The Torqeedo Ultralight series is a range of dedicated kayak propulsion motors. They were designed from the start for this purpose, with light weight and efficiency paramount. They are undeniably not cheap, but when installed correctly, they are also very, very effective. If you enjoy paddling your kayak, but would like the option to significantly extend your range, have your hands free to take photographs or catch fish, enhance your safety, or just sit back and be lazy some of the time, read on.
Some Torqeedo Kayak Motor Highlights:
– Power. The maximum power output for the 403 models is 400W, which may not sound much. But that needs to be put in context, we are talking about powering a kayak here. A fit adult male can produce about 75W through his arms, briefly. For any length of time, 50W is pushing it. So that makes the Torqeedo Ultralight at half power more powerful than two Olympic kayak champions working flat out! And a propeller converts energy into propulsion more efficiently than paddles too. If you don’t think 400W is enough, for 2020 Torqeedo have announced the new, 1100W, 1103AC.
– Weight. The whole system including the special lithium battery pack and mounting bracket, weighs about 11kg (403AC). In terms of weight, it more than “pays its way” compared with, for example, another paddler. No other motor with this power and range is anywhere near this light, when you include the battery. The new 1103AC is a bit heavier but has nearly three times as much power.
– EASY to Use. Just push the lever; no messing with a choke, pulling starting cord, or spilling petrol, etc.
– IP67 Waterproof, so even if you swamp your kayak or turn it over, the motor (in particular the battery) will still work afterwards. It also has a safety cut off if you do turn over, so it doesn’t chop your arm off…
– Built-in GPS & Digital Display, showing battery charge state, speed, range and power draw.
– QUIET! Not silent, but much quieter than a petrol motor. You can chat without shouting, hear and get nearer to wildlife, etc. (UPDATE Jan 2020 – if lack of noise is vital to your application, the new 1103AC is effectively silent.)
– Can Tilt Up and Steer. Almost without exception, the “rivals” are designed to fit underneath your kayak, in place of the skeg (tracking fin). That’s fine but means you still have to hold a paddle in your hands (to steer) and in shallow water may have to get out to remove the motor (before you go aground and damage motor or kayak). The Torqeedo can be steered hands-free (foot pedals) so you can use your hands for fishing or holding binoculars etc.
WHAT DISTANCE CAN I ACHIEVE?
Range is almost entirely dependent on the boat type, the load carried, and the speed at which you wish to propel it. The power needed to push a boat through the water increases by the cube, so to go twice as fast you need eight times more power… but equally if you slow down a bit your run-time/range goes up a lot. To put some numbers on it, flat out is about 10kmph (5 knots), and running flat out the battery supplied with the standard model (320Wh capacity) will last a bit less than an hour. If you throttle back to 120W on an Aquaglide Chelan Tandem inflatable kayak, you should still get around 8kmph (4 knots) and can keep going like that for three hours. Kayaks with higher length to beam ratios will be more efficient still. And if you use the motor as “assistance” to your own paddling, at say 40-50W (like having an extra person paddling quite hard, without most of their weight), it will run for eight hours. One thing that’s really nice about the Torqeedo is that it has a built-in GPS, so it tells you how fast you’re going and calculates the range at that speed. Not quite enough battery left… slow down a bit. Nearly home and loads of battery left… throw caution to the wind and go flat out!
If you don’t think that’s enough range, the Ultralight is also now available (designated 403C) with a 915Wh capacity battery which nearly triples the range, if all else is equal (ie at same speed with same load). Amazingly this battery takes no more room in the boat, and weighs less than 1kg extra.
HOW DOES IT FIT MY KAYAK?
The original Torqeedo 403 (or 403C with higher capacity battery) is supplied with a comprehensive and highly adaptable mounting kit, with which it can be fitted to most “hard shell” kayaks. Essentially you need to bolt on a towball-type casting (included, see picture), and everything else hangs off that. Ideally there should be a backing plate inside the hull but if it’s not accessible the kit even includes special expanding bolts so that you can fit it “blind”. This mounting system is height and offset adjustable, with tilt-up and steering built in. Almost all other electric kayak motors on the market (including the Epropulsion Lagoon) fit in place of the skeg, so cannot tilt up or steer. One of our ingenious customers has, with wood and webbing, invented a way to fit the 403 to his inflatable kayak (an Aquaglide Chelan) as you can see below:
January 2020. It appears the original towball mounting bracket has been discontinued in favour of the newer “A” type bracket (see below), but the towball type mounting is still available as an option if that would suit you better (call for more info).
New for 2019, Torqeedo have developed an alternative mounting bracket, which is then designated the 403A (or AC with 915Wh battery). This bracket still allows tilt-up and steering, with the addition of a less protrusive “park” position (the motor can be slid forwards once it’s tilted up). It’s designed for mounting on a larger flat surface, but there’s no reason this can’t be an ingeniously-mounted plank (or something more elaborate perhaps).
We have at least one customer already working on this solution and will try to keep this page updated as we find out more. An electric kayak motor that doesn’t weigh too much, can be fitted to an inflatable, and steer and tilt up, is kind of the Holy Grail at the moment! (If you have a good solution please tell us.)
HOW MUCH DO THEY COST?
– NEW 2019! Torqeedo 403A (new mount system) kayak motor, 320Wh battery,
£1399 £1250 delivered
– NEW 2019! Torqeedo 403AC (new mount system) kayak motor, 915Wh battery,
£1699 £1550 delivered
– NEW 2020! Torqeedo 1103AC, 1100W motor with 915Wh battery,
£1869 £1700 delivered
If you contact us you will be able to speak to somebody who has actually used a Torqeedo on the water, and can give genuine, useful (realistic!) advice about battery life, range, and whether your particular kayak is suited to electric drive. If you are told the battery lasts 10 hours and the motor is equivalent to a 4hp petrol put the phone down – they either don’t understand the product or are lying!
We usually have stock: come and see a Torqeedo Ultralight, talk about it, touch it, and so on – then make a decision and take one away the same day if you want to! Contact us to arrange a time/date:
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Tel – 0800 999 2535 (FREE from UK landlines)
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