat feels (you are part of the ski for a change), and the wider area behind the seat is just added bonus for an Elite ski. Primary stability is okay, but secondary stability is excellent. See, I did it: I spoke about stability without revealing any trade secrets regarding the hull .

SMALLER DETAILS
There are couple of things that also impressed me:
There are three leash plugs: one under the seat designed to be used as a leash attachment point, and two more in front of the footwell. The two points up front can be used to secure gear, or as a towing point if need be. It’s no big deal, but I really like that.

The plastic rudder cover is too simple: no tools required to open it, so a big bonus there. I recommend taping your Allen key in there, with surf wax or similar.

The stiff foot strap makes for a great handle and secures the boat on your shoulder when the wind is high.

SIDEWIND
This is the lowest profile ski I have been on in a long time. The closest thing may have been the Chalup Ski back in 1988. Having said that, smaller paddler (heck, ALL paddlers) will find that paddling this ski in side wind may be easier than with any other skis, mostly because the bow doesn’t get blown away like a butterfly in the wind.

WET OR DRY RIDE?
It’s a wet ride, where you are part of the ocean. The drainage is lighting fast, but you will get wet. Sidewalls are not too tall (as I feel they should be) because truth be told: you are going to get wet any way. Remounting is therefore easier, but it's still a wet ride. The deflector is a huge bonus, and works wonders. Mine came with it, and I believe that’s standard on all NELO Surfskis.

UPWIND
I have been paddling in the same spot for about 2 years and I just blew my personal “best” out of the water on an upwind section I have done 100’s of times. Average speed was high (for me) and I was still getting used to the ski. Upwind speed is good, but the feeling was great; I seriously had fun going up wind up swell.

DOWNWIND
As mentioned above, it’s a bit of a wet ride, but one that I thoroughly enjoyed. Conditions were chaotic, with confused seas, but I was able to use my body (much) more than ever before. It’s another dimension, literally.

Most of this comes from the shorter ski, shorter than it’s been for the past decade, but about the same as back when I had tons of fun in the ocean. Essentially, the ski is super maneuverable, catches runs very easily, and is more responsive than anything I have been on. I am seemingly able to paddle less, where I am finally able to use my body weight to keep that nose in the “hole”. Apparently, the laziness in me is coming out, and that’s cool as heck.

ACCELERATION
Faster – way faster… hands down.

WEIGHT AND STIFFNESS
The skis is about the same weight as the V10 GT, but not as stiff. Don’t get me wrong, it’s solid, and quite stiff with zero soft spots to notice, but not quite the brutal stiffness of prepreg. To be fair, it’s also more “absorbing”, especially when it comes to the imperfections encountered at sea. It’s a more comfortable ride that doesn’t seem to slow performance, but that’s just how I feel having paddled both.

The weight of my skis (carbon sandwich construction) is 9.8 kilos, all rigged, including rudder and rear bungie. Yes, I can carry it under my arm all day.

MADE IN EUROPE
Having a ski made in Europe feels good (since I now live in Europe and all) but there are other advantages. Shipping takes about 7 days to reach European countries, and a custom ski can be ordered with approximately 6-week of a waiting period (not 4 months like numerous other companies outsourcing to China).

I don’t know, call me stupid, but this is 2016: I would proudly (and will) place a flag from Portugal on my ski, but I kind of find it difficult to put a Chinese flag on one of my Stand Up Paddle boards made in China. Call me sentimental, but I will also have an Hawaiian flag on my ski 

Plus, it’s not just made in Europe, or just made in Portugal; it’s made from one of the biggest composite provider in the World, and trusted by more Olympians than any other brands out there. So yeah: I am proud that it’s made near home.

PRICES
Prices are always a factor, granted, but this should put a smile on people’s faces. A light surfski is now affordable!

Two types of constructions are available.
TYPE 4 CONSTRUCTION
Carbon/Kevlar/Epoxy
Approx. 11 kilos
Approx. 2450 euros

TYPE 7 CONSTRUCTION
Carbon/Epoxy
Approx. 9.5 kilos
Approx. 3850 euros

For reference, I just bought a Stand Up Paddle board, Carbon/Epoxy construction, 14 feet in length, without a rudder, for 3800 euros, and it still weighs 11.5 kilos, and it wasn’t made in Europe.

PERKS OF A SHORTER SKI
What can you too expect from a shorter ski?

For starter, it’s easier to handle on land, where you are most likely to damage your boat. Inevitably, your ski may last longer from less accidental damage on land.

It’s shorter, so there’s less flex on the water, and on the roof of your car; that’s just pure physics.

More reactive to body shifts, and more maneuverable downwind should yield more fun, better average speed, and less paddling fatigue. Keeping the bow into the “hole” will be faster from a more responsive ski, and will allow you to “lock in that wave” longer than ever. Look it up: skis in the 18-19 foot range have always been very fast, see Molokai Channel crossing history.

If you can fit your car in a garage, you should no longer have any problem storing your ski right at home.

FASTER ACCELERATIONS
Shorter waves heaven: the 560M does really well in open ocean swells, but for the majority of people on surfskis, downwind in smaller conditions or in a bay will have you smiling again, and downwind paddling in the Mediterranean Sea will have you “flying”.

CHOICE OF COLORS
You can have a white ski… if that’s what you still want, but you can also choose from a huge variety of colors available online.

CUSTOM SKIS
Custom skis come with your custom colors. Turnaround times take about 6 weeks.

SHIPPING
There are 2 ways to get your new skis to you.
1. You can place your order with one of the reps in France, and pick it up from them (no extra charge).
2. You can place your order with one of the reps, and have it delivered to your house (for about 100 euros more).


IN A NUTSHELL
The new 560M is a shorter surfski that’s surprisingly more responsive than other skis people are used to. It excels for shorter and super light paddlers (though I am told the standard 560 is well-geared towards bigger paddlers like Oscar). When it comes to flat water paddling, the 560M doesn’t disappoint.

When you first paddle the ski, you are likely to notice:
Its needle-nose look, and tight paddle catch area.
Wide area located seemingly behind you.
Higher seating position; comfortable.
Very secure foot strap system.
Good stability for an Elite ski.
Amazing downwind control.
You will be “one” with the water, literally.
My favorite: the ability to once again affect your ski in the surf, even if you weight “nothing”.

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QUESTIONS, TESTING OR ORDERING IN FRANCE
Contact: Ludovic BACQUET
NELO Testing Center – FRANCE (West Coast)
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I: www.nelokayaks.com
T: 06.24.74.53.70
International Calls: 011 [33] 624-745-370

Ludovic
(Brittany, France)
Attachments:
The following user(s) said Thank You: robin.mousley, ErikE, Fath2o, SurfskiEstonia

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2 years 6 months ago #26381 by [email protected]
Replied by [email protected] on topic NELO 560M Review
Nice review, one thing that would be helpful would be to add your dimensions, ie weight and hips seeing as this ski is targeted towards a smaller paddler. The pinch spot for me is the width at the upper femur, the bony point you can feel at the very top of the legs, I was about 5mm too tight in the Spark, do you think I would fit the NeloM?

Thanks.

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2 years 6 months ago - 2 years 6 months ago #26382 by photofr
Replied by photofr on topic NELO 560M Review
My wife couldn't fit the Spark (at all). She can fit the 560M, with comfort. But read this carefully:
The Spark has a very deep bucket; and it was still plenty loose on me.
The 560M is what I call an Ergo bucket; it's not deep, and seemingly opens up quickly. This seems to translate that my behind fits perfectly, and then opens up quickly to also allow my wife's wider hips to fit the bucket.

To keep it simple, if you were missing a few centimeters in the Spark, you may find the 560M to fit you quite well, and beyond. It's tighter at the bottom of the bucket, large atop the bucket.

For REF.:
I am 5'6, 135 pounds, nearly 50 years old, paddling surfskis since 86. I grew up in Hawaii wearing size Small Xcel wetsuits, and haven't changed much. I could never fit an extra small suit.

Size shorts: 31.
Blood type: some Hawaiian water.
Paddling skills: old, worn out, middle of the pack who enjoys long distance.

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Ludovic
(Brittany, France)

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2 years 6 months ago - 2 years 6 months ago #26383 by Uffilation
Replied by Uffilation on topic NELO 560M Review
Thankyou photofr for your impressions,

how would you rate the remountability in comparison with the V10L and the Spark?
It should benefit from "not so deep bucket", I guess. The predecessor was not that favorable in that regard.
It will take until August before I'll be able to test one.

TIA

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2 years 6 months ago #26384 by photofr
Replied by photofr on topic NELO 560M Review
You pretty much nailed it: the bucket is very shallow.

From experience, you've probably noticed that any ski with a deep bucket is just a little harder to remount. The 560M is therefore easier to remount than skis like the V10 (very deep bucket), and the Spark (rather deep bucket).

I find the 560M easier to remount than the V10L, but that may be a personal preference. The V10L also has somewhat of a shallow bucket, but the 560M is still shallower.

Probably worth noting that the 560M has a noticeable lower volume throughout the entire ski, making it very compatible for smaller and or lighter paddlers. The biggest benefit: handling side wind, and maneuverability in the surf.

How much do you weigh?

Ludovic
(Brittany, France)
The following user(s) said Thank You: Uffilation

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2 years 6 months ago #26385 by Uffilation
Replied by Uffilation on topic NELO 560M Review
thanks, sounds good, weight is 76 kg +-

shallow bucket + lower volume + higher seat = need to try it

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2 years 6 months ago - 2 years 6 months ago #26386 by photofr
Replied by photofr on topic NELO 560M Review
The 560 arrived 5 minutes before lunch... so who needs to eat today?

Now that they are all in Brittany, here's my best attempt to show the difference between the 3 skis.
For the French Speakers: you can go straight to the french website that's now up to date.
www.nelokayaks.com

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Hope you enjoy.

Ludovic
(Brittany, France)

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2 years 6 months ago #26387 by mckengmsurfski
Replied by mckengmsurfski on topic NELO 560M Review
I have found that the standard 560 ski is, for me, the easiest elite level ski I've tried in regards to remounting. I owned 2 of the Nelo Vintage skis (one of each generation) and you are correct, neither of them were easy to remount. This one is quite easy with the low sides/shallow bucket and plenty of secondary stability. Definitely easier than any of the other elite level skis I've tried, and I've tried quite a few.

Uffilation wrote: Thankyou photofr for your impressions,

how would you rate the remountability in comparison with the V10L and the Spark?
It should benefit from "not so deep bucket", I guess. The predecessor was not that favorable in that regard.
It will take until August before I'll be able to test one.

TIA

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2 years 6 months ago #26388 by mckengmsurfski
Replied by mckengmsurfski on topic NELO 560M Review
Great looking seamless finish on the orange 560 ski Ludovic!

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2 years 6 months ago #26404 by photofr
Replied by photofr on topic NELO 560M Review
You guys ever watch your dog drooling while hanging out the window at 40 MPH?

My wife says that's about how I looked today with 25-30 knots of wind; it was a total BLAST!!!
The 560M was super manoeuvrable, and easily navigated itself from one bump to the next with more ease than ever. Acceleration is crazy fast: gets to speed in the fewest paddle strokes. That's about the perfect recipe for fun if I ever saw one.

(still can't believe she compared me to a dog... but "it's all good")

Ludovic
(Brittany, France)

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2 years 6 months ago #26405 by Ranga
Replied by Ranga on topic NELO 560M Review
Will that be a French Bulldog or Poodle?

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2 years 6 months ago #26407 by Fath2o
Replied by Fath2o on topic NELO 560M Review
I don't know, he looks more like a Shar pei to me. :laugh:

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2 years 6 months ago - 2 years 6 months ago #26408 by photofr
Replied by photofr on topic NELO 560M Review
Picture this (not the dog).

Both the 560M and the 560 are easy to remount.
The best thing is for you to try one and see for yourself, the next best thing is to hear about it from someone who has tried it, and somewhere in the middle, there's a picture that might explain it even better.

Rarely seen, here's a 3/4 view from the rear, showing WHY it will be easier for you to remount the 560: Look closely at the lines near the paddler's hips.

Important: this is the Nelo 560 (in orange), not the Nelo 560M.

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For those of you feeling adventurous (like that dog hanging out of a car window), try clicking on the above image so that you can view it full screen. Granted, if you are using a phone, you are just about hopeless. :)

Ludovic
(Brittany, France)
The following user(s) said Thank You: tony h

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2 years 6 months ago #26415 by Steve Hansen
Replied by Steve Hansen on topic NELO 560M Review
Ludo, I see in one of your photos that you are using a Braca XI. What do you think? Can we expect a few paddle reviews eventually?

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2 years 6 months ago #26429 by photofr
Replied by photofr on topic NELO 560M Review
QUICK UPDATE:
I have now put on 100's of kilometers on the 560M, ranging from calm flat water to huge downwind, and pretty much everything in between. There are some observations I'd like to share with you.

1. This is the very first ski truly designed for smaller paddlers (not just a name). If you are under 75 kilos, you should at least give it a try. If you in the 65 kilos range, you should do everything you can to test it.
2. DW handling is well above norm: for me, it's like discovering maneuverability, no matter how big it gets out there.
3. I enjoy bigger DW (by far) but the 560M is nothing short of stunning when it comes to even the smallest DW conditions.
4. There's something about it's acceleration... At my age, fast accelerations aren't my strong point, but this ski is a serious eye-opener though - at least for me. For the first time, I can outrun most of my friends, but the best part is how fast I can take off and seek boat wakes.

The above isn't hard "data" or flat water comparisons. It's actually nothing more than what I feel after putting hundreds of km on this boat. I just wanted to share, even though all of my GPS data clearly shows a net increase in speed in all conditions.

Ludovic
(Brittany, France)
The following user(s) said Thank You: tony h

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2 years 6 months ago #26432 by JohnK
Replied by JohnK on topic NELO 560M Review
Hi Ludo,
It seems the Nelo skis have gotten heavier than originally indicated. The price to weight ratio is less favorable than expected.

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2 years 6 months ago #26433 by photofr
Replied by photofr on topic NELO 560M Review
I'd love to see a Nelo ski at 8 kilos one day, but for now, price to weight still seem very advantageous with Nelo.

European Construction / less than 12.5 kilos with rudder / about 2500 euros.
European Construction / less than 10 kilos with rudder / about 3800 euros.

Compare the above prices with actual weight of Think, Vajda, or Epic.
My Fenn cost me over 2500 and was 13 kilos (fully equipped).
I had a 2500 euro Epic that was 15 kilos (fully equipped).

I am not sure where you got your info John, but would love to hear more about it.

Ludovic
(Brittany, France)

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2 years 6 months ago #26434 by Steve Hansen
Replied by Steve Hansen on topic NELO 560M Review
First ski truly designed for smaller paddlers?!? What about the Fenn Spark, Stellar SEL, Epic V10L ? How about some paddle reviews Ludo?

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2 years 6 months ago - 2 years 6 months ago #26435 by Kayaker Greg
Replied by Kayaker Greg on topic NELO 560M Review
The Stellar SEL is not for small paddlers, once I got down to 76kg it was way to big for me.

In fact it was huge.

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2 years 6 months ago #26436 by photofr
Replied by photofr on topic NELO 560M Review
I have owned the Spark and put in a little over 1000 km on it. I have also owned the V10L.

NELO's new 560M isn't even competing in the same category for smaller paddlers. Try it, and this will be very clear to you.

Ludovic
(Brittany, France)

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