Outdoors blog


Are pedal kayaks faster?

Pedal kayaks are faster than regular kayaks. A pedal driven kayak can go up to 8 mph due to powerful legs muscles compared to about half that using arms and paddles. A pedal model wins vs paddle in a tub of war.

Pedal kayaks have become increasingly popular over the years. Although they might be a bit costly than other kayaks, the many advantages they have to offer, make them worth buying. A common question that comes to mind when you are a beginner in kayaking is what makes these pedal kayaks so different from paddle kayaks and why they are preferred over the much simpler paddle type?

The most important factor that sets pedal kayaks apart from other kayaks is speed. Pedal kayaks offer much greater speed as compared to paddle kayaks.

The physics that generates this speed

A paddle kayak requires much more effort and uses upper body strength and muscles. Paddle kayaks do not have much speed as rowing is a very slow process in general. Pedaling only depends on the lower body strength and muscles of our legs and feet. Our leg muscles prove to be more powerful than the muscles of our arms and hands. This exerts a greater force on the pedal mechanism which makes pedaling easier as compared to paddling and also generates far greater speed.

Tug of war competition pedal vs paddle

A series of tests was performed to get an idea of the speed of pedal kayaks and compare it with that of paddle kayaks. Paddle kayakers and pedal kayakers were pitted against each other in a tug-of-war competition and the pedal kayak always won out. Although it was not a perfect test because it did not tell the actual and exact speed of the pedal kayaks but it proved that pedal kayaks are indeed faster and more efficient than paddle kayaks.

Push pedal system

The push pedal system is considered to be the fastest amongst the propulsion techniques used in pedal kayaks. The feet of the people are strapped to the pedals and they pull back and push their feet against the pedals in one direction.

This causes the kayak to move and generates acceleration as well. It is helpful in winning races and therefore much preferred by racers. Pedal kayaks with rotational pedal systems are easier to control and generate a good amount of speed. They work using a bicycle-style-mechanism.

A propeller underneath the kayak provides the thrust to the kayak and generates speed. When the pedal is rotated the propeller also rotates. The faster the propeller will move, the faster the kayak will go. The rotational pedal system helps cover greater distances.

Helpful in emergencies

Kayakers tend to use pedal kayaks as they are not only fast, easier to control, and comfortable but they also prove to be extremely useful in emergencies. In case of an emergency people can quickly kayak back to shore in lesser time as compared to the time it would take them while kayaking in a paddle kayak. Because rowing is very slow and in case an emergency occurs the kayaker would find it difficult to reach shore in time. The speed of a pedal kayak plays an important role in getting out of an emergency.

Size, shape, and weight of a kayak

The speed generated by pedal kayaks depends upon the size, weight and shape of the kayak. The heavier the kayak the more it tends to sink and hence gets slowed down in the water. Longer and lightweight kayaks are faster as they face lesser resistance in the water because their weight is more spread out. Sea kayaks generate a lot of speed because of their long, narrow, and lean build.

Also, the materials used in their construction are fiberglass or carbon-fiber both lightweight high-quality materials that make for greater speed.

Speed for anglers

Pedal kayaks are very popular in fishermen because of their high speeds. They can find a spot with fish in very little time. Paddle kayaks are very slow and are not a good choice for anglers. It is hard to find good fishing spots using paddle kayaks and take up the fisherman’s time and money.

Pedal kayaks are the most impressive and effective advancement in kayaking. They are not only durable and easy to control but their speeds also make them the ideal choice for kayaking.

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