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Pedal Kayaks – Our Complete Guide

One of the biggest innovations made about kayaks is being able to control their movement without paddles. This innovation led to the birth of kayaks with pedals called pedal kayaks which have seen several improvements over the years to improve their performance and functionality.

There are many benefits to pedal kayaking. For one, it can be fun and exciting. Pedal-driven kayaks also offer increased speed and bring about a hands-free kayaking experience which is especially beneficial when kayak fishing.

While pedal kayaks are not as popular as traditional kayaks, there are still a good number of them available on the market. I’ll be taking you through an extensive buying guide. Here, you’ll learn all you need to know about pedal kayaks so you’ll be able to make an informed decision when buying one. Here we go.

Pedal Kayak Types

There are two basic designs of pedal kayaks with each design having its own pros and cons. The two types are push pedal kayaks and rotational pedal kayaks.

Push pedal kayaks have a similar mode of operation to traditional boats. This type of pedal kayak operates by pushing your feet down on each pedal after which you’ll move your body a bit and finally use your feet to pedal.

Underwater fins are incorporated in push pedal kayaks to propel them. The main advantage of this type of pedal kayak is they are very stable and occupy minimal space but they aren’t too fast.

Rotational pedal kayaks on the other hand have a mechanism of operation resembling that of a bike and feature a bicycle-style propeller system. You utilize your whole legs, feet, and ankles to drive the propeller system and drive the yak forward.

Their main advantage is that they are easier and more fun to pedal and you can pedal them for longer. They are also faster than push pedal kayaks. However, the drive system will occupy more space in the kayak.

Speed and Stability

Speed is one of the advantages that pedal kayaks have over traditional kayaks that require paddling. The muscles in our legs are generally stronger than those in our arms since they carry the entire weight of the body. So it’s a lot easier to propel pedal kayaks and their efficiency means your efforts are judiciously used to propel the yak forward. And this results in more speed.

When it comes to stability and power, pedal kayaks are superior to paddle kayaks and instill confidence in the kayaker.

Directional Control with Pedal Drive Kayaks

While pedal kayaks may be more stable than paddle kayaks, they aren’t easy to track or turn compared to paddle kayaks. Even though you will be able to generate more speed with your pedal kayak, your ability to track and turn the yak is still limited compared to using a paddle. Paddle kayaks give you more control over tracking and turning.


Pedal kayaks usually have wider hulls which make them a bit bulkier. For this reason, they are difficult to transport and store. Transporting pedal kayaks will be a lot easier for you if you have a car. You’ll still have to carry your pedal kayak to shore and this may pose a problem if you have to travel a long distance to the shore.

You can solve this problem by using a kayak cart. I’ve written an article about kayak carts and you’ll find tips on choosing one for your pedal kayak there.

Using Pedal Kayaks For Fishing

Pedal kayaks are generally considered better for fishing and for good reasons. The reason for this is that your hands are free when using pedal kayaks since you are using your feet to propel the yak. And this makes it easier to fish.

The better stability of pedal kayaks means you can also stand up to fish. However, be careful when fishing while standing as you may find yourself in the water if you lose balance. Remember to always wear a PFD when going kayaking.

Why Are Pedal Kayaks So Expensive?

Pedal kayaks are more expensive than paddle kayaks and this is one of the reasons why they aren’t as popular as their counterpart. There are several reasons for the increased price of pedal kayaks. One such reason is the high cost of manufacturing the pedal mechanism. To replace a mirage pedal mechanism could be as high as $700. And there are paddle kayaks that cost less than $200.

The fact that pedal kayaks aren’t as popular as paddle kayaks means there is less bulk production of pedal kayaks which would have reduced the cost of production and consequently the price of pedal kayaks.

Other accessories like adjustable and comfortable seats and features like rod holders make pedal yaks more expensive.

Final Thoughts

Pedal kayaks open you to a whole new world of kayaking. They are more expensive than their paddle counterparts but provide a different experience than what you are used to. A trial, they say, will convince you and that’s the case as far as pedal kayaks are concerned.

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