Customer Reviews: Harmony Rudder Kit - Wilderness Systems & Perception Rudder Ready Kayaks
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars18
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on October 27, 2012
I agree with prior reviewers that the rudder kit came with surplus parts and that it was easy to install by anyone with minor mechanical abilities. The video on YouTube was particularly helpful, and the printed instructions (included) were particularly unhelpful. If you are a "tall" paddler in a Wilderness Systems Tsunami boat, you need to deviate from the instructions a little to give yourself enough leg room between the seat and the pedals. Although customer service at Wilderness Systems says the rudder pedals give you the same leg room as the solid pegs, this is absolutely NOT true. You get about 2" less room in the best of circumstances, and the loss is greater if you install the cable lengths strictly according to their instructions. The reason is that the solid pegs can go very far forward, almost up to the front bulkhead, whereas the rudder pedals need room to "travel" back and forth to make the rudder work fully. In a Tsunami, even if you "fudge" the installation to favor more leg room, you'll still be tight if your inseam is greater than 33".

The rudder pedals slide back and forth in an aluminum "extrusion" that has no stops to keep the pedal slide from sliding right out of the back of the extrusion. This is a hugely bad design, especially if you have long legs, because if you take your feet off the pedals to rest your legs, you risk accidentally knocking the pedal slide out of the extrusion (while on the water with the spray skirt on!) and it's very difficult to get the pedal far enough forward again to get your foot back on the pedal without removing the spray skirt. This is EXTREMELY annoying and I have met other kayakers with this same complaint. The problem can be avoided by fabricating a large "rubber band" out of 1/8" bungie cord, and threading the bungie through the hole in the back of pedal slide near where the cable joins the slide, then tying the bungie (with appropriate knots) into a loop. The loop makes a rubber band that is then slipped over the front of the aluminum slide extrusion. This creates a pedal retractor that serves two purposes: 1) It puts forward pressure on the pedal slides that keeps them from inopportunely sliding out of the extrusion, and 2) It returns the deployed rudder always to a "neutral" position while your feet are off the pedals. The slight additional pedal resistance offered by the bungies is so small that you can't feel it, but the overall user friendliness and performance increase are significant. You need 26.5" of 1/8" bungie cord from REI or elsewhere to tie each one of the pedal retractor bands, using barrel knots to joint them, if you're interested.

The rudder itself is a hydrofoil, and like all hydrofoils it is subject to vibration at certain speeds and certain water temperatures and conditions. There are lots of very complicated theories about why this vibration happens, far beyond the scope of this review. Suffice it to say that my "Blade" rudder vibrates and produces a humming sound quite often, and I haven't yet figured out how to stop it from doing that. I understand that all the Wilderness Systems rudders are now "The Blade" design, whether factory installed or added afterwards. They all use a plastic mounting block on the stern of the boat held by two 1/4" cap bolts and a lock washer. The lock washer is ineffective on my rudder to stop the cap bolts from working loose. I have to keep tightening the cap bolts, which continue to work themselves loose after only a short time. The manufacturer provides a special allen wrench to continue tightening them, and I suggest that you tape it to the inside of the rear hatch cover, especially if you're taking the boat far from home, as you will need it. A regular 3/16" allen wrench will work, but is not as convenient to use as the one supplied. Some thread lock may solve this problem, but I'm inclined to think the design is missing two flat washers that should be between the plastic block and the lock washer. The holes in the plastic block are too small to fit a standard 1/4" stainless steel flat washer, so at present the lock washer is between the cap bolt and bare plastic, which is think is why the bolts keep working loose. The self-loosening rudder block may be contributing to the vibration and humming of the rudder, I don't know, but at a minimum, it is annoying to have to keep retightening the bolts to keep the rudder square to the boat.

If you have a Wilderness Systems "rudder ready" boat, this rudder is the only game in town, and having a rudder is better than not having one, especially on big waters, so I hope the above suggestions help other WS kayak owners who are installing rudders, and will inevitably encounter the same problems I have.

But all of that said, the rudder itself works well to control the direction of the boat and to compensate for wind and currents. I've used it in heavy winds and waves, and most recently on the Colorado River in less than true whitewater, and found it reliable.
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on November 26, 2011
Installed on my Commander 120 which came rudder ready. A Simple process which completely transformed the handling characteristics of my boat. Although not the best open water boat, the Commander tracks pretty straight with its pontoon hull and this rudder has made it perfect. I generally prefer to fabricate parts within my ability, but for the price paid it wasn't worth my time. I'ts very well made with everything you need to install it on all boats. (I had lots of parts left I didn't even use) When paddling Lake Michigan I need the extra tracking this provides to compensate for wind and waves. This is by far the best addition I've made to my kayak yet.
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on February 8, 2011
Excellent rudder kit, very easy to install, numerous variations to adapt to your particular kayak. You get the entire package, cables, mount brackets, foot pedals, rails, adaptable hardware and rudder for less than most rudders cost individually.
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on June 11, 2013
I put this on my Wilderness systems Ride 135. This is a great addition to an already great fishing kayak. If you kayak fish you already know that wind, even at low levels, is one of your biggest challenges. This rudder lets you have control of the position of your kayak in any kind of windy situation. My kayak was rudder ready so it was a breeze to install. Took about 30 minutes. Like most people I was concerned about how much benefit I would be getting for the almost $200. cost. If you do much fishing from your kayak this is well worth the price. All the componants are of high quality and built to last. Go ahead and pull the trigger. You won't regret it.
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on April 29, 2016
Works great. Takes some time to install, especially on sit on top as foot bracing is tough to get to. I had to look at a video online regarding the deployment line to figure out how to install. Directions are fine but can be vague depending on the kayak you have as it is made for many of them.

Once out on the water, these are fantastic. no more hard paddling on one side, keep it consistent and slight movements give you good sharp turning or gradual turning. very nice. Easily pulled up if in shallow water or have debris or want to be ultra silent.
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on July 17, 2015
I have an older Aquaterra (by Perception) Swing. LOVE that kayak. But my boyfriend's Perception Caster came to us with a rudder installed, and once I saw how much tighter he could turn than I could, I had to have a rudder. Installation was kind of a pain, but to be fair, I did have to buy an additional rudder mount for my boat. I do wish the kit included the cable tubing, but a trip to the hardware store solved that. Still, for the price...

The Swing is a pretty nimble boat, but adding this rudder REALLY improved the handling.
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on June 22, 2011
Installed this rudder kit a couple days ago. If you are installing on a SOT fishing yak please note that there are no rivets on inserts included in kit. There are some places that require mounting hardware, that are impossible to get a nut on the back side of the screw. It might be worth your time to go by the local canoe/kayak shop before installing this to pick up 1/2 dozen of each before starting the job. Also installing the plastic tube for the cable guide is tough....I used a straightened out coat hanger to thread it through the hull. This seems to be a sturdy rudder kit with good solid hardware, should last the life of the yak. You Tube has several good instructional videos on this rudder install. The install from start to finish takes about 3 hours. Sea trials were yesterday, man what a differance in the way it handles !!!....steering with foot pedals will take some getting used to but all in all a worth while endeavor.
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on May 30, 2013
this is a complete rudder assembly. i purchased it to go on a wilderness system 14' tarpon sit on top kayak and it has all of the pieces and parts that you need for almost all kayaks that are rudder ready. the only thing that the kit did not come with is the tubes that the cables slide in to steer the rudder but if your kayak has these you are all set. Great product for the money and has fairly good instructions, does require some knowledge on how rudders are installed but youtube is a big help on the install.
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on May 20, 2013
This could have been a five star rating had the instructions been easier to follow and had I not required one trip to the hardware store for the an extra bolt. The instructions called for four bolts and included only three. It was a minor inconvenience. I found an excellent installation video on youtube that helped me far more than the instruction booklet. The day after installing the rudder we had 25 mile per hour winds so it was a great day to test the performance of the rudder under difficult conditions. I was totally impressed! It's pretty tough paddling and manauvering a Wilderness Systems Commander 140 kayak against a strong wind, but with the rudder I was able to manauver and control direction with no problems. Prior to installing the rudder I have had great difficulty controlling this kayak in much lesser wind conditions. Now all of my paddling energy is used to propel me forward and I let the rudder do the steering. I am very please with this!
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on February 17, 2014
The item satisface my expectations. I couldn't prove it yet, but it seems to fit well in my kayak. All the delivery process was good and fast. I recommend.
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