We’ve been doing comparison tests between same branded kit for a while now. It’s a way to test the contrasting differences or similarities between kit and highlight who these toys are for. Sometimes we take almost identical boards, with one dimensional difference, and pit them against each other, while at other times we pair up two seemingly different pieces of equipment and highlight why they might be good for users looking at a potential quiver. For this Loco comparison it’s very much the latter category that the Amigo 9.5ft and Aztec 7.7ft falls into.
Loco Amigo 9.5ft
Loco’s continued delivery of updated liveries and enhanced performance sleds for 2016 has been tangible this season. Having tweaked the range, we’ve been impressed with the North East SUP company’s gear and the Amigo suitably follows this trend.
Standing out with bold graphics on the beach, the 9.5ft Amigo looks like a good board for budding intermediate paddle surfers while retaining a degree of all round flat water paddling performance. Look closer and the beady eyed will spot the integrated mast track suitable for attaching windy rigs.
Flip the Amigo over and gone are the low quality plastic fins of old, replaced by a set of high performance thrusters accented with bold fluro green paint work. All in, the Amigo appears to be a versatile machine with plenty of crossover appeal for a variety of watery tastes.
Paddling out, the Amigo is perfectly composed. It’s rock solid in the stability department and the full length deckpad is both grippy and comfy underfoot. A moderately rockered nose climbs over water efficiently and if mellow surf sessions are your thing then you’ve come to the right place.
Don’t be fooled, however, when we use the word mellow… Picking up waves early, the Amigo revs up to speed progressively and can be ridden from up front, allowing wave riders to get to grips with paddle surfing technique. Place tootsies on the tail, however, and the Amigo switches up a gear and carves up and down, bounces the lip and generally skirts around ‘wave town’ with the best of them.
Whether a budding ripper or already established shredder, Loco’s Amigo 9.5ft is poised to serve up fun wave performance that all the family can make use of. And then there’s windSUP mode…We know Joey T (Loco head honch) uses the Amigo for light wind wave sailing and with rig connected it provides a confidence building ride for anyone thinking about the same type of shenanigans.
So, as we said at the start of this comparison test, sometimes boards appear a million miles away in terms of shape and perceived performance. The Aztec couldn’t be any more different from the Amigo. A new shape for this season, it’s Loco’s take on the parallel rail concept surf design (or no nose board as we like to call them) and looks very at odds sitting next to the Amigo.
And yet, there are similarities. Just as with the Amigo, the Aztec, as with similar styled surf SUPs, is really aimed at small to medium sized waves and making the most of these conditions. For sure, aptly skilled riders could make them work in solid conditions but by and large the Aztec should be able to milk the surf for all its worth.
Where the differences lie is in the type of turn you can achieve. In comparison to the Amigo, the Aztec flies about all over the place. It’s a slightly flatter bottom turn you’ll need to employ but speed back up to the lip is a given and bouncing froth is its forte.
Turning off the tail, the Aztec is excellent and it redirects in the blink of an eye. In small junky, conditions Loco’s 7.7ft is a real winner, making the surf look (and feel) better than it actually is. There’s an unusual paddling position riders will need to get used to – further towards the nose, but not too far. A bit of time on flat water before heading into waves might be a way to understand this. Once dialled in, however, the Aztec fits like a glove.
As a ‘naked’ board, the feel riders get from a waxed deck is unrivalled and in terms of being fulfilled post-session you can’t get a more rewarding sensation.
So who’s this quiver for?
From a comparison point of view, Loco’s Amigo 9.5ft and Aztec 7.7ft is a true UK waterman package – especially if you straddle windy wave disciplines. Fancy a mellow small surf sesh? Off you go with the Amigo. Family fancy having a bash or learning windSUP? Yep, it’ll be the Amigo again. And what if the waves should dial up slightly and/or you feel like giving it some beans? No problem, bust out the Aztec 7.7ft and take it away. But wait, the wind’s come up, but not enough for your fully fledged wave sailing gear. Don’t despair, stick your rig on the Amigo and you’re good for it.
While the Amigo 9.5ft certainly works as an intermediates progression platform, the Aztec 7.7ft does require pre-requisite paddle surfing fundamentals nailed down. But at the same time you don’t need to be a SUP World Tour Pro to eek the most out of it.
Across both boards, manufacturing, styling and fins are top drawer making the pair an easy choice for a family member A who wants to rip across different wave disciplines while having toys available for family B, C and D to also have fun when at the coast.
Both boards available in different sizes for riders to match to ability, weight and location.
Clearance 2016 from £699
Amigo 2017 from £949