When choosing a paddle, a common question among buyers is: how is a straight shaft different from a bent shaft? Also, is one better than the other?
Today, we’ll compare the advantages of crank shafts and straight shafts so you can decide which suits your needs best.
The Benefits of Straight Shaft Kayak Paddles
Straight shaft paddles are often the go-to for beginner paddlers. Whether it’s a composite sea kayak paddle or aluminum starter, these paddles are easy and relatively straightforward to purchase.
Never buy a paddle you don’t need, no matter how much a salesperson may convince you. Buy only the paddle that suits your style of kayaking.
The reasons why many kayakers opt for straight shaft kayak paddles are because they:
- Cheaper than their bent shaft alternatives. Depending on the brand, some straight shaft paddles can cost up to $150 less than their bent shaft counterparts.
- Weigh less than bent shaft paddles. On average, straight shaft paddles are 60 to 85 grams lighter than bent shaft kayak paddles. Bent shaft paddles are shaped to make them innately weaker in design compared to straight shaft paddles. Thus, manufacturers would need to beef them up to make up for this inferior trait.
- Make hand location movement easy. Using a straight shaft kayak paddle, your hands can be as close or far apart as you desire while you paddle. Bent shaft hand locations, on the other hand, are fixed.
- Make wrist positioning effortless. In bent shaft paddles, wrist positioning is strenuous when bracing low or backing up. In straight shaft paddles, however, it’s a non-issue.
- Are more flexible. To reduce wind resistance, a paddler needs to offset the ferrule. This can be difficult to achieve using crankshafts because of their two-angled design. However, straight shaft paddles are flexible enough for this not to be an issue.
- Offers good wrist-elbow relief value. In this aspect, the straight shaft paddle is a close second behind the bent shaft paddle. All a paddler needs to do is loosen their grip and hold the shaft only with their thumb and pointer finger, and voila! The rest of your fingers are now strain-free!
Sure, it can take time to get used to, but you should feel joint and muscle relief almost immediately.
The Benefits of Bent Shaft Kayak Paddles
A bent shaft kayak paddle is a more specialized kayak paddle. While the straight shaft paddle works for most applications, the bent shaft paddle aligns with specific applications but excels at them.
If you’re looking to get real serious about kayaking, bent shaft paddles should be more ideal for your needs on account of their:
- Suitability for long-distance kayaking and whitewater paddling or boating. Bent shaft paddles are built for kayaking styles that require lots of movement and skill.
- Ergonomic design. These paddles are ideal for users with chronic elbow and wrist issues.
- Focus on performance and comfort. Better in the regard compared to straight shaft paddles.
- Shaft’s natural curvature. This design allows the shaft to align with the wrist better, making paddling less fatiguing to the upper body and straining movable joints.
- Fixed hand location that forces you to be better with your technique. The straight shaft paddle’s hand locations are more freeing. While this is good for a time, it can make you susceptible to using poor paddling techniques. On the other hand, Crankshaft paddles almost require you to choose better, less-fatiguing paddling moves.
- More efficient forward stroke. Bent shaft kayak paddles are built for a more efficient and powerful forward stroke. They allow you to deliver more torque and control per stroke, making stroke production stronger and more fluid.
- Easier paddle positioning. Due to the bent shaft paddle’s blade orientation, you can position it properly even during uncertain paddling conditions or when performing more technical movements.
- Easy hand placement and minimal grab movement. The shaft has a bend that minimizes grab movement and makes finding hand placement easier. Paddlers should find this especially beneficial during windy or rough conditions.
- The best wrist-elbow relief value. Like straight shaft kayak paddles, bent shaft paddles require you to loosen your hold on the shaft to ease the tension on your tendons and arms. That said, the bent shaft’s design should make this a bit easier to accomplish.
And That’s a Wrap!
Remember to focus more on your core than your arms, no matter what you choose. In a manner of speaking, the core is your engine, while your arms are simply what connect you to the water.
In general, straight shaft paddles are ideal for flatwater applications for paddlers who don’t want to break the bank on a premium shaft but still maintain good flatwater performance. They are also for those who don’t want to overcomplicate the paddling process.
On the other hand, bent shafts are your best bet if you are more technical with your kayaking movements and require the right kind of protection when doing so.