Powered up: Wilderness Systems Fishing Team staffer Juan Verute zips along on a Motor Pod equipped ATAK.
Powering Up the Wilderness Systems Motor Pod
By Paul Lebowitz
The 2015-2016 model year will be huge for Wilderness Systems. The company, one of the early leaders in kayak fishing and well known for the strength of its performance-oriented designs, is introducing a pair of hands-free propulsion options: a pedal drive (still under wraps) and an electric Wilderness Systems Debuts Slick Motor Drive.
Kayak Fish took the new Motor Pod for a short ride at the Outdoor Retailer Trade Show in Salt Lake City. Impressions in a bit; let’s talk about the system first. The Pod (available November 11, MSRP as yet not released) is a self-contained unit compatible with Flex Pod equipped Wilderness Systems kayaks (the Thresher series, the ATAK, and the upcoming Tarpon 130x).
Wilderness Systems senior designer David E. Maughan shows off the self-contained Motor Pod. It installs in moments in Flex Pod equipped Wildy boats.
The system is comprised of a Torqeedo Ultralight 403 1-hp equivalent electric motor powered by a high performance lithium battery. The computerized throttle module with GPS connects to the Pod via a cable. It can be mounted on the gunwale or on the cockpit centerline. The Motor Pod installs in seconds using the standard Flex Pod locking clips.
So how’s it run? Kayak Fish hopped aboard a Motor Pod equipped Thresher 155 and aimed for the deep water of Pineview Reservoir. Nudging the throttle forward produced the typical Torqeedo whine (probably more noticeable due to the forward mount), but no vibration. The Thresher hopped immediately into motion, perceptibly gathering speed until it was flying past the paddlers, a chuckling mustache of churned water just under the nose.
Click, click. Ready to run. The throttle module (see it on the centerline?) can be mounted farther forward or on the gunwale – it’s easily customizable.
Full throttle is fun but inefficient, sure to drain a battery to dregs in a fraction of the maximum running time. Pulled back to 70 percent power, the Thresher settled in for the long haul, still moving out smartly.
This was a brief five-minute test run. For a thorough shakedown, we’d need rods and plenty of time and miles. And fish. For now, we’re confident that this Torqeedo based Motor Pod system is a joy to use. It couldn’t be any easier to install or operate. Remaining range is calculated on the fly. The system is proven and lightweight, only 15 pounds. It will come at a premium price. Although the MSRP hasn’t been released, Torqeedo’s equivalent Ultralight 403 kayak kit retails for $1,779.