For 2012 Hoyt continues to update their carbon bow lineup with the Carbon Element and Carbon Matrix. For this review we'll be taking a look at the new Carbon Element RKT and what you should consider if you're thinking about taking the plunge on Hoyt's new premium bow.
Since Hoyt's 2010 introduction of the Carbon Matrix, the idea of using carbon fiber in a riser design has taken the archery world by storm. While the Carbon Element is definitely one of the most expensive (if not the most expensive of all time) bows currently on the market its price has come down some since introduction with the street price of a 2012 Carbon Element around $1300. If you're considering stepping up to a Carbon Element and paying this premium price, we thought this review should highlight some of the major points you should consider when making the jump to a carbon fiber riser based bow.
Hoyt Carbon Element RKT Compound Bow
Carbon Fiber Riser Bows are very light
One of the single biggest reasons for purchasing a carbon fiber riser based bow is the light weight. While on paper the Hoyt Carbon Element is only four tens of a pound lighter than the new Vector 32 its still exactly 10% lighter. This translates into a noticeable difference when holding the bow in one hand, in fact what most new shooters notice the most about a Carbon Element is the "wow" effect of the reduced weight versus a conventional aluminum based riser bow.
The Carbon Element riser design is composed of three hollow carbon fiber tubes that intertwine together like tree roots.
The hollow tubes converge at each limb pocket. If you look closely you can see a line around each tube.
The limb pocket is milled aluminum and is bonded to the carbon fiber tubes with an adhesive.
The limb pocket design is similar to the Hoyt Vector series.
The Carbon Element uses cable roller system and is attached to the riser via a screwed in milled aluminum plate.
Carbon Fiber Risers are "Dead in the Hands"
After the "wow" effect of reduced weight the other "wow" effect is how little jump there is to the Carbon Element when firing. This is all the more surprising given the dead-in-the-hands feel comes in a lightweight package. With reduced weight any kind of imbalance in the limbs or cams will be amplified with reduced bow weight, since there is less mass to dampen out the imperfection. The Carbon Fiber also goes a long way to reduce vibration because it is not quite as rigid as aluminum and thus acts as a large harmonic dampener in itself.
RKT Cams are a good improvement
We discussed the new 2012 RKT "Rocket" cams at length in our previous review of the Hoyt Vector 32 . The upshot is that the RKT cams have a flatter valley with about the same wall as the previous Fuel cams. This means that if the cams are tuned to your draw length correctly, you won't be pulled off the wall quite as easily as with the Fuel cam. Plus with the RKT cams it's possible to pick up more speed than the previous Fuel cams with a rated ATA speed of 330fps. As we noted in the Vector 32, with the RKT cams, make sure you get the right size from the start when purchasing your bow otherwise a cam swap may be necessary depending upon your draw length.
Lower view of the RKT cams.
Don't smack the riser hard
Carbon fiber designs are excellent at high stress loading, but aren't great at high localized pulse impacts. What this means is that the carbon riser can take a lot of smooth loads such as the draw/release cycle of a bow. However you need to take more care when smacking rocks especially if accidentally dropped from a high location, such as perhaps a tree stand. Aluminum risers dent, but carbon fiber risers can crack from a hard smack on a hard object such as a rock. This in itself isn't really a huge downside, because the same precautions have extended to new laminated, carbon fiber based limbs and arrows for some time. A bow hunter just needs to be aware that a hard blow to the riser with a sharp hard object may affect the integrity of the riser.
If you shoot carbon arrows, you should be in the habit of regularly checking your arrows for impact defects (skids, smacking rocks, arrows smacking each other in tight groups) that may cause the arrows to fail. With a carbon fiber riser, you need to apply the same due diligence if you take a hard fall on the riser.
Don't mess with the riser
With aluminum based risers usually the sight, stabilizer, and quiver just screw right into the riser. However because carbon fibers shear strength is not particularly high, Hoyt has designed two milled aluminum pieces that adhere to the bow with adhesive and screws. These aluminum milled assemblies should be the only place that accessories are attached in the pre-made attachment holes. Again because of the carbon fiber material it's important to not drill holes or fab up your own contraptions in spots other than where they have already been designated on the riser. Putting holes in the riser will most likely effect the structural integrity of the bow. The same can be true of aluminum riser based bows, especially as they are made lighter and lighter with lower tolerances for deviation from the original design of the manufacturer.
The string shox assembly is attached to the riser via screws. At the front is a slot to install a stabilizer.
Don't expose the riser to solvents
For various reasons sometime bow hunters will apply chemicals such as lubricates to the limb pockets to remove a squeak. It's important to make sure to not apply any chemicals especially those based on silicone to the riser and let it soak it. The chemical absorption and possible reaction can degrade the strength of riser, possibly resulting in failure. So if you've gotten in the habit of wiping down your bow with various cleaners, just stick to water when cleaning up a carbon riser based bow.
Some creaking in the riser is normal
Just like new limbs will sometimes creak, carbon risers may also creak when they are brand new or have been stored for a few months. Our review bow had some creaking initially but we couldn't tell if it was the actual riser, limbs, or limb pocket. The net result is that a small amount of creaking from the riser is normal and should go away within a few hundred shots.
Use the right press!
With the advent of parallel cams it's been pretty clear to most folks that you need to use a modern bow press when performing repairs on the bow and the same is true of carbon fiber riser bows. Be sure to use or have your pro shop use a bow press that only exerts pressure on the bow limb tips near the cams. Single pull bow presses that exert force on the riser and/or at the mid-limb will damage the limbs and possibly the riser as well. If you do your own bow work, make sure you have a modern bow press.
In conclusion the Carbon Element RKT is a top notch bow and comes in the popular 32" ATA format. If you are considering a premium bow and can handle the $1000+ price tag the Carbon Element is definitely worth considering. It's fast, shockingly light, and startlingly smooth.
The same grip is used on the Carbon Element as the Vector 32.
For more information about the Hoyt Vector 32 bow please visit Hoyt Archery .