There has been a growing amount of discussion over the last years regarding motorized standup paddle boards. As more people are paddling out on SUP boards with different motors we wanted to prepare a run-down of the pluses and minuses of the new popular electric boards.
What is the point of a motor on a SUP boards?
Judging quickly, a motor on a standup paddle board is as needles as a motor on a scooter or a bicycle, yet every segment of the three has been growing over the last years. The main reason against is most commonly that the motor does the job of paddling and there is only little workout left. But rest assured, even with a motor equipped standup paddleboard, you'll be able to work out just as hard as on a classic board.
What are the advantages of a motorized SUP boards?
Think of the motor on a SUP boards as an upgrade feature that your board can have. There are different makes and motor ideas we discuss later on, but with a premium mark motorized SUP provider like SipaBoards, none of the riding characteristics are lost. What really sets propelled or paddle-assisted SUPs apart from the competition are these three factors:
- They are much safer
Conditions on water can change rapidly. Winds can pick up, paddlers can get pulled out to open water by a current or a changing tide and battling these forces can leave the paddler drained. With the popularity of standup paddle-boarding, there are growing numbers of unprepared paddlers that need coast-guard assistance due to unpreparedness.
A standup paddle board with motor can give you just the support needed to tackle a current or take an offshore wind head on. Paddlers should always understand their surroundings , the weather and water in order to stay safe.
- You can paddle further and faster
Adding to the list are more speed and a wider reach. Paddlers can selectively turn the motor on and off, going for more speed when wanted and reaching more remote locations. While battery autonomy varies in different products, SipaBoards has a water-tight system that enables the user a battery - switch even when they are on the water. Some motorized standup paddlers are recording distances up to 30 kilometres on a single ride and top-sprint speeds well over 14 km/h.
- You can still get the same workout
The beauty of a well made motorized SUP is that it can be used with or without the motor. And even instances where the motor is on, the paddler can still push as hard as on any standard board, they will only generate more speed that way. With integrated motors the surface area is also cleared of any add-ons for activities like SUP yoga. But with a quality inflatable SUP like SipaBoards, you will be able to lift your exercises on an even higher lever.
What kind of motors can be used for standup paddleboarding?
Motorized SUP boards are still relatively new to the market, but over the last years, three different makes have been implemented.
- Rear mount-on motor SUP
A rear mount-on motor is basically any inflatable or hardshell SUP with a small electric motor specially mounted to the back. The speed is usually controlled via a handheld remote and speeds will vary from 2-3km/h up to 10-15km/h with bigger motors.
A significant drawback of a rear mount-on is weight displacement, since the bigger motor adds the weight to one end, which is then emphasised as the motor adds power. A different problem is the exposed rotor, which creates drag when turned off and can catch debris while turned on.
- Fin based motor SUP
Fin based motors are an upgrade to classic rear-mounts when it comes to weight displacement, since they are smaller and lighter, but will also generate less output power and offer lower battery autonomy. They are much cheaper than a bigger rear-mount motor, but still pose the same problem in terms of creating unnecessary drag and collecting debris.
Another problem for any rear or fin mounted motor is that either has a problem with holding a steady course. With each stroke, the rear-mounts push the board outwards, forcing the paddler into a S-shaped meandering.
- Integrated jet motor SUP
Fully integrated motors are built into the board and are installed into the boards centre. The patented technology first inflates the SUP with a built-in SUP pump, and than propel the board with an electric jet motor. While they are heavier than some of the lightest fin-based motors, they offer great battery autonomy (with possible upgrades) and zero drag. The central position holds a steady course and improves the boards balance, so the board is easier to use and handle.
The drawback? Having an integrated e-jet is costlier and as these motors are sold together with boards, their price is much higher than in the case of add-on variations.
What kind of motorized paddle board is the best choice for me?
While some motors are developed for speed, some are developed to provide a longer and safer riding experience. At SipaBoards, we build our motorized SUP boards to assist the paddler when they need an extra push, but not hinder the great paddle experience when they don't. The boards are controlled via a Bluetooth remote fixed to any paddle, which makes them the easiest option in terms of navigation.
An integrated choice might offer a smoother ride and less drag, but it really comes down to the shape of the board, when selecting which board fits you best.
If you need help with selecting a model, ask our crew in the chat-box.
The importance of having an efficient battery
A motorized SUP boards are only as good as the battery that powers it. Think of how much time your average ride lasts and whether you can or need to charge the battery after every use. A rule of thumb would be to have a battery with at least twice the lifetime as a single ride duration.
Note also that a motorized SUP needs a bit more maintenance than a no-motor version. Always check the battery's capacity before going out and be thorough when cleaning the board. Even though most brands offer motors that are resistant to salt and sand, the combination of the two can be a problem for any motor.
Motorized SUP boards are the future
More and more brands are offering SUP motors and motorised SUP boards, so these are turning into a trend. Go out faster, learn quicker, even discover supping during the night time (if your SUP has integrated LED lights of corse) and always return safe. Much like the revolution that happened with in the e-bike industry, electric mobility is now the next frontier in SUP exploration.
Summary: paddleboard with motor or no motor?
It really comes down to what kind of a user are you. The advantages are clear, while disadvantages vary - from created drag and goofy course, to the price you pay.
Die hard purists swear to no-motor boards, while more and more people are flocking to powered-up boards. If you wish to get the most out of any day on water, then having an upgraded experience and an e-SUP is a win.
For us at SipaBoards, safety is paramount and as ours are some of the safest SUPs worldwide, we will always be a champion for safer, electric powered rides.
Motorized SUP boards are the future - they are safer and more stable. See how our SipaDrive is made in a video below!