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 Post subject: propel drive system
PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 9:18 pm 
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http://playak.com/product-news.php?nid=205

How long has this been around??....it looks heavy and expensive. How does it compare with the mirage drive in terms of how much water it can displace, has anyone used one?...just idle curiosity.

Philip


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 Post subject: Re: propel drive system
PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 12:24 am 
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Philip1el wrote:
http://playak.com/product-news.php?nid=205

How long has this been around??....it looks heavy and expensive. How does it compare with the mirage drive in terms of how much water it can displace, has anyone used one?
They shouldn't allow Hobie users to try these things.

I got to demo a "final prototype" about 1 1/2 years ago. As I recall, the unit weighed about 15 lb. and was fairly expensive, but it appeared to be of good quality and was said to be made by Shimiano. Unfortunately within 5 minutes I tore it out of the boat (an Ultimate 12).
Image

There were others waiting to try it, so I lashed it back in place so they could continue with their demo session -- actually felt pretty bad about it.
Image Image

No doubt they have since made some reinforcements but I never got another chance to try one.

IMO, the ergonomics of the rotary crank system do not compare with the Hobie linear drive system -- more knee bending and less power. 4.5 MPH was the most I got out of the boat before breaking it and it felt pretty maxed out. It wasn't hard to cavitate the prop by accelerating hard before bringing up the boat speed (not really a big deal though). There were also the typical dead spots at full leg extension and you could hear the soft cyclical whirring as the prop speed up and slowed during each stroke. This is not a criticism of the Propel per se, but a general observation of other rotational prop drives (I've had or demoed a few) as well.

Some were impressed with it, but I suspect those who were didn't have much previous pedaling experience and were wowed more by the novelty. It does have one cool feature though -- reverse!

It was interesting, and kudos to Native for their effort. But for me, there is no comparison -- the Mirage Drive is faster (even in the same boat), quieter, more comfortable and easier to operate (insert, remove, beach, etc.) 8)


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 Post subject: Re: propel drive system
PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 7:15 am 
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What are you supposed to do in shallow water? The Mirage Drive can still scuttle along pretty well, keeping the fins up near the hull and doing partial strokes.


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 Post subject: Re: propel drive system
PostPosted: Fri May 07, 2010 3:22 pm 
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I have ordered one of these because I am so impressed with it among many cool features the "First Class seat" is infinitely adjustable and the driest, most comfy kayak seat I have ever used. (Lifts out for beach Chair use).
The model in your photo is an early one, the production models have much stronger drive mounts. The Propel fan is designed for a most efficient speed of 300 RPM so there is no point in hammering it, you can break a Mirage Drive and crack it's Drive Well mount too if you try, I know I have.

The Propel is extremely stout and can take a hit that would bend a mirage Fin Mast, so extreme caution in shallow water is not necessary, being able to reverse and stop that Fish heading for the Mangroves or under the Yak is a boon for Anglers.

I disagree that the Hobie is faster and I own Three Hobie's, they have about the same speed but the Propel maintains Mirage Drive cruise speed with less effort and has less moving parts.

In any case direct comparision is not fair, both boats perform very well in different ways, as a Recumbent Cyclist I find the rotary action more natural and no energy is lost with the drive system having to stop and reverse direction at the end of every stroke.
If your feet were loading/unloading in the crank-circle it is because you have an incorrectly adjusted seat for the correct leg length, non-cyclists do not realise the importance of correct setup for comfortable, efficient pedalling and avoiding resultant knee pain, just 1.5" can make the difference between smooth operation and "Pedalling Squares".

The Native Watercraft Propel is an equally quality product to the Hobie but trying to compare them will just lead to fruitless argument and division, they are both good products that work in different ways.

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 Post subject: Re: propel drive system
PostPosted: Fri May 07, 2010 4:38 pm 
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Let us know what you think after you actually get to use it for awhile. I suspect you will discover some pretty significant issues regarding shallow water use that you have become accustomed to with the MirageDrive. The Propel is not usable in water a MirageDrive can function in. Beach starts and landings... has to be at depth to lower their drive. I know they tout the backup feature... they do have that on us, but I see plenty of compromises vs the MirageDrive to get that... if you'd ever really use it. Heck... I don't have reverse on my bike or motorcycle either. I can see this one working best if you have a dock.

For comfort, have you tried the Pro Angler seat? Similar kind of mesh setup.

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 Post subject: Re: propel drive system
PostPosted: Fri May 07, 2010 5:31 pm 
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I'm going to chime in on this one too. We bought our Hobie Revolution because my wife has problems with her wrists and I like to kayak. There were essentially two options if we were going to get a boat for her, the Hobie, and the Native boats. My first impressions were that the Native boats with the Propel drive were the best ones. I knew it had a propellor and to me, that made sense. I liked the way that you could go forwards and backwards. All of the talk of the Hobie's advantages in shallow water seemed like a good thing to me, and it certainly has been useful, but the reason that we bought the Hobie was not because of it's shallow water performance, but because of the way it handled the rough water. The Hobie boats are self bailing, and if you're ever caught in big waves you can't underestimate the safety that comes from a boat that is safe even if a wave breaks over the side or front of the boat.

In the end I've learned a lot more about the Mirage drive system, and I really appreciate the torque that you get from it compared to a propellor. My wife can easily handle as much or more weight on her boat because the Hobie system seems to transfer more torque through it's drive system. The one other thing that I didn't like about the Propel system is that it runs the risk of clogging up with sea weed and other junk. Sometimes there are things floating in the water where we kayak that get tangled in propellors, I've never had anything tangle in the Mirage Drive.

Having said all that, I was generally impressed with the Native boats, and their Propel system. It just wasn't for me, or my wife. I can see why people like them, and wouldn't turn anybody away from them, I would just make sure that they experienced the Mirage drive too, before making the decision to buy.

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 Post subject: Re: propel drive system
PostPosted: Fri May 07, 2010 11:14 pm 
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skymax wrote:
The Propel is extremely stout and can take a hit that would bend a mirage Fin Mast, so extreme caution in shallow water is not necessary,....
I hope you're right Max. Here's a report from a Propel owner who has had a different experience:

FLKayakAngler Post subject: Already broke the Mariner........ :( PostPosted: Fri Apr 30, 2010 5:08 pm

Well I'm sad to report that the Mariners Propel system is not bullet proof. And it definitely doesn't like hitting the bottom. Hit one sand bar and broke the plastic assembly that holds the propel unit in place.

I cannot believe they designed this unit so it doesn't kick up, or at least have some give....

....I broke the U shaped piece. They should have designed it so the end of the slider is round on the bottom with a notch that clicks onto the propel unit, then if you did hit something hard it would pop out of the notch and just push the slider back. I've only used this yak twice and it broke. Its a bad design. Nothing should break that quickly, and if its going to fail that easily they should have included spares with the purchase. No fun paddling a mariner into 20mph winds cause the propel unit hits the bottom of the yak if you try to pedal it without that piece....

....I'll post up what they are gonna do about it. Hopefully they send me a bunch of spares, cause it sucks being on the water with your propel driving hitting the bottom of your yak,


Quote:
I disagree that the Hobie is faster and I own Three Hobie's, they have about the same speed but the Propel maintains Mirage Drive cruise speed with less effort and has less moving parts.
I wonder if you got a chance to try the Propel unit first hand? The same Mariner owner apparently also owns a Hobie Pro Angler (as you know, one of the slowest Hobies). Here's his comparison:

The Pro angler blows the mariner out of the water as far as speed and stability. I was averaging 5mph with bursts upwards of 8mph on the mirage with turbo fins, with very little energy used. I was extremely impressed with this. The mariner is only capable of 4mph anything faster then that and you are past the efficiency of the prop and it just cavitates.

The Pro Angler is much much quieter.

Another benefit of the Pro angler is the Mirage drive doesn't wrap up sea grass, kelp, hyra etc...The Propel unit sucks up grass like a lawnmower and thats very annoying.


On the other hand, he did like the Native seat better than the Pro Angler's. BTW, these comments came from the Native forum. I'll be very interested in your impressions when you get your boat! 8)


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 Post subject: Re: propel drive system
PostPosted: Sat May 08, 2010 6:13 pm 
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I have to agree about the speed. I can't see how the Propel system is faster then my Revolution with it's new turbo fins. The Revolution is very fast with those fins, and wasn't that slow with the standard fins either. Maybe I'm wrong, but my memory of the Propel system is that it is much slower than the Hobie Mirage, especially with the Turbo fins.

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 Post subject: Re: propel drive system
PostPosted: Sat May 08, 2010 6:54 pm 
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Roadrunner (quoting someone else) wrote:
Another benefit of the Pro angler is the Mirage drive doesn't wrap up sea grass, kelp, hyra etc...The Propel unit sucks up grass like a lawnmower and thats very annoying.

I have to take issue with that. My Mirage drive frequently gets choked with seagrass in the estuaries where I sail. Of course, it's a relatively easy matter to pull the drive out and clear it.

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 Post subject: Re: propel drive system
PostPosted: Sat May 08, 2010 10:02 pm 
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I've also had problems with river grass and ocean kelp using the Mirage Drive:
Image

On the other hand, since I have no idea about the environment in which FLKayakAngler was making his comparison, I feel unqualified to comment on his statement. FLKA'a speed contrast sounded mostly reasonable and except for the PA sprint speed, was generally in line with what I found (and in conformance of another forum description for the Propel). His point on noise is on target and significant to fishermen. His preference of the Native seat confirmed one of the Native strong points. So I felt it was an honest enough comparison to present here.

Some additional comments regarding crank-driven props vs Mirage Drives:

Although having cycled for years, I've never been able to develop a good endurance with any of the commercial cycling props I've pedaled. On the road, momentum carries one through the uneven power cycle shown here (re: my reference to "dead spots" earlier in this topic):
Image

With crank-driven props (including the Propel), thrust availability varies as above (no coasting momentum) so prop speed varies directly with power input like the sine wave shown here. Props are designed for certain parameters regarding RPM, boat speed and hull weight, so human powered props don't have the same efficiency potential as their motor driven counterparts.

The Mirage Drive operates similarly, but with a linear power application rather than rotational. A huge advantage is that the power peak stays on longer; a disadvantage is the reversal of motion as the pedals oscillate. IMO, the net effort works out in the Mirage Drive's favor, especially with optimal use of leg extension.

Furthermore, the Mirage Drive requires significantly less knee bending than the standard 17 cm pedals that are generally used. Leg power increases with extension, so more power can be applied to the Mirage Drive through its cycle. Knee problems increase with knee flexing and are not uncommon among road cyclists.

Most boat props have a fixed twist and pitch rate, giving rise to cavitation when operated outside their design envelopes. Hobie fins, on the other hand, are variable twist and pitch that can respond to changes in RPM, speed and weight. You may have noticed they don't cavitate.

Mirage Drives have other performance advantages that most props don't, including contra rotation and ground effect. The end result is that you can get more thrust, more efficiency and better endurance with less joint problems with the Mirage Drive than with cycle driven props. I have seen Turbofins beat custom performance props in an official race with similar length/width boats. In a test of virtually identical boats by the same indivual, Turbofins beat props by a significant margin in both top speed and one hour cruise times.

Personally, I have lots of hours driving a variety of cycle/prop boats and sold my Meyers Waterbike (by Seacycle) years ago when Turbofins came out. Prop drives do have some advantages despite their increased weight, size and complexity. Whether it's the desire for reverse gear or the nostalgia of having a prop-driven boat, they're nice to have around for those who want them. If I were looking for another prop system today I would seriously consider the Propel. 8)


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 Post subject: Re: propel drive system
PostPosted: Sat May 08, 2010 11:42 pm 
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I really don't want this to be a Mirage Vs Propel thing, I use my Hobie's for Sailing and Ocean trips and the Propel for the Lakes and Rivers, to me it's just another arrow in my quiver.

But to answer your questions ive been using the Demo boat for some weeks now and the propel launches fine from the beach shores of eustaries, bays, ramps or any walkable slope just as well as the Revo, the drive is, of course in the Up position and once launched and seated you lower it just like the Hobie, the whole boat draws 16" with prop down, i don't intend to launch it in surf so thats not an issue, but you can get the SOT version if you want to do rough water stuff.
It doesnt need a Dock, I have launched it in all the same places I launch my Revo, I consider a Dock more difficult to use than a wading launch.
As another Hobie user said, Fluttering the Mirage fins in shallow water doesnt take you far or fast, thats why both Hobie and Propel have Paddles, I don't have any reason to deliberately steer into water that is too shallow for either system.
Your motorbike doesnt have reverse but you are not trying to land fish while riding it, reverse is very handy for backing hooked fish away from reefs and mangroves, or just coming to a quick stop.
Does the Pro Angler seat fit in the Revo, AI or Sport? If so having a dry bum in the Revo would be a nice change.
When you say, "..they have got that on us.", I sense a comparative standpoint and that is understandable, if I was in your position at Hobie I would be launching a few torpedoes at Native Kayaks too.
The Propel Yaks are quality built and well finished, comfortable and equal to anything else I have seen, the Drive is manufactured by Shimano and is very solid.

Everything is a compromise, there is no one perfect multi-roll design for every purpose, That's why Hobie make many models and why I have Three of them.



mmiller wrote:
Let us know what you think after you actually get to use it for awhile. I suspect you will discover some pretty significant issues regarding shallow water use that you have become accustomed to with the MirageDrive. The Propel is not usable in water a MirageDrive can function in. Beach starts and landings... has to be at depth to lower their drive. I know they tout the backup feature... they do have that on us, but I see plenty of compromises vs the MirageDrive to get that... if you'd ever really use it. Heck... I don't have reverse on my bike or motorcycle either. I can see this one working best if you have a dock.

For comfort, have you tried the Pro Angler seat? Similar kind of mesh setup.

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Last edited by skymax on Sat May 08, 2010 11:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: propel drive system
PostPosted: Sat May 08, 2010 11:48 pm 
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Their is a self-draining SOT version of the Propel, perhaps it was not available when you were perusing.

augaug wrote:
I'm going to chime in on this one too. We bought our Hobie Revolution because my wife has problems with her wrists and I like to kayak. There were essentially two options if we were going to get a boat for her, the Hobie, and the Native boats. My first impressions were that the Native boats with the Propel drive were the best ones. I knew it had a propellor and to me, that made sense. I liked the way that you could go forwards and backwards. All of the talk of the Hobie's advantages in shallow water seemed like a good thing to me, and it certainly has been useful, but the reason that we bought the Hobie was not because of it's shallow water performance, but because of the way it handled the rough water. The Hobie boats are self bailing, and if you're ever caught in big waves you can't underestimate the safety that comes from a boat that is safe even if a wave breaks over the side or front of the boat.

In the end I've learned a lot more about the Mirage drive system, and I really appreciate the torque that you get from it compared to a propellor. My wife can easily handle as much or more weight on her boat because the Hobie system seems to transfer more torque through it's drive system. The one other thing that I didn't like about the Propel system is that it runs the risk of clogging up with sea weed and other junk. Sometimes there are things floating in the water where we kayak that get tangled in propellors, I've never had anything tangle in the Mirage Drive.

Having said all that, I was generally impressed with the Native boats, and their Propel system. It just wasn't for me, or my wife. I can see why people like them, and wouldn't turn anybody away from them, I would just make sure that they experienced the Mirage drive too, before making the decision to buy.

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 Post subject: Re: propel drive system
PostPosted: Sat May 08, 2010 11:54 pm 
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I agree with your principals and they would be important to someone who was primarily concerned with speed, however not everyone has this as their as their major requirement.
Roadrunner wrote:
I've also had problems with river grass and ocean kelp using the Mirage Drive:
Image

On the other hand, since I have no idea about the environment in which FLKayakAngler was making his comparison, I feel unqualified to comment on his statement. FLKA'a speed contrast sounded mostly reasonable and except for the PA sprint speed, was generally in line with what I found (and in conformance of another forum description for the Propel). His point on noise is on target and significant to fishermen. His preference of the Native seat confirmed one of the Native strong points. So I felt it was an honest enough comparison to present here.

Some additional comments regarding crank-driven props vs Mirage Drives:

Although having cycled for years, I've never been able to develop a good endurance with any of the commercial cycling props I've pedaled. On the road, momentum carries one through the uneven power cycle shown here (re: my reference to "dead spots" earlier in this topic):
Image

With crank-driven props (including the Propel), thrust availability varies as above (no coasting momentum) so prop speed varies directly with power input like the sine wave shown here. Props are designed for certain parameters regarding RPM, boat speed and hull weight, so human powered props don't have the same efficiency potential as their motor driven counterparts.

The Mirage Drive operates similarly, but with a linear power application rather than rotational. A huge advantage is that the power peak stays on longer; a disadvantage is the reversal of motion as the pedals oscillate. IMO, the net effort works out in the Mirage Drive's favor, especially with optimal use of leg extension.

Furthermore, the Mirage Drive requires significantly less knee bending than the standard 17 cm pedals that are generally used. Leg power increases with extension, so more power can be applied to the Mirage Drive through its cycle. Knee problems increase with knee flexing and are not uncommon among road cyclists.

Most boat props have a fixed twist and pitch rate, giving rise to cavitation when operated outside their design envelopes. Hobie fins, on the other hand, are variable twist and pitch that can respond to changes in RPM, speed and weight. You may have noticed they don't cavitate.

Mirage Drives have other performance advantages that most props don't, including contra rotation and ground effect. The end result is that you can get more thrust, more efficiency and better endurance with less joint problems with the Mirage Drive than with cycle driven props. I have seen Turbofins beat custom performance props in an official race with similar length/width boats. In a test of virtually identical boats by the same indivual, Turbofins beat props by a significant margin in both top speed and one hour cruise times.

Personally, I have lots of hours driving a variety of cycle/prop boats and sold my Meyers Waterbike (by Seacycle) years ago when Turbofins came out. Prop drives do have some advantages despite their increased weight, size and complexity. Whether it's the desire for reverse gear or the nostalgia of having a prop-driven boat, they're nice to have around for those who want them. If I were looking for another prop system today I would seriously consider the Propel. 8)

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 Post subject: Re: propel drive system
PostPosted: Sun May 09, 2010 12:17 am 
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Location: Coffs Harbour, NSW, Australia
26Kg, (57Lbs) lift out the Seat and Drive and it is now 22.5 Lbs lighter, I have the Cart which folds neatly into the Propel but rarely use it as I can pick up and walk with a 32Lb kayak if the car isnt too far away.
Costs about the same as a Revo over here, there is a Sail kit too.

Philip1el wrote:
http://playak.com/product-news.php?nid=205

How long has this been around??....it looks heavy and expensive. How does it compare with the mirage drive in terms of how much water it can displace, has anyone used one?...just idle curiosity.

Philip

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 Post subject: Re: propel drive system
PostPosted: Sun May 09, 2010 5:34 am 
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OK, I can see everyone is lining up against me because I once again dared to be an individual and make a decision for myself that would not be in line with the status quo.

Yes, the Mariner is slower but it is not an, "Ultimate Propel", so cant be compared, it is an SOT that weighs 41Kg and has a fat dumpy hull, individual experiences of what goes faster are subjective, what is fast enough is what I feel is fast enough without reference to anybody else's standards.
Finally the obsession with shallow water, what are you all doing running aground fluttering fins and bending props , I know all my locales and stay out of shallow water, so easy?

I say again, I own Three Hobie's that fact should be enough to convince you what I think of them, but how dare I purchase ONE other pedal kayak brand, I also own a Cobra Re-Vision surf yak and a Pyhrana 305 white water kayak, I suppose I will get performance contradictions and doubt-casting about those too?

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