Bay City Vapor is a relatively new mod maker out of Seal Beach, CA. The company started getting attention in Fall 2013 for its then upcoming SurfRider and XXIX mods. Both are relatively inexpensive and have innovative features. The SurfRider is available in C464 naval brass and 316 stainless steel. It costs $140 for the single-tube version, $190 for all three stainless steel tubes (18350, 18490, 18650), and $200 for all three brass tubes. For the last few weeks, I’ve been vaping on a SurfRider and been quite pleased with its quality and performance — especially for the price.
Build Quality and Construction: The Bay City Vapor SurfRider I have for review is the naval brass (C464) 18650 model. The metal is high quality and more resistant to corrosion than other types of brass alloys. The main tube is simple, with smooth threading. The tube threads use the common 20×1 threading, allowing for compatibility many popular top caps, bottom caps, and hybrid kits on the market.
The top cap, which I’ll focus more on in the next section, is a simple piece of brass with a cross cut. The bottom cap has a delrin insulator and a zinc-plated spring. The threads on both caps are smooth.
Overall, the Bay City Vapor SurfRider is a very well-made mechanical mod that uses quality materials. The craftsmanship is as good as or surpasses that of many mods that cost more.
Design and Ergonomics: The Bay City Vapor SurfRider uses subtle design language. There’s nothing obnoxiously flashy about this mod. The bottom cap has the “BCV” logo and the main tube has a set of waves. In 18650 mode, the mod is shorter than most other 18650 mods, which is nice for people that want maximum battery life in a relatively small package.
The most outstanding feature of the Bay City Vapor SurfRider is its top cap. It uses a hybrid-style design. You screw the cap onto your atomizer and then screw it onto the mod. Aesthetically, this allows for a flush appearance and clean lines. It also allows for outstanding performance, which I’ll touch on in the next section.
The Bay City Vapor SurfRider’s button was a mixed bag for me. I loved the 1mm throw, but wasn’t happy with the heavy feel. Naturally, button feel is completely subjective; my preference is for a short throw and light feel. Initially, the spring was way too stiff for my liking. It loosened up after a few weeks of use, but was still stiffer than what I prefer. With the firing mechanisms flush design and meaty spring, you can place the mod down without having to worry about it firing.
The downside to the Bay City Vapor SurfRider’s unique top cap is that it can be tricky with certain atomizer and battery combinations. Using Samsung INR 18650 20-R and Sony VTC3 batteries, I had no issues with the Aqua, Russian, and numerous dripping atomizers. However, I have read reports of other battery and atomizer combos being difficult (i.e. not firing all the time). The good news is that Bay City Vapor is updating the firing mechanism to allow for broader compatibility. The really good news is that the company’s customer service is outstanding; current SurfRider owners will be sent the updated parts free of charge. That level or customer service is fantastic.
Performance: Since the novel top cap allows the atomizer to make direct contact to the battery, the Bay City Vapor SurfRider’s performance is stellar. The brass model has no voltage loss and hits amazingly hard. So in addition to hybrid-like looks, you also get hybrid-like performance.
On paper, the hybrid-style top cap seems like an obvious and simple thing to do. Why not remove a junction to achieve excellent performance? Yet Bay City Vapor is the first mod maker that I know of to offer this type of top cap as a standard feature, and the performance results are phenomenal.
Verdict: For the money, the Bay City Vapor SurfRider is an outstanding value. You get a mechanical mod with excellent workmanship, a beautifully understated appearance, and some of the best performance on the market for a relatively low price. I especially love that the SurfRider is available in a single-tube configuration. Many (but not all) vapers I know only use one type of battery, making additional tubes a waste of money and materials. As a somewhat frugal and somewhat environmentally concerned vaper, I applaud Bay City Vapor offering the SurfRider in single-tube form.
Even though I’m not a fan of its stiff spring (looking for magnets to replace it), I highly recommend the Bay City Vapor SurfRider. It’s beautiful and well made, with extraordinary performance.