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Bees Knees First Impressions—Two thumbs up!

To be perfectly honest my absolute first impression taking them out of the box was disappointment. They are smaller bumps than I had imagined, were a bit denser foam cushioning than I would have thought would be comfortable, and I was also faced with what seemed a daunting task of ripping out my old knee pad in a one way leap of faith that was a little more than I was comfortable doing.

I sat in my boat with the old outfitting and played around with where the new pads might go and tried to get a feel for how (and if) they would work and decided at the worst, I would end up with a new pad with a bit of velcro on it and be back to square one.

Things I learned while retro fitting the Bees Knees, in no particular order.

1. The cooler the ambient temperature, the better. You are going to be heating the old pads in the confined space of your cockpit and you will get hot. Getting hot for me leads to frustration which doesn’t help anything so if you have AC, it is highly recommended.

2. Taking off the rivets that help hold the pad to the plastic thigh hook is easy (see Stephen’s video-). I used a hair dryer to heat up the glue but my old pad was still really hard to pull off. I tried numerous angles of heat, pulling as slowly and forcefully as I could and still reached many impasses. The old glue did not want to let go in a lot of sections. That’s a good thing in terms of outfitting but in the moment it wasn’t appreciated. At the end I just yanked it out and was left with a hot mess of chunks of left over foam, dried glue, a couple worms!, and some dirt and sand.

3. At this point I emailed Clay and Stephen for help, pretty much in tears. If it’s any
consolation, Stephen said mine was the worst he had ever seen. Lucky me, but it did give me the hope to carry on. I found some old metal sandpaper (the kind used in sureforms) and that was the easiest way to get rid of the chunks of left over foam. The glue was not budging and Clay reassured me that any old foam or left over glue would not be in play so I wouldn’t worry too much about getting a perfectly clean and flat surface for the new pad except for the knee pocket area—you want that to be really flat. I used a half of bottle of alcohol to get it as clean as possible but if it cleaned anything, it wasn’t apparent to me so YMMV.

4. Installing the new pad is simple. You heat up the new glue on the pad, start at the existing thigh hook and carefully press the pad into the depressions where your knees go. The finishing touch with the new rivets is simple—I used a small nail to poke a hole through the new fabric and pad and they went in perfectly.

5. Setting the new foam bumps takes some trial and error to get the most comfortable angle for your knees but once you find it you will know. I have mine slightly overlapping the plastic thigh hook by about an inch and it aggressively and comfortably holds my knees in place. The outermost bumps for now are not in play and I haven’t found that I need it. For my Nirvana I would be tempted to cut the pads so I could adjust the outer one closer to wrap around my outer knee area. Either that or build up the bump with additional foam glued onto it. Clay had a cool tip to shorten the length between the bumps by folding the pad so the velcro in the middle shortens up the distance between the pads so try that first especially if you have thinner thighs.

6. Boating, I am way more connected to my boat and it really helps with edging, rolling, and you have a more precise feel for your boat. At first I thought it was subtle but after a few days changing between a boat without them, I realized that if makes a huge amount of difference and I highly recommend them for any of your old boats.

I believe any 2021 boats that have not been molded will come standard with these pads and the 2022 boats will all come with them included and installed but if you have an older model boat, these are a great addition.

Find them here!

Happy Paddling,