Not content with rescuing kayakers' tired arms with its highly efficient pedal-propulsion system, water sports specialist Hobie is now setting its sights on those who like to take to the water upright. The company's Mirage Eclipse Stand Up Pedal boards make for new kinds of aquatic adventure by allowing vertical users to glide across the water simply by moving their legs up and down.
Hobie has been in the watercraft game for more than 60 years and has never been shy of experimentation, from new kinds of surfboard materials in the 1950s and 60s to rethinking kayaks for touring and fishing, and one of the company's key innovations of late is its MirageDrive propulsion system.
It is intended to do away with the paddle that kayakers use to move through the water and instead tap into our more powerful muscles below the waist. It allows users to pedal their kayak like a bicycle, which moves a pair of flippers beneath the vessel back and forth to propel the craft forward.
This MirageDrive has been fitted to a series of Hobie's watercraft since it was introduced in 1997, including sailyaks, tribrid kayaks and the Pro Angler for mobile fisherman. We have some experience ourselves with Hobie's MirageDrive and can attest, it is a very effective system that makes kayaking and fishing much more accessible to less active people.
The Mirage Eclipse board takes that same pedal system and applies it to stand-up paddle boards. Available in both 10.5 and 12 ft-long (3.2 and 3.7 m) versions, the Eclipse is crafted from composite epoxy and features a square tail and flat bottom designed to increased stability.
"We adapted our time tested MirageDrive to work with our industry leading stand up paddleboards," explains Hobie's Director of Engineering, Jim Czarnowski. "We designed the Eclipse so anyone from a beginner to a more athletic expert user can all have a great experience."
Users can steer the board with the aluminum alloy handlebars (adjustable between 36 and 43 in (91 and 109 cm), squeezing the right caliper to turn right the left caliper to turn left. But that's about as complicated as it gets, with Hobie claiming that riding the Eclipse is as intuitive as walking, you basically hop aboard and go for it like an elliptical trainer aficionado finally unleashed on the waterways.
Like Hobie's other MirageDrive watercraft, the fins fold up flat against the bottom of the vessel for beaching or when moving through shallower waters. A cup holder and phone mount are available as optional accessories. The Hobie Mirage Eclipse will become available later this US spring, with the 10.5-ft priced at US$2,500 and the 12-ft at $2,600. You can see it in action in the video below.