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Nucanoe was kind enough to send Headwaters Kayak Shop one of the new Proped pedal drive units to test out and provide feedback before it is officially released in October. Since I had a fishing trip planned on the north delta for smallmouth the weekend that the drive arrived, I decided I would kill 2 birds with one stone and test out the drive.

The entire system installed on a Frontier 12

When the drive arrived there were several parts in the box, which made me nervous, since I am not the handiest guy. In addition to the box, Blake from nucanoe sent me an e-mail with a link to their instructional videos on how to install the drive on either a Frontier  or a Pursuit kayak. My hat goes off to Nucanoe on these instructional videos.

A Close up of the stern bracket that supports the drive.

Not only were they easy to follow, they broke the install up into several short videos, so if I got stuck I didn’t have to scroll through 20 minutes of video to get the help I needed. With the help of these videos, I had the drive fully installed in less than 30 minutes and didn’t have any trouble with the install. Once the install was complete all of the shop staff took turns sitting in the Frontier 12 we had the drive installed on and gave it a couple of turns of the pedals. The drive was super smooth and ultra quiet and with the different seat base options for the Frontier you can tweak all of the ergonomics more than any drive system that I know of.

The Steering Lever 

We also played with taking the system on and off. The only negative thing I noted is that to easily take the drive on and off the boat, I would recommend removing the seat, otherwise you have to disconnect the drive cable which takes a little playing with to align and connect. Other than that, it’s a snap! The steering cable is attached to the drive with a spring loaded disconnect, the drive attaches to the bracket mounted on the kayak with a push pin, and the retract cord is attached to the drive with a caribiner, which only leaves the retract cord and the steering control on the boat and the steering cable and the steering cable and steering control can be removed if you want.  I couldn’t wait to get it out on the water!

The Retract Cord.

We launched at Steamboat Landing, I deployed the drive, made sure it was locked in place and started pedaling. The first thing I noticed is that when more than a small amount of efffort is applied to the pedals, the prop starts cavitating. I have spoken to Nucanoe about this and they plan on sending out a drive unit with a longer shaft to hopefully alleviate the problem. That being said if you are into effortlessly cruising along in a super stable kayak, you will love this drive. It has a higher gear ratio than a lot of other drives out there, so a minimal amount of input from you will get even a wide boat like a Frontier 12 cruising along, without fatiguing the user.

The Frontier 12 with the Drive System Removed. All that is left on the boat is a Jam Cleat, A Pulley, 2 steering cable brackets and 2 extra pad eyes.

The next thing I wanted to test was maneuverability, so I started fishing. In the delta there is almost always either a little or a lot of wind and there is always tide pushing your kayak around. This drive absolutely shines in the maneuverability category. With the drive mounted in the stern of the kayak, it takes one to 2 rotations of the pedals to rotate from side to side. I felt like I was in a fly fishing turret, able to pinpoint casts way more easily than if I had been paddling or using a different pedal drive system for that matter. Even with the wind blowing 90 degrees to the side of my kayak, I could easily sweep the bow from side to side allowing me to fish the the bank incredibly effectively. The drive works great at turning the kayak in both forward and reverse, which is not always the case with other drive systems.

A North Delta Smallmouth I picked up while testing the drive.

My conclusion on this drive system is that it puts maneuverability and cruising ahead of covering miles at high speed.

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