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How To Convert Any Kayak To Pedal Drive Or Motor

Are you someone who has a kayak but wants to free their hands? Or do you want to zoom around the water before the day ends? If yes, converting your kayak to a pedal drive or installing the motor is the best option. This will get you free hands, and you will get more time for fishing. Using the old kayak and installing any of these will also save a lot of money. The method of converting the kayak to a pedal drive or installing a motor is discussed below.

Using A Motor On A Kayak

Can you use a motor on a kayak? The answer to this question is yes. There are many methods to mount a motor on your kayak. Here we will be discussing trolling motors as they fight against the currents and the wind when in water. Paddles are nice, but they take time to reach the fishing spot. Trolling motors can get you around the water faster as the daylight does not last longer. Before you set out for a fishing day, mount a trolling motor on your kayak, and you are good to go.

The first step is to buy a mount or make one at home. It is better to buy ready-made mounts as they are convenient to use. They are tailored according to the kayaks and save you from a lot of trouble. They are maximized for hardiness and agility, but still, there are some factors that you should consider before buying a motor mount. The correct installation is necessary for driving and steering the kayak gracefully in the water.



Trolling motors allow the boat to stay in one spot when you are fishing or want to explore some other areas far away. The mount required for a trolling motor should have shock-absorption abilities. The vibrations should not reach the kayak and be absorbed by the mount. Powerful engines tend to produce more vibrations and make the ride rough. So if the mount absorbs the vibrations, the kayak will go smoothly in the water.


If you go for ready-made kayak mounts widely available in the market, you need not worry about them as they are water-resistant. But if you make one at home, make sure that you use water-resistant materials. Materials such as stainless steel, UV stabilized reinforced plastics can be used to make the mount.

Location of the Mount

Before you buy a mount, decide where you want to place it on the kayak. Mostly, the trolling motors are installed on the gunwale, stern, or kayak’s bow. Mounting the motor on the gunwale makes it accessible. If you install the motor on the bow or the stern, you will need an operating remote to control the functions. You might even face some navigation issues if you plan on mounting the motor on the side of the kayak.

Compatible Mount

The mount is an essential accessory that attaches the motor to the kayak, so buying the mount compatible with the trolling motor is necessary. If you plan on mounting it on the side, check the kayak’s width and compare it with the mount. Similarly, if you want the mount on the stern or bow, compare the clamps and bolts of the mount with a kayak.


Every trolling motor has a different way of installation. Some of them come with the mount and all the tools you will need for the installation. By following all the instructions on the manufacturer’s manual, you can easily install the mount where you need it on the kayak. But having all the equipment is rare, so you need to ensure you don’t miss anything before installing the mount.

Attaching The Propeller

Most of the trolling motors come with propellers. An instruction book is present that can tell you how to attach them to the motor. But if your trolling motor does not have propellers, finding the compatible ones will be a daunting task. However, even if you have a propeller, keeping some extra will not be bad. If you damage the existing propeller, you will have a backup on the deck.

Mounting Motor to the Kayak

Once you have all the hardware, motor, and compatible mount, it is time to mount everything to your kayak. If the mount has clamps, attach them to the gunwale. Similarly, if your mount attaches to the bow or stern, you might have to drill holes even if the clamps secure the mount. Several bolts and screws are used to fix the mount on the kayak. Use a liquid sealant, so the drill holes are watertight and attach the mount perfectly.

Steering Linkages

Next, we need to build the steering linkages if the mounting location was a bow or the stern. These linkages help you control the orientation of the kayak. On the other hand, if you have the mount installed on the gunwales, you do need any of the steering linkages. You can steer the motor by using your hands.

Wire the Motor


We are on the last stage of wiring our motor to the marine battery. Connecting it to the deep-cycle marine battery helps it test out before you head out in the waters. The wiring is straightforward. Remove the cap of the motor and observe the colors of the wires. Refer to the instruction book to connect the two wires to the marine battery.

Ground and hot lead are mostly connected and are of the black and red color. Once you have all the wires connected, check the functionality of the trolling motor. Make sure everything is watertight, so they remain safe from the negative impacts of water. The motor is ready and mounted to the kayak, so your hands are free to fish and take pictures of the water.

Adding Pedal Drive To The Kayak

Several kayaks are available in the market that are pedal-powered. If you own an old one, there is no need to purchase a new one. Your older kayak can turn into a new one by adding the pedal drive system. Wilderness Systems Helix PD Pedal Drive has made a pedal and propeller system that can fit onto your kayaks.

Installing these pedal drives is not difficult. You do not have to make big holes in the kayak. They have bolt-on systems that use a cable to connect with the propellers. The cable drive runs through the length of the kayak, and it is attached to the stern where the propeller is located. For this installation, you will need several tools, including the hex key, flat and round screwdrivers, a 3/8 wrench, power drill, 7/32 drill bit, wire, and a measuring device.

The kit comes with mounts, pedals, steering control, hard brackets, etc. To assemble the pedal drive, we place the drive unit on a flat surface, and the propeller should face upwards. The left and right cranks arms and pedals with a wrench are required. Attach the crank arms and pedals and secure them with a pulley. Once the process is complete, the base is assembled.

After the assembly, the base is installed below the kayak by removing the FlexPod PD. Then the noise reduction baffles are installed. All of the Pedal Drive System parts are attached to the bottom by replacing some parts. All this effort is worth the time and energy as the pedals can free up your hands, and you can fish easily while pedaling.



Can you install pedals on any kayak?

You can install pedals on any kayak by using the bolt-on systems. The cable runs through the length of the kayak and is attached to the propellers.

How do you turn a kayak into a pedal drive?

A kayak can be converted into a pedal drive by installing the Pedal Drive System. A kit can be purchased with all the different parts that can be mounted to the kayak. You can get your hands free by using this system.

Can you add a motor to any kayak?

Yes, a motor can be added to any kayak, and you can get around the water in a few minutes. A trolling motor or an electric outboard can be installed into the kayak.

How far can you pedal a kayak?

The experienced and world-class paddlers can cover a lot of distance. The maximum distance is almost 156 miles in 24 hours which was accomplished by Sebastian Szubski in 2019.

Can you put a trolling motor on a pedal kayak?

Yes, you can use a trolling motor on a pedal kayak. The trolling motor helps fight the water currents and keeps the kayak at one place during fishing. If the motor stops working, the pedals can be used to get back to the shore.



Either adding a pedal drive system in your kayak or installing a motor, both is your choice. If you love fishing and want to go around the water before the sun goes away, then adding any of these is the best. Many motors and pedal drive options are available in the market as the manufacturers try to cater to everybody. Hence both these methods have benefits, but the gap between them is never-ending.

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