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Sunday, 20 January 2013

Riser Manufacturers - Hoyt

So you've probably seen a Hoyt bow before. Historically they have been very popular, especially with Risers, although in recent years they've cut off their nose to spite their face. This might seem like a harsh thing to say, but hear me out. If you are looking on the second hand market the chances are you can find an awesome riser, but the currently available risers are somewhat bothering.

They also make limbs, but historically they charge up and above the current market rate for their products. For example, for the last few years, a carbon wood laminate set of limbs has cost as much as carbon foam limbs from other reputable manufacturers. I don't know the reason for the silly price differences, but it's likely to be an American-made ego thing (most recurve manufacturers are Asian). This probably works in the US but here in the UK we are slightly less forgiving, so this market strategy is flawed.

Where Hoyt started in modern archery
Earl Hoyt designed his first modern riser in 1982 - the GOLD MEDALIST. This, as with most things in the 80s, is an extremely boxxy design. That said, the Hoyt Gold Medalist series was highly successful probably as a result of lack of competition from other manufacturers. I've seen a few of these but they are normally in poor condition simply due to their age.

Shortly after this, Hoyt sold out to Easton - so whilst the brand still exists they are now a subsidiary of a different company.

They went on to make a few other risers worthy of note: RADIAN, ELAN, AVALON PLUS and AXIS. The Axis was the first riser to host a TEC bar to increase the risers stiffness - although by modern standards the Radian, Elan and Avalon Plus are all very stocky risers as it is. The TEC bar is a Hoyt invention and the licensed it immediately. This way other manufacturers have to pay vast royalties to Hoyt if they include this feature on their riser - and as a result they don't go anywhere near it. The TEC bar changes the feel and the weight of the riser, but doesn't bring a head-above-shoulders advantage to anyone sporting this feature.

If you see any of these risers on the second hand market, I highly recommend that you stick away. Due to their age they are unlikely to be in perfect condition. You are best off pursuing a newer model.

When Hoyt risers dominated the world
Hoyt dominated the archery world in 2000 with the MATRIX riser. To this day these hold their value on the second hand market - if you can find them. It is a rock solid riser that many of the world's best used for some time. Hoyt also released a TEC bar version called the AEROTEC. Both of these are godly risers - if you see them going for less than £150 then grab yourself that bargain!

Due to their extreme popularity you don't actually see many for sale anymore. Most people who have had them since 2000 are so content that they don't feel they need a different riser.

When Hoyt started to come up on competition
In 2005 shops started going heavy on the Hoyt NEXUS and HELIX, which were brought in to replace the by-now dated Matrix and Aerotec. These are great risers, although from experience I know the Nexus is quite hard to tune and damp. It's got quite a spongy response but it takes a lot of extra damping to reduce the vibration further. This is apparently because the Nexus and Helix were the first risers to be designed specifically for the Hoyt limbs. There is widespread reporting that use of a Nexus with a different manufacturer of limbs (I used Win&Win) would result in strange responses.

That said, these are very good risers, so don't hesitate if you see one going for cheap

They also started production of the Hoyt ECLIPSE. A lot of people initially hailed this riser for its supposed 'value for money', but actually it didn't take long for the intermediate archers to turn on it. It was initially produced as Hoyt's 'low end' riser. Whilst sporting a TEC bar it was apparently a very spongy shoot. Most people who had shot all 3 of these claim that the Eclipse was a poor shoot in comparison to the Helix and Nexus.

In 2009 Hoyt released the Gold Medalist X (GMX). This is still sold in shops and for all intents and purposes attempts to mix all the best bits from their previous risers (it is almost a mirror of the Avalon+). It's a brilliant riser. In fact, their last brilliant riser.

When Hoyt shot themselves in the foot
In 2010, Hoyt made (in my opinion) the largest mistake possible. They started introducing risers, branded as 'Formula', that did not accept international fitting limbs. Hoyt played their old hand once again, and licensed the Formula fitting - so no other manufacturer bothers due to the extortionate royalties that they'd have to pay. This might have been acceptable if the Formula limbs matched the prices of other limbs, but again they far outweighed the other manufacturers on cost.

Now, arguably - Hoyt must have had a good engineering reason to do this. Who knows, the RX, HPX, and Ion-X might be great risers, but until I can choose value for money limbs that I trust - they rank at the bottom of my list of risers worthy of note. It doesn't matter if they think their limbs are worth the extra 20%, as far as I can tell - they aren't.

To me this seems like a marketing strategy. They know that most Hoyt riser owners were buying other peoples limbs, and this forces them to make a choice: stick with Hoyt risers (arguably the best) and by their limbs too, or to go elsewhere. This seems like a totally backwards in today's market. That's like Samsung announcing that the next phone won't have a micro-USB charger, and that you'll have to buy their charger which costs more. It makes sense if you want to maximise profits, but it doesn't make sense if you are trying to boost the overall market.

Frankly, I think that this decision is unforgivable.

Just ask yourself - a Riser can be for life, but what if they decide the different limb fittings were a mistake?


  1. I'm curious, what's your take on the Hoyt Horizon?
    Thanks for all this, it's appreciated!

    1. Hi Patrick,

      Whilst the Horizon does accept international fitting limbs, I'm not convinced by the open limb pocket architecture. It looks like this would be hard to tune. I don't see why you'd bother with this low-end Hoyt when you could get an SF forged - a really decent riser - for less money.

      Whilst I don't know for sure that the Horizon is hard to tune, I do know that the SF forged gets great results and is unlikely to recieve less than a 5-star review - even from experienced archers.

      Personally, I'd not bother with this latest series of Hoyts until they get their act together (i.e. Excel/Excel Formula/Horizon/RX/HPX/Ion-X). For now I'm just being patient - assuming they'll do a U-turn on the Formula limb series for their top end risers.