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Joined: Jan. 2004
||Posted: Dec. 21 2007,21:46
A Comparison: The New Limited Edition Pro TW (Classic) vs The RTM Tempo
Yes, this is the comparison you've all been waiting for! As some of you may know OK discontinued the Pro TW last year to my great dismay - as the Pro earned wide acclaim as one of the best all-around designs ever. Solid, seaworthy, relatively fast, perfect storage, the Pro TW was the kayak of choice for both divers and yakfishers for years. Along with the Scrambler, the Pro was one of the first two commercial designs by the amazing Tim Niemeyer, originally appeared in glass. To almost this day the Pro stood alone as an example of a near perfect design. It was not to last.
OK, spooked by the WS Tarpon series and plagued by a chickenshit marketing department, decided to join a race to the bottom and dropped a number of it's best performing designs in favor of ever wider, high-primary barges culminating in the Big Pig. The Pro was cancelled to the dismay of thousands. Our sorrow was not to last, as the Pro made a surprise reappearance.
But not produced by OK. Rather, by RTM (Rotomod) of France, who had been licensed to manufacture the Pro in Europe, retained it's molds. RTM modified the molds primarily with the objective of small, incremental improvements such as high-quality low-profile deck clips, faster draining tankwell, more comfortable carrying handles including recessed side handles, et al. The rudder option was eliminated (to be fair the Pro has minimal need for a rudder and very few were sold with rudder). And RTM produced the new and improved "Pro" as the "Tempo".
As many of you know, I predicted OK would rue the day they d/c'd the amazing Pro, and they did!
Spooked by RTM's Tempo, it was not long before OK took their old Pro mold out of moth balls and decided to make a limited number of what they now call their "Classic" series and the Pro TW - albeit in VERY limited numbers - was back. Changes were few but OK too eliminated the rudder. All said and done this begs the very important question...
Just how similar are the Tempo and new "Classic Pro"? I found out, and now you too will know. Pretty darn similar, and here ya go...
We'll work from bow back, but before I proceed, let it be said that the hulls (with one issue) are EXACTLY the same. All important dimensions are within millimeters. The Tempo mold made what RTM considered improvements mostly to the deck which is led at the bow by a molded in "V" design common to most RTM's. Brings the Tempo fully into the RTM family. Now first up, the hatch.
The Tempo's hatch lost the two drain slots, the new Pro's remain. OTOH the Tempo's hatch seems a better fit, and it may not need the slots. The Tempo's hatch is a tad smaller (9-3/4" x 19") vs the new Pro (10-3/4" x 20"). Truth be told, both are very large, very accessible hatches, same depth. Both have equal storage capacity. The Tempo molded in a nice lengthwise depression, nice touch.
The famous Pro footwell area is untouched and remains one of the longer wells available. It is unchanged in both the new Pro and Tempo. These footwells remain one of the best designs in the business, with a nice deep heel cup AND generous side support. You can really kick ass and power down in these comfy wells and never slip. The Tempo has enlarged the two footwell scuppers to 1-1/4 inch vs the new Pro's 1 inch drains. Scuppers are a mixed blessing, draining water but adding turbulence. They can be noisy at speed and do not smoothly draw water like a good venturi. RTM's Disco has the best ordinary scuppers in the business with their recessed, semi-venturi design - brilliant. Missing on both the Pro and Tempo.
Few realize that the old Pro TW had one of the longest cockpits available at 48", and the Tempo goes one inch further, to 49". Most remember the Pro's center console, headed by a flattened, circular "compass mount" area, followed by a hollow depression and ending in a cupholder (which ALWAYS held water). Nice places to keep a couple lures. RTM left the console and lengthwise depression intact but lost the compass mount and cupholder as unneeded. Are they? Whether they were or not, the Pro mold had em and they were intentionally removed.
Next - most of you will remember the rounded, flattened area between the console and seat, and more than a few of you chose to install a nice center hatch. For the Pro's this area will surely accomodate a 6 inch circular hatch - in the Tempo the area is notably larger and will easily accomodate an 8 incher. Did I say that? That's "Chief" Inspector Clouseau to yhew. This might also be a good time to point out one great improvement: the Tempo has top-quality, comfortable side handles mounted in some nice knucklesparing depressions. Very nice. And - a built-in bungee paddle clip. Also nice for transport and for those who refuse to use Ken Daubert's "paddle-at-the-ready" technique.
And down, er back, to your seat. Perhaps the one real difference between the two. Kayak Jeff mentioned that at least one big tester felt the Pro's seat was deeper, more accomodating. Just an impression he said. Jeff and the unknown tester were absolutely right. The Tempo's seat has a narrower entry at 15-3/4", compared to the Pro's 17 inches. And the Pro's seat is slightly deeper - at 7 inches - than the Tempo's 6-1/2. Mind you these are small differences, and most paddlers will snug up nicely in either seat.
Let's say the Pro's seat is slightly more accessible. At the same time Tempo eliminated the Pro's seat scuppers. This may account for the slightly snugger seat (to maximize butt/water interaction and displacement - snugger is dryer, no scuppers needed). One of the most common complaints with the Pro was that it's very deep and wet seat. Personally, it never bothered me ("it's a water sport, dummy"), but it sure bothered some others. Accordingly some will praise the Tempo - I could care less. But - losing the scuppers also loses some turbulence and that is a good thing.
Careful or you're gonna get clipped!
Last both cockpits sport 3 clip or attachment points on each side. For the new Pro these are the usual cheap plastic "inchworms" and are located midseat, and two forward in the leg area. The Tempo uses quality stainless, retractible and low profile loops that will accomodate more clips and ties - a noticeable and significant improvement. These are located at the rear of the seat, and two forward in the leg area.
Note: I happened to take a peek at my old, original Pro to check the clip position and was surprised to find the Original Pro not only has four clips per side, but also the famous riveted, wide nylon seat attachment straps and clips. These are missing on both the "new" limited edition Pro and the Tempo. No matter, despite what almost all of you think, neither the Pro or Tempo requires a seat back. The seats are deep, snug and form fitting, much like a surfski or say the Kaskazi Skua. Only the few with really bad backs may need a seat, and these can still be accomodated with clips.
And now for the growing tankwell controversy. One of the things you will frequently hear or read is that the Tempo ruined the great Pro tankwell. Allow me to quelch yet another festering kayak myth:
First I will say that the original Scupper Pro had perhaps the best tankwell in the business. Positioned close to the cockpit, within easy reach and working to preserve lengthwise balance (most rec kayakers do not understand the importance of this). Place a large, deep well far back and extending to the stern - get hit by a wave, fill it with a couple hundred pounds of water - find your bow up in the air and being pushed by the stormy winds - while the huge tankwell refuses to drain, taking on more water with every wave...
And then you'll understand why the original Pro's well was a great design. Designed to perfectly accomodate a full sized diver's air tank, and not an inch more. Great for fisherman too who found ways to attach even milkcrates, or in my case a modified narrow classic red Igloo cooler (cut off the flip top, install angled rocket launches). The perfect trolling machine. Now let's look at the new Pro and Tempo:
|The Great Tankwell Myth|
Most observers will walk up to the new Pro (and if they are lucky a Tempo), take a quick glance and exclaim how the Tempo's well is now way too small. "Why did they ruin the well" they bemoan. Remember these are the same guys who complained about the Pro's well being too small, and who accordingly stampeded to the huge welled Tarpons or megahumonga welled boats (and I mean boats) like the Emotion Flim Flam. Here are the facts:
Well depth is practically the same: 5-1/4" Tempo, Pro 5-3/4". Width and length both seem noticeably larger on the new Pro, ergo the myth and gnashing of teeth.
But we must consider USEABLE dimensions. Although the new Pro seems wider, do note that the sides taper in and then drop vertically to form a smaller interior working space. And it is that usable space with which we are concerned. The "smaller" Tempo well actually has exactly the same working width - 13 inches. The myth develops. The new Pro's length is 35 inches and carries the width back a bit further than the Tempo, whose length is 4 inches shorter at 31 inches. Further, the Tempo's well is a bit more egg shaped. Visually this is the stunner, and the Tempo's well appears smaller.
But consider again USABLE space. Both wells do in fact taper. Both taper up toward the stern to smoothly meet the rear deck (this is for "instant draining" purposes - quite effective. However, keep in mind that the instant draining feature means the aft end of the well cannot be used for storage; indeed the kayakfisher is really concerned with the front half of the well - the business end of the well where crates and coolers are attached (it is neither practical, accessible or wise to use the aft end of the well). And this front working area is for all practical purposes the same in both the new Pro and Tempo.
Now to be sure there is one significant difference relevent to divers, and maybe to campers. The extended but narrow width of the new Pro's well will accomodate a full-sized air tank. Indeed the original Pro was designed with that in mind - the heavy tank fits snug and low. Not so in the Tempo. A full-sized tank will ride up the rear of the well and ride up significantly higher. Mind you, this is not a fatal flaw, since it's a no brainer to bungee in the tank in any case. It will raise the COG (center of gravity) but not dangerously. Accordingly it's more a nagging visual shortcoming "Yes the tank fits, but it doesn't look right, dammit! What will people say?!". Oh well.
Oh, one final note: the scuppers in the Tempo are large (1-3/4") compared to the puny new Pro's at just 3/4" in diameter. Is this important? Both are instant drain designs, especially the Tempo. The Tempo does not really need these larger scuppers, but I will always favor safety and improved draining, especially in the tankwell. I'd leave em. Still, I have spent many, many hours in the Pro and never found the well to be a hazard, quite the opposite. No worries either way.
End of the line, the rudder or lack thereof:
This one is easy. The new Pro loses easy rudder accomodation. Yes, the entry molding for rudder cables is still there, but the molded hole for the rudder post is gone. Still, the solid block of plastic is still there, and it would not be difficult to drill a vertical hole and mount a shaft. The Tempo has gone farther: no rudder hole, not even enough plastic to drill one. A rudder could also be mounted but will require attachment (probably riveting) through the sides of the stern. Keeping in mind that very, very few saw the need for a rudder anyway, this is no great loss. The Pro/Tempo will windcock in a strong side wind, but not excessively and control can be maintained. And the Tempo/Pro are light tourers at best - not intended for really long distance travel anyway. Last, don't forget that with proper packing balance and control can be enhanced.
The new "Classic" series, limited production Pro and the Tempo are both based on the same mold (do recall that RTM made the Pro in Europe prior to it's discontinuation). As a practical matter the new Pro and Tempo are the same. Finally, and in my usual inimitable fashion I will tease you all with this: there is one very real difference between the two, which may or may not be significant. It is to me. But because it may be arguably inconsequential for others, I will not reveal this difference, nor which kayak - the new Pro or the Tempo - is favored.
OTOH I can be bought....
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