Pedal boats are a great way to exercise while enjoying the outdoors. They’re also a lot of fun – perfect for a day out with friends or family. But how fast can a pedal boat go?
Generally speaking, the average pedal boat can go between 4 and 6 mph (6.4 and 9.6 kph) while specially designed racing pedal boats can reach speeds of up to 20 mph (32 kph). The more people pedaling, the higher the speed. Additionally, you can go faster by moving in the direction of the wind.
Read on for more information on the speed of pedal boats and tips for making them go faster.
Are Pedal Boats Fast?
Pedal boats are not typically fast. The average consumer pedal boat has a maximum speed of around 6 miles per hour (9.6 kilometers per hour). This is because they’re designed for leisurely cruising and exercise rather than speed.
However, this doesn’t mean that pedal boats can’t be fun. They offer a great way to enjoy the outdoors and get some gentle exercise. And, of course, there’s always the challenge of trying to pedal a little faster!
Whether you’re out for a leisurely cruise or aiming for a personal best, pedal boats can be a great way to enjoy your time on the water.
While pedal boats are generally considered slow vessels, some people have come up with pedal boats designed specifically for racing. Here’s a video showing how fast hydrofoil racing pedal boats can go:
Hydrofoil racing pedal boats can reach speeds of up to 20 mph (32 kph) in a sprint.
Why Pedal Boats Are Typically Slow
Something about a pedal boat just seems to scream “slow.” Most pedal boats can only travel a few miles per hour, which feels pretty slow when you’re on the water. But there are a few reasons why pedal boats are typically slow.
Here are a few of them:
Pedal Boats Are Designed for Leisure, Not Speed
As I mentioned, most pedal boats are designed for leisurely cruising and exercise rather than speed. Besides, they often have features that make them slower, such as a flat bottom.
In addition, pedal boats typically have a low power-to-weight ratio. As a result, they require more effort to pedal faster, making it difficult to reach high speeds.
Pedal Boats Are Propelled by Human Power
Pedal boats are powered by human muscle power rather than an external motor. This makes them slower than motorized boats, which can reach speeds of 30 mph (48 kph) or more.
Also, because pedal boats are powered by human muscle power, they can only go as fast as the person pedaling them can pedal. Therefore, if you’re not in great shape, you might have trouble reaching high speeds on a pedal boat.
A Pedal Boat is Not Very Hydrodynamic
Pedal boats are not very hydrodynamic – meaning they may not slice through the water quickly. The shape of most pedal boats creates drag, which makes them slower.
Besides, the fact that pedal boats are often open-topped doesn’t help matters. This design means there’s nothing to streamline the boat and make it more aerodynamic.
Pedal Boats Have Many Moving Parts
Pedal boats often have many moving parts – such as the pedals, the paddlewheel, and the rudder. These moving parts create drag and resistance, slowing the boat down.
In addition, the moving parts can also make it difficult to pedal a pedal boat quickly. If you’re pedaling hard and the paddlewheel isn’t moving fast, you’re not going to go very fast.
Factors That Determine the Speed of a Pedal Boat
If you have ever been on a pedal boat, you know that the boat’s speed is directly related to how hard you pedal. But that’s not all! Several other factors affect the speed of this type of boat
Here’s a rundown of the main factors that determine the speed of a pedal boat:
The Number of People Pedaling The Boat
The speed of a pedal boat is directly related to the number of people pedaling. If you’re pedaling alone, you’ll go much slower than if you’re pedaling with two or more people.
The more people pedaling, the more power you have to propel the boat. This means you can go faster and overcome any drag or resistance more quickly.
The Weight of the Pedal Boat
The boat’s weight is another crucial factor determining its speed. Heavier boats are harder to pedal and often have more drag. Because of that, they’re slower than lighter boats.
Also, if the boat carries a lot of cargo or passengers, it will be heavier and go slower.
The Shape of the Pedal Boat
The shape of the boat also affects the speed of a pedal boat. More aerodynamic vessels are easier to pedal and often have less drag both below the water’s surface and above.
As a result, they go slower than more aerodynamic boats.
The Wind Strength and Direction Affect a Pedal Boats Speed
The wind can also positively or negatively affect the speed of a pedal boat. If you’re pedaling into the wind, you’ll have to work harder to overcome the resistance. Because of that, you’ll go slower than if you’re pedaling with the wind.
However, if you have a strong enough wind at your back, you can use it to help you pedal faster.
The Water Conditions Will Impact How Fast a Pedal Boat Can Go
The water conditions can also affect the speed of a pedal boat. If the water is choppy or has a lot of waves, it will create drag and resistance. Because of that, you’ll have to work harder to pedal, and you’ll go slower.
On the other hand, if the water is calm and smooth, it will be easier to pedal, and you’ll be able to go faster.
Tips for Making a Pedal Boat Go Faster
Despite pedal boats being pretty slow, you don’t need to be a professional racer to make yours go faster. With a few extra tips and tricks, you can quickly increase your speed and make the most of your time on the water.
Here are a few tips for making your pedal boat go faster:
Add More People To Pedal The Boat
One of the best ways to make your pedal boat go faster is to add more people. The more people pedaling, the more power you have to propel the vessel. As a result, you may overcome any drag or resistance more quickly and go faster.
Besides, pedaling with friends or family members can be more fun. You can take turns pedaling and resting, or you can all pedal together to reach your top speed.
Pedal in the Direction of the Wind
If there’s a strong wind, you can use it to your advantage and help you go faster. By pedaling in the direction of the wind, you’ll be able to catch more wind power and propel your boat forward more quickly.
However, you should be careful not to sail in strong winds. You don’t want to capsize your pedal boat!
In addition, if you pedal fast in one direction with the wind to your back, you’re likely going to be pedaling into the wind on your return journey, thereby slowing your progress.
Use a Lighter Pedal Boat
If you’re struggling to make your pedal boat go faster, it might be because your boat is too heavy. If possible, try to find a lighter boat that’s easier to pedal. This will make a big difference and help you move more quickly through the water.
It’s worth considering the materials your boat is made out of. For example, boats made from aluminum are often lighter than those made from fiberglass or other materials.
Reduce Your Pedal Boat’s Load
In addition to using a lighter boat, you should also try to reduce your boat’s load. If there’s anything on your boat that’s unnecessary, get rid of it. The less weight your boat has to carry, the easier pedaling will be.
For example, you might want to remove any fishing gear, coolers, or other items that add unnecessary weight.
Besides following the guidelines I’ve mentioned, ensure you take good care of your boat by storing it in a cool, dry place. Doing so will help to prolong its lifespan.
If you need a cover for your pedal vessel, go with this iCOVER Pedal Boat Cover (available at Amazon.com). It’s durable, UV-resistant, water repellent, and fits most pedal boats, making it an excellent choice for protecting your vessel.
How Fast Can a Pedal Boat Go – The Bottom Line
Most recreational pedal boats can go about 4 and 6 miles per hour (6.4 and 9.6 kph). However, how fast a pedal boat can go is determined by several factors, including the weight and shape of the boat, the wind, and the water conditions.
If you want to make your pedal boat go faster, try adding more people to pedal, pedaling in the direction of the wind, or using a lighter boat. Reducing your boat’s load can also help you go faster. With these tips, you can make the most of your time on the water and enjoy a fun pedal boating experience.