Speed Mate

Please provide your views on the Speed Mate. Can it be used on more than one boat? From what I’ve seen it mounts on the bottom or side of the boat, is the mouting easy or difficult? Does the water resistance affect your ultimate speed? Any other type of information would also be appreciated.

pluses and minuses
i had one for a while and liked it, but eventually moved on to a garmin forerunner 201 gps. when the speedmate is working correctly, it does do an excellent job of recording your speed over water. the problems i had with it were:

  1. it kept getting magnetized by powerlines, and i would get wacky readings unless i re-zeroed it fairly often.

  2. i broke or lost the impeller a few times.

  3. it can be a little bit tricky to mount the impeller so that you are getting accurate readings. i had to have it pretty much on the bottom of the hull, otherwise it wouldn’t read correctly in swells.

  4. the biggest issue for me was wanting to know speed over land, rather than speed over water. if you are paddling on any sort of moving water, be it river or tidal, the speed over land and the distance are completely wrong (ie, with a 2 mph current against you, it says 7mph but you will only cover 5 miles in one hour). i find it much more useful to have my speed over land, so i know how much assist i am getting from the current, wind etc. much better for planning.

    there is an argument (iceman, are you out there?) that the speedmate is better for pure race training, in that you always know exactly how efficiently you are paddling the boat, without having to factor in the currents. i found the other aspects to outweight this- you may not. i guess you could have both if you were really data obsessed.

    i’ve found the forerunner 201 to be perfect for the type of fitness/racing oriented paddling that i do most of the time.


I too asked about Speedmate
I posted a similar question last summer. I wanted to be able to tell my speed as first priority, and distance traveled as second. I am not a racer, but a paddler who just likes to challenge himself once in a while and knowing this information would be helpful.

When I posted this question, I didn’t get many responses to the Speedmate, but got a lot of feedback on the use of a GPS.

I didn’t like the idea of sticking something on the bottom of my kayak, and then always needing to worry about not hitting something with it, like a stick, log, or worse.

I got an overwhelming response to get a Garmin “e-Trex”, “Legend” GPS, so I did. I have had very good luck with it on my kayak, as I just lay it on the deck under the bungies, and let it do it’s thing . The Legend has a programable screen, so I set it for Large Fonts to make it easier to read.

Another benefit is the built-in maps for water, or roads. I now take it whenever I go somewhere new on the highways, so I have the moving maps to keep me from getting lost.

Sorry I can’t help more on the Speedmate, but I thought I would throw in my 2 cents on a GPS.

Happy Paddling!

First, If you are going to buy a Speedmate don’t forget that is no longer in production, and you might have troubles finding the impeller and such afterwards.

I have been using SpeedCoach since last December, and I haven’t used my GPS ever since.

It can be installed in several boats, and the impeller does not needed to be glued

to the hull. I use electric tape to hold it in front of the ventury drain of my skis to reduce drag, and I am able to remove it at anytime.

In order to measure accurate speed, it must be ““calibrated”” to a particular boat, if one does not do it, ““unrealistic”” speed will be measured. After been calibrated, it will be pretty accurate even more than a GPS if you are paddling close to huge structure such as bridges and trees where the GPS loses it signal.

I paddle 99% of the time on tidal waters, so my GPS used to under/over estimate the speed of the boat constantly. I was not able to accurate target a specific energy system because I was training to hard (too much lactic acid) or to soft (not at all).

The best of all, the SpeedCoach can be used to program workouts. Only this function worth the money and (more)…



Touring Vs. Racing

– Last Updated: Aug-08-05 12:34 PM EST –

For touring, a GPS is great with all the function you described and most paddlers should have one. However, for racing, all of them are completely useless.

By the way, Green is a racing oriented person :D


"It kept getting magnetized by powerlines, and i would get wacky readings unless i re-zeroed it fairly often."

That was the very same problem I had with one I borrowed a few years ago. Problem that made me buy a GPS.

The SpeedCoachd does not suffer any of those flaws. I paddle over uncountable powerlines (at least one every half a mile) and it has never lost signal and/or re-zeroed.



get a GPS
I just got a Garmin Etrex Legend that is really nice. I also have a Garmin Forerunner which works well too. I had a speedmate in the past. The GPS is much nicer.

GPS- speedmate comparison

Hi Marek,

Isn’t the impeller in your web-site picture from an SpeedCoach? As I I remember, the one from SpeedMate used to be different. Both work well for you?



Avg. Speed Vs. Speed

– Last Updated: Aug-09-05 10:24 AM EST –

Back in December, while I was calibrating my SpeedCoach, I also created a very elaborated spread-sheet with excel. In general, the avg. speed will be pretty similar in both cases, with GPS and SpeedCoach.

However, for instance, while paddling downsteam, the SpeedCoach will show 6mph and the GPS 8mph, and then, while paddling upsteam, the SpeedCoach will show 6mph and the GPS 4mph. At the end, the avg. speed will be very similar in both cases. However, the info. from the GPS up and downstream will be very unrealistic and useless to analize how fast/low one is/was paddling.

In a lake/pond with no current, the GPS will work pretty well.


Recently watched experianced designer
and manufacturer of fast hulls mount his SpeedMate to test a new hull design. They mounted the impeller on an arm out beside the hull near the bow so it was out away from the hull where there was no chance of the hull dynamics effecting the readings.

That is also the way I was told to mount mine years ago by some experienced racers.

Happy Paddl’n!



BTW: My impeller also broke. I think it to be to fragile. It is an old one. Maybe the newer ones are better.

Speed Mate
For training, I want speed through the water. For example, if you are not paddling and are just drifting in a 3 knot current, a GPS will show you moving at 3 knots, a knotmeter will show you as standing still.

I use the Speed Mate with the trailing wire pickup. This lets me use the unit with all of my kayaks, even SOF kayaks. Although the wire causes some drag, since it is a direct connection I have not had any trouble with signal loss.

I also own a Garmin GPS 76 but greatly prefer a knotmeter for training and forward stroke tuning. A GPS is great at what it does but presents an average sampling of your position. With a knotmeter you can make very minute stroke changes and immediately see the result on the display.

Greg Stamer

I agree
I was thinking the other day that I should pick up a waterproof stop watch for timing myself in the various races, since in the past couple of WW down river ones the time keepers were screwing up a bit.

but then I figured that I would never get it started since I get PO’d at myself if I miss one paddle stroke, and I wouldn’t stop it until I was a second or two over the finish line.