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Electric Kayak Motors: Things you need to consider before purchasing 2024 Updated

Complete 2024 Guide to choosing the right Electric Kayak Motor

Adding an electric motor to your kayak can take your adventure to new heights. But with so many options available, how do you choose the perfect electric kayak motor to suits your needs, budget, and lifestyle? 

In this comprehensive 2024 guide, we will dive into the world of electric kayak motors, exploring the different types, their features, and the factors to consider when making your purchase. 

Electric kayak motor...What are the benefits?

Whether you're looking for a trolling motor, greater speed and range or simply an extra boost to supplement your paddling, adding an electric motor to your kayak opens up a world of possibilities saving your your arms (or legs) from fatigue and keeping you out on the water for longer.

The Bixpy J2 Electric motor mounted onto the back of a kayakImage: The Bixpy J2 mounted onto the back of a kayak via the Power Pole Adapter

When selecting an electric kayak motor, there are several important factors to keep in mind. Some of the key factors you may wish to consider are: 

  • Which types of electric kayak motor suits you
  • Power and speed considerations
  • Steering considerations
  • Battery life and range
  • Installation and compatibility
  • Maintenance and care 
  • Top electric kayak motor brands and models

Lets take a closer look at these considerations in a little more detail. 

Types of electric kayak motors

The most popular electric kayak motors on the market today come in a few different configurations but the largest differences come from other factors such as mounting options and run time which we will discuss later in this article.

In a sense, most kayak motors are quite similar in the way that they work. Transom-mounted electric motors attach to the stern of your kayak and offer hands-free propulsion, perfect for longer trips. Meanwhile, smaller bow-mounted trolling motors can provide an extra push and allow you to precisely control your direction.

Types of Electric Motor

There are also fin mounted motors that will slide into an existing fin box allowing you to replace an existing fin with a powered one. Regardless which setup you choose, electric kayak motors open up faster cruising speeds with zero emissions for guilt-free days spent out on the water.

Power and speed considerations

When outfitting your kayak with an electric motor, paying attention to its power and resulting speed capabilities is key. Many electric kayak motors classify their power in terms of thrust, with common measurements being pounds, kilograms, or Newtons. Generally, the higher the thrust, the faster speeds you'll be able to achieve.

For leisurely paddling on light hard-shell kayaks, inflatables and SUPs a motor with up to 50 lbs of thrust should suffice. If you plan to cover long distances or have a heavy kayak, you may wish to opt for a motor with 80-100 lbs or more of thrust.

The Bixpy K1 provides up to 33lbs of thrust in a tiny little package.
Image: The Bixpy K1 provides up to 33lbs of thrust in a tiny little package.

Most electric kayak motors on the market come with a wireless remote to control motor features such as forward reverse or changing speed. So you can have control at your finger tips in a small waterproof controller that will wrap around your wrist or paddle. 

When considering speed of your chosen motor, be aware that the speed you will achieve will depend on many factors such as the weight of the kayak, kayak shape, wind and other factors on the day so if you see a speed listed on the motor you are researching remember it is merely there to serve as a guide. 

Steering considerations

Steering your kayak once you have your motor mounted may be one of the more frequently overlooked considerations and it will depend on a few things.

  1. Firstly, does your kayak have a rudder system installed?
  2. If yes, would you like to modify your rudder or would you mount it separately and keep your rudder intact?
  3. Does your kayak have a transom?
  4. Does your motor have adapters that will support your chosen method of mounting?
  5. If you answered no to question 1 then you will be using a fixed mount such as a fin box mount and you will need to use another method of steering which we will go into below.

Does your kayak have a rudder system installed?

If your kayak already has a rudder installed then the steering part is a breeze, you just need to decide how you would like to mount it the motor. Motors such as the Bixpy J2 and K1 range have a large number of options for mounting including the Bixpy Universal Rudder Adapter that allows you to replace your existing rudder via the 10mm stainless steel pin, with a Bixpy ready version so you can bolt the motor on quickly and easily and keep your original rudder in-tact in case you wish to sell the kayak later down the track.

Bixpy Universal Rudder adapter mounted to a kayak with a J2 Motor
Image: The Bixpy Universal Rudder adapter provides a means to mount a Bixpy motor without modifying your existing rudder 

The other option is that you continue to use your rudder to steer the water craft as normal and mount your motor to a fixed position such as a fin box mount. Either one of these mounting methods are non permanent and require minimal setup before launching.

One thing to note with the universal rudder setup is that it allows you to retract the motor in shallow waters, getting the motor up and out of the way you that you can get into the shallows without bumping the motor into the things below.

Does your kayak have a transom?

Kayaks with transoms are becoming more and more popular as kayakers venture further with the use of motors. For those hearing that word for the first time, a transom mount is a point installed on the rear that is used to attach or clamp motors. See the picture below. 

Electric Kayak Motors can be mounted to an existing transom mount
Image: The transom mount on the back of the Pelican Catch 100 PWR

If your kayak has a transom you will need to consider the mounting options available for your motor. Many motors such as the Watersnake and Bixpy ranges either come transom ready or have transom mounting options available. The Bixpy range is an incredibly popular motor because of their versatile mounting options and they have a few different mounting setups for transom mounting systems. Many of our customers take advantage of this and interchange their Bixpy motor between multiple watercraft such as a kayak or stand-up paddleboard depending on their chosen adventure. 

If your kayak is a harshell and it doesn't have a transom all is not lost. You can install an aftermarket option such as the Railblazer Kayak Motor Mount transom that will give you options. 

Does your motor have adapters that will support your chosen method of mounting?

If your kayak doesn't have rudder system or a transom, chances are you are looking at mounting via a fin box. Mounting an electric motor using your kayak or SUP fin box is definitely one of the quickest and easiest ways to get going. The side effect of this though is that the motor will only ever point straight so you will be left to use your paddle to steer like a stand-up paddleboard. 

Vaquita Electric Kayak Motor installed onto an Advanced Elements Angler ProImage: Vaquita Electric Kayak Motor installed onto an Advanced Elements StraitEdge Angler Pro which has a US Fin Box

It's important to note that there are a few different types of fin boxes and it's crucial to understand which one you have in order to choose the correct mount. There are thee common types of fin boxes which are the flip and lock fin box, the slide and lock fin box and the US fin box. We will go into detail a little more with each below but if you are stuck and would like some support, please feel free to contact us and we'll get you sorted. 

 

Flip and Lock Fin Box Adapter

The flip and lock fin box mount secured to the watercraft by pushing in the front lug and clipping into the groove on the end of the fin box. (Bixpy mount pictured)

The Slide and lock fin box adapter

The slide and lock fin box is usually easy to spot due to its flat locking pin and slide in slot. Once you slide the motor into the fin box, simply press the flat pin through the finbox hole and through the motor mount to secure the motor into place (Bixpy mount shown).

US fin box adapter

The US fin box is usually characterised by the stainless steel screw at the end and the pin located at the front. This one attaches by pushing the pin in at the front, sliding the fin into place and securing by screwing the stainless steel screw into place. (Bixpy version shown).

The Vaquita deserves a shout out!

Every kayak and use case is different, therefore you will need to buy the mounts separately to suit your needs. Its worth noting that if you are looking to mount your motor via a fin box then the Vaquita from E Propulsion comes with a range of mounts included in the package at no extra cost. These include a US Fin Box adapter, a slide and lock adapter and a universal adapter. 

The universal adapter that comes with the Vaquita allows you to attach the motor to almost any watercraft with their specially designed universal mount that attaches to the watercraft via ratchet straps which are also provided. We are giving them a shout-out for simplifying the process for a large amount of use cases!

An inflatable kayak with the Vaquita electric kayak motor mountedImage: The Vaquita motor from E Propulsion mounted to the Advanced Elements Sport Elite via the universal mount that comes provided in the package.

Battery life and range

When selecting an electric motor, battery life is usually the deciding factor. The best electric motors allow running times ranging from 30 minutes to over 5 hours on a single charge. Make sure to choose a battery capacity that matches your intended trip length. Going farther or faster will drain batteries quicker. Many motor manufacturers also allow purchasing of additional batteries to extend your battery life even further though this will of course add a bit more weight to your water craft too.

The Bixpy K1 Angler Pro Kit
Image: The Bixpy K1 Angler Pro kit is known for its incredible 24 hour battery life at low speed use. Great for multi day camping trips.

Research charging times as well - lithium batteries can often fully recharge in just a couple of hours. We have specifically chosen a range of motors based on their capabilities (including battery life) and have compiled a quick view table below for comparison:

 

Motor Low Speed Full Speed
Vaquita From E Propulsion 5 hrs 70 min
Bixpy J2 Up to 12 hrs 80 min
Bixpy K1 Up to 12 hrs 80 min
Bixpy K1 Angler Pro Up to 24 hrs 2+ hrs
Bluedrive S from Aqua Marina 60 min 30 min
Bluedrive K from Aqua Marina Dependant on owner supplied battery Dependant on owner supplied battery

 

 

Installation and compatibility

We have already covered some major considerations with installation and compatibility in the sections about steering but if you are unsure or have questions about compatibility with your watercraft, please reach out and well be happy to support.

When it comes to installing, carefully read and follow your motor's mounting instructions as improper installation can make your kayak unstable. Some installations (other than those using the fin box mounts) may require a level of DIY. As the old saying goes, "measure twice, cut once" and work within your means. If you are considering a motor in the Bixpy range, Bixpy have great DIY videos and a complete range of installation guides available for you to view at Bixpy.com and lastly, if DIY is not something that you are willing to do you can always source someone close to you to support.

Maintenance and care for electric kayak motors

Most motors don't require a large amount of maintenance but it doesn't hurt to source the user manual ahead of your purchase to check what the maintenance requirements might be. As a basic level of care, you should be rinsing the entire motor with fresh water after each use to prevent salt, sand, and debris build-up, especially in crevices near mounts or wiring.

Store the motor covered and sheltered when not using for lengthy periods and follow the manufacturer’s lubrication guidance on gears or any moving parts. Taking good care of your electric kayak motor saves hassle and money over the years.

Top electric kayak motor brands and models

At the time of writing this article, we stock a wide range of electric kayak motor brands to suit a range of different needs including motors from Bixpy, E Propulsion and Aqua Marina.  

Bixpy Electric Kayak MotorsAqua Marina Bluedrive Power FinE Propulsion

The Bixpy range has been on the market for some time and has become known for their incredible versatility with mounting options. In fact, when a customer calls to ask if a Bixpy motor will fit their watercraft, we simple say "Yes it will, we just need to find the right mount for you". They changed the market after the release of their J2 motor and now their new tech K1 motor has been release with a swag of new features.

The Vaquita from Epropulsion package with mounts includedImage: The Vaquita from E Propulsion has a battery life of up to 5hrs and comes with a wide range of mounts as standard.

The Vaquita is made by E Propulsion which are high end manufactures for large electric outboard motors. The Vaquita is a fantastic motor for inflatable kayaks and SUP's right out of the box with it's fin mount setup. In fact the Vaquita comes with a number of mounts as standard to suit slide and lock fin boxes and US Fin boxes (pictured above). It also comes with a universal mount that allows you to connect to almost any watercraft with the use of the supplied ratchet straps.

The Bluedrive S from Aqua Marina


Image: The Bluedrive Power Fin from Aqua Marina comes in 2 different models, the Bluedrive K and the Bluedrive S

The Bluedrive S and BlueDrive K are fantastic motors from Aqua Marina. The Bluedrive S comes with everything you need to get you on the water. The battery life on the Bluedrive S is a little lower but the product is feature packed for the entry level price-point. Many that consider this one are not using it for fishing more as a paddle assist similar to an E-bike.

The Bluedrive K is great one for the DIYers. It doesn't come with a battery which means that you can choose a battery based on the run time you need. The Bluedrive K also has the cheapest price-point of any motor that we offer. If you are looking for technical specs on the Bluedrive K, head to the accessories section at the Aqua Marina User Guide Page 

In Conclusion

Choosing the perfect electric kayak motor is an important decision that can greatly enhance your kayaking experience. Consider the benefits of using an electric motor, the factors listed here and the different types available.

Pay attention to power and speed considerations, battery life and range as leading factors. With the right electric kayak motor, you'll be ready to up your game on you kayak adventures. We hope this has helped you on your journey, happy kayaking!

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