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How fast can pedal kayaks go?

A pedal kayak can go fast, up to about 8 mph depending on weather, type, size, and person. A racing model is slower than a touring or fishing one. A composite is faster than a plastic.

The pedal propulsion system of pedal kayaks has made them increasingly popular amongst kayakers. This mechanism not only makes it easier to control the boat but also generates a lot of speed. Therefore, pedal kayaks are an attractive option for kayakers as compared to paddle kayaks. Their speed makes them suitable for fishing and racing as well. This article discusses the speed of pedal drive kayaks and the factors affecting their speed.

Speed of a pedal kayak

Pedal kayaks can go faster than paddle kayaks as most people have stronger legs and feet than arms. In general, an average pedal kayak can go 3.5 to 4 knots. Some can even go as far as 7 knots(8mph).

The average speed of an outback pedal kayak was 3.5 knots. GPS tracking showed that the Hobie Mirage pedal kayak maintained a figure of 3.5 to 4.5 mph. A fastest hundred meters sprint had a distance record where the pedal power brought the kayak up to 18.5 kilometers.

Fastest flat-water peddling had a record of 245 km in a single day. This record was made using a carbon fiber hall and a rotational propulsion system with a propeller.

Factors affecting the speed of a pedal kayak

There are many factors that affect the speed of a pedal kayak.

Kayak type

The speed of a pedal kayak varies depending upon the type of kayak. Some examples of different kayak types with different speeds are :

  • Race pedal kayaks

Pedal kayaks made for racing usually have thin beams. They have a beam of about 20” or less. They are also very long and have a very high speed.

  • Sea kayaks

Sea kayaks are usually made of fiberglass or carbon fiber and are designed for kayaking in the sea. Their length is about 15’ and their beams are 23”-24”. They cover long distances very quickly

  • Touring kayaks

Their beams are 26” and they are usually quite fast. Guide.

Hull material

The speed of a pedal kayak depends upon the material that goes into making its hull.

  • Plastic kayak

Plastic kayaks are slower than fiberglass kayaks. They pick scratches and imperfections that reduce their speed.

  • Composite kayak

Composite kayaks are usually faster than composite kayaks and include fiberglass kayaks.

Length, weight, and speed

The speed of pedal kayaks depends upon the length and size of the kayak. Longer pedal kayaks with narrower beams are faster. Their hulls are made of composite materials that can slice through the water producing acceleration. Lightweight pedal kayaks are faster than heavier ones.


The most important factor affecting the speed of a pedal kayak is the weather. The lighter a pedal kayak is the more it is affected by the weather. Larger and heavier pedal kayaks are more resistant to weather. Side winds can blow off pedal kayaks from their course and tracking line. A 10 mph headwind can increase the speed of a pedal kayak but a 20 mph headwind can slow it down.

Tide speed

Another factor affecting the speed of pedal kayaks is tide speed. An outgoing tide can make it impossible for pedal kayaks to make headway.

Fishing pedal kayaks

There are pedal kayaks that are specifically designed for fishing because of their speed and efficiency. They are a big advantage for fishermen as their speed allows fishermen to reach the fishing destination in a shorter time. It also saves their time and money.


The speed of pedal kayaks also depends upon the purpose they are to be used for. This is why it is advised that kayakers address their needs before deciding the type of pedal kayak to buy. Racers would buy racing pedal kayaks that have the necessary acceleration needed to win races. Fishermen buy kayaks designed for fishing as they have greater speed and they also feature fishing accessories. If a kayak is needed just to relax out on the waters than slower pedal kayaks are preferred. Sea kayaks are designed to be faster.

This accounts for the speed of pedal kayaks. This article shows that the speed of pedal kayak is dependent upon many factors and that different types of pedal kayaks have different rates of speed but they are all faster than paddle kayaks in general and are easier to control as well.

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