Sometimes you feel like paddling, and sometimes you feel like relaxing while a motor takes over, or maybe you need some extra muscle to help you paddle against the current. Whatever the case, an add-on electric drive like the ElectraFin is a great way to take some of the "paddle" out of paddle sports. The all-new Bixpy Jet is the latest, and it packs serious versatility. It'll power your kayak, your canoe, your stand-up paddleboard ... and even you.
Bixpy formed in reaction to near-disaster. In 2014, some of the eventual team members found themselves battling fierce winds and currents when kayaking back to the San Diego shoreline. Things worked out, but realizing the severity of the predicament they had been in, the paddlers put their hands and minds to work developing a compact, universal kayak motor. As the design evolved, they realized they could make it even more universal than they originally thought, offering a single add-on drive for multiple water sports.
The primary Bixpy Jet unit looks much like other aftermarket electric drives. It features a custom-built motor driving a propeller inside a housing that Bixpy says is about the size of a 1-liter water bottle. The full unit weighs around 2 lb (0.9 kg).
From there, Bixpy uses different battery packs and mounting hardware to give the drive the versatility it needs to bring power to different activities. Bixpy has packed those components into different kits, starting with the kayak version it originally set out to create. Actually more of a general small boat kit, the Outboard Jet is designed to work with various types of small vessels like kayaks, canoes, dinghies and personal pontoons. The aluminum arms adjust around the specific model, getting fit just right.
The Outboard Jet includes a joystick steering mechanism and a 450 Wh lithium-ion battery pack. The remote control lets you dial through 10 forward speeds and three reverse speeds, pushing your kayak forward up to 7 mph (11 km/h). Bixpy estimates runtime at one hour of continuous, top-speed use or two to six hours for more normal use. Estimated range falls in around 10 to 15 miles (16 to 24 km) on a single charge, and the design also allows for easy battery swapping.
The SUP Jet kit turns the Bixpy Jet into a stand-up paddleboard motor. The jet drive swaps out for the board's middle fin, and the battery straps on top of the deck. The wireless wristband remote lets you crank the speed up to around 6 mph (10 km/h), before you factor your own paddling in. Listed runtimes are the same as for the Outboard kit.
The 450 Wh battery charges in four hours and includes a 1A outlet for phone charging.
The Swim Jet kit is the one that really makes Bixpy stand out. In place of the larger box battery, this kit uses a 180 Wh tubular battery and assembles into a 5-lb (2.3-kg) handheld that shoots you through the water at the press of the trigger, kind of like a simpler, more compact SeaBob or Sea-Doo Seascooter.
The Swim Jet is designed to run for 45 minutes to two hours and dive to depths of up to 90 feet (27 m). It offers two speeds and includes a 900-lumen flashlight and an action cam mount. The smaller, personal-sized lithium-ion battery charges in about two hours.
In addition to those kits, Bixpy also has a plug-and-play kit specifically for Hobie kayaks with MirageDrive. This kit offers the same specs as the Outboard kit, but the Jet drops right into the kayak.
In terms of general construction, Bixpy says the housing and connectors are waterproof, dirt-proof and corrosion-resistant. It uses marine grade stainless steel components to allow for fresh or saltwater use. The watercraft models include a magnetic emergency shut-off leash.
Bixpy currently lists pricing per package only, with the Outboard Jet kit listed at US$1,099, the SUP and Hobie kits at $999, and the Swim kit at $750. The kits are not officially on sale yet, so pricing may change before launch. Bixpy will also sell mounting components separately, allowing you to use a single Jet for different vessels and activities. It plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign in the coming weeks.