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Old 28 November 2014, 07:33   #1
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Make: F-Rib 330/Excel 330
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Folding RIB first impressions part one

A few months ago we were talking about the Winboat / F-Rib, well at that time I contacted Steve Bruce, the importer of the F-Rib to establish if he had any dealers in the north so that I could go and take a look in the flesh so to speak. Steve said he was looking to start a dealer in Skipton, North Yorks and when he visited them, he would get in touch.
To my delight, Steve did get in touch and we made a date to meet up at Ashby Ville Lake on the outskirts of Scunthorpe, North Lincs near to where I live.

As you will see from the photo's, the day was damp, foggy and not so warm but my enthusiasm to look at the F-Rib overcame the conditions although my photography was not quite on par----sorry about that.

The first point that struck me when Steve opened the van was that all the boats were stood on their transoms and it turns out that this is the normal storage method which means the footprint needed to store the boat is very small, in fact 3' x 1.5' so any corner in the garage or shed is big enough to stand the F-Rib in. Lifting the boat out of the van was also quite easy as Steve showed me how to hold it for carrying. Now I point out at this point that as an old tart, I am past the stage in my life when I want or even can hump heavy weights around but this is quite doable although I would use a trolley if I had to carry it far.
Another interesting point here is that when launching wheels are fitted and are available as extras, they do not need to be taken off, further to that, the wheels become a trolley while the boat is folded making the task of moving the folded boat very easy. In the photo, we had already removed a strap that is used to keep the tube ends packed flat to the hull for storage.



Now we get to the bit I wanted to really see, how it goes together and just how quick is the job to do. I use my sib throughout the year for fishing so ease and speed of build up and take down are important to me. I have seen via youtube the process of getting the boat ready but it is not the same as doing the job yourself.

Firstly, there are male and female joints molded into the ends of the grp hull making it impossible to do anything but align the hull sections correctly.


You can also see from the photo, the fabric seal between the joints to ensure there is no water ingress.

The front section is simply folded into it's finished position and ready for the next section. As with all things, there are little methods used to make the job easier and Steve showed me that by a small lifting action of the two front sections, the rear section locks into place very easily and it does.
So now we have the F-Rib laid out on the ground and ready for the only locking bolt to be placed into position. The F-Rib used here was the 330 model which only has one bolt but this can change on different models.
The bolt placement is done without tools and straight forward to do.





The assembly aspect is done taking only a few minutes.


I had taken my Bravo pump to speed things along but whilst I did not time how long it took to inflate the F-Rib, is was not long.



The tube diameter of the bow tube is smaller increasing to the same size as the side tubes as it follows the shape around, if that makes sense. This actually increases the area inside the boat as the grp hull does not require a large diameter tube right at the bow to maintain floor tension/shape.


One thing that does stand out is the hard chines in the grp hull to aid directional control but more on that later.





There are molded rubber grab handles situated at the bow and on the top of the rear tubes for carrying the boat which were very comfortable to use.



When I saw the F-Rib being put together on youtube, I noticed the ' step ' overlap joints which stand proud of the floor internally and at the time I thought they would be a pain and get in the way whilst moving around in the boat. Not at all, in fact they are very solid easily taking a mans weight which in my case is, shall we say not too light. I should also say at this point that the entire hull structure is really solid with NO flex whatsoever on or off the water.


Another feature which is on my Excel and for my two penneth should be fitted to ALL sibs / ribs is an over pressure release valve to take care of the hot days we do sometimes get in the UK and certainly around Europe.



There are a number of optional extras available for the F-rib range, one being a fold away cuddy which Steve brought along to show me. As an angler sometimes needing a bit of protection from the elements, this is one item I would have on the F-Rib. Please note that the demo boat doesn't have the location lugs fitted so we are only showing roughly how it would look. The cuddy has clips that locate under the rubbing strake with straps that are fitted further back. This makes the cuddy a tight structure and ideal for those winter fishing trips and at just under 200, it represents good value for money. There is also a full length version should you want total protection from the weather.





Due to the size of this thread, I have split it into two sections. Please look at part two for on the water testing.

Phil
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Old 28 November 2014, 07:34   #2
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Folding RIB, first impressions part two

Time to get her wet so on with the chest waders looking rather like a beached whale, amazing how chest waders shrink in the wash, well that is my story and I am sticking with it, needless to say I am not on ANY of the photo's, instead I used Steve as the model, anyway he is taller, slimmer and better looking.
At 43kgs the 330 is light in the hand to carry in part due to the handles being easy in the hand. I had brought along my Parsun 15hp to do the test runs with and as there is a slipway at the lake, I just walked the engine into the water and fitted her to the F-Rib.

The combination of the 15hp and this hull really seemed to be a perfect match. The boat is very very smooth as the power is applied with an effortless lift onto the plane. There was no leaning forward to bring the bow down, she just lifted and away.
I did run at low revs then full throttle to see just how much bow lift there was, no drama there, quickly up and over and on the plane. Unfortunately I didn't take a GPS so I cannot say what speed we were doing at full throttle but a technical term would be BLOODY QUICK.

The hard chines really come into their own when turning in quite tight circles, none of the usual side slips, this baby just digs in and turns and that was impressive to say the least. In fact, impressive is the best word I can use for on water performance and although we were on a flat lake we were able to hit the wake at speed with a predictable and controlled small bounce. The F-Rib cuts it's way through these wakes time and time again with no twitching between the lifts. God I love this boat.

Here are a few photo's as Steve took the helm so that I could use the camera but again sorry for the picture quality, low light conditions made it tricky to get really good shots.









When we had finished to session, I popped on my little 34lb thrust electric outboard as Steve had forgotton to bring a Torqeedo 3hp, Oh, I am so pleased it is not just me that has senior moments. Okay it was very slow after flying around with the 15hp on the back but actually not bad at all and it gave me the chance to walk around in the boat as Steve was on the shore. Very stable, no movement of the hull, perfect for stand up fishing which I do quite a lot lure fishing for the pike.

Back on dry land, John the lake bailiff had been watching, his comments were 'that is seriously impressive '.
Deflating the boat is always a bit of a pain as you now just want to go home but even this process is different from any other inflatable craft. Open the valves to allow the air release for a few minutes while you sort all the stuff we take out on the water, pull in the side tubes so that they are within the grp floor, remove the securing bolt and fold over the bow section. Pressing down the grp hull section releases all the air left in that area and again folding over the middle section releases the air left in there (easy peasy) finally the two transom end tubes are folded over the grp hull and the retaining strap is wrapped around the tube ends and the now fully folded boat ready to pick up and put away.
While we had the boat folded up, I thought it would be a good idea to see how well it fitted in my VW Passat estate, no problem, in fact I didn't even have to drop the rear seats. Okay if the outboard was in as well, I would need to drop the seats but when it says on the web site, the folded size is 3' x 3' x 1.5', it really is and unlike most sibs, it goes back to this size every time you put it away.







One point I have to say is the build quality is superb, the hull alignment is perfect, so much so that unless you get very close, you cannot see the joints on the underside of the hull. To produce a folding flexible structure that fits so well together every time is a testament to the thought and detail that has gone into the design and manufacture of this boat.





Should you wish to speak to Steve Bruce at Foldable Ribs (FRIB), he can be reached on 02380 988 782 and email steve@foldablerib.com

I would like to say a big thank you to Steve for taking time out in a very busy schedule to allow me to have a play with this amazing craft.

The all important price, 2,428.00 which is quite comparable to many Zodiac sibs and offers something that no other inflatable boat offers.

I will confirm that this so quick to put together and take down, in fact quicker than an air floor sib making that aspect of the job a hell of a lot more pleasant.

My final comments are that ----------------- I WANT ONE, I NEED ONE AND I MUST HAVE ONE, not sure how yet but as they say, ' where there is a will, there is a way '

I hope I have covered the main points but feel free to ask any questions.

Phil
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Old 28 November 2014, 11:24   #3
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My mistake, the cuddy is not 200, it is actually just over 100
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Old 28 November 2014, 12:07   #4
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Folding RIB first impressions part one

Excellent review and piccies, thanks for sharing.
Have been half interested in one of these folding ribs for a while, probably the 375. They do seem amazingly light in weight, even the larger sizes. I'd be interested in your opinion on the transom as it looks a trifle lightweight in the pics!
Couldn't see any dealers 'up north' listed on their website yet, but would be keen to see one of these boats in the flesh. Interestingly there seems to be two similar websites with somewhat different prices!
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Old 28 November 2014, 13:18   #5
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The transom is a ply with grp either side and certainly not flimsy. In Russia they are using them for military purposes with over 2000 in circulation.
The site to take note of is this one as this is the importer for the UK and some European countries and therefore their prices are the ones to work to.

Foldable RIBs : f-rib u.k, Patented folding RIB technology

The new dealer in Skipton is Pennine Marine and they took delivery of a 275 and a 360 yesterday but as they are a very new supplier, they don't have any reference on their web site.

Pennine Marine - Zodiac, Suzuki and Yamaha in Northern England

Hope that helps

Phil
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Old 28 November 2014, 14:45   #6
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Looking at their web page the PRV,s (over pressure) are an extra !!!. 24 each....,

Boat is an Interesting concept though .
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Old 28 November 2014, 15:07   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camelgas View Post
Looking at their web page the PRV,s (over pressure) are an extra !!!. 24 each....,

Boat is an Interesting concept though .
I have just phoned Steve to double check and they WERE extra but are now fitted as standard on the F-Rib.

Phil
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Old 28 November 2014, 15:13   #8
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Thank you so much for an honest guide to it and how it handles on the flat (ish) water. Hmmmmm interested. Just need the money now!
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Old 28 November 2014, 16:35   #9
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Folding RIB first impressions part one

Phil,

Thanks for info and links. Pennine Marine is only a couple of hours away from us, so will pay them a visit.

Queried transom strength as we'll be strapping on a 20hp 4-stroke and pulling a kneeboard etc all in North Sea chop.

The other website;
http://foldablerib.com/en/12-foldable-rib-s
with significantly cheaper prices, around 20%, appears to be the same importer, SBS Ltd in Southampton.
Prices perhaps only applies to remaining 2014 stock!!
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Old 28 November 2014, 16:56   #10
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Thanks Chipko
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