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Pedal-powered Tandem gives canoeists some face time


July 29, 2013

One of the Tandem prototypes hits the water

One of the Tandem prototypes hits the water

Image Gallery (4 images)

While it can be fun canoeing with another person, there is one problem with the setup of a traditional canoe – the front passenger has to turn around in order to see the back passenger’s face. British engineer Joe Rutland decided to do something about that, so he designed the Tandem canoe. Not only do the two passengers sit facing each other, but instead of paddling the boat, they pedal it.

The Tandem has a fairly traditional hull, which can be transported on top of a car just like a conventional canoe. Once at the water’s edge, the users install its two adjustable seats, dual-crank drive unit, and rudder. This can reportedly be done in about five minutes, without tools.

From there, it sets off into the water, with both people pedaling and one also steering using a tiller-like handle. While there are no hard figures on exactly how fast it can go, it appears to be moving along at a fairly decent clip in the video at the bottom of the page. In its current prototype form, the Tandem weighs 60 kg (132 lb) and can carry up to 250 kg (551 lb).

Rutland is currently raising production funds for his canoe, on Kickstarter. A pledge of £2,000 (about US$3,068) will get you a Tandem of your own, when and if they’re ready to go.

If you’re content with just having one passenger do the pedaling, and don’t feel any great need to sit face-to-face, you might also want to check out the H2Pro-Ped canoe. Should you be looking for the ultimate two-person pedal-powered watercraft, however, you may be interested in the one-of-a-kind WiTHiN super sea kayak ... just be prepared to write a big check.

Sources: Rutland Pedalcraft, Kickstarter

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

I think it is a great way to get some exercise. It is nice since the one in back does not have to see the back of the other person.

It would be cool if they had a similar system for a row boat. I think it would be more stable.


Read the article. Thought about it. Read it again. Tried to think more about it, but my brain locked up. Why is there no picture of the propulsion unit? Propeller? Water jet? Cold Fusion? It looks great if all you are doing is floating on serene, deep canals.

I get a rather creepy feeling thinking about two, thin 'guys' staring at each other for extended afternoons. Paddles will still be necessary, especially when the drive malfunctions on frothy, rocky streams; or the multiple chains snag hair, clothes and color coordinated picnic accessories etc, assuming that a shattered drive does not puncture and sink the toy.

$3000+ dollars?! Rent a nice, comfortable, peddle power float every Sunday afternoon for years. I don't think the target demographic has to be concerned about children upsetting their balance, and no logistic problems.

Robert Walther

I'll stick with my Hobie Tandem Island. Much cooler pedal drive, and is still beachable. Comes with paddles and a sail as well, optional electric drive for quaternary backup drive systems...

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