Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Hobie Pedal Kayaks

Drum adjustment hole Ribs break.

Cables break.

Hatch seal is poorly designed.

Sprockets break on older model drives.

Fin rods snap in two.

Pedal crank arms break at weak spots.

I really love my Hobie Adventure pedal kayak but the reality of its Mirage Drive quality sucks. 

In the last few weeks two Fin masts (steel rods) have snapped in two while pedaling easy plus the pedal crank arm broke in two. 

Part breakage is par for the course with a Hobie Mirage Drive kayak, at least if using the larger Turbo Fins.

Because of all the breakages, when I go kayaking it is necessary to take TWO Mirage Drives. That is so there is a back up drive on hand to quickly replace the one that fails. 

Carrying a second pedal drive unit is better than carrying a spare part for every part that can break on the Mirage Drive. Trying to replace broken parts on a Mirage Drive while floating in waves and wind can be challenging.

What parts have broken on my Hobie Adventure pedal kayak? Chain and idler pulley cables snap in two (rust on uncovered part of steel cable). Drum adjustment hole ribs break (poor design). Fin mast rods snap in two (rust at rubber mast friction point). Hatch Seals are finicky to close and water still comes in the hatch despite there being a seal (poor design). Carrying handles fall apart due to rust (poor design). Nuts, Set Screws and the Rudder Handle come loose. Pedal Crank Arms break at attachment holes (weak steel alloy). Composite material around the Sprocket Set Screw breaks (steel screw in composite material). Sprockets break around the Fin Mast (poor design in older models). Idler Pulley and Sprocket Shafts wear out (grit in water) and rust causing squeaking and wear of the composite material. Rudder cables can break. Rubber fins have broken. Even the kayak hull can crack near the Mirage Drive well. Some part breaks like rods and cables have happened a half dozen times. 

Interestingly, a Hobie V2 Mirage Drive retails for about $550 and the newer GT Drive about $650. That is for a relatively simple pedal drive unit with only a few moving parts. 

By comparison, a brand new 3.5 horsepower boat motor can be bought for about the same cost of $550. Hobie must be making a huge profit on their Mirage Drive units and making a killing on their pedal boat customers who have to constantly replace broken parts.

Hobie really has a great pedal boat idea. Only trouble is, Hobie puts parts in their Mirage Drive that appears to be designed to break shortly after the 12 month warranty runs out.

Really. My Hobie Adventure pedal kayak has broken while out on the water over 40 times. By comparison, during the same time nothing has broken on my car which has been used much more frequently. 

Guess there is better consumer product watch and protection for motorized vehicles than for pedal boats.

Despite the regular breakage hassles my Hobie Adventure outperforms any other plastic kayak on the market. The Adventure is very stable and fast. I often take the Adventure pedal kayak out in windy conditions that I would not dare to take a paddle kayak out in. Unfortunately, the local Hobie dealer says that those who want to buy an Adventure kayak now have to buy the Adventure Island Sailboat Kayak which costs about $4,600. Yeow.

Despite 10 years of urgings for a high performance pedal kayak, Hobie still offers no HP pedal kayak. Probably because Hobie's Mirage drive units break often in their recreational kayaks so the drive units sure could not handle the stress that racing kayakers would put on them.


  1. Too bad that they can't take a good idea and make it sturdy.....

  2. $4,600? Yeow, indeed ... too much money! Time to put on our thinking caps if we want pedal kayaks.

  3. To be honest, if the quality is that bad I would rather take a regular kayak, a good paddle and a spare paddle in bad weather because you know you'll reach your destination. Thousands of years of Inuit paddlers in harsh conditions can't be wrong. Besides, if buildquality really is that bad I would not trust that stuff with my life, not even in calm conditions ...

  4. Michielv, in winds strong enough to cause distress in just holding onto the paddle (30-40 mph), winds that slow the paddle kayak down to about 1 mph, the Adventure pedal boat is able to move along comfortably at about 3 mph without fear that a gust of wind against the upper paddle blade will blow me over. The pedal boat propulsion occurs under water and suffers no resistance to the wind. Plus, the 27.5 inch wide pedal boat is very stable in seas that would have me struggling to stay upright in the typical paddle kayak. I once raced the Adventure pedal boat in a choppy surf and won because every last high performance racing kayak capsized.

    Did I mention that the Adventure pedal boat moves me along over 1 mph faster on average than a much narrower, longer and more unstable paddle kayak will? In races, the rotomolded Adventure kayak routinely beats most of the other plastic kayaks regardless of length and width and it even passes a few surf skis.

    Those are reasons I put up with hassles of owning a Hobie pedal boat.


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