I just bought a Riviera today. I have 4 other kayaks and was looking for a 3rd typhoon(my favorite)but was told they don't make them anymore. This kayak looks similar so I thought I'd try it.
I have not gotten it in the water yet but was disappointed that when carried by the side handle the weight is not balanced.. the nose dives into the ground and it seams much heavier than the typhoon. On the plus side I like that it has a flat nose with handle on both ends. I can't wait to get it in the water and see how it handles.Take this review with a grain of salt because my paddling experience was so brief.
A friend brought a Riviera to a summer trip August of 2011. I thought it was an interesting looking boat and asked to borrow it. I took it for a short test paddle - about 90 minutes. I paddled upriver then came back down. In paddling upriver, I surfed it easily. Accidentally actually. At the first riffle, I had a hard time getting up against it and decided to portage. I stopped paddling to let the current take me back down and... I didn't go. The boat sat there and surfed in the tiniest little wave you ever saw just as long as I was willing to let it. That surprised me.
I did get it up stream and coming back down through the main current found that it was very easy to steer and control. It was a bit disconcerting with my 240# frame so close to the water surface, but I grew used to it quickly. As I got more bold, I found that the kayak responded well in bumpy or still water. At the end of the test, coming back into camp, I tried a few eddy turns. I've not paddled a kayak that took an eddy turn more easily - and I used to paddle a WaveSport Diesel. That surprised me - a lot.
I rate it well for how easy it is to paddle. I think novices could be trusted to take this boat out and have a good, safe time with it. I didn't rate it higher because there's no attachment points for thigh straps. I don't suppose with the molded in seat back that a back strap is necessary. Also, scuppers would have improved the rating.Just purchased a Riviera for the wife and she LOVES it as well as I. She is a total beginner with zero paddling experience and after a couple of slow river trips she cruises like a pro.
This is a fantastic shallow water/rock bottom river sled that still tracks extremely well in deep water and had a good glide as well. We are living out a major drought this year and water is limited so this boat shines even more the hull is almost bulletproof. She has bounced it off some serious granite boulders and it bounces well!
I myself like to drop in the molded cockpit and relax in it as well. I am six foot three and 250 lbs and it fits me as well as her five foot seven body. We have let other novice family members take it down river and they all love it because its stable, easy to control and just plain relaxing.
I too would like to see a drier seat with the addition of scuppers but not if its going to sacrifice any the durability the Riviera has to currently offer.
Final note: if you are considering kayaks for the family try out a Riviera first, comfortable, maintenance free, durable, stackable and priced right.