Today I picked up the Epic-18XS at for testing.

Why not test the 18X? Well that's a matter of logistics. Kanoshop has demo-kayaks for most models. And because the majority of the Dutch paddlers seems to be interested in the 18X, this kayak cannot be missed in the shop for a few months while being tested.
Fortunately they have 2 demo's of the 18XS, so that's why! And the difference between 18X and 18XS was expected not to be very big.

Testing the 18XS is a perfect opportunity to test the new TrackMaster ™ steeringsystem. I am happy to be able to test because the older ruddersystem, which I tested on the 16X, did not make me feel very happy.

A first look at the new TM-system convinced me that this rudder is much better. The rudder has a retractable fin now which locks the rudder if retracted. The surface of this fin is much bigger than the fixed fin before.
The ropes for controlling the rudder are now replaced by non-stretchable ropes. These were exactly my two complaints. So I am positive about this new TM.

Another alteration on the 16X and 18X(S)-models is that the hatches are now closed with 4 turning-clips. Looks very user-friendly.

The deck-fittings are also replace by a fitting which is flush with the deck. This looks much better than the former screwed-on fittings.

And finally I noticed, as a first impression, that this kayak has a better finish: no sharp points&edges.

To be continued.