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 Post subject: Comparing Hobie Mirage drive to Native Propel drive
PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 5:00 pm 
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While attending last nights meeting at Bill Jacksons, I saw for the first time the Native Propel system. I own a new Tandem Hobie with Mirage drive so I look forward to a test ride . Then I can tell you what I really think.
In the mean time this what I found on the net for a comparison between the two systems.

http://www.belhavencanoe.com/hobie.htm
Benefits of the Hobie Mirage Drive
The Mirage Drive is simple and easy to use. Your feet rest naturally on the pedals and you pedal effortlessly similar to a bicycle. The larger muscles in our legs produce more powerful propulsion versus arms using a paddle. In addition, correct paddle usage requires training and practice. You also stay drier as pedaling eliminates drips that you get from using a paddle. The Mirage Drive is quiet and creates no splash. The Hobie Mirage Drive leaves your hands free for fishing, photography or holding a drink.

Let's get technical...

Performance
The Hobie Mirage Drive propels the boat easily and smoothly, and reaches hull speed with minimal effort. It also generates significant static thrust. In a "tug-of-war" between a single Hobie Mirage and a tandem paddled kayak, the Hobie Mirage won hands-down (pun intended). Check out the video below!

Efficiency
Even we were surprised at the efficiency of the Mirage Drive. In a test to compare the efficiency of the Mirage Drive, we measured the heart rates of several kayakers at varying speeds in several paddled kayak models. In every case, the heart rate-or effort expended to maintain a particular speed-was three to ten percent less for pedaling versus paddling. Translation? The Mirage Drive converts the effort of the human body into forward thrust more efficiently than a paddle! Allow us to explain.

The Mirage Drive creates less turbulence in water. This becomes apparent when you compare the wake of a Hobie Mirage to the wake of a paddled kayak. With each stroke of the paddle, you'll see two vortices, or whirlpools, on the surface of the water. These vortices are connected underwater, and there is considerable energy in these rotating masses of water. There are vortices in the wake of the MirageDrive, but since the MirageDrive acts on a much larger volume of water, they are much smaller and therefore contain less energy. To create forward thrust on the water, a boat must move water backward. It can either move a little water quickly, or a lot of water slowly. The key to efficiency is to move a lot of water slowly with the least amount of turbulence. The volume of water that the MirageDrive acts upon is approximately proportionate to the area that the fins sweep in one cycle, or about 226 square inches. The volume of water that a paddle acts upon depends on the type of stroke. A basic stroke would act upon a volume of water proportionate to the area of the paddle, or about 90 square inches. This is just a fraction of the area "swept out" by the MirageDrive, which explains the difference in efficiency.


Why not use a propeller?
>>Human-powered propeller drives are typically smaller and therefore less efficient. We compared the performance of the MirageDrive to a propeller drive, and found the MirageDrive to be faster and more efficient.
>>Studies on tuna and penguins show that oscillating foils such as the MirageDrive are more efficient than propellers. Oscillating foils can make use of vortices that are naturally shed from anything going through the water to offset the vortices that would normally be generated by fins. This equates to less turbulence in the water.
>>The MirageDrive fins "feather" into the flow when not pedaling and create very little drag; a propeller creates significant drag when it is not spinning.
>>The back-and-forth motion of the pedals provides a long, smooth stroke. Pedals that go in circles on a boat have a much different feel than pedals on a bike. On a boat, there are portions of a circular motion that are more difficult, so the cycle is not smooth.
>>The back-and-forth motion allows the pedals to be positioned much lower in the cockpit.
>>The MirageDrive allows any length of stroke desired, and performs well with both short and long strokes.
>>The pedals easily adjust to accommodate different size pedalers.
>>The oscillating motion allows the use of a simple chain and cable system that is unaffected by sand and dirt, without the use of complicated seals.
>>The fins shed seaweed because they do not make a full rotation.
>>The MirageDrive fins fold up next to the hull for beaching and in shallow water by simply putting one foot forward.

Now that you read all this ,what do you think ? I think both are awesome kayaks and have pros and cons. Maybe we can help others make a tough decision if looking to buy soon.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 7:30 pm 
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Both my wife and I have the Hobie's with the pedal system and we love it. The Native Propel system seems that it would be nice in deeper water but, in the shallows... won't the prop "dig in" alot sooner? I've been in water a couple of inches deep with the dirve "fins" all the way up and had no problems. Also, the fins tend to give a little when they hit a log or rock. I wonder how the prop would handle something like that?

I too would like to see the comparison and try the native myself.

Good post.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 9:06 pm 
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I had the same concerns as well ...I asked the sales guy the same question about hitting rocks or oyster beds.The Hobie can move in very skinny water by fluttering the drive. You can't go very fast this way but you can still move without pulling out the oars. To get into skinny water with the propel drive you have to remove the drive cover and lift it up. Nothing has to be done with the mirage drive,but spread the peddles. His answer was the craft is not traveling fast enough to cause any damage to the drive ....on the other hand he said you can travel faster than the Hobie mirage drive. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want to run into anything with that very expensive drive . The propel drive runs around 1000.00 and I believe and the Hobie drive is around 400.00. Good point made !



FlaPaddleFish wrote:
Both my wife and I have the Hobie's with the pedal system and we love it. The Native Propel system seems that it would be nice in deeper water but, in the shallows... won't the prop "dig in" alot sooner? I've been in water a couple of inches deep with the dirve "fins" all the way up and had no problems. Also, the fins tend to give a little when they hit a log or rock. I wonder how the prop would handle something like that?

I too would like to see the comparison and try the native myself.

Good post.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 9:24 pm 
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The native system pivots on a forward bar so if it hits something, it flips up.
That's what I've been told anyways.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 10:16 pm 
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Isnt the native drive between the gunwales? I thought the propeller wouldnt hit as you would drag first.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 10:55 pm 
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EricS wrote:
Isnt the native drive between the gunwales? I thought the propeller wouldnt hit as you would drag first.


The front of the drive would hit first or the skeg just like a boat motor ...it is also made of the same material as boat motors. Marine grade anodized aluminum /polyurethane
housing; tough and rust-proof. The salesman said any skeg repairman for regular boats could repair it.That's a plus. Here is the website to learn more http://www.nativewatercraft.com/ads/Pedal_Drive_Ad.pdf


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 2:04 pm 
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newyaker wrote:
The salesman said any skeg repairman for regular boats could repair it.That's a plus.


You could not pedal this boat fast enough to sustain skeg damage. I have run into many things, unfortuantely, in my boat over the many years I have had one and have never had to have a skeg repaired.

And I would take the original posting from Newkayaker with a grain of salt, no offense intended toward Newkayker, but that info is posted from a hobie dealer, not very objective in my opinion.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 3:45 pm 
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I am a Hobie owner, so i m going to side with Hobie.
Pros/Cons:
I do like the fact that you can go in reverse with the native.
Also i like the stability of the native.
I do not like the fact that it draws 18" to be able to use the prop.
Hobie its about 6 " would by my guess. Love the storage of the Hobie.
Native is wide open.
Seat i would say goes to the native, although the stock seat of the Hobie is much better then average.
I do not like the fact that you have to flip the drive up to get into shallow water or beach the native, with the Hobie you push one pedal all that forward to bring the fins up against the hull.

Its a toss up in my opinion. I would suggest someone ( maybe Bill Jacksons) do a tug or war with the Hobie and the Native prop. :lol:
http://www.hobiecat.com/kayaking/miragedrive.html

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 5:21 pm 
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An acquaintance of mine from a different message board is a long-time Mirage Drive user. He has tried the new Native and offered this comparison. I hope to try the Native soon.


Quote:
The propulsion unit is by Shimano and appears to be of high quality. It looks like an expensive piece, understandably necessitating the higher price for this boat. Weighing perhaps twice that of Hobie's Mirage Drive, it runs smoothly and quietly. Additionally, reverse is nice to have for those few times you need it. I can see the potential for other applications for the drive unit. Heritage has done a very nice job on this.

Cruising along at about 3 MPH is a breeze. The seat is comfortable and the boat has a good stand up stability. The cockpit is spacious and roomy.

This combination has got its limitations though. In addition to a fair weather requirement, it's not a fast boat (limited range), its turn radius is a lot larger than the Revo, and, at least in its present form, it can't be pushed very hard. I see it as more as a specialty boat than a jack of all trades. Mostly you have to be careful not to find yourself caught out in conditions like this:

Overall, it's innovative, fun and easy to operate. Whether that's enough to justify the price probably depends on the size of your fleet and the depth of your pockets.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 7:23 pm 
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Todd wrote:
newyaker wrote:
The salesman said any skeg repairman for regular boats could repair it.That's a plus.


You could not pedal this boat fast enough to sustain skeg damage. I have run into many things, unfortuantely, in my boat over the many years I have had one and have never had to have a skeg repaired.

And I would take the original posting from Newkayaker with a grain of salt, no offense intended toward Newkayker, but that info is posted from a hobie dealer, not very objective in my opinion.


I agree with you totally. I think the salesman was just trying to assure us how tough it is and if ever needed it could be repaired. Great post .


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 19, 2008 10:37 pm 
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Here is another comparison.....

LINK


Quote:


Hobie Mirage Drive vs Native Watercraft Propeller Drive

Let me preface this by saying that I own a Hobie Outback with Mirage Drive and have fished from it for about 4 years now. I personally know and admire Andy Zimmerman at Native Watercraft. I pedaled his new boat and drive for about 30 minutes this morning.


EASE OF SET UP: A wash. Both units have to be dropped into place inside their respective hulls. There is virtually no time nor difficulty difference. If you can do one, you can do the other, in about the same time and with about the same effort.

SPEED AND ACCELERATION: A Wash. The comparison here is between the Hobie Outback (not Hobie’s fastest hull) and the single Native model. Surprisingly, the foot powered, propeller driven Native would seem to be the equal of the standard Hobie Outback and Mirage Drive with standard fins, in both speed and acceleration. I would not have thought this to be the case, but I found the Native was quick to get up to speed and could maintain a pace at least equal to the Hobie. In other words, the Native will “move” and move quite well. However...

EFFORT: This is where the two craft and drive systems part company. No contest - knot for knot, the Native requires much more effort than does the Hobie for the same speed and distance. The Native feels like you’re pedaling a bicycle in a high gear up a hill, while the Hobie gives you the same speed with a feel comparable to pedaling that same bicycle on level ground, if not slightly downhill. In a race, the two boats might match each other for a while, but eventually the pilot of the Native is going to give out while the Hobie pilot remains fresh for a long, long time. It is my opinion that the fin system on the Mirage Drive Unit is much more efficient than the propeller system on the Native.

REVERSE: The Hobie will not motivate in reverse unless you want to remove the drive unit and turn it around. Otherwise, you must put the rudder hard over and spin the boat in its length to go the other direction. The Native can be “back pedaled” and it will motivate in reverse as far as you care to go or can keep it straight.

SHALLOW WATER PERFORMANCE: The Hobie wins, hand down. You can feather the fins on the Mirage Drive unit up against the hull and float in very shallow water or... use partial strokes to continue to motivate. Once the Native reaches water that is less deep than the length of the drive unit, you will need to pull/lift the unit up and out of the way. You cannot operate the propeller in anything less than full extension or the prop will hit the hull of the boat. If you run either both completely aground, both will have to backed slightly to allow the drive units to free themselves from soft bottoms.

UNDERWATER OBSTRUCTIONS: Neither likes them. The Native will "dig in" on soft bottoms and it's tough to get it free. The drive unit does not "kick up" when it hits something - the angle of the attachment doesn't allow it to do that very easily and this is something I did not expect. Thankfully the drive unit is very solid and should take quite a beating before you'd be out of action. If you hit something with the Mirage Drive, you'll most likely bend a mast. If you're carrying a spare, you can fix it in minutes. I'd at odds as to which wins this category. The sudden stop and high impact jolt of the Native, or the bent but easily fixed mast of the Hobie. I'll let you decide.

STEERING: A wash. Both boats react quickly and surely to all rudder commands. Maintaining course in a headwind is no harder in one than the other. Both boats will come around quickly and surely when the rudder is put hard over at speed.

COMFORT: This a very subjective category. I find both boats to be very comfortable. My Hobie has never bothered my back even after long hours in it. The Native has a truly exceptional seat that is adjustable in a variety of directions. It’s almost like sitting in a lawn chair.
Due to the rotational needs of the Native propeller drive pedal system, the seat must be adjusted to sit you back at more of an angle than is required in the Hobie. Some may find that fishing and casting in this more laid back angle will be more difficult than the slightly more upright position allowed by the Hobie’s straight back and forth motion pedal system.

THE BETTER BOAT? For what I do, the Hobie is more suitable. But the Native is a great boat with more speed and capabilities than I would have thought. Depending on what your needs are, it could, in fact, be the better boat for you. My recommendation would be to try both, on the water, for at least 30 minutes to an hour each. Put them through your fishing routine as much as possible and determine which will serve you better.

Two great boats, the choice is yours. My feeling is that the future of kayak fishing, lies in foot powered, rather than paddled, craft.

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Last edited by TerryW on Sun Jul 20, 2008 2:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2008 1:39 pm 
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I don't think anyone can make any determination without using them for themselves.

I am sponsored by Native Watercraft so I'll leave this to everyone else to debate.
Todd's already touched on it: Biases exist in all kinds of ways, hence the need to really scrutinize what you read.

From the people I've talked to who have tried both, their conclusions are very much different than what I'm reading here.

People who are comparing the two of these boats who haven't seen the two boats in person may have no idea that these are two very different options for a boat no matter what you're going to use it for. (This makes the "my boat's better than yours" game impossible to play.)
Get the boat that's best for you, enjoy it and speak highly of it.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2008 2:22 pm 
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Neil - Yes, they are totally different boats with very different pedaling mechanisms, each appropriate for different people and different settings.

I think that comparing kayaks is only natural, especially when this is the first serious pedaling competition for the Hobie Mirage boats. Plus, there is no doubt that most of the companies like the feedback from users. It's been my experience on another forum that Hobie pays close attention to what we've all written about the Mirage drives and made some changes based on that. Heck, the "Revolution" was designed and even named by just regular Hobie users on that forum.

Bring on the discussion, but don't buy a one kayak over another until you've tried them yourself.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2008 2:36 pm 
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Everytime I look at these pedal boats, I quickly remember that I spend most of my time in shallow water that would, I assume, prevent using the pedal mechanisms.

For those with Hobies, how shallow can you actually pedal the kayak? How sturdy are the flippers? How many times can you run aground at 4 knots before you get damage?

Would love to get the same info for the native but I think it is just too new to market for any meaningful input.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2008 3:16 pm 
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Rik -- I fish skinny waters all of the time in my Hobies. I really need to do some serious measuring in my Adventure before I can give you real measurements and I'll try to do that for you tomorrow.

The one thing that some people may not realize regarding the Hobies is that when in really skinny water, you have two options: a) you can push either pedal all the way forward, which flattens the Mirage fins against the hull, or b), you can pull the Mirage unit out and stow it. At that point, my guess is that the Adventure isn't much different that the Tarpon 160s, but I haven't put that to a test.

Per running aground --- I do it all of the time. The Mirage unit itself is an incredibly sturdy and well built mechanism that takes a good amount of abuse. Hitting sand or muddy bottom is not an issue at all. Running into structure is where you can get problems. However, I have yet to bend a mast (the rubber "fins" slip onto the ss mast). I still have my original standard fins after 3.5 years of use. However, I have caused a tear on my longer fins ("Turbo fins") from running into oyster bars multiple times.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2008 10:24 pm 
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The Native does draft about 12 to 14 inches of water. The Propultion system does swing up out of the way easy. We had them out on teh lake. The 12 with 3 differrent peddlers had a top speed of 4.8 MPH. The 14.5 was just a little faster. the 10 to 1 ratio makes it very easy to pedel. One nice thing about it is you can stop easy by peddeling backwards. As for pulling, the hi-pitch prop that comes with it is not made for that. They are going to offer different props in the future.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2008 10:40 pm 
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I like the fact that the Natives can pedal backwards. That is a real plus.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2008 11:53 am 
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Rik wrote:
Everytime I look at these pedal boats, I quickly remember that I spend most of my time in shallow water that would, I assume, prevent using the pedal mechanisms.

For those with Hobies, how shallow can you actually pedal the kayak? How sturdy are the flippers? How many times can you run aground at 4 knots before you get damage?

Would love to get the same info for the native but I think it is just too new to market for any meaningful input.


I've been in skinny water as shallow as 4" with the MirageDrive (fins up of course) and it can fully operate in water 10" deep. The fins will conform to the bottom of the boat with little drag. Also, it comes with a plastic "plug" that can be inserted and locked into the drive hole if you plan on a "paddle only" trip.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 10:13 am 
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My Adventure was loaded with stuff yesterday when I measured the water depth as follows:

pedaling full strokes over sandy bottom - 15"
pedaling with feathered, shorter strokes - 12"

paddling (fins up flush against the hull - under 6"
paddling with Mirage unit out: under 4"

note: you can definitely paddle faster when the Mirage unit is out and the "plug" is in. Since I don't like paddling, I never, ever do that.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 10:41 am 
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Here is another review. This one is from Jon Shein, former owner of Kayak Fishing Stuff. I've known Jon for three years and he spends a lot of time fishing in kayaks!

This LINK will take you to the article posted below and includes some photos which I was too lazy to post.

Quote:
Native Ultimate Pedal Drive by Jon Shein

On my way back from 7 months kayak fishing the Everglades I stopped off at Legacy Paddlesports to test their new Ultimate Pedal Craft (UPC). Some of you may not be aware but I have a fleet of Hobie mirage kayaks. I’m a huge fan of hands free fishing and spend most of my time fishing foot driven kayaks. Often people think I’m a company spokesperson or involved with Hobie somehow but I do not have any affiliation with any kayak or accessory company. Most guides and many kayak fishermen who have influence within the sport have done so. I didn’t initially because I was a retailer for several years having previously been an owner of Kayak Fishing Stuff. Since I sold many companies kayaks and products I felt it would be inappropriate to align with one company. Now I’m no longer with KFS but I write about the sport and continue to be heavily involved in kayak fishing. I’m basically a full time kayak fishermen and spend a lot of time on the water. I use products because I like them. When I talk about those products I don’t have to answer to anyone.

I contacted Andy Zimmerman, creator and headman of Legacy, to get the latest info about the UPC for my upcoming book. In mid June, Jimbo, the idea man behind the Ultimate was going to be in town so Andy suggested it would be best if I could stop by then. It would cut my time short in the Everglades by a couple weeks, just when the fishing was really heating up, but I really wanted to check the kayak out. In my book there’s a lot of information about pedal drive fishing as I do a lot of it in a myriad of environments. I really wanted to speak about the UPC from first hand use rather then conjecture. I recognized visiting while Jimbo was there would be great. I’m familiar with the Native Ultimate as Everglades Kayak Fishing has a fleet of them. They’re a great craft for the Everglades and many environments throughout the country. Basically anywhere it’s semi protected. When it gets rougher there is an ingenious array of skirts that’ll keep the water out. Still I wouldn’t use the skirts in the surf as Andy proved when he had a bad idea to attempt it. Otherwise the Ultimate can be used in most environments.

The first time I saw the Ultimate was when I tested it at the northeast Outdoor Retailer Show the year it was introduced. Andy and Jimbo asked what I thought and while I didn’t see a use for one at the time in my quiver of kayaks I knew it was going to be a big success. It had a neat combination of attributes. Jimbo had been fishing from kayaks for decades. When Andy created Legacy he asked Jimbo to what features he’d like in the ultimate fishing kayak, hence the name. All craft are compromises but Jimbo wanted a craft to access flats and protected areas, places where a kayak and fly rod has all the advantages. Locales not even a flats boat could reach. They basically took a canoe and changed everything Jimbo didn’t like about them. The vessel was kept the open, providing the easy access and carrying capacity of canoes and reworked the rest. The high bow, stern and sides were fixed. All they do is catch wind and make it harder to handle. Next they put in better seating. The final change was a tunnel hull to facilitate stability and standing. These attributes I found great for the Everglades. Often the ability to stand, both safely and easily is important.

There was one major problem for me when I used one. I had to paddle. I admit, the mirage drive has spoiled me and I’ve grown quite accustomed to hands free fishing. Fishing is a hands on sport and while there are environments where it isn’t going to matter much, there are many where it makes a big difference. I like the advantages I gain in many situations.

All that’s changed now that the Ultimate has pedals. It isn’t going to replace my Hobie Revolution but when I get one it’s going to be a welcomed addition to my kayak quiver that’ll see a lot of use. I know it’ll see lots of time on the water for inshore fishing, especially in the protected environments I fish in Florida and similar places.

Enough talk; let’s go to my test drive. I had a choice to either test a 12 or 14.5. I opted for the longer. The drive unit comes on a bar that snaps into the kayak. It can pivot easily on this bar and when not in use can sit flat in the kayak’s bow out of the way. When ready to be used it simply pivots to the slot and is dropped through for use. The hull is a modified Ultimate with the opening in front of the seat. It’s about a foot long and a few inches wide. I hopped in the kayak at a launch ramp and used a canoe paddle to back away from the ramp. The drive requires 16” under it. The drive uses a propeller that’s approximately a foot long. In order to drop it in place the prop has to be in the vertical position to fit through the slot. It’s easy to drop in. Next I closed the latch that holds the drive in place. There’s a splashguard that goes over the opening because unlike the mirage the Ultimate isn’t a SOT. So it’s needed to keep water from splashing into the kayak and it also has a tray feature where you can put things. The guard locks down with 4 bungee latches. The mirage uses a back and forth motion. Push one leg forward at a time and the flippers propel you forward. A bicycle unit built by Japanese bicycle manufacturers drives the Ultimate prop. It’s quite a unit. Heavy (twice the weight of a mirage) but solid that I expect will be bulletproof. The unit is sealed. On the bottom there’s a skeg to protect the prop. I didn’t run into anything to test it out, but I know I could have run into the cement launch ramp and not hurt the prop. I guess you could damage the prop, but I think it’s highly unlikely. I’d carry a spare, just in case and it’s the only spare part you’d need. The rudder is the standard design you find in most kayaks. That’s good because it’s simple and very reliable. There’s a knot on 2 cords and you pull the knot that’s closest to you to either raise or lower the rudder. Steering is facilitated with a lever conveniently placed on the port side for use with the left hand.

The drive was in; I deployed the rudder and adjusted the seat. The seat is the same unit used in all the Ultimate kayaks. It’s very comfortable. I put my feet on the pedals and started to turn them. There’s quite a bit of resistance. Considerably more then the mirage turbo fins. It surprised me. It’s a lot like using a big gear in a bicycle and taking off requires some oomph. Once underway it’s a slow pedal. No spinning at all. I quickly realized I was cranking hard and moving along nicely. It was easier, once I got going, to maintain a higher speed then with the mirage. That’s probably because the circular motion maintains momentum whereas the pushing of the mirage doesn’t as you’re stopping and starting on each stroke. It shares with the mirage that the better propulsion comes from a seated position that’s more inclined then where one would sit while paddling. The seat can be rocked back or forward which I found nice. I was back when pedaling and went forward when I stopped. Next I performed what is my favorite feature of the drive. While traveling along I reversed my pedaling and stopped dead on the water. It was easy and something the mirage can’t do. Next I went backwards. Then I played with the KAYAK some more. The turning radius isn’t as sharp as my Revo, with sail rudder, but when both forward and reverse are utilized with the rudder the maneuvering is fantastic and far superior to my Revo. It’s in another universe from the mirage in this department. Maneuvering is so easy. With my Revo I need to grab the paddle and pull the rudder out of the water for close quarter maneuvering. Once I grab the paddle I’m no longer hands free. With the UPC all maneuvering is hands free. There are a lot of places where it’s going to be a terrific feature like the Everglades backcountry. It’ll be fantastic in the mangrove tunnels. After reverse my next favorite feature is how easy it is to stand and site fish. The Ultimates are one of the easiest craft to stand in. While I can stand in my Revo I don’t like to as there isn’t anywhere flat to put my feet and without the sidekicks (an add-on outrigger system) it isn’t very practical and I rarely take them along. Also I prefer using the Hobie bait tank and when it’s in use that’s where the sidekick crossbar would be.

I spent 15 minutes in the kayak. I’ve fished from approximately 4-dozen different kayaks so I have a lot of experience and while 15 minutes isn’t fishing and living with it I can surmise some things about the UPC. There are things it’s going to do well and things it won’t. The rest of this report will be based upon my experience kayak fishing all over in lots of varied environments with different kayaks. Also I bring to the table my experience at KFS. I’ve worked on a lot of kayaks and have seen plenty of failures. First off the Ultimate is a hybrid and shares many properties with a canoe. So it’s a Sit Inside Kayak (SIK). It’s susceptible to all the weaknesses of a SIK, which is mainly that the cockpit is exposed to the elements and water will come over the side if it gets rough. While the other Ultimates have skirts I don’t know how they’ll work in the UPC.

For inshore, protected waters this is going to be a superb tool and it’s where I’ll be using it and it’s what it’s designed for. I didn’t get a chance to test how effective the kick up feature for the drive is. The water depth needed by the kayak is finite. Also when pulling the drive the prop has to be in the vertical position, otherwise it hangs up and the drive won’t pull up. I don’t know if there was an indicator on the drive or not but it would be nice if there was a visual means to know when the prop was in the right alignment to lift. You can’t see the prop well when it’s in the slot. The mirage, when feathering the blades, will function in less water, however you aren’t going very far or fast when you do so. When I need to cover distance in shallow water in my Revo I grab the paddle and put the blades in the flat position. In the UPC you’ll have to flip the drive forward. That’ll require undoing the 4 bungee latches and the hold down latch. It’s certainly more effort then pushing one pedal forward as with the mirage. However for calm, shallow waters I doubt I’d need to have the splashguard in place so then it would only require undoing the latch and flipping the unit. It’s still more then the mirage but then the unit is completely out of the water. The mirage protrudes below the kayak hull and I’ve banged in on rocks and oyster bars often. It’s a tough device and I haven’t damaged it this way but it does offer something for structure to grab and I have hung up a lot because of it. There’s many a time I’ve pulled the drive, which is fast and easy. I then lay the drive in the front of the kayak. The UPC has a better storage system when not in use.

The UPC drive is a sealed unit and other then the prop possibly getting damaged I don’t see anything else that can go wrong. Time will tell but the Japanese are known for quality equipment and this is a rock solid unit. It should be as the drive is more then twice the money of a mirage. I base this on the MSRP of the UPC compared with the cost of an Ultimate hull and rudder. The mirage is totally different system and the components are exposed and do get damaged and broken. I’ve personally gone through a number of sprockets, which take a while to replace and when one fails on the water it isn’t practical to change it there. I’ve bent several masts (the pole that goes through the fin). They’re easy to fix but require removing the mast and placing it in a vice and straightening it back. I’ve destroyed 3 sets of fins on oyster bars as the shells win every time when the 2 have disputes. Also I’ve had fish run under the kayak and braided fishing line has taken chunks out of the blades. As I type this I’m awaiting a replacement Revo as mine has cracks by both drive hold down bolts (the kayak probably has a few hundred days of use and literally just happened the last week in the Everglades). Also I had to fabricate an aluminum up/down rudder handle as mine broke a few months ago. I prefer the sail rudder on the Revo and it puts more stress on the system. While on the subject of rudders, the mirage rudder works well but it’s a complicated system and like anything complex there’s more to it. Working on it isn’t easy. Also while I’ve never had it happen the rudder pin can break. I had several customers where this occurred. Should the rudder fail, while on the water, you can’t use the drive.


Those of you who know me know that I consider SIKs bathtubs. I’m a SOT man and in the northeast I feel they are the way to go when fishing saltwater in most locales. My time in the Everglades, in its more protected waters, showed me that a SIK like the Ultimate made sense and has its place. Other then it lacking leg propulsion it was a superior hull for many of my excursions. I especially like the open, canoe like storage when I travel through the backcountry. In the backcountry there are lakes and ponds connected by mangrove tunnels. In SOTs I broke a few rods when a rod tip would catch on a mangrove root or limb and the current or my momentum would move the kayak enough to cause the break before I could react. In the Ultimate I can lay the rods down in the hull and they’re out of harms way. What’s especially nice is I can have several rods ready to go. I couldn’t do this with my Revo, as exposing 1 rod, even an Ugly Stik, was all I was willing to chance on catching the hazards. They’re tuff but I’d rather use a better casting rod. There are a lot of different angling opportunities in the backcountry. In the tunnels a very short rod is the ticket. At the creek openings a longer rod is better and often I’d wanted to have a fly rod for a few casts but I wasn’t willing to have one stashed in the front hatch and pull it out and assemble it for a few casts. Also there was rarely anywhere to land the kayak as the shoreline was completely covered with mangroves. Getting out and standing was rare too as usually the bottom was soft muck. The Ultimate will allow me to have several rods ready to go and its open design facilitates accessing any gear I might have with me easy. Often Snook, Tarpon or Redfish will lie along the mangroves and from a seated position I couldn’t see them. The ability to stand easily in the Ultimate adds another great feature that I’ll use constantly in the backcountry. Jimbo designed a great paddle pole just for this. It looks great and I’ve got one on back order. Then there’s reverse. When hooked, Snook run straight into the mangroves pulling you with them. In the UPC I can back away while fighting them.

Is the kayak for everyone, of course not? However there are a lot of folks who are going to love it. Natives got a whole array of accessories for the Ultimate, more then any other company. The soft coolers and storage is really cool. The UPC will be available in 12 or 14.5’ models. The companies working on other stuff too and I look forward to additional hulls. While I will have a UPC I look forward to the drive in a SOT.

Jon S

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I finally found Cow Creek. It's at the end of the Road to Nowhere!


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:52 pm 
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Joined: Sun May 18, 2008 2:50 pm
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Location: Near Fish
I would like to thank everyone for their opinions concerning this subject. I believe we have covered some valuable points for each side. The only reason for this topic is to help fellow kayakers make a better choice to fit their needs.We all know both brands make amazing drives, so have fun discovering which one fits you. Go to your local dealers and try them both, then let us know what you think . I believe the Hobie dealer will let you take it home for 24hrs to try or make a run around thier pool. You can try the Native anytime at Bill Jacksons.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 8:19 am 
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That's one great thing about this forum...the knowledge and willingness to help for those who ACTUALY use kayaks. Not the snot nose 17-year-old who's never learned how to swim!! :lol:

Hey Terry, nice article!

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