We love sharing cool stuff, and the Pedayak Electric Kayak is one of the coolest yak’s we’ve found in a while. Electric kayaks aren’t a new concept. Innovative kayak companies and homebrew paddlers have been toying around with integrated electric motors for years. However most of these designs incorporate trolling motors and electric thrusters as add-on’s or modifications. After all kayak molds represent a significant capital investment – and adding a new model takes a ton of R&D and marketing. So an electric kayak built from the ground up around a hybrid pedal motor – that caught our attention.
L’Aquaphile is a French naval engineering firm based out of Lyon that specializes in both recreational and industrial vessels including submarines and tidal turbine systems. Recently L’Aquaphile introduced an electric hybrid kayak that’s unlike anything else out there: the Pedayak.
L’Aquaphile’s Pedayak is an electric kayak aimed at providing recreational paddlers all the bells and whistles commonly found on high end fishing models. The recreational kayak market is huge. Design has traditionally been value oriented as manufacturer’s have eschewed new features and tech in pursuit of more competitive pricing. Recreational paddlers have had to rely on DIY savvy and aftermarket components to add extra functionality. L’Aquaphile has integrated the best of these high end features into a ready to paddle (or pedal) offering.
At its core the Pedayak is a prop driven kayak that can be powered by either muscle-power or a battery. This concept isn’t exactly novel; Jackson, FeelFree, Wilderness Systems and others all have pedal drives that can also take a battery. However the Pedayak has taken the concept and added some truly unique design features that set it apart from the competition. All of these features are aimed at removing the most unruly challenges in kayaking to maximize the paddling experience.
Deep Keels and A Protected Prop
The first thing most people intermediately notice looking at the Pedayak are the twin keel fins jutting from the hull stern of midship. These two protrusions may look out of place but they provide several key advantages.
The extra large keel fins create a protected cavity in the middle of the hull that’s perfect for prop placement. This feature allows the propeller to be placed closer to the stern via a longer shaft. In addition the rudder assembly sits directly behind the prop; so both steering and power systems are safe from damage.
Moving the prop to the stern of a vessel results in a more efficient propulsion system and better maneuverability. It’s more efficient because the propeller is pushing water that’s already moving, whereas props closer to the bow are moving water that isn’t moving, at least according to MIT. Placing the prop in the back enhances steering as well; it’s basically the difference between driving a rear wheel drive car vs front wheel drive.
Anybody who’s used a pedal kayak is familiar with the delicacy of launching and landing. The last thing you want to do is run aground a concrete boat ramp with your prop down; it’s a surefire way to ruin your propeller and mood. Landing with the Pedayak is a breeze comparatively. Since the propeller and rudder are protected the Pedayak can coast straight into shore without fear of any more than a few scuffs on the keel.
In addition to providing protection these extended keels also serve to enhance primary stability. The extra buoyancy below the waterline acts similar to chines in a hull. Standing up to make a cast or stretch your legs will be no problem. The trade-off with a deeper keel is a larger draft. With a draft of 35 cm or ~14″ the Pedayak isn’t suitable for skinny water or shallow rivers. This electric kayak is made for lakes, bays, and big water. This compromise won’t be an issue for the majority of recreational paddlers looking for a fun day out on the water, but could be a concern for anglers who frequent marshes or flats.
Power and Pedal
The Pedayak features a built-in pedal system with a pinion and rod transmission. The gear ratio is 1:6; that is one pedal revolution turns the propeller 6 times. This gearing, along with a hydrodynamic hull design, enables the Pedayak to reach an approximate top speed of 10 km/hr (~6.2 mph). When you’re tired of pedaling you can quickly switch on the power assist or take a rest and cruise under full power.
The removable 15ah lithium ion battery sits inside a waterproof cavity built into the hump supporting the cockpit seat. Access to this 420 liter (~110 gal) storage space is secured by a circular hatch that’s normally hidden under the seat pad. This cavernous space is a great option for storing valuables and electronics. Its placement in the cockpit provides immediate accessibility on the water as opposed to bow and stern hatches on fishing/touring kayaks. Wildlife photographers will find this space immensely useful for storing lenses and other photo gear safely.
Stowed out of the way and protected from the elements the battery connects to the motor by internal cabling. Speed is controlled via a bluetooth remote that can be strapped onto the accessory rail or your wrist. When engaged in pedal assist mode the battery can keep you rockin’ and rollin’ for 7 hours. Without pedaling the battery will last around 3 hours at average speeds, and 90 minutes with the afterburners on (i.e. max speed). Built in logic within the receiver ensures automatic shutoff if you happen to fall overboard – as long as you’ve got the controller on your person.
L’Aquaphile founder David Adrian knows a thing or two about vessel design and adaptability. As a former member of the French Navy’s Special Forces he’s intimately familiar with how to operate efficiently in marine environments. And he’s incorporated those lessons learned into the Pedayak by providing a complete and thorough ecosystem of electric kayak accessories for added versatility.
There are over 20 different accessories for the Pedayak available at launch – an impressive feat to say the least. Among the ensemble is some unique kit that we haven’t seen on kayaks before. The sailing rig, for example, mounts directly to a mast receiver built into the hull for added strength and rigidity. The outrigger kit connects an ama via beefy aluminum tubes strong enough to support an extra passenger lounging on the hammock. Or if you’re feeling adventurous you can even connect two Pedayaks to form a hybrid catamaran.
More common accessories like rod holders, fish finder mounts, carts and bags are available as well. Most of these add-ons fit to twin aluminum rails that run along the gunwales in the cockpit. There’s no pod or through hull access – so if you’re keen on mounting a fish finder you’ll need to consider side hull solutions, which are conveniently offered by Aquaphile.
Steering and Storage
Steering the Pedayak works a little differently than most kayaks. Rather than relying on a series of pulleys and cables the Pedayak uses a flexible shaft as a tiller. The tail end of the shaft connects to the rudder in a small exposed recess directly behind the cockpit. Turning is accomplished by pushing and pulling the shaft linearly over a 12″ motion. This mechanism is inherently simpler than most existing hand steering systems on kayaks and permits easier maintenance. The exposed tiller-well occupies valuable real estate that could be used for storage, but there’s still plenty of space in the tank-wells.
Comparable to most fishing kayaks the Pedayak has an accommodating rear tankwell. Twin scupper holes provide drainage and a storage point for the scupper mounted kayak cart. But it can also double as space for extra gear and can fit a small fishing crate. The bow tank-well is slightly larger and features a sloped backing that transitions into the pedal housing. The generous size and back support offer a comfortable seating option for extra passengers, along with a great view.
Twin aluminum rails run along the gunwales in the cockpit and offer mounting points for rod holders, cup holders, and other accessories. There’s no pod or through hull access – so if you’re keen on mounting a fish finder you’ll need to consider side hull solutions.
Overview and Availability
We like to think of the Pedayak as the Tesla Model X of kayaks. It’s a slick ride that’s streamlined for easy adoption, broad appeal, and an amazing paddling experience. And you’ll definitely catch your friends mirin’ if you’ve got one. At the same time we doubt you’ll ever see a Tesla going off-road or entering rock climbing competitions. And comparably, the Pedayak probably won’t pique the interest of hardcore kayak fisherman.
The Pedayak offers new paddlers a totally integrated turnkey offering to awesome overwater adventures. Recreational paddlers looking to enjoy a day out on the water with friends and families should put this boat at the top of their list. L’Aquaphile just launched the Pedayak in the spring of 2021 and is shipping units throughout Europe. Models are sold directly by L’Aquaphile and ship worldwide. They’re on the lookout for US distributors, so we’re hopeful that we’ll see the Pedayak cruising stateside waters more frequently in the near future. Be sure to check out the Pedayak and while you’re there take a peek at some of their other recreational watercraft as well.