At some point during your paddling career you’re going to hit an “O Crap” moment. A point where you’re too far from shore and too tired to paddle. It’s at those moments when you’ve got to slam a few Cliff Bars and dig deep to eke out just a few more strokes. It’s times like these when your thoughts of motorizing your kayak will transition from flights of fancy to pulling out your credit card.
Bixpy founder Houman Nikmanesh had an epiphany when he got caught in the doldrums 5 miles offshore San Diego. Luckily for us he piloted his Hobie Island back to shore and embarked on a quest to build a highly efficient and light weight sea motor. The result is the eponymous Bixpy Jet Motor which has delighted paddlers with fewer strokes and greater range since 2017.
Electric motors and boats aren’t necessarily a new combination. Trolling motors been a mainstay for small boats ever since O.G. Schmidt invented the first electric gear-drive trolling motor in 1934. Despite their low price and long life trolling motors aren’t always a great option for kayaks. High weight, mounting compatibility,and tiller control/steering often present substantial challenges to smooth operations over water. Bixpy’s engineers managed to overcome these challenges and devised a small but powerful motor that can easily integrate into any kayak.
Bixpy J-1 PowerShroud
The Bixpy J-1 PowerShroud motor provides 32 lbs of thrust, which is more than enough for any displacement hull kayak. A combination of abs/polycarbonate plastic and aircraft-grade aluminum provide a durable housing that will stand up to intense UV exposure. The J-1 is usable in both salt and fresh water; Stainless Steel 316 hardware with Titanium coating provides high corrosion resistance. At just a hair over 11″ long and weighing only 2 lbs the J-1 PowerShroud has a tiny footprint that enables a wide range of mounting options.
Of course no motor is any good without a power source. And Bixpy’s developed what we consider one of the most kayak-friendly batteries on the market. The Bixpy Outboard Battery is completely waterproof and contains a 25.2 V lithium ion battery at 333 Watt-Hours. There’s no worry about losing this battery if you capsize because the 7 pound Bixpy Outboard Battery floats. Tie downs on each corner provide anchor points for bungees/ropes. 5V and 12V auxiliary ports are available to charge your accessories such as fish finders and lights.
The Bixpy jet is controlled by a small Bluetooth remote control that’s attachable to your wrist or PFD. And again there’s no worry if your remote takes a dip in the drink, it floats just like the battery. The forward button will cycle through 10 forward speeds and three reverse speeds are accessible from the back button. One press of the octagon stops everything. And the magnetic kill switch ensures your kayak doesn’t scoot off if you accidentally fall overboard.
Bixpy offers 15 different mounting options that cover a wide range of personal watercraft including inflatable kayaks and stand up paddleboards (SUPS). Since the Bixpy J-1 is small and light-weight there are a number of viable mounting options on most conventional fishing kayaks. Adapters allow mounting on the rudder, underneath a center pod, or even in the drive-well of pedal kayaks. You’ll need a little DIY knowhow to mount the Bixpy. But installation is relatively easy with a just a drill, saw, and screwdriver.
Yak Logic Review
We outfitted the Bixpy Outboard Motor kit (motor and battery) on a battle-worn Bonafide SS127. The SS127 is an incredibly stable kayak thanks to its trimaran-style hull with robust chines. The SS127 is a true blue fishing machine. Its earned a dedicated following because of its unparalleled fishability. Paddling, though, is an absolute chore. You’re not winning any races in that yak. With no pedal drive available the SS127 is an excellent candidate for the Bixpy Jet treatment.
The Bonafide rudder kit was already installed on our rig so we opted for the Bixpy DIY rudder kit. Installation was straightforward: the provided template and a dremel made short work of the rudder. We stowed the Outboard Battery in the rear tankwell and ran cables in the grooves underneath the Black Pack. A slight tension adjustment on the foot pedals and the Bixpy Jet Motor was ready to rock.
After several trips out with the Bixpy we’re happy to report that it’s an absolute blast to fish with. Low speeds matched a causal paddling cadence and pushed our yak between 2-2.5 mph. The first five speed settings are perfect for paddle assisted propulsion. Not only does paddling feel easier but it’s also much more rewarding to cover more distance faster. Turning off the Bixpy to paddle unassisted feels like shifting to the big gear on a bike; it’s incredible how quickly “naked” paddling feels like your moving with an anchor in the mud.
We also found ourselves putting the paddle down and just enjoying the nature around us. Leaning back in the seat and effortlessly gliding over the water was a relaxing and rewarding experience. Slow speeds also proved great for trolling. The slowest speed kept shallow diving crankbaits cranking, while bigger lipped baits worked better at speeds 3-5. Any faster than that and our baits started turning over or became too eratic.
If you’re in a hurry though the higher speeds will move you at a decent clip. At top speed the Bonafide was moving between 4 and 5 mph. Fast enough that paddling proved pointless – the yak was moving too fast for strokes to catch the water. Bixpy advertises a battery life of 75 minutes with the J-1 at top speeds and up to 10 hours at lower speeds. Intermittent use over a five hour trip resulted in just a 20% drop (5 lights to 4). We found ourselves using a mix of low speeds for trolling and max speed for scooting to a new location most of the time.
Finally the noise level is negligible – Bixpy’s run quiet. Unlike the higher pitch of a Torqueedo ultralight the Bixpy has a low bass hum that amplifies slightly at higher speeds. While it is noticeable this hum quickly blends in with the ambient noise.
Controlling speed with the Bluetooth remote feels natural and effortless. The remote is light enough that it feels comparable to wearing a watch on your wrist – in fact a few times I found myself trying to check the time. It’s compact enough that it doesn’t interfere with handling your rod or landing a fish. The remote on your off hand wrist is always close by and easy to manipulate. Wrist placement also serves as a fail safe for the kill switch in case you go overboard.
Responsiveness and range are also impressive; there’s maybe a half second delay between pressing a button and the resultant change in velocity. I found myself charging buddies at ramming speed only to hit stop and drift into a parallel position at the last second. Ramping up through the ten speeds is quick as well – speed increased as fast as I hit the button.
Is the Bixpy Jet Worth It?
Before we go any further it’s worth addressing the obvious – price. The Bixpy Outboard Motor package is not an inexpensive option at $1,099. Adapter kits vary in price but start at around $99. So all-in you’re looking at a $1,200 investment before shipping and taxes. This price point places the Bixpy in the middle of the pack in terms of electric kayak motors. It’s more expensive than a watersnake or low thrust trolling motor, but considerably less than a GPS enabled Minn Kota or Torqueedo Ultralite.
So is the Bixpy Jet worth it? For us the answer is a resounding Yes. For three simple reasons:
Size and Weight
When it comes to weight Bixpy smashes the competition. The complete system weighs in at a smidge over 11 lbs. The only combo that’s lighter is a Watersnake Asp 18 lb thrust motor (7.2 lb) and a 12 amp-hour LiPo battery (~3 lbs avg). But that 10.2 lb combo is.12 volt vs the Bixpy’s 24 volt; and takes up considerably more space. In terms of form factor and weight Bixpy takes the cake. These small specs mean the Bixpy system is equally at home on inflatables, kayaks, and SUPS.
Since the Bixpy Jet Motor is so small it can be easily mounted to a variety of locations. Bow, stern, pod, or even off the gunwales are quick and easy. Sure a small trolling motor can can be mounted just about anywhere as well. But have you ever seen a trolling motor on a paddleboard? Or used by a Scuba Diver?
The Bixpy Jet’s small size makes it fast and easy to attach to stand up paddleboards. And they offer a hand held battery option if you decide to head down to the Caribbean for some snorkeling. More practically speaking this feature is incredibly handy if you have more than on kayak/sup in your fleet. Quick disconnects and flexible mounting mean you can switch the motor from yak to SUP and back again with ease.
Low Profile Power
Any motor will make a noticeable difference in your time out on the water. However conventional electric and gas outboard motors are pretty easy to spot from a distance. And in most places motorized watercraft have to register and pay taxes. These usually aren’t much – but it’s still an extra expense and hassle that we honestly feel shouldn’t be exacted on paddlers of any sort.
Depending on how you mount it the only visible evidence of a Bixpy motor is its blue power cord. Stealthy propulsion means that the fuzz is more likely to think you’re a consummate paddler than running an unregistered boat. The small form factor is also great for keeping your investment out of sight for any delinquents patrolling the marina.
Overview On The Bixpy Jet
The Bixpy J-1 is awesome and it’s totally changed our outlook on fishing. Destinations that were formerly inaccessible are now in reach. We’ve already gone farther our that ever before all because the fear of that return paddle isn’t as intimidating. If you’re thinking about pulling the trigger on this purchase then odds are you’ll be more than satisfied. Just remember to keep your expectations in check – you’re not going to be towing any wakeboarders. The Bixpy J-1 is perfect for paddlers who want to push the envelope on their over-water adventures.