Hope this isn't sacrilage here

Anybody try one of the Hobie mirage drive kayaks? I just can’t believe the propaganda and would like to hear first hand experiences. I’m not really interested in them even if they can do what they say, sit on tops aren’t such a great thing here, just curious. Any other pedal powered experiences out there?

Hottest Selling Kayak in Florida…
Don’t ask me why… Many of the kayaks sold here are little more than beach toys and to say “Yeah, I kayak”

Also selling a lot of Adventure Islands, the peddle paddle sail kayak. They are not at all group compatible with touring yaks.

Something that does everything doesn’t do anything well… except Sammy Davis Jr.

The AI is no Sammy Davis Jr.

Hobie Mirage
I tried on out about a couppe of years ago. At that time, I knew nothing at all about kayaks. It was interesting, and I’ve thought about it a lot sine then, but would most likely not buy one because I fish in shallow salt water creeks and the sound and they are covered with oysterbeds. What I have found out about kayaks is that you don’t see as well as when in a power boat, and you will be on top of an oyseter bed before you know it, with the wind and tide moving you. That would destroy the paddke system I would think, or damage it a lot. It was a nice boat. I love the way Hobie set their fishing kayaks up for fishing.

The one armed man
There is a guy with one arm in the club I used to belong to that uses one.

The thing is fast.

We owned two of them.
We started kayaking with the 9.5 foot Mirage Sport models, because they would fit inside our Pace 6X12’ enclosed trailer.

When you combine the idea of a sit on top kayak with a (GASP!) pedal drive system, you will have at once offended nearly every group of “purist” kayaker around.

Since I couldn’t possibly care any less about that, I’ll give you the straight skinny on these things.

  1. For just plain sightseeing, fishing, or any other sort of flat water recreational use, I really can’t imagine a better system.

    You have your hands free to handle cameras, fishing poles, beverages, or whatever else you may wish to deal with, instead of paddling. And, since you aren’t using the paddles (except in VERY shallow water), you don’t have any water dripping off the paddle shaft onto your lap.
  2. I really can’t comment as to speed, since the 9.5’ model tended to plow the water more than the 13 plus foot standard ones do.

    The hand operated rudder worked well. I never found myself in a situation where I couldn’t maneuver as desired.
  3. As to shallow water operation, and possible damage to the Mirage drive system; You need about 18" or so of water (depending on which fins you have, what hull, and the weight in the boat) to get a full stroke on the pedals.

    However, you can operate the pedals in a partial stroke, which keeps the fins within just a few inches of the bottom of the hull, and this works fine.

    I had, on several occasions, unintentionally run up on underwater obstacles with NO visible damage to the Mirage drive. It really is quite a bit more robust than you might first think.

    So, if paddling a skin-on-frame boat with a Greendland style paddle (both of which you built using only materials scavenged from the Alaskan beach campsite where you live) isn’t the ultimate priority for you, the Hobie Mirage boats are definitely worth a second look.

    FYI, Carol and I (mistakenly) got caught up in the “purist” kayaking bit, bought expensive (to us) Impex sea kayaks, took the lessons, and found that we are really “rec boaters”.

    Our Hobies are now owned by a guy I work with, who LOVES them. Our Impex boats are on consignment at Sweetwater Kayaks in St. Petersburg.

    We are now paddling the sort of boat that works for US, and the way we boat: a 16’ Native Watercraft Ultimate tandem.


Hobie’s claims for the Mirage
System are not far from the truth. The drive is fast, faster than paddling an equivalent boat. They are fun craft.

I’ve Seen A Bunch Of Adventure Islands
They look very versatile. They have pontoons, a sail, pedals, and you can just plain paddle it. It looks like you can remove all of these things and you are left with a sit on top kayak. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen the outfitter pull out the pedal drive. I saw someone sailing one this fall. He was zipping along, and looked like he was having a good time.


I wouldn’t have one but…
a woman had one on the 7 day Apalachicola trip and it was amazingly fast. She looked rather odd peddling a kayak and holding a paddle she hardly used. Al least she could keep up with the group.

I happened upon a guy with one of these a couple years ago, they looked like fun and he liked the leg exercise he said. At one point he wanted to have a little race (probably having seen the tug-of-war videos on their website he thought he’d leave me for dead) so just took off.

It did accelerate smartly enough but I quickly pulled alongside and didn’t have any trouble pacing him since it had topped out around 4.5 mph. I’m not sure he was expecting that.



I don’t really think that’s relevant - unless a “purist” is someone who doesn’t want a heavy and slow (ain’t had one pass me yet) water toy that only gives a limited leg workout I can get more efficiently on land.

Nothing purist about it, just different interests. I want something I can shoulder on land, has minimal complexity, and that gives me a core (with some arm and leg) workout.

I do agree it they are very well suited to certain activities (and a real benefit to those with upper body deficit). There is a place for pedal boat type craft (mostly on ponds) - these primarily being pretty darns good peddle boats (and so suitable for a bit bigger better ponds! L), and not so great “kayaks”.

Yeah, quick for a rec boat…
… when they push it.

It works great
A buddy of mine is a Hobie dealer around here (Chicago). He let me paddle (pedal?) one. I have to say, it is really cool.

I keep telling him that Hobie needs to either build a real touring boat with the drive or allow another manufacturer to use it.

On a 17+ foot boat, I’m sure the Mirage Drive would smoke a traditional paddle.

Maybe I’ll try a race. Similar hulls, similar engines, paddle vs mirage.

Penguins have been evolving for 65 million years. Kayaks and paddles for only about 20,000. Penguins win.

Before the egos get out of control, the speed test would need to be done paddling the same yak. So that would mean peddaling then paddling the same boat and comparing speeds.

Generally, the peddaling is going to be faster over a distance and you’ll expend less energy. Maybe different in a short sprint.

I owned a Mirage
First, my upper body is significantly stronger, plus I’ve got gimpy right knee.

Its pretty quick, but you’ve got to pedal hard. Wore me out to go at the same speed as my paddling kayaks.

You do pedal in the recumbent position, so that was comfortable.

I got rid of mine but it was probably due to problems with the engine.

Also, don’t take it down shallow, rocky creeks, unless you’re real careful. I had to straighten the rods that go down the leading edge of the fins a couple of times.

Penguins are slow on the surface…
… and their flippers re not located ventrally.

They have one somewhat longer model, the Adventure, which at 16’ moves OK for that type of hull.

There is likely a limit to how much more speed you can get from this system - even on a longer and narrower hull. Drop one in a surf ski and it will accelerate up to speed more quickly than a heavier/wider/shorter kayak - but achievable top speed is another matter. I think it would begin tripping over itself. It only has one gear and that gear only goes so far. Even with zero hull drag the unit itself can only be driven so fast through the water. Given human stroke rates, it make be at or near that limit in current applications. To raise this would require reconfiguring the flippers and that could compromise the lower end performance and negatively impact versatility/durability.

All good points
I would still like to try different angles of attack on the flippers and see how it does on a longer glass boat.

But the penguins are so cute… especially that Mumble.

yes, but can it roll?
bet dubside could roll one :wink:

And do it with just the flippers! NM

Peddle Bicycle
Paddle Kayak.

I have a Mirage and Senator…
That’s no Mirage.

I think it is cool but it is not for me. Then there are those that don’t like my built in rudder.

I am sure some of you are skilled and considered purest but I am only a simple paddler. In my group, the ones that bandy about the word purest are wannabes. They talk too much about this that and the other thing but that’s all it is, talk. The ones that really possess the skills quietly go about the business of being better.

I will paddle with anyone and would slow up a bit to enjoy the company of the other mirage.