Can You Add Pedals to a Kayak?

If you are amateur kayer having a paddle kayak but want to covert it into a pedal motor, it’s practical. Different types of aftermarket kayak pedals are available that you can easily install on your paddles kayak. 

However, it’s important to choose the right pedal type depending upon your kayaking style and water conditions. You can make the right decision by exploring different pedal types. So, let’s see how you can add pedals to a kayak and what pedals are ideal for you! 

Types of Pedal Drives

Before you move on to proceed with the pedal installation procedure, it’s important to select and buy the right kayak pedal drive for you. Here are the most common options available in the market; 

Crank Drive Pedals 

Crank drive kayak pedals operate like a piston motor. The crank is directly linked to pedals and working of the pedals drives the piston. It generates power and moves the kayak forward or backward depending upon the pedal movement. 

Propeller Drive Pedals 

Propeller or push drive kayak pedals have a pushing system in single direction. These pedals have straps to fix your feet in them. Then you’ll have to push the pedals back and forth causing a propelling. It will move the kayak into water. 

Fin Drive Pedals 

Fin drive pedals use triangular fins for propelling the kayak. These under kayak fins will move the kayak backwards and forward depending upon your intended motion. 

Chain Drive Pedals 

Chain drive kayak pedals use a chain connected with a cam. The cam will transfer the motion of your feet into beater that will drive the motor. These are available in single and double chain design, you can choose any of them accordingly. 

Direct Drive Pedals 

These pedals have close resemblance with the propeller pedals. The beater of your kayak and the footboard are connected with a sturdy metal rod. They are relatively faster because their movement is more consistent than the previous category. 

Belt Drive Pedals 

The belt drive pedals work similar to the chain drive pedals. The difference is that these use belt instead of chain and the cam is relatively lightweight than the chain drive pedals. After the chain drive was introduced, these pedal types became less popular. 

Rotational Drive Pedals 

Rotational drive pedals have a rotation style movement system just like bicycle pedalling system. Though this pedal system needs extra energy to push the kayak but the kayak will keep moving for few seconds even after stopping the pedals. 

How To Add Pedals to a Kayak? 

If you want a pedal kayak, you don’t need to purchase an extra one besides your paddle kayak. You can add a pedal drive system to your old kayak with a few simple steps. Proceed as follows; 

Materials and Equipment You’ll Need 

Step-1. Prepare Your Kayak

Place the drive unit of your kayak on a flat surface with propeller upwards. Remove the base of the kayak to install the pedal system. 

Step-2. Attach the Arms and Pedals

Then open the pedals and arm kit. If your kayak already has arms, you don’t need it again. If it doesn’t have the one, attach the left and right arms to it. Secure the pedals with pulleys and your kayak base is assembled. 

Step-3. Attach the Base to Kayak 

After installation of the base, attach it to your kayak. Place the additional parts, like noise control system, that come with pedal kit. Sometimes, you may need to replace some parts. If so happens, do it. 

Step-4. Go for a Test Drive

Once you have assembled all the parts of your kayak, go for a test kayaking session. Observe whether the newly installed pedal system is working fine or not. If it needs some adjustments, adjust its parts. Finally, you have done it! 

Are Pedal Kayaks Worth It?

Yes, converting your paddling kayak into a pedal kayak is creative way to double you kayaking speed. Moreover, it’s an energy efficient idea. Also, adding padels to your kayak frees up your hands. So, you can enjoy your fishing or any othe activity at its fullest when kayaking. 


In conclusion, you can covert your old paddle kayak into pedalling kayak. For this, you don’t need to invest in a separate kayak. Rather you’ll have to purchase just a pedaling kit and arms for your old kayak. Then follow the suggested steps carefully and add all the parts to kayak base and fit arms to their place. It’s a creative way to double your kayaking speed and freeing up your hands. 


How far can you pedal a kayak?

The maximum distance a paddles covered so far is 156 miles. Sebastian Szubski was the first person to cover this distance on a pedal kayak in 2019. An experienced paddler can go farther than a beginner.

Can you add motor to a kayak? 

Yes, adding motor to your kayak is possible. You can go faster to your destination in no time if you have installed a motor on the kayak. Typically, a trolling motor or electric board system is used for this purpose. 

Are pedal kayaks tiring? 

Pedaling a kayak is easy and less tiring than paddling it. Mostly, human leg muscles have greater stamina than arm muscles. It means, pedaling is not much tiring activity. 

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